Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vietnam Congressional Debate Papers into Public View

Once upon a time, sounds like a fairy tale beginning but even as we've sunk to the depths of incivility in more then our politics in this country, it isn't a fairy tale I assure you. For once there was a closer resemblance to debating issues and cross political party ideology, good or bad, was really discussed seriously.

What do the Vietnam congressional debates have to do with the now, as Sen. John Kerry says "lawmakers' meetings during the Vietnam War offer useful lessons for the discussing the Afghanistan war."

Though 'lessons' seems to be used very loosely in the language and society makeup as we were witness to the 'lessons' not learned from Vietnam, the real lessons. Especially in once again abandoning the Afghans and rushing to a devastating and destructive war of choice in Iraq making Afghanistan now the quagmire of this new century having nothing to do with original intent as to the 9/11 criminal terrorist attacks. Now fighting those we've made into enemies over the past nine years adding to the already hatreds towards us and so called westerners in general!

Kerry releases Vietnam debate papers

16 July 2010 U.S. Sen. John Kerry says transcripts of lawmakers' meetings during the Vietnam War offer useful lessons for the discussing the Afghanistan war.

"Some of the parallels are almost eerie," said Kerry, D-Mass., "and I think all of us can learn an enormous amount from the way our predecessors dealt with questions very similar to those we face today," The Boston Globe reported Thursday.


Kerry, a combat-decorated Vietnam veteran, said he is still a strong supporter of the Obama administration's strategy in Afghanistan, but the growing involvement there needs the kind of vigorous debate the foreign relations panel engaged in during the Vietnam era.

"Their questions are honest and poignant," he said. "There's no grandstanding, no posturing, just real debate. We have a burden to match that level of gut debate and discussion." Continued

SFRC Releases Previously Classified Transcripts of Vietnam-Era Executive Sessions ». Heads up, this is an 1175 page pdf download, though it loaded quickly for me, that some may not want to try.

John Kerry’s Fulbright Moment

16 July 2010 It had been, Sen. John Sparkman of Alabama said, a “rocky road.” The year was 1968—one of those years that ranks with A.D. 33, 1066, and 1776 as an inarguable landmark—and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had spent hours in executive session struggling with the Vietnam War. Sen. Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee dismissed concerns that holding public debates about the war would be divisive and undercut America’s chances of victory. “What kind of victory? Will it be Pyrrhic?” Gore asked. His view: “This Congress either ought to declare war or undeclare war” in Southeast Asia. Another senator, Joseph Clark of Pennsylvania, reported that he had asked the U.S. commander, William Westmoreland, “if there would be a military victory in this war, and he said no.”

These details come from Sen. John Kerry’s new release of 1,000 pages of Foreign Relations Committee documents from the Vietnam era. The report, which was prepared by Senate historian Donald A. Ritchie, covers 1964 and 1968. Strikingly, the most substantive public hearings on the war did not begin until the spring of 1971, when Sen. J. William Fulbright announced that the committee would meet to “develop the best advice and greater public understanding of the policy alternatives available and positive congressional action to end American participation in the war.”

We need a Fulbright moment on Afghanistan, a war which is, as Kerry says, much more directly related to our safety than Vietnam ever was. “The underlying tragedy of Vietnam was that there was no compelling national-security interest at stake there,” Kerry told me last week. “There just wasn’t. But there is such an interest in Afghanistan. There would be a huge price to be paid if we were to allow the Taliban free rein to create more capacity for the planning of terror and the training of terrorists.” Continued

New documents from Vietnam era resonate even now

July 15, 2010 In the thick of the Vietnam War, senators harrumphed about White House arrogance, fretted over their own ineffectiveness, complained bitterly about misleading information from the Johnson administration and debated the value — and potential damage — of telling Americans the truth.

In more than 1,000 pages of previously classified testimony and transcripts from 1967 and 1968, a picture emerges of the political, social and moral crosscurrents that members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrestled with at a time when the shadows of Vietnam colored their thinking on problems foreign and domestic.

The documents were released Wednesday by the Foreign Relations Committee and its chairman, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a decorated Vietnam War hero who later emerged as a forceful opponent of the war. Continued

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