The truth behind the Vietnam War | George Friedman Interview

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the Vietnam War is back in the news it’s
still a war that to this day there’s a
lot of controversy around why the United
States entered into it what is your
perspective on that the United States
went to war in Vietnam for multiple
reasons but the basic reason was Charles
DeGaulle the American strategy at the
time was to contain the Soviet Union
with a string of alliances swinging from
Norway all the way through ran and
blocked them through expanding charles
de gaulle came along and said you can’t
trust the americans because if they ever
attacked the Americans wouldn’t come and
they were a night to go to fight for you
you’re going to be left alone we have to
form our own NATO independent of the
United States during the Vietnam War
there’s a word that became incredibly
important credibility credibility meant
that how credible were the American
guarantees to this all-important
structure of containment how credible
was it that we would come to Germany’s
aid or Japan
‘s aid with everything we
had if they were a war and a terrible
fear that time was that these people
would lose confidence in us so part of
the reason we went to Vietnam had
nothing to do with Vietnam the fear was
that if we didn’t go to Vietnam our
credibility with our other allies would
be gone
and the entire American strategy
will collapse on that basis there was no
expectation we wind up 50,000 dead on
that basis the expectation was that we
would go into a small police action we
may win it we may lose it but the
Germans would know that our guarantee
means something
and to a very great extent in my opinion
worrying about how the Europeans react
if we didn’t go in it’s important now
the fact was the D Europeans criticized
the United States are going in but if we
hadn’t gone in they would have really
panicked they would have really
potentially said his NATO worth anything
is this Japan’s guarantees worth
anything and so we went in based on
something that was repeated over and
over him credibility it’s really hard to
be a superpower because one thing to
fight for your life in world war two but
to go to war for an abstract political
consideration having to do with strategy
elsewhere and send your your kids to
fight in a war like that is agonizing
particularly when you’re thinking this
war is about winning in Vietnam and it
really isn’t so we look at the war we
wonder why did we fight this war this
way half-heartedly not seriously well
and it got out of hand
but the reason basically was this was a
political war it had as his end not
protecting Vietnam and the Communists
that was important it was a side issue
it had to do with maintaining the entire
American lion structure
and keeping the
Soviets from using this as a basis for
unraveling our position okay so framed
within that context when I ask you a
very interesting question you know that
to this day there’s a lot of controversy
about the Gulf of Tonkin incident what’s
your analysis of what actually happened
there
whatever happened there the United
States had made the decision to conduct
an air war against North Vietnam we knew
that if we went in on the ground we’d be
fighting a land war in Asia which does
Martha had warned us against our
illusion was that we would use air power
to inflict so much pain on the North
Vietnamese that they would give up the
dream of national unification well that
didn’t happen in fact they picked up the
air operations in South Vietnam which
meant we had to send more troops and

What Trump Gets Wrong About EU Defense

.. he also  that this spending should eventually reach 4% of GDP. The latter proposal is a non-starter, not only because of the budgetary sacrifices it would entail, but also because it would create significant military imbalances on the continent. At 4% of GDP, Germany’s military budget would be around €40 billion ($46 billion) more than that of France.

Trump’s 2% demand is neither unfounded nor unprecedented: previous US presidents have also called on European countries to increase their defense spending. In 2014, NATO member states that were not spending 2% of their GDP on defense committed to do so by 2024.

.. it is in Europe’s interest to take responsibility for our own security. Both external and internal threats are spreading, and they are becoming more and more interconnected.

A paradigmatic example is the war in Syria: the horrible humanitarian tragedy that has afflicted the country’s population for more than seven years fueled a refugee crisis that shook the foundations of the European Union.

.. Increasing military spending will be largely unproductive unless we do it “Europeanly.” The EU’s total military budget is already second only to that of the US, and almost four times larger than Russia’s.

.. the US must not forget that other NATO member states have upheld their commitment to mutual defense and have internalized US priorities.

.. the only time that Article 5 has ever been invoked was after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US. And soon thereafter, NATO led the United Nations-mandated International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan – the longest mission in the Alliance’s history.

.. Paradoxically, while his administration demands that we Europeans take charge of our security, it consistently strives to undermine every joint defense project that we pursue.

.. Trump also objects to measures to boost the European defense industry, because they will make Europe less reliant on US exports. But, again, it makes no sense to insist that Europe become more self-sufficient while at the same time pushing it to become more dependent on American-made arms, equipment, and technology.

.. Rather than persist in his undiplomatic and unilateral crusades, Trump would be wise to treat the EU as the friend it has always been to his country

Economist: Trump: Will the West Survive

In Warsaw, America’s president barely mentions democracy

 Earlier American administrations defined “the West” with reference to values such as democracy, liberty and respect for human rights. Mr Trump and many of his advisers, including the speech’s authors, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, apparently see it as rooted in ethnicity, culture and religion.
.. When George W. Bush visited Poland for his first presidential visit, in 2001, he referred to democracy 13 times. When Barack Obama spoke in Warsaw in 2014, he mentioned democracy nine times. For Mr Trump, once sufficed.
.. Mr Trump invoked the “blood of patriots”, and the ties of family and God. The rhetoric sounded strikingly similar to that used by the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party that governs Poland, and its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
..The crowd hurled insults at opposition politicians, booing when Lech Walesa, the anti-communist hero and a critic of the current government, left the square.
.. According to polling by Pew, just 23% have confidence in America’s president to do the right thing, down from 58% under Mr Obama.
.. At a news conference, he insisted that no one knows for sure whether Russia interfered with America’s presidential election (contradicting the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies).
.. Still, Mr Trump did unambiguously endorse NATO’s Article 5
.. But the greatest reason for Poland’s government to be delighted with Mr Trump was what he did not mention: PiS’s undermining of democratic institutions to entrench its own power. The party has stuffed the civil service and the diplomatic corps with loyalists and has weakened the independence of the judiciary. It has transformed the national broadcaster into a mouthpiece of the state. Independent journalists face new restrictions. The European Commission has warned the government that its reforms pose “a systemic risk to the rule of law.”

I Alone Can Fix

But is Twitter really the problem?

.. Twitter is just a tool. With or without it, Trump’s conduct would be disordered and self-sabotaging. The Comey firing is but one of hundreds of examples.

.. The crude way Trump fired Comey — without the courtesy of a meeting or even a phone call — guaranteed a new and skilled enemy.

.. Twitter played no role in Trump’s blurting of classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, or in his choice to slander Comey as a “nut job” to them. Twitter wasn’t implicated in many other blunders, such as undermining the NATO alliance by refusing to confirm our commitment to Article 5; praising the Philippine president for his extrajudicial murders of drug addicts and dealers

.. It is Trump’s inexplicable and insatiable appetite for conflict that keeps roiling the waters.

.. When the city of London has just endured another horrific terror attack, the decent thing is to express American sympathy and solidarity. Trump instead picked a fight with London’s mayor.

.. Trump is feuding with his own staff and even with his family.

.. This is a reprise of a campaign theme, perhaps the chief campaign theme. America, Trump argued, was being led by boobs and incompetents. “I alone can fix.”

.. But the truth is that he is the incompetent, and too vain and insecure to recognize his own faults. When he screws up, he blames those around him.

.. even the best people are diminished and tarnished by what Trump requires of them and does to them.

.. He makes liars of previously honorable men and women.

A Turning Point for Trumpinology

A headline in Politico Monday read: “ Trump national security team blindsided by NATO speech.” If this report is correct, President Trump left his top team—national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson —in the dark regarding his May 25 speech at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels. All three officials, Politico reports, believed the president’s address would explicitly affirm his commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all. Only when Mr. Trump began speaking did they realize he had removed the crucial sentence, reportedly with encouragement from chief strategist Steve Bannon.

.. The president withheld information from his top advisers and then forced them to offer “awkward, unconvincing, after-the-fact claims that the speech really did amount to a commitment they knew it did not make.”

.. veteran national-security scholars and officials who regard this as a turning point in their assessment of the administration. Until now they believed Mr. Trump’s experienced advisers would be able to run American foreign policy along more or less conventional postwar lines

.. They no longer believe this. Instead, they say, his modus operandi will be transactional.

.. a highly placed Asian official who said Washington “is now the epicenter of instability in the world.”

.. Lt. Gen. McMaster and Gary Cohn, the head of the National Economic Council, teamed up to publish a startling defense of Mr. Trump’s crockery-breaking European tour. The key doctrinal sentence runs: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”

.. Lest the reader conclude that the authors regard this as a disagreeable reality, they declare: “Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.” Hooray for the war of all against all!

.. There is a lot of daylight between Hobbes and Kant. Anarchy is not the only alternative to World Federalism.

.. Lt. Gen. McMaster and Mr. Cohn continue, “we delivered a clear message to our friends and partners: Where our interests align, we are open to working together.” The implication is that where they do not, we aren’t.

.. What about doing the right thing for its own sake, as President George W. Bush did when he placed America’s moral authority and material resources behind the global struggle against AIDS?

.. President Truman and Secretary of State George Marshall had learned the answer to these questions from Franklin Roosevelt : In the long run, the U.S. will not survive as an island of democracy in a sea of autocracy.

.. By contrast, Mr. Trump embraces self-interest wrongly understood, and his enablers, who surely know better, are helping him peddle this poison as medicine.

.. Yes, NATO partners should contribute more to the common defense. But even if they paid nothing, a free and democratic Europe would still serve the interests of the U.S.

Donald Trump Is the Worst Boss in Washington

Mr. McMaster, was forced to defend the White House after Mr. Trump leaked sensitive intelligence to the Russian ambassador and then, it was recently reported in Politico, left stunned as Mr. Trump took crucial language about NATO out of a speech he’d labored over. “People I know, they look at what’s happening with McMaster and they think, well, if you’re the national security adviser and you can’t even get in that sentence, just an obviously low-hanging-fruit achievement, why should anybody assume you’ll have any control over major foreign policy decisions?” Mr. McFaul said.

.. Earlier on in the administration, there was a level of plausible deniability: You could tell yourself Mr. Trump had just been mouthing off during the campaign, but that he was likely to run like a normal business-friendly Republican.

Five months in, though, those people — both already hired and in the group that might be invited to be — are clearly feeling far more anxious.

.. In terms of who might want her old job, Ms. Palmieri said, the most likely candidate now would be someone from Breitbart or Infowars, “a propaganda artist that you would normally not see in America at the very important position of the White House communications director.”

.. The people still willing to take political positions are likely to be more careerist, and in many jobs more ideological. They’re also likely to be older, Mr. McFaul said. Younger people are more likely to wait out the administration altogether and not get branded with a scarlet “T.”

A Leader Has to Help His Team Help Him

Speaking of the extraordinary difficulty of working for this president…

When President Donald Trump addressed NATO leaders during his debut overseas trip little more than a week ago, he surprised and disappointed European allies who hoped — and expected — he would use his speech to explicitly reaffirm America’s commitment to mutual defense of the alliance’s members, a one-for-all, all-for-one provision that looks increasingly urgent as Eastern European members worry about the threat from a resurgent Russia on their borders.

What’s not is that the president also disappointed — and surprised — his own top national security officials by failing to include the language reaffirming the so-called Article 5 provision in his speech. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all supported Trump doing so and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode. They thought it was, and a White House aide even told The New York Times the day before the line was definitely included.

It was not until the next day, Thursday, May 25, when Trump started talking at an opening ceremony for NATO’s new Brussels headquarters, that the president’s national security team realized their boss had made a decision with major consequences — without consulting or even informing them in advance of the change.

“They had the right speech and it was cleared through McMaster,” said a source briefed by National Security Council officials in the immediate aftermath of the NATO meeting. “As late as that same morning, it was the right one.”

How would you like to be H. R. McMaster at that moment? You make a recommendation, there seems to be a consensus on the national-security team, the president seems to agree…  you check and re-check to make sure the decision is going the way you think it should… and then at the last second, without telling you, the president changes his mind and goes in the opposite direction.