Origins of the Vietnam War
The 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers has brought attention once more to Daniel Ellsberg. His action in 1971 in releasing the Pentagon Papers blew the lid off of Washington’s mountain of lies and deceptions about Vietnam and ultimately led to Watergate and Nixon’s resignation. In this never before broadcast program we go back into history as Ellsberg describes the origins of the Vietnam War. He traces early U.S. support for the French effort to retain control of its Indochina colony. He talks about U.S. nuclear weapons policy including threats against the Soviet Union as well as Eisenhower’s offer of nukes to the French to stave off defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The U.S. later totally supplanted the French and expanded the war to Laos and Cambodia. Ellsberg looks at the policy of supporting Diem’s Saigon regime, first by Kennedy then Johnson.
Interview by David Barsamian.
Daniel Ellsberg was a company commander in the Marine Corps. In 1959 he joined the RAND Corporation as an analyst. In 1964 he was recruited to serve in the Pentagon under Robert McNamara. He precipitated a national political crisis when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret study about Vietnam. He is the author of Secrets and The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. He is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and the Olof Palme prize for his “profound humanism and exceptional moral courage.” At 90, Ellsberg is still active and speaking out in support of other whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.