Then, Mann shifts to the Senate floor on February 17, , when the young, ambitious and relatively pragmatic liberal Senator Frank Church spoke against the escalating U. In his last piece of stage-setting, Mann describes the political demise of Truman's presidency after The situation worsened for Truman in , and in the next year's campaign Republicans finessed their own foreign-policy differences by invoking the administration's well-known failures.
In Mann's rendering, the events of the period amount to a nightmare scenario for future presidents. At the same time, John F.
Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon were all "watching and learning" p. Mann's extended preliminaries display his three main concerns. He returns later to the Senate doves, but concentrates from the beginning on the intertwining themes of deluded anticommunist fixations and domestic political imperatives. He also seeks to incorporate Congress into the story of Indochina policy under Truman and Eisenhower, citing occasional legislative actions and the statements of interested members, such as Kennedy and Mike Mansfield.
Despite Mann's storytelling gifts, his narrative covers familiar ground somewhat reductively, where U.
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While his account generally follows William Conrad Gibbons's comprehensive treatment of legislative and executive policymaking, Mann also mines Foreign Relations of the United States volumes, the Congressional Record , and various other sources. But his engagement with relevant scholarship is uneven. He draws upon studies that relate well to his themes, such as Joseph G. But his grasp of other arguments seems shaky, as when he mentions U.
He describes Vietnam as a perceived source of raw materials, but not as a market for Japanese exports, as John Foster Dulles intended. The early part of his account lags well behind recent scholarship, such as Mark Philip Bradley's examination of the influence of American racist, colonialist stereotypes, or Mark Atwood Lawrence's portrayal of the role of transatlantic-coalition-building policy advocates in securing American support for the French war effort. As the crisis in Vietnam deepened, Congress became more engaged.
Mann views Congress in terms of individuals--such as Mansfield, Church, J.
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William Fulbright, and George McGovern--rather than group dynamics or institutional forces. Using interviews and archival sources, Mann offers acute, generally persuasive renderings of his lead characters, with special emphasis on Mansfield's evolving personal views. He devotes a chapter to Mansfield's December Vietnam trip and subsequent "bombshell" report to Kennedy which questioned the importance of U.
Unfortunately, Kennedy's policies "would never be as daring and unconventional as his aides and admirers would later contend" p. Kennedy "distinguished himself by an eagerness to find innovative ways of implementing America's existing policy" p. Lyndon Johnson manifested the same tendencies. Early in , with Nixon and Barry Goldwater in campaign mode, Johnson's "political antennae had detected the first soundings of a new 'Who-lost-China' debate involving Vietnam" p.
Johnson feared being pulled into a larger war, but, as he told Senator Richard Russell, "the fear the other way is more" p. Political fears remained crucial, Mann argues, through the election and afterwards. Johnson's pre-election strategy, "splitting the war down the middle" between escalation and withdrawal, bought time until November p. The Tonkin Gulf episode allowed LBJ to obtain an explicit grant of authority and, at the same time, to turn the tables on Goldwater. After reelection, he began facing his deferred choices, but still concealed his deliberations and sought to manage the politics of the issue.
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But, like Logevall, he does emphasize Johnson's intense efforts to manufacture congressional support for his own closely held decisions as well as his dismissiveness toward independently conceived outside views. Especially with the Senate debate on the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, Mann's coverage shifts toward his congressional protagonists. Each of them understood, or soon came to understand, the delusions underlying America's policies in Vietnam.
Yet each also failed, for one reason or another, to stand in Lyndon Johnson's way. John F. Kennedy once said: "The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. Is America the nation, the result of just a series of events or is it part of some grand design from some even grander architect?
In "A Secret History," we uncover the true origin of the United States of America and explore the occult origins of its Written by Reality Entertainment Staff. Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.
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