Posted 5 years ago on June 9, 2014, 3:30 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Daniel Ellsberg: United States Nearly Used Nukes During Vietnam War
Monday, 09 June 2014 14:21
By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis
We came dangerously close to nuclear war when the United States was fighting in Vietnam, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told a reunion of the Stanford anti-Vietnam War movement in May 2014. He said that in 1965, the Joint Chiefs of Staff assured President Lyndon B. Johnson that the war could be won, but it would take at least 500,000 to one million troops. The Joint Chiefs recommended hitting targets up to the Chinese border. Ellsberg suspects their real aim was to provoke China into responding. If the Chinese came in, the Joint Chiefs took for granted that we would cross into China and use nuclear weapons to demolish the communists.
Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower also recommended to Johnson that we use nuclear weapons in both North and South Vietnam. Indeed, during the 1964 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater argued for nuclear attacks as well. Johnson feared that the Joint Chiefs would resign and go public if Johnson didn't follow at least some of their recommendations, and he needed some Republican support for the "Great Society" and the "War on Poverty." Fortunately, Johnson resisted their most extreme proposals, even though the Joint Chiefs regarded them as essential to success. Ellsberg cannot conclude that the antiwar movement shortened the war, but he says the movement put a lid on the war. If the president had done what the Joint Chiefs recommended, the movement would have grown even larger, but so would the war, much larger than it ever became.
"The Most Dangerous Man in America"
Ellsberg, a former US military analyst and Marine in Vietnam, worked at the RAND Corporation and the Pentagon. He risked decades in prison to release 7,000 top-secret documents to The New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. The Pentagon Papers showed how five presidents consistently lied to the American people about the Vietnam War that was killing thousands of Americans and millions of Indochinese. Ellsberg's courageous act lead directly to the Watergate scandal, Nixon's resignation, and helped to end the Vietnam War. Henry Kissinger, Nixon's national security advisor, called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America," who "had to be stopped at all costs." But Ellsberg wasn't stopped. Facing 115 years in prison on espionage and conspiracy charges, he fought back. The case against him was dismissed due to egregious misconduct by the Nixon administration. Ellsberg's story was portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film, "The Most Dangerous Man in America." Edward Snowden told Ellsberg that film strengthened his intention to release the NSA documents.
The April Third Movement
On April 3, 1969, 700 Stanford students voted to occupy the Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL), where classified (secret) research on electronic warfare (radar-jamming) was being conducted at Stanford. That spawned the April Third Movement (A3M), which holds reunions every five to 10 years. The sit-in at AEL, supported by a majority of Stanford students, lasted nine days, replete with a printing press in the basement to produce materials linking Stanford trustees to defense contractors. Stanford moved the objectionable research off campus, but the A3M continued with sit-ins, teach-ins and confrontations with police in the Stanford Industrial Park. Many activists from that era continue to do progressive work, drawing on their experiences during the A3M. This year, we discussed the political economy of climate change, and the relationship between the counterculture of the 1960s and the development of Silicon Valley. Highlights of the weekend included three keynote addresses - Ellsberg's, one delivered by Stanford political science Professor Terry Karl, and a talk by Rutgers professor of English and American Studies, H. Bruce Franklin.