Jun 16, 1961:
There were 900 U.S. military instructors in South Vietnam at the end of 1961, but the number rose to 3,200 by the end of 1962, 16,000 by the time of President Kennedy's assassination in November 1963.
Jun 16, 1965:
21,000 more U.S. troops make the transition from defensive missions to direct combat operations. By 1969, there were over 540,000 American troops in Vietnam.
I've often wondered what made us escalate from instructors into all out war.
Jun 16, 1961:
There were 900 U.S. military instructors in South Vietnam at the end of 1961,
The Legacy of the Vietnam War
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Paul Shannon
QUESTION: When the Indochina war ended in 1975 you wrote that our nation's "official" opinion makers would engage in distortion of the lessons to be drawn from the war so that the same basic foreign policy goals could be pursued after the war. You felt then that in order to keep the real meaning of the war from penetrating the general public they faced two major tasks: First, they would have to disguise the fact that the war "was basically an American attack on South Vietnam -- a war of annihilation that spilled over to the rest of Indochina". And secondly, they would have to obscure the fact that the military effort in Vietnam "was restrained by a mass movement of protest and resistance here at home which engaged in effective direct action outside the bounds of propriety long before established spokesmen proclaimed themselves to be its leaders". Where do we stand now on these two issues--seven years later?
CHOMSKY: As far as the opinion makers are concerned, they have been doing exactly what it was obvious they would do. Every book that comes out, every article that comes out, talks about how -- while it may have been a "mistake" or an "unwise effort" -- the United States was defending South Vietnam from North Vietnamese aggression. And they portray those who opposed the war as apologists for North Vietnam. That's standard to say.
The purpose is obvious: to obscure the fact that the United States did attack South Vietnam and the major war was fought against South Vietnam. The real invasion of South Vietnam which was directed largely against the rural society began directly in 1962 after many years of working through mercenaries and client groups. And that fact simply does not exist in official American history. There is no such event in American history as the attack on South Vietnam. That's gone. Of course, It is a part of real history. But it's not a part of official history.
And most of us who were opposed to the war, especially in the early '60's -- the war we were opposed to was the war on South Vietnam which destroyed South Vietnam's rural society. The South was devastated. But now anyone who opposed this atrocity is regarded as having defended North Vietnam. And that's part of the effort to present the war as if it were a war between South Vietnam and North Vietnam with the United States helping the South. Of course it's fabrication. But it's "official truth" now.
The Meaning of Vietnam
The New York Review of Books, June 12, 1975
The American war was criminal in two major respects. Like the Dominican intervention and the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, it was a case of aggression, conscious and premeditated. In 1954, the National Security Council stated that the US reserved the right to use force "to defeat local Communist subversion or rebellion not constituting armed attack," i.e., in violation of "the supreme law of the land." The US acted on this doctrine. Furthermore, the conduct of the war was an indescribable atrocity. The US goal was to eradicate the revolutionary nationalist forces which, US officials estimated, enjoyed the support of half the population. The method, inevitably, was to destroy the rural society. While the war of annihilation partially succeeded in this aim, the US was never able to create a workable system out of the wreckage.