Chapter 11: Vietnam, Johnson’s Opium War
Table of Contents
American Heroin Trafficking was Introduced by Jewish GangstersIn the 1920s, heroin smuggling and prostitution were introduced and run primarily by Jewish gangsters. Alfred McCoy made the following observation in his book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia:
At first the American Mafia ignored this new business opportunity [heroin trafficking]. Steeped in the traditions of the Sicilian "honored society," which absolutely forbade involvement in either narcotics or prostitution, the Mafia left the heroin business to the powerful Jewish gangsters—such as "Legs" Diamond, "Dutch" Schultz, and Meyer Lansky—who dominated organized crime in the 1920s. The Mafia contented itself with the substantial profits to be gained from controlling the bootleg liquor industry.1
However, in 1930-1931, only seven years after heroin was legally banned, a war erupted in the Mafia ranks. Out of the violence that left more than sixty gangsters dead came a new generation of leaders with little respect for the traditional code of honor.2
The leader of this mafioso youth movement was the legendary Salvatore C. Luciana, known to the world as Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Charming and strikingly handsome, Luciano must rank as one of the most brilliant criminal executives of the modern age.(Footnote 31) For, at a series of meetings shortly following the last of the bloodbaths that completely eliminated the old guard, Luciano outlined his plans for a modern, nationwide crime cartel. His modernization scheme quickly won total support from the leaders of America's twenty-four Mafia "families," and within a few months the National Commission was functioning smoothly. This was an event of historic proportions: almost single-handedly, Luciano built the Mafia into the most powerful criminal syndicate in the United States and pioneered organizational techniques that are still the basis of organized crime today. Luciano also forged an alliance between the Mafia and Meyer Lansky's Jewish gangs that has survived for almost 40 years and even today is the dominant characteristic of organized crime in the United States.
(Alfred McCoy, et al, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, pp. 17 - 18)Lucky Luciano died on January 26, 1962. Therefore he was not directly involved in President Kennedy’s assassination. A more likely candidate is Meyer Lansky. As previously stated, in 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations linked Jack Ruby to Meyer Lansky.3 This supports my overall thesis that President Kennedy’s assassination was ultimately a Jewish conspiracy into which various underworld elements were lured by the promise of opium smuggling from Southeast Asia for heroin production in Marseilles, France and Hong Kong.
China’s Vietnam Strategy in 1965On June 23, 1965, Chinese Premier Chou En-lai dined with Egyptian President Nasser in Alexandria, Egypt. The two men reportedly enjoyed each other’s company. According to Arab scholar Mohamed Heikal,(Footnote 32) Chou made the following comments to Nasser about American involvement in Vietnam:
"We are afraid some American militarists may press for a nuclear attack on China and we think that the American involvement in Indochina is an insurance policy against such an attack because we will have a lot of their flesh close to our nails.
"So the more troops they send to Vietnam, the happier we will be, for we feel that we will have them in our power, we can have their blood. So if you want to help the Vietnamese, you should encourage the Americans to throw more and more soldiers into Vietnam.
"We want them there. They will be close to China. And they will be in our grasp. They will be so close to us, they will be our hostages. …
"Some of them are trying opium. And we are helping them. We are planting the best kinds of opium especially for the American soldiers in Vietnam. Do you remember when the West imposed opium on us? They fought us with opium. And we are going to fight them with their own weapons. We are going to use their own methods against them. We want them to have a big army in Vietnam which will be hostage to us and we want to demoralize them. The effect this demoralization is going to have on the United States will be far greater than anyone realizes.
(Mohamed Heikal, The Cairo Documents, pp. 306 - 307)Premier Chou’s comments are highly significant because they indicate that the Chinese had a keen interest, in 1965, in the Golden Triangle and the opium produced there. In my observation, Chou’s thinking was flawed regarding his belief that the presence of American soldiers in Vietnam would protect China from nuclear attack. Also, his strategy of "helping" the American soldiers get hooked on opium/heroin as means of weakening the resolve of the American military was somewhat naïve. My research has convinced me that the last thing the leaders of the American military cared about during the Vietnam was the personal welfare of its soldiers, particularly during the Johnson administration. This mindset, however, changed a great deal when President Nixon came into office.
History of Opium WarsThe opium that Premier Chou planned to supply to American soldiers in Vietnam was grown in the Golden Triangle, a mountainous area of northeastern Burma, northern Thailand, and northern Laos regarded as one of the world’s most important sources of illicit opium, morphine, and heroin. Chou also made references to two Opium Wars of the Nineteenth Century. The first opium war (1839-42) was between Britain and China. The second (1856-60) involved Britain and France against China. Both wars originated from China’s efforts to limit opium trade.
Early in the 19th century, British merchants began smuggling opium into China which resulted in social and economic turmoil in the country due to widespread addiction. In 1839, China began enforcing its prohibitions on the importation of opium. At one point, the Chinese government confiscated and destroyed a large quantity of opium warehoused by British merchants at Guangzhou (Canton). Britain responded by sending gunboats to attack several Chinese coastal cities. The two countries were at war for about three years. Eventually China was defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing (1842) and the British Supplementary Treaty of the Bogue (1843). These providedthat the ports of Guangzhou, Jinmen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai should be open to British trade and residence. The agreements also gave Hong Kong to the British. Within a few years other Western powers signed similar treaties with China and received commercial and residential privileges, and the Western domination of China's treaty ports began.
In 1856 a second opium war broke out following a Chinese search of a British-registered ship, the Arrow, in Guangzhou. British and French troops took Guangzhou and Tianjin and forced the Chinese to accept the treaties of Tianjin (1858), to which France, Russia, and the United States were also participants. China begrudgingly agreed to open eleven more ports, permit foreign legations in Beijing, sanction Christian missionary activity, and legalize the import of opium.
There was a brief peace, but China continued to resist British efforts to import opium. In 1859, hostilities were renewed when China attempted to block the entry of diplomats into Beijing. This time the British and French occupied Beijing and burned the imperial summer palace (Yuan ming yuan). The Beijing conventions of 1860, by which China was forced to reaffirm the terms of the Treaty of Tianjin and make additional concessions, marked the end of the second Opium War.4
The Golden TriangleAs previously stated, the Golden Triangle is a mountainous area of northeastern Burma, northern Thailand, and northern Laos. Alfred McCoy described—in his book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia—how most of the world’s illicit opium was grown in that region of the world in 1972:
Almost all of the world's illicit opium [in 1972] is grown in a narrow band of mountains that stretches along the southern rim of the great Asian land mass, from Turkey's and Anatolian plateau, through the northern reaches of the Indian subcontinent, all the way to the rugged mountains of northern Laos. Within this 4,500-mile stretch of mountain landscape, peasants and tribesmen of eight different nations harvest some fourteen hundred tons a year of raw opium, which eventually reaches the world's heroin and opium addicts." A small percentage of this fourteen hundred tons is diverted from legitimate pharmaceutical production in Turkey, Iran, and India, but most of it is grown expressly for the international narcotics traffic in South and Southeast Asia. Although Turkey was the major source of American narcotics through the 1960s, the hundred tons of raw opium its licensed peasant farmers diverted from legitimateproduction never accounted for more than 7 percent of the world's illicit supply.5 About 24 percent is harvested by poppy farmers in South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India). However, most of this is consumed by local opium addicts, and only insignificant quantities find their way to Europe or the United States.6 It is Southeast Asia that has become the world's most important source of illicit opium. Every year the hill tribe farmers of Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle region-northeastern Burma, northern Thailand, and northern Laos-harvest approximately one thousand tons of raw opium, or about 70 percent of the world's illicit supply.7
(Alfred McCoy, et al, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, p. 9)McCoy’s description of the region where most opium was grown is intriguing. He portrayed it in geographic and visual terms, rather than merely a division of man-made nation states. Again, this is how he described it: "4,500-mile stretch of mountain landscape…in a narrow band of mountains that stretches along the southern rim of the great Asian land mass, from Turkey's and Anatolian plateau, through the northern reaches of the Indian subcontinent, all the way to the rugged mountains of northern Laos." From that description, it becomes obvious why the Western powers were so interested in dominating that area of the world.
McCoy also implied that market forces were causing "peasants and tribesmen of eight different nations to harvest some fourteen hundred tons a year of raw opium" which was ultimately sold to heroin and opium addicts across the world.
Given that the world’s opium supply was grown in a central geographic region over which several nations ruled, it becomes significant that by the mid-1960s, the countries of Southeast Asia were the only ones left where opium production was still legal. In 1955, the Iranian government announced the complete abolition of opium growing.8 In 1967, the Turkish government announced plans to follow suit.9
It apparently became known within the worldwide heroin cartel that Turkey and Iran would eventually abolish opium production. Consequently, the CIA began supporting opium and heroin production in Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 60s. Alfred McCoy described—in his book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia—how Cold War politics influenced heroin trafficking from World War II through the Vietnam era.
The cold war was waged in many parts of the world, but Europe was the most important battleground in the 1940s and 1950s. Determined to restrict Soviet influence in western Europe, American clandestine operatives intervened in the internal politics of Germany, Italy, and France. In Sicily, the forerunner of the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), formed an alliance with the Sicilian Mafia to limit the political gains of the Italian Communist party on this impoverished island. In France the Mediterranean port city of Marseille became a major battleground between the CIA and the French Communist party during the late 1940s. To tip the balance of power in its favor, the CIA recruited Corsican gangsters to battle Communist strikers and backed leading figures in the city's Corsican underworld who were at odds with the local Communists. Ironically, both the Sicilian Mafia and the Corsican underworld played a key role in the growth of Europe's postwar heroin traffic and were to provide most of the heroin smuggled into the United States for the next two decades.
However, the mid-1960s marked the peak of the European heroin industry, and shortly thereafter it went into a sudden decline. In the early 1960s the Italian government launched a crackdown on the Sicilian Mafia, and in 1967 the Turkish government announced that it would begin phasing out cultivation of opium poppies on the Anatolian plateau in order to deprive Marseille's illicit heroin laboratories of their most important source of raw material. Unwilling to abandon their profitable narcotics racket, the American Mafia and Corsican syndicates shifted their sources of supply to Southeast Asia, where surplus opium production and systematic government corruption created an ideal climate for large-scale heroin production.
And once again American foreign policy played a role in creating these favorable conditions. During the early 1950s the CIA had backed the formation of a Nationalist Chinese guerrilla army in Burma, which still controls almost a third of the world's illicit opium supply, and in Laos the CIA created a Meo mercenary army whose commander manufactured heroin for sale to Americans GIs in South Vietnam. The State Department provided unconditional support for corrupt governments openly engaged in the drug traffic. In late 1969 new heroin laboratories sprang up in the tri-border area where Burma, Thailand, and Laos converge, and unprecedented quantities of heroin started flooding into the United States. Fueled by these seemingly limitless supplies of heroin, America's total number of addicts skyrocketed.
(Alfred McCoy, et al, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, pp. 7-8)It should be noted that the group of Americans hit hardest by heroin addition was poor blacks living in the inner cities. Given that right-wing extremists like Joseph Milteer apparently joined the coup against Kennedy (reference Chapter 7), the targeting of black communities for illicit heroin sales was likely no accident.
Origins of the Vietnam WarThe Vietnam War began in 1955 and ended in 1975. During the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, American involvement in Vietnam was limited to clandestine espionage and training the South Vietnamese army. Kennedy increased the number of "military advisors" from about 800 to 16,000; however, this was done primarily as a show of strength to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. As tensions eased between the two superpowers in the spring, summer, and fall of 1963, Kennedy announced plans to withdraw forces from South Vietnam, starting with a thousand men by the end of 1963. Immediately after Kennedy’s death, President Johnson rescinded the withdrawal plan and began sending more troops to that country.
On August 2, 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats fired on the U.S. destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, and, after President Johnson asserted that there had been a second attack on August 4—a claim later shown to be false—the U.S. Congress almost unanimously endorsed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing the president to take "all necessary measures to repel attacks . . . and prevent further aggression." The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in effect gave the president carte blanche to wage war in Southeast Asia without Congressional approval. This marked the beginning of full-scale American involvement in the Vietnam War. When Johnson left office in January 1969, there were about 540,00010 American soldiers—mostly draftees—in Vietnam in sharp contrast to the 16,000 military advisers—non-draftees—present when Kennedy was killed in 1963.
Reasons for the WarThere are three popular explanations for the Vietnam War. Western diplomats, politicians, and historians state that it was an unsuccessful effort by South Vietnam and the United States to prevent the communists of North Vietnam from uniting South Vietnam with North Vietnam under their leadership. The Vietnamese government would have us believe it was merely a civil war that occurred after Vietnam declared its independence from Japan(Footnote 33) at the end of World War II. But in Alfred McCoy’s book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, he suggested that the war was as much about the illicit export of opium as anything else. My research indicates that it was a combination of all three, but was intensified by the assassination of President Kennedy.
Furthermore, historical evidence indicates that the Vietnam War was a continuation of the two Opium Wars of the Nineteenth Century in which the Western powers forced China to import opium. As governments learned more about the dangers of opium and heroin, it became unnacceptable—purely for public relations reasons—for the Western powers to overtly export narcotics to China and other countries. Over time, drug trafficking continued but its management shifted to international espionage services and organized crime which were secretly sanctioned by the Western governments. Eventually drug smuggling began to drive the foreign policies of the Western powers, and vice-versa. This entanglement, in my view, became the impetus behind Western involvement in the Vietnam War. It also appears that this situation was exploited by friends of Israel as a means of setting up the assassination of President Kennedy.
As previously stated, it was Jewish gangsters—such as "Legs" Diamond, "Dutch" Schultz, and Meyer Lansky—who introduced the heroin business to the American Mafia in the 1920s. In addition, the American Mafia—which was primarily of Sicilian origin in the 1920s—forbade involvement of either narcotics or prostitution. Such activity was left to the Jewish gangsters.11 This is a critical fact that further supports my conclusion that a Jewish conspiracy as the ultimate sponsor of the Kennedy assassination.
Vietnam History, From 1941 to 1963In 1941, the League for the Independence of Vietnam—generally known as the Viet Minh—was organized as a nationalistic party seeking Vietnamese independence from France.
On September 2, 1945, less than a month after the Japanese surrendered in World War II, Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Viet Minh, formally declared Vietnam's independence. The Viet Minh had a strong base of popular support in northern Vietnam. The French wanted to reassert control in Indochina, however, and would recognize Vietnam only as a free state within the French Union.
In the mid-1950s, Vietnam became openly communist. In 1946, fighting between the French and the Viet Minh broke out—and continued until 1954—when the French were badly defeated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. An international conference in Geneva in 1954 negotiated a cease-fire. To separate the warring forces, the conferees decided that the French and the Vietnamese fighting under French command would move south of the 17th parallel and the Viet Minh would go north of the 17th parallel, which was established as a military demarcation line surrounded by a demilitarized zone (DMZ). Thousands of people accordingly moved north or south away from their homes, and the French began their final departure from Vietnam. The agreement left the communist-led Viet Minh in control of the northern half of Vietnam, which came to be known as North Vietnam, while the noncommunist southern half became South Vietnam. Ngo Dinh Diem became South Vietnam's prime minister during the armistice negotiations.
The Geneva Accords stipulated that free elections be held throughout Vietnam in 1956 under the supervision of an International Control Committee with the aim of reunifying North and South Vietnam under a single popularly elected government. North Vietnam expected to win this election thanks to the broad political organization that it had built up in both parts of Vietnam. But Diem, who had solidified his control over South Vietnam, refused in 1956 to hold the scheduled elections. The United States supported his position. In response, the North Vietnamese decided to unify South with North Vietnam through military force rather than by political means.
U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, fearing the spread of communism in Asia, persuaded the U.S. government to provide economic and military assistance to the Diem regime, which became increasingly unpopular with the people of South Vietnam. Diem replaced the traditionally elected village councils with Saigon-appointed administrators. He also aroused the ire of the Buddhists by selecting his fellow Roman Catholics (most of whom had moved to South Vietnam from the North) for top government positions. Diem’s government began mistreating the Buddhists to the point that there were riots in the streets; Buddhists monks publicly committed suicide by setting themselves on fire.
Guerrilla warfare spread as Viet Minh soldiers who were trained and armed in the North—the Viet Cong—returned to their homes in the South to assassinate, ambush, sabotage, and proselytize. The Diem government asked for and received more American military advisers and equipment to build up the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the police force, but it could not halt the growing presence of the South Vietnamese communist forces, or Viet Cong.12
From 1962 until 1963, President Kennedy increased the number noncombat military advisers from 800 to 16,000.13
Vietnam was a Divisive Issue Within JFK’s GovernmentThe Vietnam War was obviously a divisive issue during the Johnson and Nixon years, but few people realize how divisive it was while Kennedy was still president. Historian Michael Beschloss wrote that Vietnam was tearing Kennedy’s government apart in the summer of 1963:
Kennedy later told Charles Bartlett, "My God, my government’s coming apart!" Robert Kennedy recalled that week [end of August 1963] as "the only time, really, in three years that the government was broken in two in a disturbing way." He later said, ‘Diem was corrupt and a bad leader… but we inherited him." He thought it bad policy to "replace somebody we didn’t like with somebody we do because it would just make every other country nervous as can be that we were running coups in and out."
(Michael Beschloss, The Crisis Years, p. 653)
[REPORTER:] Mr. President, back to the question of troop reductions, are any intended in the far east at the present time – particularly in Korea and is there any speedup in the withdrawal from Vietnam intended?
[PRESIDENT KENNEDY:] Well as you know, when Secretary McNamara and General Taylor came back, they announced that we would expect to withdraw a thousand men from South Vietnam before the end of the year. And there has been some reference to that by General Harkins. If we’re able to do that, that will be our schedule. I think the first unit, the first contingent, would be 250 men who are not involved in what might be called front-line operations. It would be our hope to lesson the number of Americans there by a thousand as the training intensifies and is carried on in South Vietnam.
(from JFK’s press conference, October 31, 1963)[An audio cassette tape recording of the referenced press conference was provided by the John F. Kennedy Library, audio-visual department, Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125.]
Nov. 1, 1963: Diem Assassinated in CIA Backed CoupThe very next day, on Nov. 1, 1963, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem was killed in a CIA backed coup. As previously stated, Diem—a Roman Catholic—had upset the Buddhists by selecting fellow Roman Catholics (most of whom had moved to South Vietnam from the North) for top government positions. There was a public backlash—riots in the streets; Buddhists monks publicly committed suicide by setting themselves on fire. Diem became an embarrassment to the United States and was encouraged to resign, but he refused.
Diem’s assassination pulled the US deeper into the Vietnam conflict, a conflict Kennedy was trying to pull away from. There is a question as to whether Kennedy had approved the coup. Some historians claim that he knew of it; however, he was extremely upset at hearing of Diem’s murder. Here are some cites:
The news of Diem’s death outraged Kennedy. General [Maxwell] Taylor wrote that he "leaped to his feet and rushed from the room with a look of shock and dismay on his face which I had never seen before." George Smathers remembered that Jack Kennedy blamed the CIA, saying "I’ve got to do something about those bastards;" they should be stripped of their exorbitant power. Mike Forrestal called Kennedy’s reaction "both personal and religious," and especially troubled by the implication that a Catholic President had participated in a plot to assassinate a coreligionist. Every account of Kennedy’s response is in complete agreement. Until the very end he had hoped Diem’s life could be spared.
(Herbert Parmet, JFK: the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, p. 335.)
I saw the President soon after he heard that Diem and Nhu were dead. He was somber and shaken. I had not seen him so depressed since the Bay of Pigs.
(Arthur Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p. 997]
In the Situation Room, Kennedy was monitoring the coup when told of the murders. He rushed out of the room. Forrestal felt that the assassination "shook him personally" and "bothered him as a moral and religious matter. It shook his confidence, I think, in the kind of advice he was getting about South Vietnam."
(Michael Beschloss, The Crisis Years, p. 657)Over the next year, countless CIA backed governments rose and fell in South Vietnam.14
Nov. 24, 1963: Johnson Rescinded Kennedy’s Withdrawal OrderOn November 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy’s assassination, President Johnson quietly rescinded Kennedy’s order to withdraw a thousand men from Vietnam by the end of the year.
On Sunday afternoon, November 24, , Lyndon Johnson kept the dead President’s appointment with [U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot] Lodge and told him that he was not willing to ‘lose Vietnam.’: ‘Tell those generals in Saigon that Lyndon Johnson intends to stand by our word.’
(Michael Beschloss, The Crisis Years, p. 680)
[On August 2, 1964,] three North Vietnamese boats fired torpedoes at [U.S. destroyer Maddox]. Maddox gunners and jets from the nearby Ticonderoga fired back, crippling two of the vessels and sinking the third.
President Johnson rejected further reprisals. Using the hot line to Moscow for the first time, he cabled Khruschev that he did not wish to widen the conflict but hoped that North Vietnam would not attack other American vessels in international waters.
The Maddox and another destroyer, the C. Turner Joy, were ordered to sail eight miles off the North Vietnamese coast, four miles off the offshore islands. The commandos from the South resumed their operations. On Sunday evening, intercepted radio messages gave the Maddox commander, Captain John Herrick, the ‘impression’ that Communist patrol boats were about to attack. With air support from the Ticonderoga, the Maddox and Turner Joy began firing.
Maddox officers reported twenty-two enemy torpedoes, none of which scored a hit, and two or three enemy vessels sunk. But when the firing stopped, Herrick warned his superiors that the ‘entire action leaves many doubts’; no sailor on the destroyer had seen or heard enemy gunfire. An ‘overeager’ young sonar operator who had counted torpedoes may have been misled by ‘freak weather effects.’
Nevertheless the President ordered bombing of North Vietnam for the first time and unveiled the document now christened the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Language was broadened to authorize Johnson to ‘take all necessary measures’ to protect American forces and ‘prevent further aggression.’ The Senate passed it [on August 7, 1964] with only two dissenters.
(Michael Beschloss, The Crisis Years, p. 694)Johnson also made a false claim—supported by the news media—that on August 4, 1964, the North Vietnamese attacked US destroyers a second time.15
Here is a transcript of President Johnson describing the Gulf of Tonkin Incident to Robert Anderson, former Secretary of Treasury in the Eisenhower administration, the day after the attack.
[MONDAY, AUGUST 3, 1964:]
There have been some covert operations in that area that we have been carrying on – blowing up some bridges and things of that kind, roads and so forth. So I imagine they wanted to put a stop to it. So they …fired and we respond immediately with five-inch [artillery shells] from the destroyer and with planes overhead. And we … knock one of ‘em out and cripple the other two. Then we go right back where we were with that destroyer and with another one, plus plenty of planes standing by…
(Transcript of LBJ per Michael Beschloss, Taking Charge, pp. 493-494.)Four days later on August 7, 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and 88-to-2 in the Senate. Here is a transcript of a telephone conversation, after the vote, between President Johnson and Speaker of the House, John McCormack:
[FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 1964:]
LBJ: That was a good vote you had today.
McCormack: Yes, it was very good. Four hundred fourteen to nothing. One present. What’d the Senate do?
LBJ: Eighty-eight to 2 – [Wayne] Morse and [Ernest] Gruening.
McCormack: Can’t understand Gruening.
LBJ: Oh, he’s no good. He’s worse than Morse. He’s just no good. I’ve spent millions on him up in Alaska [Gruening’s home state] … And Morse is just undependable and erratic as he can be.
McCormack: A radical.
LBJ: I just wanted to point out this little shit-ass [Edgar] Foreman today got up and said that we acted impulsively by announcing [in a Tuesday night televised statement] that we had an answer on the way before the planes dropped their bombs … It’s just a pure lie and smoke screen.(Footnote 34)
(Michael Beschloss, Taking Charge, p. 508)
[TUESDAY, AUGUST 25, 1964:]
I’m set to brief.
What should I tell ‘em about this morning?
I don’t know, George. There’s really not much to tell ‘em… I’m just writing out a little statement that I think I’m gonna make either at a press conference or go up to Atlantic City this afternoon to make. But I don’t think we can tell ‘em about it now. …. Here’s what I’m gonna say to ‘em. [reading from a handwritten statement:]
"[Forty-four months ago] I was selected to be the Democratic Vice President … On that fateful November day last year, I accepted the responsibility of the President, asking God’s guidance and the help of all our people. For nine months, I’ve carried on as effectively as I could. Our country faces grave dangers. These dangers must be faced and met by a united people under a leader they do not doubt. After thirty-three years in political life, most men acquire enemies as ships accumulate barnacles. The times require leadership about which there is no doubt and a voice that men of all parties and sections and color can follow. I’ve learned, after trying very hard, that I am not that voice or that leader. Therefore… I suggest that the representatives from all states of the Union selected for the purpose of selecting a Democratic nominee for President and Vice President proceed to do their duty. And that no consideration be given to me because I am absolutely unavailable."
[LBJ then vents:]
Then they can just pick the two they want for the two places. We’ll … do the best we can to help till January. Then, if he’s elected … theycan have a new and fresh fellow without any of the old scars. And I don’t want this power of the Bomb. I just don’t want these decisions I’m required to make. I don’t want the conniving that’s required. I don’t want the disloyalty that’s around. I don’t want the bungling and the inefficiencies of our people. …
This will throw the nation into quite an uproar, sir.
Yeah, I think so. And I think that now is the time, though. I don’t know any better time … I am absolutely positive that I cannot lead the South and the North … And I don’t want to lead the nation without my own state and without my own section. I am very convinced that the Negroes will not listen to me. They’re not going to follow a white Southerner. And the stakes are too big to try to compromise. … [He complains about various newspaper articles.]
I think it’s too late, sir. I know it’s your decision, because you’re the man that has to bear the brunt. But right now I think this just gives the country to Goldwater.
That’s all right. I don’t care. I’m just willing to --- I don’t think that. I don’t agree with that a-tall. But I think he could do better than I can because ---
He can’t, sir. He’s just a child. And look at our side. We don’t have anybody. The only man around I’d trust to be President would be McNamara, and he wouldn’t stand a chance.
No, but we didn’t trust any of the rest of ‘em. You know, we didn’t trust Eisenhower or Jack Kennedy. That’s a matter for them [the delegates]. Anyway they’ve been running their business for a couple hundred years, and I’ll leave it up to them. …
[A few minutes later, Johnson was on the phone with Walter Jenkinsand expressed frustration over the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, suggesting that he did not have a mandate to wage war in Southeast Asia.]
I don’t believe there’ll be many attacks on the orders I issue on Tonkin Gulf if I’m not a candidate. And then I think the people will give the man that they want … a mandate. And he might continue the work we’ve done. …
(Michael Beschloss, Taking Charge, pp. 529-531)As we know, Johnson changed his mind, was re-elected in 1964, and served four more years as president. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that Johnson got cold feet just 18 days after Congress ratified the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which was basically a declaration of war against North Vietnam after we had clearly provoked them into attacking us (or not attacking us as some believe). While Johnson complained mostly about racial problems and not being able do deal with Southern whites or Negroes in general, he also mentioned Tonkin Gulf. Clearly it was on his mind.
Oct. 14, 1964: Khrushchev ToppledIt is interesting that Khrushchev was toppled from power on October 14, 1964, less than a year after Kennedy was killed. Equally interesting, Khrushchev’s political demise occurred less than two and a half months after the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the subsequent ratification of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution by Congress (August 2-7, 1964).
Another point of interest is that the term "Cold War" was coined by Bernard Baruch,16 an influential Wall Street financier, top advisor to President Roosevelt, and ardent Zionist.
I am intrigued that two other world leaders mentioned by Kennedy in the American University speech left their positions as heads of state within a close proximity in time to Kennedy’s assassination.
… Chairman Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan, and I have agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin in Moscow looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty. Our hopes must be tempered with the caution of history—but with our hopes go the hopes of all mankind. …
(JFK, American University, June 10, 1963)As previously stated, Khrushchev was toppled from power in a coup on October 14, 1964, less than a year after Kennedy was killed. British Prime Minister Macmillan resigned—ostensibly for health reasons—on October 18, 1963, about one month before Kennedy was killed. Health problems notwithstanding, Macmillan lived another twenty-three years. He died on December 29, 1986. It seems must intriguing that three heads of state who framed the nuclear test ban treaty stepped down or were removed from power within a year.
Johnson Escalated the WarAfter 1965 U.S. involvement in the war escalated rapidly. On the night of Feb. 7, 1965, the Viet Cong attacked the U.S. base at Pleiku, killing 8 soldiers and wounding 126 more. Johnson in response ordered another reprisal bombing of North Vietnam. Three days later the Viet Cong raided another U.S. military installation at Qui Nhon, and Johnson ordered more aerial attacks against Hanoi. On March 6, two battalions of Marines landed on the beaches near Da Nang to relieve that beleaguered city. By June 50,000 U.S. troops had arrived to fight with the ARVN. Small contingents of the North Vietnamese army began fighting with the Viet Cong in South Vietnam, which they reached via the Ho Chi Minh Trail west of the Cambodian border.
The government in Saigon was now headed by Air Vice-Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky, but he was unable to check the rapidly deteriorating military situation. NLF forces were gaining control of more and more areas of the countryside, and a communist victory seemed imminent. President Johnson's response was to pledge the United States to defend South Vietnam and to send more troops. By the end of 1965, 180,000 Americans were serving in South Vietnam under the command of General William C. Westmoreland.
After mid-1966 the United States and the ARVN initiated a series of new tactics in their intensifying counterinsurgency effort, but their efforts to drive the Viet Cong from the countryside and separate them from their civilian supporters were only partly successful. The U.S. troops depended heavily on superior firepower and on helicopters for rapid deployment into targeted rural areas. The Viet Cong depended on stealth, concealment, and surprise attacks and ambushes.
U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam rose to 389,000 men in 1967, but, despite their sophisticated weapons, the Americans could not eradicate the skillful and determined insurgents. More North Vietnamese troops arrived to bolster the NLF forces in the South. A presidential election, in which all candidates who favored negotiating with the NLF were banned, was held in South Vietnam in September, and General Nguyen Van Thieu became president, with Ky as vice president.
On January 30, 1968, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong launched a massive surprise offensive during the Tet (lunar new year) Vietnamese festival. They attacked 36 major South Vietnamese cities and towns. The fighting at this time was especially fierce in Saigon and in the city of Hue, which the NLF held for several weeks. The NLF suffered heavy losses (33,000 killed) in the Tet Offensive, and the ranks of the Viet Cong were so decimated by the fighting that, from 1968 on, the majority of the insurgents in South Vietnam were actually North Vietnamese soldiers who had infiltrated into the South. Although the general uprising that the NLF had expected in support had not materialized, the offensive had an important strategic effect, because it convinced a number of Americans that, contrary to their government's claims, the insurgency in South Vietnam could not be crushed and the war would continue for years to come.
In the United States, sentiment against U.S. participation in the war mounted steadily from 1967 on and expressed itself in peace marches, demonstrations, and acts of civil disobedience. Growing numbers of politicians and ordinary citizens began to question whether the U.S. war effort could succeed and even whether it was morally justifiable in a conflict that some interpreted as a Vietnamese civil war.
General Westmoreland requested more troops in order to widen the war after the Tet Offensive, but the shifting balance of American public opinion now favored "de-escalation" of the conflict. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced in a television address that bombing north of the 20th parallel would be stopped and that he would not seek reelection to the presidency in the fall. Hanoi responded to the decreased bombing by de-escalating its insurgency efforts, and in October Johnson ordered a total bombing halt. During the interim the United States and Hanoi had agreed to begin preliminary peace talks in Paris, and General Creighton Abrams became the new commander of U.S. forces in South Vietnam.17
When Johnson stepped down from the presidency in January 1969, there were about 540,00018 U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam.
The Assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther KingMartin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were likely killed because the latter was about to assume the presidency and former was endorsing him. Both wanted to end US involvement in the Vietnam War, but several interests would prevail over their wishes. First, the right-wing extremists hated both men because of they—along with President Kennedy—had embarrassed George Wallace in June 1963 when the Alabama National Guard forced him to allow black students to enroll at the University of Alabama. Second, Israel absolutely did not want the son of Joseph Kennedy to become president. None of the Kennedys were considered friends of Israel. Consequently, the Irish-American family could not be counted on to support Israel’s annexation program of expanding its borders into neighboring Arab territories. Third, American and French-Corsican-Latino crime families wanted the Vietnam War to continue because they were reaping huge profits from the Golden Triangle from its production of opium. Those profits were apparently being shared with senior military personnel as well.
In March of 1967 Senator Robert Kennedy announced a peace plan for Vietnam and soon became an outspoken antiwar advocate.19 Martin Luther King quickly followed the senator’s lead. On April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City and again on the 15th at a mammoth peace rally in that city, King committed himself irrevocably to opposing US involvement in the Vietnam War. Once before, in early January 1966, he had condemned the war, but official outrage from Washington and strenuous opposition within the black community itself had caused him to acquiesce.20
On Jan. 30, 1968, the Tet Offensive began. It marked a new beginning of anti-war sentiment amongst many Americans. Gene McCarthy had been campaigning for the presidency on the Democratic ticket. On March 16, 1968, Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency;21 Martin Luther King immediately endorsed him. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson startled television viewers with a national address that included three announcements: (1) he had just ordered major reductions in the bombing of North Vietnam, (2) he was requesting peace talks, and (3) he would neither seek nor accept his party's renomination for the presidency.22 On April 4 King was killed by a sniper's bullet while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee where he and his associates were staying. On March 10, 1969, the accused assassin, James Earl Ray, pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.23 Ray later recanted his confession.
By June 4, 1968 Robert Kennedy had won five out of six presidential primaries, including one that day in California. Shortly after midnight on June 5(Footnote 35) he spoke to his followers in Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel. As he left through a kitchen hallway he was fatally wounded by a Palestinian immigrant, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan; at least that’s the official story. Robert Kennedy died the next day on June 6, 1968.24
1968: LBJ Attempted to Appoint Abe Fortas as Chief JusticeOne of the last things President Johnson attempted while in the White House was to nominate a Jewish American, Abe Fortas, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1965, President Johnson appointed Fortas—a longtime political crony—to the Jewish slot in the Supreme Court, replacing Arthur Goldberg. As previously stated, Goldberg had resigned from the high court—at Johnson’s request—to serve as US delegate to the UN following the death of the Adlai Stevenson who held that post until his untimely demise. Stevenson had died unexpectedly of a heart attack on July 14, 1965.
Three years later, in 1968, Johnson nominated Fortas to replace retiring Chief Justice Earl Warren. When the nomination came to the Senate floor, a filibuster ensued. On October 1, 1968, the Senate failed to vote because of the filibuster and Johnson then withdrew the nomination. With that, Fortas became the first nominee for that post since 1795 to fail to receive Senate approval.25 (Footnote 36)
After sending 540,00026 U.S. military personnel to South Vietnam, then declining to run for a second term, one of the last things the lame duck President Johnson attempted was to appoint Abe Fortas—a Jewish crony—as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This incident, combined with his long-standing passionate attachment to Israel (Chapter 10), further supports my earlier assertion that the 36th President of the United States, and his wife, were both secretly Jewish (Chapter 9).
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- Alfred McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, pp. 17 - 18. McCoy cited the following source: US Congress, Senate Committee on Government Operations, Organized Crime and Illicit Traffic in Narcotics, 88 Cong. 1st and 2nd sess., 1964, pt. 4, p. 913
- Alfred McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, pp. 17 - 18. McCoy cited the following source: Nicholas Gage, "Mafioso's Memoirs Support Valachi's Testimony About Crime Syndicate," in The New York Times, April 11, 1971.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Meyer Lansky
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Opium Wars
- Alfred McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, p. 9. McCoy cited the following source: U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, "The World Opium Situation," October 1970, p. 10
- Alfred McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, p. 9. McCoy cited the following sources and made comments as indicated: In 1969 Iran resumed legal pharmaceutical production of opium after thirteen years of prohibition. It is not yet known how much of Iran's legitimate production is being diverted to illicit channels. However, her strict narcotics laws (execution by firing squad for convicted traffickers) have discouraged the illicit opium traffic and prevented any of Iran's production from entering the international market. (John Hughes, The Junk Merchants [Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Company, 19711 pp. 17-20; U.S. Congress, House Committee on Foreign Relations, International Aspects of the Narcotics Problem,92nd Cong., I st sess., 197 1, p. 74.)
- Alfred McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, p. 9. McCoy cited the following sources and made comments as indicated: Report of the United Nations Survey Team on the Economic and Social Needs of the Opium Producing Areas in Thailand (Bangkok: Government Printing Office, 1967), pp. 59, 64, 68; The New York Times, September 17, 1968, p. 45; ibid., June 6, 1971, p. 2. Estimates for illicit opium production made by the U.N. and the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics vary widely and fluctuate from year to year as conditions in the opium-producing nations change and statistical data improve. In general, U.S. Bureau of Narcotics estimates have tended to underestimate the scope of illicit production in Southeast Asia, while the U.N. has tended to minimize production in South Asia, The statistics used above are compiled from both U.N. and U.S. Bureau of Narcotics figures in an attempt to correct both imbalances. However, even if we accept the Bureau's maximum figures for 1968 and 1971, the differences are not that substantial: India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan (South Asia) have a combined illicit production of 525 tons, or 29 percent of the world's total illicit supply; Burma (1,000 tons), Thailand (150 tons), and Laos (35 tons) have a combined production of 1,185 tons, or roughly 66 percent of the world's illicit supply; and Turkey accounts for 100 illicit tons, or about 5 percent of the world supply. (U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, "The World Opium Situation," p. 10; U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Foreign Assistance and Related Programs Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1972, 92nd Cong., Ist sess., 1971, pp. 578-584.
- Alfred McCoy, et al, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, p. 89
- ibid, pp. 53 - 54
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Vietnam War
- Alfred McCoy, et al, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, pp. 17 - 18
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Vietnam War
- Military advisers in Vietnam during the Kennedy administration, 800 to 16,000 per John Pilger’s website, 3/11/02, http://pilger.carlton.com/vietnam/chronology2. The final number, 16,000, is corroborated per Think Quest website, http://library.thinkquest.org/10826/vietnam.htm. 16,000 is corroborated again by Motts Military Museum, http://www.mottsmilitarymuseum.org/vietnam.html.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Vietnam War
- ibid; corroborated in an article by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon entitled "30-Year Anniversary: Tonkin Gulf Lie Launched Vietnam War" (July 27, 1994), published in Media Beat, http://www.fair.org/media-beat/940727.html
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Cold War
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Vietnam War
- Michael Jay Friedman, Congress, the President, and the Battle of Ideas: Vietnam Policy, 1965-1969, (1999), http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/EH/EH41/Friedman41.html
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Robert F. Kennedy
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Lyndon Johnson
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Robert F. Kennedy
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Abe Fortas. The date, October 1, 1968, was provided in an article about the Fortas filibuster on the Senate Learning Website. The article was entitled, "October 1, 1968 Filibuster Derails Supreme Court Appointment." (http://www.senate.gov/learning/min_6hhhh.html)
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Vietnam War
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