February 21, 2012

"Turning the corner". Sure.

As much as we're heard about the Protest Movement to the Vietnam War in the 1960's there was that just-as-vocal contingent who not only believed the war was justified, but that we were also in the process of winning it. And many of those people were on Capitol Hill.

For example, Sen. Thomas J. Dodd (D-Conn) who served on the Senate Armed Services Committee was a staunch believer in the Vietnam War and was convinced we were winning it. One of the true Hawks in the Senate. But in all honesty, early in 1965 there was a much larger segment of the population who believed the war could be won and believed we were absolutely justified in being in Southeast Asia than who weren't. The Anti-War Movement was just getting started at this point and the sales pitch for the War was much more organized.

Dodd was convinced we were winning, that we had "turned the corner" so to speak. And in this installment of NBC's Meet The Press, he is asked why he is so adamant in that assessment.

Sen. Thomas Dodd: “We’re winning more battles every day. The latest figure I heard was, on an engagement just recently, it was in the ratio of about four to one. They suffered something in excess of 400 losses. Our side had something in excess of 100.The morale of the South Vietnamese is very high. There are more defectors coming over to our side every day. About a year ago, my information is, we were getting about ten a month. We’re now getting over a hundred a month. We’ve got a thousand pilots, about a thousand pilots now in the South Vietnamese Air Force. They’re good pilots, I’m told by our Air Force people, they’re good fighters. As a matter of fact, I was told they do a better job at maintenance than our people do. So there are all these reasons I say we’ve begun to win.”

Hearing the casualty reports, I am reminded of what was later revealed to be grossly inflated enemy body counts, and how early on the war was being manipulated to be portrayed as another cakewalk. What was being conveyed and what was actually happening were two wildly different stories. And unfortunately we had to find out the hard way.

So here is Meet The Press featuring Sen. Thomas J. Dodd as originally broadcast on May 2, 1965.

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