Vietnam 1965-1973 and USA Marine Corps
The interaction of President Johnson with Kennedy at the time of the Vietnam War.
May be a lost war - lose lose – but Kennedy and LB Johnson nailed their colours to the mast of freedom and the US lost 55000 lives the equivalent of British Bomber Command in WWII – a winning battle in the air. The USA AF was not defeated in Vietnam. But a tactical retreat to fight another day e.g. Europe (Cold War) Iraq and Afghanistan, in which three theatres it was very hearteningly visible as it had been in Southern Vietnam.
Just because you lose does not mean you are on the wrong side. Even Germany fought for its nationhood and a ‘frei Europa’ through 1944-45. We do not always realise we are ‘directed’ from above and Kennedy and Johnson properly took the fight to the doors of Hell (The Vietcong who represented death not life to USMC). The Cong Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh would not negotiate so those two Presidents had their hands forced to garrison Vietnam de sud and fight. Apart from a very small contingent of Aussies no one joined them – certainly no one from Europe of the West. Massive demonstrations against Vietnam War in Grosvenor square London in 1960s and 1970s. Johnson was not intimidated.
He was a man of great physical stature and immense courage. The two often go together. He knew his duty and carried it out despite powerful international criticism in the West and East. It was Johnson who started the real “boxing” not just bellicosity and belligerence.
Johnson recognised that the danger had to be met head on militarily – he had to make the stand – take the stand symbolically or the cause of freedom would suffer. Some way Reagan and Thatcher (Bush and Blair) were in their stands against repression inspired in those stands by Johnson’s sacrifice of those US Marine Corps lives. These things cannot be reduced to maths and geopolitics. As Churchill said we are actors under high direction but I say we have free will above all else. It was for that free will that Johnson led and fought – to be servant of all.
The world whether you believe it or not is the interaction of Heaven and Earth and out of the combustion divine grace creates God’s will in our lives which cannot be resisted yet we do not lose our free will. That is the mystery at the heart of life on Earth.
There was a real fire and ignition in South Vietnam in 1960s under Johnson and out of that his power in true sense of self denial shone through. We take our hats off to LBJ for his guiding hand and outstanding leadership. The world would have been much the poorer without LBJ and the 1960s Vietnam War.
As Kennedy lighted the way – Johnson followed his lead like the Popes – Benedict XVI following John Paul II. John Paul beatified Damien of Lepers. Benedict canonised him. Benedict XVI followed suit as my father would say and I say the Popes are likely and prone to do. Johnson built upon the John F Kennedy example – Cuban missiles Crisis and turned the matter in to South Vietnam War – both warfare and guerrilla war. Johnson learned his lessons from Kennedy for whom he was vice President and properly chosen for that office by his character - not elected but on same ticket as USA says. Kennedy was assassinated probably by the Eastern powers as he represented the West so well and freedom. Johnson would have none of it and drew blood in Vietnam- a true and valiant successor to Kennedy. John F Kennedy may have suspected it was coming to him – Johnson knew perfectly well what he was doing and that victory may well be beyond his grasp in Vietnam and his successors may falter as they did indeed, e.g. Nixon and Ford took troops out. They did not dig deep as LBJ and Kennedy did. Johnson had a limited power and a short reign as he knew but within those constraints he struck an irrepressible blow for Christ and the West. We will not forget him or his predecessor Kennedy – True sons of America and servants to the World of nations and let no one doubt them or criticize them. Kennedy was the target of the East because of Cuban crisis pre Vietnam. He like Johnson would not be cowed. Johnson realised what had happened to Kennedy and demonstrated personal bravery like his predecessor. That sort of personal courage goes with political honour for those two Presidents. May we follow in those footsteps of the greatest post-war Presidents we will ever know.