The Vietnam Lobby: The American Friends of Vietnam, 1955-1975

The Vietnam Lobby: The American Friends of Vietnam, 1955-1975

The Vietnam Lobby: The American Friends of Vietnam, 1955-1975

The Vietnam Lobby: The American Friends of Vietnam, 1955-1975

Synopsis

Drawing on a wide range of documentary sources, Morgan presents a comprehensive study of the AFV and its activities. He traces the group's establishment and growth, examines its internal organization and politics, and, ultimately, evaluates its effectiveness in guiding government policy and public opinion. Morgan also assesses the charges of antiwar critics who claimed the AFV exerted an excessive, perhaps disastrous, influence in shaping America' Vietnam policy. Finally, he offers insights into the thinking of those who believed that the United States had the unique ability--even the obligation--to help shape Vietnam's future.

Excerpt

When the United States tried to shape Vietnam's destiny in the mid-twentieth century, millions of American citizens became participants in this massive, and ultimately fruitless, effort. Elected and appointed officials formulated and implemented plans designed to prevent a communist victory in Vietnam. Thousands of soldiers, pilots, and marines risked, and often lost, their lives on Vietnam's battlefields in order to ensure the success of this policy. Journalists assigned to Vietnam and their editors in America reported and assessed the effectiveness of their government's course of action. the conflict in Vietnam also became a focus of concern for tens of thousands of private citizens who heatedly debated the wisdom of their nation's involvement. They debated on speaking platforms, in street demonstrations, in the pages of the press, and on radio and television networks. As American casualties steadily rose in an apparently endless struggle, a growing number of people concluded that America's intervention in Vietnam's affairs had been a mistaken, or even immoral, enterprise, and they called for a rapid end to their country's role in the fighting. Other Americans, however, argued that the United States had the right, and even the duty, to oppose communism in Vietnam and to aid the Vietnamese who sought America's assistance.

Some of the strongest supporters of the war effort belonged to the American Friends of Vietnam (AFV), one of the earliest, and perhaps the first, of the private associations concerned with Vietnam. Founded in 1955, the afv could trace its roots to 1950, when some of the individuals who became its first members met Ngo Dinh Diem, a Vietnamese nationalist who claimed that his country needed America's help not only in freeing itself from French colonial rule, but in preventing a communist-led independence movement from winning power. Impressed by Diem's fervent patriotism and convinced that he was the best candidate for defeating the forces of colonialism and communism in Vietnam, these Americans became Diem's partisans and promoted his cause by introducing him to prominent figures such as Francis Cardinal Spellman, Justice William O. Douglas, and Senators Mike Mansfield and John F. Kennedy. When Diem became the Vietnamese premier in . . .

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