Sunday, December 12, 2004

History Lesson

If [the] failure to change the political balance was not realized in Washington, it was understood by many in Saigon, particularly among the Vietnamese military, and it was certainly understood in Hanoi. There Bernard Fall, the French historian, was visiting in early 1962 on a rare visa. He was granted an interview with Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, and instead of finding Dong upset by the newest infusion of American aid, Fall saw that he was rather amused by it all. Poor Diem, Dong was saying, he is unpopular. And because he is unpopular, the Americans must give him aid. And because the Americans must give him aid, he is even less popular, and because he is even less popular, the Americans must give him even more aid... At which point Fall said he thought it sounded like a vicious circle. "Not a vicious circle," Dong said, "a downward spiral."

--David Halberstam, The Best and The Brightest, p. 183

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