Nail That Coonskin To The Wall

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on June 16, 2011

To this day, there is confusion about why the United States fought a war in Vietnam. There is talk about communism. There was a dominoes theory. (The delivery took more than thirty minutes.) The one which aroused PG’s curiosity was the urge to “nail that coonskin to the wall.”

According to the History News Network , President Lyndon B. Johnson made three trips to Vietnam.
“In 1961 Johnson, then vice president, visited Saigon. He assured the South Vietnamese the United States would stand by them … LBJ called South Vietnamese leader Diem the “Churchill of Asia.”
On October 26, 1966 Johnson visited Vietnam on his first trip as president. The week before anti-war protests had been held in 40 cities in the United States. At the end of December 1967 LBJ worked in another trip to Vietnam while traveling to Australia for the funeral of Prime Minister Harold Holt, who had died in a drowning accident. Visiting Cam Ranh Bay, LBJ urged the soldiers to”nail that coonskin to the wall.”

While researching this post, PG found a feature comparing BHO in Afghanistan to LBJ in Vietnam. (Lebron James is not taking his talents to Hanoi.) The story is that LBJ had serious doubts about whether we could win in Vietnam, but did not want to appear weak. (He may also have been influenced by the fate of JFK, who had started to withdraw troops from Vietnam.) There is a pungent paragraph:
“In this narrative, Johnson sent up to 1,000 Americans a month to their deaths because he didn’t “want the political fallout that would come from not fighting” Vietnam. Others have argued that, contrary to Blankney’s assertion, LBJ really wanted “to nail that coonskin to the wall” in Southeast Asia; that he fought it from strategic principle not political expediency. But many will concede that whether LBJ wanted to win it or not, he fought it with one eye to the public relations polls and the reactions of his own left wing. He imposed so many restrictions, introduced so many rules that perhaps whether LBJ ‘wanted to win’ or not, his objective strategic behavior was in the end indistinguishable from someone who wanted to lose. And he lost.”
Most of the soldiers in Vietnam were drafted. This means that the government told you that you were going into the service, or going to jail. (Young readers might be unfamiliar with the concept. When you ask your elders about communism, you can ask them about Selective Service.) While the government was dithering in it’s approach to the war, the men who were sent to fight were ordered to make a total commitment. Many did not come home alive.

Another online feature about Obama’s challenging war options shows up a difference in attitudes about war today.
“Publicly, Johnson said it was a war we had to fight and that we would win it. Now, of course, we know that he believed we couldn’t win even before he sent the first of those 57,992 American boys over there to die.”
Whether you agree or disagree with a war, it is preposterous to say that the soldiers are boys. If anyone deserves to be called a man, it is those troops. Today, we have more women in our armed forces than we did in Vietnam. (This page of statistics lists, by name, eight American service women who died in Vietnam.) It simply isn’t said, of this war, that the soldiers are our boys and girls. While the dirty business of war goes on, it is an improvement to not call our soldiers boys.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

6 Responses

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  1. Anonymous said, on June 16, 2011 at 8:17 pm


    • chamblee54 said, on June 16, 2011 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you for stopping by. I am glad that someone had bad aim that time you took a shortcut.

  2. June said, on June 16, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    One of the great frustrations of the US military leaders in Viet Nam is they were not given the authority to plan and execute strategic battles. There is a photo of LBJ on the phone in the Oval Office with “advisors” looking over a map (presumably of VN, but given the insructions being given to soldiers on the ground, it could of been Louisiana) issuing orders. LBJ was a micro-manager and did so with the war there. Horrible mistake. Horrific, prolonged, unnecessary loss of life. That whole epoch in history overshadowed our youth. Gen George S Patton’s theory of war was brutal but history I think has showed us, you do not go to war to fight or die for your country, you go to war to win. You win by making the other “bastards” fight and die for their country.
    So if our politicians of any party put our armed forces in an armed conflict, aka war, and the next round of politicians of whatever party keep our armed forces there, then give the equipment, the support, and the authority to level the mountains if that’s what it takes to neutralize the enemy and win the war.
    I’m tired of the US being the global go to guy for armed assistance alternating with the worlds whipping boy so other govts can publicy decry our actions.
    My rant for the day is done.

    • chamblee54 said, on June 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      Thank you for stopping by.
      By the time I was old enough to participate in Vietnam, we had given up the pretense of trying to win. All we wanted at that point was a fig leaf treaty to enable our withdrawal…”peace with honor”. ( Mr. Nixon liked pizza with honor. And he ordered it from the dominoes theory. The delivery took longer than thirty minutes, but it was not free.)
      Here is my story…

  3. War President « Chamblee54 said, on June 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    […] our high tech weapons to KILL, KILL, KILL. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. This is a double […]

  4. War President | Chamblee54 said, on May 27, 2013 at 2:40 am

    […] our high tech weapons to KILL, KILL, KILL. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. This is a double […]

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