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(897 posts)
Sat Feb 10, 2024, 10:26 AM Feb 10

On This Day: Eisenhower warns against United States war in Vietnam, and invests billions - Feb. 10, 1954

(edited from article)
Dwight D. Eisenhower
34th President of the United States: 1953‐1961
The President's News Conference
February 10, 1954

Q. Marvin Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, to go back for a moment to that question on Indochina, there seems to be some uneasiness in Congress, as voiced by Senator Stennis for one, that sending these technicians to Indochina will lead eventually to our involvement in a hot war there. Would you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I would just say this: no one could be more bitterly opposed to ever getting the United States involved in a hot war in that region than I am; consequently, every move that I authorize is calculated, so far as humans can do it, to make certain that that does not happen.
Q. Daniel Shorr, CBS Radio: Mr. President, should your remarks on Indochina be construed as meaning that you are determined not to become involved or, perhaps, more deeply involved in the war in Indochina, regardless of how that war may go?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not going to try to predict the drift of world events now and the course of world events over the next months. I say that I cannot conceive of a greater tragedy for America than to get heavily involved now in an all-out war in any of those regions, particularly with large units.

So what we are doing is supporting the Vietnamese and the French in their conduct of that war; because, as we see it, it is a case of independent and free nations operating against the encroachment of communism.

(edited from article)
President Eisenhower was determined to keep the United States out of the French war in Vietnam

In the 1950s, American strategists viewed Asia as the most dangerous and unstable theater of conflict with the Communist bloc. In Korea, in Taiwan, and in Southeast Asia, Americans perceived dangerous threats to the “free world.” And nowhere did the stakes seems higher than in Indochina.

But when the French forces found themselves caught in a death struggle with Communist forces at a northern outpost called Dien Bien Phu in the spring of 1954, Eisenhower faced a terrible dilemma. Should he send Americans in to aid the French and halt a Communist victory in Vietnam? At the start of 1954, Eisenhower told his advisers “he simply could not imagine the United States putting ground forces anywhere in Southeast Asia…. There was just no sense in even talking about United States forces replacing the French in Indochina. If we did so, the Vietnamese could be expected to transfer their hatred of the French to us. I cannot tell you, said the President with vehemence, how bitterly opposed I am to such a course of action. This war in Indochina would absorb our troops by divisions!”

What did this mean for U.S. policy in Asia? Eisenhower avoided a direct military intervention in Indochina in 1954, and the French went down to defeat to the Communist forces in northern Vietnam. But Ike was determined not to allow another such fiasco. Following the partition of Vietnam into a communist North and pro-western South, Eisenhower chose to invest huge sums of money and prestige in transforming South Vietnam into a showcase of a new “free Asia.” Spending billions of dollars, sending military advisers, supporting the increasingly brutal tactics of the South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem—all this effort would help create a pro-American bastion in Southeast Asia and halt Communism. Yet it also left a terrible decision for his successors, once South Vietnam faced a new war with Communist forces.

Ike managed to avoid an American war in Vietnam during his two terms. But he invested so much American prestige and effort in the success of South Vietnam that by the end of the 1950s, America had become deeply invested in its fate. Eisenhower created an American Vietnam, and his successors would wage a bitter – and failed – war to keep it.


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On This Day: Eisenhower warns against United States war in Vietnam, and invests billions - Feb. 10, 1954 (Original Post) jgo Feb 10 OP
Ike was one to choose war as a last resort Zambero Feb 10 #1


(8,961 posts)
1. Ike was one to choose war as a last resort
Sat Feb 10, 2024, 10:53 AM
Feb 10

It's unfortunate that JFK and particularly LBJ didn't heed his warning. Eisenhowers' warning regarding the military-industrial complex also fell on deaf ears. War-for-profit enriched few during the protracted Vietnam "conflict" (it was a war) at the expense of many. Years later, Dick Cheney made sure that Haliburton's no-bid contract filled the company coffers while thousands of Iraqis, American military personnel, and sitting-duck sub-contractors died needlessly.

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