LBJ escalated Vietnam war to secure civil rights bill

April 19, 2014 

There has been a lot of talk about the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society legislation, but there seems to be something missing from all the speeches and accolades, which is this:

In 1965, instead of getting out of the war in Vietnam (we only had 16,000 military personnel there when he became president), LBJ made the fateful decision to escalate the war, and drafted 250,000 more graduate students and married men among others, and eventually put 500,000 in country.

Johnson did not really want this, and had already been advised that we probably could not win, but he took us down this path anyway because it was the only way the war hawks in Congress would vote to pass his civil rights legislation, which was his passion and priority.

Between 1966 and the fall of Saigon in 1975, there were 53,000 war-related American deaths and countless others injured.

Then we learned that the domino effect of communism overtaking Southeast Asia had been nonsense. It did not happen.

I have often wondered what those 53,000 soldiers would have thought of Johnson's horse trading, but they did not know anything about it, much less had any say in the matter.

My point is this: In addition to celebrating LBJ and the civil rights leaders of the day, how about a few words for the 53,000 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of a rather ungrateful nation back then, so that the civil rights legislation could become law of the land. Johnson only lost his job.

Phil Moore


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