# Posted 2:11 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
GREAT FISKINGS IN HISTORY: While one often thinks of fisking as a literary form brought into existence by the internet revolution, I have now discovered evidence that fisking was popular even in the age of bricks and mortar. While doing some research for my dissertation, I came across the following article in the March 1st, 1982 issue of Newsweek
, entitled "Lyndon B. Reagan on Vietnam":
A reporter at last week's White House news conference asked if there was a "secret CIA plan" for El Salvador like the one to get the United States involved in Vietnam in the 1960s. The President denied there was such a Vietnam plan -- although the CIA did operate secretly there in 1954 -- and then gave his own skewed Vietnam history. Below, what Reagan said, and what really happened.
"If I recall correctly, when France gave up Indochina as a colony, the leading nations of the world met in Geneva in regard to helping those colonies become independent nations. And since North and South Vietnam had been previous to colonization two separate countries, provisions were made that these two countries could by a vote of all their people together decide whether they wanted to be one country or not."
Before French colonization, Vietnam was one country divided into three provinces -- Cochin China in the south, Annam in the center and Tonkin in the north. France reunited Vietnam under Emperor Bao Dai, but much of the country remained loyal to nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh. The 1954 Geneva conference called for a temporary partition of north and south until reunification elections were held two years later.
"And there wasn't anything surreptitious about it, but when Ho Chi Minh refused to participate in such an election and there was provision that the peoples of both countries could cross the border and live in the other country if they wanted to, and when they began leaving by the thousands and thousands from North Vietnam to live in South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh closed the border and again violated that part of the agreement."
It was South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, after deposing Bao Dai, who refused to partiicipate in the elections. Senior U.S. officials favored delaying the vote because it appeared that Ho Chi Minh would win and that Vietnam wouId be unified under him. In 1954 the CIA began a covert operation to try to destabilize Ho Chi Minh in the north.
"And openly, our country sent military advisers there to help a country which had been a colony have such things as a national-security force, an army if you might say, or a military, ,o defend itself. And they were doing this. I recall correctly, also in civilian clothes, no weapons, until they began being blown up where they lived, in walking down the street by people riding by on bicycles and throwing pipe bombs at them, and then they were permitted to carry side arms or wear uniforms..."
Uniformed American military advisers trained Vietnamese forces in this period. Terrorist attacks against Americans had not yet become a serious problem.
"But it was totally a program until John F. Kennedy, when these attacks and forays became so great, that John F. Kennedy authorized the sending in of a division of marines, and that was the first move toward combat moves in Vietnam..."
President Kennedy did not send ground-combat units to Vietnam. He did authorize "combat support" of Vietnamese troops -- including armed-helicopter and fighter-plane units and, eventually, 19,000 advisers. President Johnson sent the first Marine combat brigade to Vietnam in 1965.
FYI, critics of US involvement in El Salvador constantly compared it to our involvement in Vietnam and insisted that the President had not learned the lessons of that earlier conflict. Well, perhaps not. But who has time to study history when busy fighting Communism?
Add your opinion