In "Deferring to the Generals" [April 21], Kenneth T. Walsh stated that "Lyndon Johnson micromanaged the Vietnam War and counted on Gen. William Westmoreland to win, but it couldn't be done."
Lyndon Johnson did micromanage the war, but he would not let General Westmorland win the war. I worked as a civilian in Saigon from 1967 to 1970. I had no part in formulating fighting actions in the war, but it was quite apparent, to any civilian who paid any attention to the war, that no positive actions to win the war were being taken even though the United States had very powerful forces in the area. In 1969 I wrote a letter, addressed to the president, asking why the United States did not go ahead and win the war. I received a letter from someone in the State Department saying that it was never the intention to win the war but to apply enough force to keep North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam. What a pitiful policy! And the United States lost 58,000 fighting men. Before I left Vietnam, President Johnson announced that there would be no more bombing above the 20th parallel. That left practically all of North Vietnam free of any aerial bombing. And finally, American forces never lost another major battle, but the United States lost the war.
Dale B. Dufur
In "Deferring to the Generals," Kenneth T. Walsh discussed a very negative first cut at ranking the Bush presidency by "historians." Bush supporters countered that "professional historians...tend to be liberal." And of course, history has not yet eventuated. So, you should do this: pose the same issues or questions to political scientists who specialize in the presidency, executive-congressional relations, and domestic, foreign, and national security policies. Since many professional political scientists not only teach and research but have also worked in government in various administrations or agencies, the results may have more current relevancy. My guess is that the findings will not differ much from the historians.
William J. Daugherty
Associate Professor of Government
Armstrong Atlantic State University