Better Late Than Never? The Delayed Debate over the Costs of Vietnam
Abstract

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson sharply escalated the U.S. military effort in Vietnam and prepared for further escalation in 1966. He and his aides, notably Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, did their best to forestall a public debate about the potential costs of the war. They concealed their plans for increased military expenditures and expanded commitments of American troops. Not until the United States was deeply embroiled in Vietnam did a full-fledged public debate finally emerge, along with protests and demonstrations at American universities. If the administration had been more candid about its plans from the outset, U.S. policy might have gone in a different direction, and the domestic and international costs of the war might not have been as onerous.


pdf