J. R. Clark: What Donald Rumsfeld Said About Vietnam in 1966 (You won't believe this)

Roundup: Historians' Take

This is what a Republican congressman had to say about the war:

"Recognizing the difficulties, the fact remains that lacking success in meeting the economic, social, and political problems, the US effort, with thousands dead and billions spent and precious time lost, could be completely wasted.

"If there is a single lesson to be drawn thus far from our experience in Iraq, it is that the United States, and, indeed, the free world, have failed thus far to develop strategies, programs, and techniques to meet the fundamentalist pressures which exist in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, point to point, early.

"We have failed to develop the capability to assist a nation requesting our aid in developing political, economic, and social stability. We have found that the today crude, World War II type responses to these new and more subtle pressures are inadequate, often ineffective, and frequently inapplicable. Without political and economic stability, without a sense of nationhood, without the forms of citizen action and responsibility, which we in this country take for granted and which have been the source of our progress, the Iraqi people will be unable to retain any measure of freedom which the United States might be able to help them achieve.

"While the committee report points out specific shortcomings in the administration and audit of current programs, it fails to point out that a complete review of US policies and programs with respect to the nonmilitary side of the effort must be undertaken if we are to reverse this trend.

"It is essential, therefore, that the United States establish policies and priorities which will meet the political, social, and economic situation as it exists. It is also essential that the United States develop the necessary management tools and administrative skills to carry out such policies and programs effectively.

"The committee investigation pointed up serious problems relating to the administration of programs of the United States in Iraq. The administration has demonstrated a willingness, although belatedly, to undertake many changes to implement many of the recommendations in this report. But this is not enough. The administration has failed thus far to undertake a broader reevaluation of our policies and approaches. No matter how efficiently the present policies are administered, the real problem is the development by the United States, preferably working in cooperation with other free nations rather than alone or almost alone at present, of programs and techniques and approaches more suitable to meeting the pressures as they exist in Iraq."

Just replace "Iraq" with "South Vietnam," "the Middle East" with "Southeast Asia," and "fundamentalist" with "Communist," and you have the words of Representative Donald Rumsfeld, October 12, 1966.

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