In 1984, less than a decade after the fall of Saigon, journalist David Halberstam claimed “the American military apparatus in Vietnam [was] a vast lying machine, telling Washington what Washington wanted to hear and insisted upon hearing. The purpose of this lying machine was to propagandize our alleged progress in the war and to convince Congress and the American public to support the war.”
But were senior war managers acting unethically by publicly highlighting the positive aspects of American strategy in Vietnam to minimize the war’s political costs? Were they violating the public trust? This presentation explores the “conversation gap” between official backchannel messages and public pronouncements of progress in the critical year before the 1968 Tet offensive.
Professor Gregory Daddis is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the MA Program in War and Society at Chapman University.
Distinguished Lecture Series event.