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2015 Abstracts

Ho Chi Minh Friend or Foe? New Revelations from the Pentagon Papers

Jacob Oscarson, Dixie State University


In 1971 the New York Times printed sections of a classified Department of Defense report known at the Pentagon Papers. The papers were a detailed history of the Vietnam War from its very beginning in the 1940s when Ho Chi Minh and the Vietminh were officially considered US Allies against Japan. One phenomenon that the papers reveal quite clearly is that while President Roosevelt was dedicated to a policy of support for national liberation movements, that others within his administration did not hold the same view. This is clearly portrayed in the discrepancy between internal documents of the US Secretary of State in August, 1940 that are in clear contradiction to the Atlantic Charter that President Roosevelt promoted one year later. Throughout the history of the Vietnam War, such discrepancies between internal views and public statements were quite common. In the final days of President Johnson’s administration, he had Daniel Ellsberg collect a detailed report on all aspects of the conflict in order to shape a better policy. When the Nixon administration ignored Ellsberg’s expertise, he leaked partial elements of the documents to the New York Times. In the last decade, the US Government has now released the full details of the report for the general public. This paper will discuss the beginnings of the war during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations in regards to new information provided in the complete Pentagon Papers report.