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Mark Safranski seems to think it would have required extroardinary clairvoyance to realize that the defense of South Vietnam might be either hopeless or much too costly to be worth it in 1964-5. But it didn't. As readers of my book, American Tragedy, will discover, leading Americans who had reached that conclusion included Senators Mike Mansfield (Majority Leader), J. William Fulbright (Chairman of Foreign Relations), Wayne Morse, Gaylord Nelson, and virtually the entire Southern Democratic bloc (including Richard Russell and George Smathers) from the Legislative branch. They also included Undersecretary of State George Ball, Assistant Secretary for the Far East William Bundy, Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton, and Ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson in the Executive branch--as well as a recently deceased President, John F. Kennedy, who as I showed spoke frequently about how fighting a major war in Southeast Asia would be a very bad idea. General David Shoup, who stepped down as Marine Corps Commandant in 1963, also opposed such a war. Regarding Robert MacNichol's scenario of a North Vietnamese empire, the Soviet Union certainly was not competing for influence with China in North Vietnam in 1964-5 in the sense of also egging the North Vietnamese on. And if there had been no American involvement, the North Vietnamese army would never have gotten as large or well-equipped as it did. In fact, it probably wouldn't have had to undertake major operations in South Vietnam at all, much less embark on the conquest of the rest of Indochina and Southeast Asia. Remembre, after its victory in South Vietnam in 1975, the North Vietnamese army was preoccupied with two other tasks--first, the overthrow of a Chinese-supported regime in Cambodia, and then, a bloody war with China, which tried to retaliate! Hardly the unified Communist phalanx that MacNichol still wants to fighten us with, it seems to me. David Kaiser