If, by chance, Daniel Ellsberg should never write another word about Vietnam, the essays and reviews collected here are...



If, by chance, Daniel Ellsberg should never write another word about Vietnam, the essays and reviews collected here are enough to secure his reputation as one of our most refined analysts of that awful war, just as his deus ex machina role in making the Pentagon Papers available established him as a passionate dissenter. The principal essay, ""The Quagmire Myth and the Stalemate Machine,"" published originally in Public Policy (Spring 1971) but now considerably revised and updated, is a trenchant dissection of the executive policy-making process through the Truman-Nixon administrations. In it Ellsberg contends that American involvement has not been -- contrary to Schlesinger and others -- a series of fortuitous ""stumbling-into-quicksand"" actions, each promising success where the last failed, but ""Instead one sees, repeatedly, a leader striding with his eyes open into what he sees as quicksand, increasing his efforts and carrying his followers deeper in."" But why? The ""stalemate machine,"" responds Ellsberg -- a political model built on the ""lesson of China"" logic which dictates that no U.S. government can afford to ""lose"" another hunk of Asian real estate. Thus each president since Truman has ""paid the necessary price -- in lives and resources of others -- 'to stay in the game,' always preserving the options to go Up while making it more costly and unlikely for his successors ever to go Out."" You can't win, Mr. President, but you can stall and maneuver until it's time to pass the ""no second China"" dilemma to the next fellow. Other equally exacting pieces -- all written prior to publication of the Pentagon Papers, some also revised -- include on-the-scene reports from Vietnam when Ellsberg was a State Department adviser, Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony while a Rand think-tanker, a Washington Post review of Shaplen's Road From War, a 1971 New York Review of Books article on Nixon in Laos, and a thoughtful lecture on ""The Responsibility of Officials in a Criminal War"" delivered at the Boston Community Church less than a month before the Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers. Read these remarkable papers on the War in the spirit they were written -- with an analytical head.

Pub Date: July 25, 1972

ISBN: 1439193762

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1972