THE WAR CONSPIRACY by Peter Dale Scott
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THE WAR CONSPIRACY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this remarkable collection of articles, Scott, a co-author of Politics of Escalation in Vietnam (1966), argues that U.S. extensions of the Indochina war have not been in ""response"" to aggressive moves by North Vietnam but that the intelligence agencies have conspired to ""prepare conditions for escalation"" by feeding false information and arranging pretexts for heightened U.S. military action; and that these agencies have always been tied up, in different ways at different times, with private wealth and power, both American and foreign. The first assertion, which will draw the widest assent, is developed in the cases of alleged North Vietnamese invasions of Laos in 1959, Thailand in 1962, South Vietnam via Cambodia in 1970, as well as the Pueblo case, the 1964 Tonkin Gulf crisis, and various U.S. attacks on ships to cut off peace initiatives. Regarding the second assertion, Scott provides a case study of the CIA's partnership with Kuomintang opium dealers and indirectly the China Lobby, the Thai consulate, etc. The 1959 Laotian situation in particular offers evidence to support the claim: Eisenhower, he says, was foxed into authorizing a land unit and a paramilitary airlift by the CIA -- which is connected not only with General Chennault's private airline and his U.S. lawyer Thomas Corcoran, but also with a whole tangle of Wall Street interests, oil companies, war lobbies, and organized crime. Even those most skeptical of this kind of Rampartsy expose will be forced to concede that Scott puts a big dent in the Richard Barnet-Hannah Arendt-New York Times view of the CIA (""neglected memoranda of cautious and scholarly analysts""). Former CIA chief McCone's superhawk role is documented; and a strong case is made for an active ""crisis manufacture"" process, leading Scott to remind us that the Pentagon Papers do not include covert decisions and intelligence operations or domestic political and economic pressures. There is also a repeated emphasis on Nixon's responsibility, as both Vice President and President, for the various crises and escalations, along with hints that he pitched into some of the ""conspiracies"" during Eisenhower's absence. Scott's research is impressive and his presentation subtle and usually careful. This is undoubtedly one of the most important overviews to date of the subterranean reaches of the U.S. intelligence machine in Southeast Asia.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1972
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill