In the first, Jon Huntsman came up with this astounding comment:
This is preposterous. Other than co-opting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara almost uniformly ignored the advice of the commanders on the ground in Viet Nam, unless it fit their preconceived notions of what they wanted to hear. The history of the war is replete with stories of orders from McNamara’s ‘whiz kids’, or civilian academic experts in Washington -- arrogant, ignorant, and shallow policy wonks -- running roughshod over the direction of the war. Johnson and McNamara took the concept of civilian control of the military to practically pathological extremes. A single source that documents this in scrupulous detail is Dereliction of Duty by H R McMaster, one of the great books about America’s involvement in the Viet Nam War.I would have to tell Mitt [Romney] that the president of the United States is the commander-in-chief. Of course you get input and advice from a lot of different corners of Washington, including the commanders on the ground. But we also deferred to the commanders on the ground in about 1967, during the Vietnam War, and we didn’t get very good advice then.
The other comment comes from Ron Paul when he talks of the over-representation of minorities in the combat arms, a story that had a lot of play during Viet Nam:
But poor minorities have an injustice. And they have an injustice in war, as well, because minorities suffer more. Even with a draft – with a draft, they suffered definitely more. And without a draft, they’re suffering disproportionately.This is another story that is among the favourite notions of liberals, but it is also quite false. [This is a subject that is a major peeve of mine -- to put it lightly -- that I have addressed earlier.] Two examples come to mind, one from the “Review and Outlook” column of the Wall Street Journal on 7 January 2003:
A research paper published last April by Aline Quester of the Center for Naval Analysis and Curtis Gilroy of the Defense Department reports that in Vietnam, ‘black fatalities were between 12% and 13% of all Americans killed – a figure proportionate to the size of their civilian population and actually lower than their percentage of the army at that time.’ In the six military operations since then, blacks have comprised 15% of combat fatalities while making up 13% of the population. Still, say the authors, that 15% is ‘considerably below the percentage of blacks in the active-duty army (about 19%).’
Trends suggest that this will be even less of an issue in the future. Today's military finds more blacks than ever in military occupations where they are less likely to physically engage the enemy. According to the latest Defense Department figures, for example, just 12.6% of blacks in the military are in the category that includes infantry, gun crews and seamanship specialists; the figure is 78.4% for whites. By contrast, 26.4% of blacks, against only 11.9% of whites, serve as functional supporters and administrators. The Special Forces, who led the Afghanistan campaign and who would likely play a key role in Iraq, are overwhelmingly white.
The other comes from James Taranto’s “Best of the Web” column, also in the Wall Street Journal, from 7 April 2006, commenting on a correction in the New York Times:
Today's New York Times carries this correction (third item):
It is unfortunate that Republican candidates for President have bought into the liberal story line. Fortunately, neither of them has a real chance at the nomination, but at least someone should make the effort to correct the record in favor of the idea of a US military that does not immorally discriminate against minorities, or a military that can be trusted to make studied, honest, and perceptive analyses of actions in the best interest of the national defense.An article on Feb. 9 about the military's recruitment of Hispanics referred incompletely to the belief of some critics that Hispanics in the Iraq war and blacks in the Vietnam War accounted for a disproportionate number of casualties. Statistics do not support the belief. Hispanics, who are about 14 percent of the population, accounted for about 11 percent of the military deaths in Iraq through Dec. 3, 2005. About 12.5 percent of the military dead in Vietnam were African-Americans, who made up about 13.5 percent of the general population during the war years. The error was pointed out in an e-mail in February; the correction was delayed for research after a lapse at The Times.That ‘belief of some critics’ is a false and widely held one – at best a myth, at worst a lie. You'd think refuting it would be worth a full-fledged story in the Times, not just a hundred words in the corrections column.