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  1. #16
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    Z,

    I am having trouble understanding the exception you identify: Men suporting the machine, rather than vice versa. How is this exceptional? Isn't every incident when a manoeuver element establishing a kill-zone for the killing element a manifestation of this? Or is there a different meaning to it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cactus View Post
    Z,

    I am having trouble understanding the exception you identify: Men suporting the machine, rather than vice versa. How is this exceptional? Isn't every incident when a manoeuver element establishing a kill-zone for the killing element a manifestation of this? Or is there a different meaning to it?
    Ok, I will se eif i can illustrate the two types of bombardment that emerged from WWI. The first is what I wrote about.

    Haig and Rawlingson honestly thought the million shells would provide a bombardment so intense that the no amount of wire could remain uncut and the assault troops would have clear lanes into the German trenches. They likewsie felt that the bombardment would be so heavy that there would few defenders left to contest the advance of the troops. As a result they did not train the infantry to advance and fight hand to hand. Instead each wave was given a different objective to walk up to and dig in to fight a defnesive battle agaisnt the expected German counter attacks. They did this despite counter-factual evience. As a result the Germans who came swarming up out of the re-enforced cellars with maxim machine guns found British battalions lined up almsot as if on parade. Those poor tommies were mowed down. Haig and Rawlingson then proved unable to adapt, each wave was sent in one after another even after it was obvious the attack failed- to trip over the bodies of the men already killed.

    Haig relied on artillery to win the day and when it failed he proved completely incapable of adapting. The artillery was not trained to support the men, and the men were not trained to make use of the bombardment.

    In contrast to this is the bombardment with close following assault troops. The Germans and Russians had already used this tactic at Verdun and 2nd Marusian Lakes. As soon the bombardment lifted the troops were there to swamr any surving defneders. The artillery served the infantry it did not act alone. Later in the war this would become the hurricane bombardment and when combined with tanks, aircraft and trained infantry shatered the best trench system in the world durign the 100 days offensive. Even earlier at Capporetto and the St. Micheal ofensive the Germans used specially trained infantry and artillery to shater the italians and then the British.

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    Great thread. It has encouraged me to go back to some of the papers I did a decade ago. I'll post some over the next few weeks, though I'm afraid most are 2500 - 3500 words. Looking back there are a few things I'd change, but we live & learn.


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    The ultimate secret to term papers is argument. A person who has a clear thesis that is well supported that adds something to the conversation will do much better than someone who simply re-hashes other arguments.

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    A guideline we learned in debate club, all arguments should be SEXC:

    Statement
    Explanation
    eXample
    Conclusion

    Following this format helps get a message across thoroughly and efficiently
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    As mentioned, I'm going to post a few essays I wrote over a decade ago. I was doing a very flexible degree & even when I started I had in mind that I wanted to do a PhD on the Vietnam War (wish I still did). As a result I often chose subjects or essay topics that allowed me to explore aspects of that topic. I also wanted to focus on American history. Because my course was unusual I started with 2nd year subjects, so everything here is 2nd year, 3rd year & honours level - thus the essays are 2500 words to 3500.

    I don't recall the individual marks I got, but I think I only got one essay mark below a Distinction (75-85) & many High Distinctions (85-100). Adding to my confusion over this was that the marking system changed during my course, so I went from getting marks in the low 90% range to the mid-80% range.

    Re-reading these essays I realise that there are things I would change. I'll mention them occasionally. All of these were extensively footnoted, but I can't reproduce those here, so the references will have to do. One side effect of these being old is that I've forgotten a lot of the background reading. Some of these are almost as new to me as they are to you. I'll try my best to remember why I argued what I did.
    Last edited by Bigfella; 31 Dec 10, at 10:52.


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  7. #22
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    This is an essay I wrote over a decade ago for a class on the Vietnam War. Looking at it again I would change a few details: I made it seem like the anti-communism of the French & their allies was a contrivance. This is unfair, though I don't think the politics of the opposition would have changed the French decision to fight; I didn't give enough credit on paper to the skill of De Lattre. To be fair, in class I did describe him as 'possibly the best French general of the C20th, in an admittedly small sample of good French generals'.

    I look forward to your comments.

    Was General Henri Navarre’s arrogant strategic miscalculation at Dien Bien Phu responsible for French capitulation in the “First Indochina War”?.

    The short answer to this is no. As part of the ‘Navarre Plan’, Dien Bien Phu was staged to improve the French negotiating position at approaching peace talks, the war would have ended shortly reguardless of the outcome of the battle. This essay will examine the reasons why France had decided by mid-1953 that the war was unwinnable. The answers to this lie in the closely related realms of the political and the military. While it is never possible to make a clean distinction between these two fields, clarity and structure demand that such a distinction is made for the purposes of this essay. In France, the psychological need for Empire and a series of shaky coalition governments committed the Fourth Republic to a war it lacked the resources to fight or the political courage to end peacefully. Once communism became the issue, and the necessity of the ‘Bao Dai solution’ became unavoidable, the situation became even more difficult. French half-heartedness and the poor quality of its politicians and army guaranteed the Boa Dai regime a troubled existence. In the military sphere there were several major problems. The first was that the war in Indochina drained French military resources to a dangerous level. The second was that the strategy and tactics employed by the military commanding the Expeditionary force were ill-suited to the war they had to fight. The battle at Dien Bien Phu, while somewhat extraneous to the outcome of the war, does provide a distillation of most of the major French errors in one battle. Sadly for the soldiers who died there, the war was lost before the battle had even begun.

    One of the fundamental causes of the capitulation in Indochina was the French motive for starting the war. Postwar French politicians saw the regaining of empire as the key to avenging the humiliation of the war, and guaranteeing France’s ‘Great Power’ status. Even the powerful Communist party was in favour of retaining a presence in Indochina. There was also a fear that if Indochina was given independence, other colonies (especially in the Maghreb) might follow, and the empire disintegrate. What these people failed to realise was that the French capitulation to and collaboration with the Japanese had changed her position in Indochina. As Ho Chi Minh stated in the declaration of independence “...the truth is that we have wrung back our independence from Japanese hands, not from the French...”. Even Emperor Bao Dai, no radical nationalist, made this plea to DeGaulle: “...The people of Vietnam...no longer want, and can no longer tolerate, any foreign domination or administration. Even should you manage to re-establish a French administration here, it would no longer be obeyed: each village would be a nest of resistance...” . These prophetic words were ignored. In fact, the strongest pressure to retain Indochina and spurn concessions of any kind came from the high profile DeGaulle and his RPF. By 1950 even DeGaulle had ceased to believe that Indochina could be held. Despite this he and his party kept up pressure to continue the war right up until the RPF disintegrated in 1952. This disintegration made consideration of a negotiated settlement much easier. While as early as 1947 Prime Minister Ramadier had recognised that “The Indochina problem will not be solved by force.” , no party in France had the courage to realistically attempt a political solution until public pressure and military failure left no chioice. With national pride and empire under threat, France entered into a war that she was incapable of fighting, rather than admit that she no longer possessed the ability to hold her empire intact.

    While fighting a war to restore empire was a poor motive, it did promise France some small gains. When it mutated into a war against communism in 1949-50, France lost all reason to fight. Before this, the fact that the Vietminh were communist-run was of minimal importance in France, they were a nationalist threat to the empire. It was only when events in China and Korea made communism in Asia into an issue that anti-communist rhetoric grew in France. While becoming a participant in the American crusade against communism was a financial boon (America directed twice as much money to the Indochina war than it had to France under the Marshall plan) , it also meant pressure to create an anti-communist alternative in Vietnam. With the Gaullists denouncing even the smallest concession as treason, the ‘Bao Dai solution’ was not adopted enthusiastically. With France lacking even the slightest real motive for continuing the war, the campaign against the war that had been started by the communists began to gain strength. The ‘dirty war’ with its pointless expense and corruption was becoming unpopular. Perhaps the final word on the failure of France to secure a motive for the Indochina war should go to General Henri Navarre. He noted the following in 1957: “We had no policy at all...After seven years of war...no-one from private to commander in chief knew just why we were fighting. Was it to maintain French positions? if so which ones?. Was it simply to participate...in the ‘containment’ of Communism...?. Then why did we continue to make such an effort when our interests had virtually ceased to exist?. This uncertainty about our political aims kept us from having a certain and coherent military policy in Indochina...”. Without any motive to fight, and with public opinion moving against the war French capitulation was inevitable.

    If French politics created a war without a worthwhile motive, it also helped to create a Vietnamese State and Army without a chance of survival. As noted, a reluctance to concede independence and the opposition of the RPF seriously compromised the ‘Bao Dai solution’. Having first been considered after the failure of the 1947 offensive, French half-heartedness meant that it took a further two years to create a nominally independent state. Even then, Bao Dai admitted it was not a “Bao Dai solution...but just a French solution”. According to journalist Denis Warner ”France wanted a puppet...The French were not interested in giving Vietnam independence, or in establishing an effective nationalist government”. Unfortunately Bao Dai’s history of collaboration, financial corruption, association with criminals and indolent lifestyle made him an easy target for Vietminh propaganda. The politicians and officials who staffed the Bao Dai regime contained among their number Catholics, landowners, businessmen and French citizens, often with a history of infighting and collaboration. An American official described one cabinet as comprising “opportunists, nonentities, extreme reactionaries, assassins, hirelings and, finally, men of faded mental powers.” Unsurprisingly, attempts at reform and elections were not successful. It should also come as no surprise that attempts to create an army for this state also failed dismally. Once again French politicians delayed this project until pressure from General deLattre forced the issue in 1951. It was hoped that the Vietnamese National Army (VNA) would take over static defence of the delta while French mobile groups engaged the Vietminh. Despite its large size (200-300,000 by 1954), the VNA suffered from low morale, constant desertion and defection, a lack of Vietnamese officers, poor training, and a patchy combat record. The reluctance of France to concede any degree of independence to the Vietnamese and the poor quality of her allies in Vietnam, ensured that France would have to carry a heavier load than she could sustain. Without a motive or an ally, France could not continue the war.

    One of the most important aspects of France’s failure in Indochina was her inability to sustain the war militarily. In 1946 General Leclerc said it would take 500,000 troops too hold Indochina. The French Government backed General Valluy, who said it could be done with 130,000. They backed the wrong General. Having decided to send only volunteers, the French Government found the number of enlistments declining to the point where troops had to be taken from its African colonies. The inadvisability and unsustainability of this policy was demonstrated by uprisings in Madagascar (1947) and the French Maghreb (1952,53,54). These problems put lie to the idea that the war in Indochina was necessary to save the empire - it was actually weakening it. Not only was the situation in Africa cause for concern. With America pushing for German rearmament, there was a fear that France’s diminished commitment to Europe would not allow her to influence this process. The war consumed officers at a phenomenal rate. With 25% of regular army officers and 40% of NCO’s in Indochina, the number of officers in Europe dropped to 80% of the level considered safe. The French military was stretched to the limit just maintaining a stalemate in Indochina. Pierre Mendes-France put the problem of achieving a military victory thus: “In order to achieve decisive military successes rapidly, we will need three times as many forces on the ground and three times as many funds...”, a commitment that would severely slow down the French economy. Unable to muster the forces to press for victory, France hung on grimly until capitulation was the only option.

    While the Expeditionary force in Indochina was never large enough to achieve a military victory, the strategy and tactics of its commanders do not inspire confidence that a larger force would have been any more successful. While the French averaged one commander per year, the Vietminh retained their commander (Giap) for the duration, allowing him to learn from his mistakes and adapt to the problems of warfare in Indochina. In a combat zone (Tonkin) where rain and fog limited air power, poor roads limited ground movement, and heavy forest favoured lightly armed soldiers, the French tried to fight a conventional European war using air power and heavy vehicles. As a result French positions outside the more favourable country of the Red River delta remained vulnerable to isolation and attack throughout the war. Offensives launched from the delta were a logistical nightmare for the French, resulting in a series of fighting withdrawals when the Vietminh threatened to encircle them. While even senior Vietminh commanders engaged in open sessions of criticism and self-criticism, senior members of the Expeditionary force often engaged in bitter personal disputes. While the French often showed little concern for the local population, the Vietminh had a sophisticated and widespread political and military network that gave them a constant stream of intelligence, recruits and a widespread support base. Even the delta, protected by the fortified ‘deLattre line’, contained at least two permanent Vietminh regiments and was subject to constant and large-scale infiltration. For the French to win they had to lure the Vietminh into a series of large conventional battles and destroy their units, the Vietminh were rarely so foolish as to allow this. By the time Navarre was sent to Indochina in 1953 the French Government had given up hope of winning the war, and was simply after a good position from which to negotiate. Given the lack of resources, it could be suggested that this was the best that the French could hope for from the outset. The fact that the final attempt to achieve this resulted in one of the worst defeats in French military history is indicative of a level of military incompetence that would have made victory unlikely in any circumstance.

    While the battle at Dien Bien Phu was not the cause of the French capitulation in Indochina, it remains an excellent example of the reasons, political and military, why France did capitulate. The occupation of Dien Bien Phu was conceived amid confusion. With the Vietminh threatening Laos, Navarre was unclear as to whether or not he was obliged to defend it (he was not). The French Government failed to clarify the position until it was too late. Even then there was confusion as to the role of the base: was it to be a defensive position to draw the Vietminh into battle, or a ‘mooring point’ for harassing the Vietminh?. In a circumstance symbolic of the whole war, Navarre proceeded to spread his already stretched forces; first in operation ‘Atlante’ in Annam; and then to southern Laos, the Central Highlands and the Red River delta in response to a series of Vietminh attacks. As with Indochina to France, Dien Bien Phu was too distant from the delta to be properly supplied. Denis Warner once said “It was asking too much of a St Cyr graduate to believe that a peasant army still at least partly dependent on captured French weapons could pit itself successfully against an expeditionary force of 250,000 built around the elite of France.” This was clearly evident at Dien Bien Phu, where the French wildly underestimated the capacity of their enemy (especially in terms of artillery, anti-aircraft guns and sheer numbers), and wildly overestimated their own abilities (especially in terms of supply, air power and the ability of their artillery). As had happened previously during the war, the quality of French officers led to problems. In Hanoi Navarre and his deputy Cogny were in open conflict, while at the battle Castries proved incapable of command, handing authority to several lower ranked officers. In one last development common to the wider war, local troops (in this case local T’ais) deserted. By the end of the battle some 3,000-4,000 refused to fight. Finally, the French position was overrun by a well-armed, well-trained and highly motivated force. This would surely have been the fate of the remainder of French positions (in Tonkin and Annam at least) had the war continued. While it was not the cause of the French capitulation, Dien Bien Phu is a perfect illustration of why the French lost the First Indochina war.

    France lost the war in Indochina for a variety of reasons, none of which involved the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Contrary to what many believed at the time, there was no vital national interest in jeopardy in Indochina, there was little to be gained by victory. As France discovered, pride is a poor motive to sustain a lengthy war, yet pride was the closest thing France had to a motive. When anti-communism offered the opportunity to defray costs with American money France grabbed the opportunity, only to discover that anti-communism was even less of a motive than pride. The unenthusiastic way in which France went about the creation of the Bao Dai regime and the VNA indicated that France was caught in a bind: unwilling to acknowledge that it was time for independence, unable to continue fighting without the help of the Indochinese themselves. This French tardiness combined with the poor quality of the personnel recruited to cripple the already distant hopes that a non-communist regime might take root in Vietnam. Militarily France was woefully ill-equipped to fight the a big, long and costly war. She lacked the troops and officers to fight without endangering her position in relation to Germany and her African colonies. Furthermore, the unimaginative and often inept behaviour of the commanders in Indochina suggests that no amount of troops or officers would have defeated the Vietminh. After a series of military humiliations it became clear that the war was unwinnable. The fact that by the end of the war France was willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of lives simply to improve her bargaining position was typical of the moral and intellectual barrenness of French thinking on Indochina. Sadly, the end of the war had been decided upon before Dien Bien Phu had even begun. The fact that so many were permitted to die there is an indictment on the politicians and military men who allowed it to happen


    Bibliography

    Buttinger, Joseph, Vietnam: A Political History, Andre Deutsch, London (1969).

    Chesneaux, Jean, The Vietnamese Nation: Contribution to a History, (translated by Malcolm Salmon), Current Book Distributors, Sydney (1966).

    Dalloz, Jacques, The War in Indo-China 1945-54 (translated by Josephine Bacon), Gill and Macmillan, Dublin (1990).

    Davidson, Lt.Gen.(ret.) Phillip B. Vietnam at War: The History 1946-1975, Sidgwick and Jackson, London (1988).

    Devillers, Phillipe and Lacoture, Jean, End of a War: Indochina 1954, Frederick and Praeger, New York (1969).

    Dunn, Peter M. ‘The First Vietnam War: Aftershocks in the East’ in Elizabeth Jane Errington and B.J.C. McKercher (Eds.) The Vietnam War as History, Praeger, New York (1990).

    Fall, Bernard B. Viet-Nam Witness, 1953-66, Pall Mall Press, London (1966).

    Hammer, Ellen J. The Struggle For Indochina, Stanford University Press,Stanford (1954).

    Harrison, James Pinckey The Endless War: Fifty Years of Struggle in Vietnam, The Free Press, New York (1982).

    Irving, R.E.M. The First Indochina War, Croom Helm, London (1975).

    Jamieson, Neil L. Understanding Vietnam, University of California Press, Berkley (1995).

    Karnow, Stanley Vietnam: A History, Pimlico, London (1991: revised).

    Luong, Hy V. Revolution in the Village, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu (1995).

    Mey, Charles, ‘Dien Bien Phu (1953)’, in John Lewis (ed) The Mammoth Book of Battles, Robinson, London (1995).

    Short, Anthony, The Origins of the Vietnam War, Longman, London (1989).

    Warner, Denis, Certain Victory: How Hanoi Won the War, Sheed Andrews and McMeel, Kansas City (1977).


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  8. #23
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    BF, no offense intended, but I am going to use your essay as a classroom. I am the senior writing tutor at UCA so this is what I do for a living.

    Was General Henri Navarre’s arrogant strategic miscalculation at Dien Bien Phu responsible for French capitulation in the “First Indochina War”?.

    The short answer to this is no.
    Questions should not be stated openly, instead presume the question and provide the answer.


    As part of the ‘Navarre Plan’, Dien Bien Phu was staged to improve the French negotiating position at approaching peace talks, the war would have ended shortly reguardless of the outcome of the battle.
    Here is the answer which remains the same if the question is stated or unstated. Although I think a bit of rephrasing to place the war (greater) ahead of the plan (minor) would give it a bit of clarity.

    This essay will examine the reasons why France had decided by mid-1953 that the war was unwinnable. The answers to this lie in the closely related realms of the political and the military. While it is never possible to make a clean distinction between these two fields, clarity and structure demand that such a distinction is made for the purposes of this essay. In France, the psychological need for Empire and a series of shaky coalition governments committed the Fourth Republic to a war it lacked the resources to fight or the political courage to end peacefully. Once communism became the issue, and the necessity of the ‘Bao Dai solution’ became unavoidable, the situation became even more difficult. French half-heartedness and the poor quality of its politicians and army guaranteed the Boa Dai regime a troubled existence. In the military sphere there were several major problems. The first was that the war in Indochina drained French military resources to a dangerous level. The second was that the strategy and tactics employed by the military commanding the Expeditionary force were ill-suited to the war they had to fight. The battle at Dien Bien Phu, while somewhat extraneous to the outcome of the war, does provide a distillation of most of the major French errors in one battle. Sadly for the soldiers who died there, the war was lost before the battle had even begun.
    There is a lot of stuff in this paragraph. First, essays should never refer to themselves. Its a weird form of first person and like I should be left invisible. Next we have a number of different topic sentences masking the thesis. A Paragraph, in particular the thesis paragraph should have only one topic. Not having read further as of yet I am confused, is the thesis- By 1953 the French had decided the war was un-winnable or is it Once communism became the issue, and the necessity of the ‘Bao Dai solution’ became unavoidable, the situation became even more difficult..... There are a couple of more sentences there that throw the reader off the thesis trail.

    One of the fundamental causes of the capitulation in Indochina was the French motive for starting the war. Postwar French politicians saw the regaining of empire as the key to avenging the humiliation of the war, and guaranteeing France’s ‘Great Power’ status. Even the powerful Communist party was in favour of retaining a presence in Indochina. There was also a fear that if Indochina was given independence, other colonies (especially in the Maghreb) might follow, and the empire disintegrate. What these people failed to realise was that the French capitulation to and collaboration with the Japanese had changed her position in Indochina. As Ho Chi Minh stated in the declaration of independence “...the truth is that we have wrung back our independence from Japanese hands, not from the French...”. Even Emperor Bao Dai, no radical nationalist, made this plea to DeGaulle: “...The people of Vietnam...no longer want, and can no longer tolerate, any foreign domination or administration. Even should you manage to re-establish a French administration here, it would no longer be obeyed: each village would be a nest of resistance...” . These prophetic words were ignored. In fact, the strongest pressure to retain Indochina and spurn concessions of any kind came from the high profile DeGaulle and his RPF. By 1950 even DeGaulle had ceased to believe that Indochina could be held. Despite this he and his party kept up pressure to continue the war right up until the RPF disintegrated in 1952. This disintegration made consideration of a negotiated settlement much easier. While as early as 1947 Prime Minister Ramadier had recognised that “The Indochina problem will not be solved by force.” , no party in France had the courage to realistically attempt a political solution until public pressure and military failure left no chioice. With national pride and empire under threat, France entered into a war that she was incapable of fighting, rather than admit that she no longer possessed the ability to hold her empire intact.
    Again busy paragraph with at least two subjects in it. Vietnamese resistance to the French and the French need for Empire. Both deserve their own space. Also you start with the capitulation an then work backwards. I would start from the Japanese occupation for the Vietnamese and French liberation for France and then work forward.

    While fighting a war to restore empire was a poor motive, it did promise France some small gains. When it mutated into a war against communism in 1949-50, France lost all reason to fight. Before this, the fact that the Vietminh were communist-run was of minimal importance in France, they were a nationalist threat to the empire. It was only when events in China and Korea made communism in Asia into an issue that anti-communist rhetoric grew in France. While becoming a participant in the American crusade against communism was a financial boon (America directed twice as much money to the Indochina war than it had to France under the Marshall plan) , it also meant pressure to create an anti-communist alternative in Vietnam. With the Gaullists denouncing even the smallest concession as treason, the ‘Bao Dai solution’ was not adopted enthusiastically. With France lacking even the slightest real motive for continuing the war, the campaign against the war that had been started by the communists began to gain strength. The ‘dirty war’ with its pointless expense and corruption was becoming unpopular. Perhaps the final word on the failure of France to secure a motive for the Indochina war should go to General Henri Navarre. He noted the following in 1957: “We had no policy at all...After seven years of war...no-one from private to commander in chief knew just why we were fighting. Was it to maintain French positions? if so which ones?. Was it simply to participate...in the ‘containment’ of Communism...?. Then why did we continue to make such an effort when our interests had virtually ceased to exist?. This uncertainty about our political aims kept us from having a certain and coherent military policy in Indochina...”. Without any motive to fight, and with public opinion moving against the war French capitulation was inevitable.
    Besides multiple topics in the paragraph, there is some disagreement as well. You claim both a French scarcity of reason to fight and then both an economic and political incentive to fight.

    Overall, if this paper was revised it should be broken down along topics better. A well developed outline to provide a skeleton which is then fleshed out with the actual information. A thesis should be a simple short active voice sentence that summarizes the papers goal in as few words as possible. ie- The lack a clear consensus set the stage for Dein Ben Phu.

    Then list the thesis support ie- This lack of consensus left France with a reason to fight, a political way to move forward effectively or the ability to marshal the resources of the state.
    Last edited by zraver; 31 Dec 10, at 19:10.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    BF, no offense intended, but I am going to use your essay as a classroom. I am the senior writing tutor at UCA so this is what I do for a living.
    Thats OK Z. I always had a very 'busy' style - keen to jam in as much of what I read & understood as possible. I was one of those students who used to hate anything less than 2000 words because I couldn't get up a good head of steam. I think that my various lecturers & tutors were prepared to overlook stylistic flaws because I put so much work into each essay & could back up all my points.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Thats OK Z. I always had a very 'busy' style - keen to jam in as much of what I read & understood as possible. I was one of those students who used to hate anything less than 2000 words because I couldn't get up a good head of steam. I think that my various lecturers & tutors were prepared to overlook stylistic flaws because I put so much work into each essay & could back up all my points.
    The problem with busy styles is the argument gets lost. You have so many sub plots that would be great A papers by themselves. For example the contest of politcal will between the Vietminh and the French politcal establishments.

    I had a tutee this student who had to write a series of papers on food. They started out talking about additives, moved to organics and then to composting. For the final paper he needed to take the conversation to the next step and add somethign to the collective conversation. He was stuck so we went through the idea generation process and he ended up with a great topic. His final paper was on the run-off created by composting compared to nitrate rich artifical fertilizers. Now this type of research has been done, but not widely so his paper had a real chance to add to the conversation.

    More importantly he now knows the importance of argument. The greats do not become great becuase they re-hash the arguments of others, but becuase they add something new. if you ever go after your doctorate, pushing the conversation forward is almost required.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    The problem with busy styles is the argument gets lost. You have so many sub plots that would be great A papers by themselves. For example the contest of politcal will between the Vietminh and the French politcal establishments.

    I had a tutee this student who had to write a series of papers on food. They started out talking about additives, moved to organics and then to composting. For the final paper he needed to take the conversation to the next step and add somethign to the collective conversation. He was stuck so we went through the idea generation process and he ended up with a great topic. His final paper was on the run-off created by composting compared to nitrate rich artifical fertilizers. Now this type of research has been done, but not widely so his paper had a real chance to add to the conversation.

    More importantly he now knows the importance of argument. The greats do not become great becuase they re-hash the arguments of others, but becuase they add something new. if you ever go after your doctorate, pushing the conversation forward is almost required.
    Like I said Z, it was over a decade ago & it was an undergrad subject. I got better at refining my argument, but unfortunately lost the enthusiasm. The Doctorate was commenced & has subsequently stalled. It covers some new territory & some that was new when I started but has subsequently been covered. Wish I could easily re-capture the love of learning & writing I had when I did the piece you wrote.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  12. #27
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    Sorry to interrupt the conservation here but I've been following this thread here, and thought I would contribute a term paper from my Freshman year of college on the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    I tried uploading it but it didn't work for some reason.


    In October of 1962, the United States faced the specter of nuclear war that would become known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. This crisis resulted when the Soviet Union, the ideological rival of the U.S., placed a number of nuclear armed missiles and ground forces in the belligerent island nation of Cuba, only 90 miles off the American coast in the Caribbean. In terms of a solution to this crisis, American policymakers had several military options that could have been pursued to resolve the crisis.

    These military options included a direct U.S. invasion of Cuba, airstrikes on the Soviet nuclear weapons on the island, or a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent further missiles from arriving on the island, and even doing nothing in response.1 However, due to the extreme gravity of the situation those military policymakers had to carefully deliberate and choose a response to the situation that would ensure the security of the United States and prevent further Soviet forces from being stationed in Cuba. Even though a US naval blockade was the plan eventually chosen2, all the military options that were on the table at the time had both positive and negative aspects. 3 Therefore, each one of the options shall be examined in detail.
    The origins of the Cuban Missile Crisis trace back to the late 1950’s and into the early 1960’s as a result of certain events, interests, and dynamics of the US-USSR strategic/geopolitical struggle during this stage of the Cold War. The events leading up the Missile Crisis in Cuba included most prominently Marxist revolutionary Fidel Castro’s 1959 toppling of the prior pro-American, but corrupt, regime in Cuba under Fulgencio Batista. Castro himself then instituted a government that gradually came to advocate Marxist economic policies and pro-Soviet foreign policies.

    This in turn led to a strong reaction by the United States due to the general consensus among American political leaders that a communist foothold in Latin America and the Caribbean was unacceptable. The Eisenhower Administration and the newly elected Kennedy Administration began a series of both covert and overt actions against the Castro regime that led to the failed Bay of Pigs landing on Cuban shores in April of 1961. The landing was carried out by anti-Castro Cuban exiles sponsored by the CIA. Castro responded to the failed landing attempt by moving Cuba solidly into the Soviet camp. This event was welcomed by Soviet Primer Nikita Khrushchev who viewed Cuba as a strong strategic base to counter, what the Soviet leadership perceived, as a ring of American and NATO nuclear armed bases surrounding the Soviet Union’s borders.4
    This was a fear based on recent experience. Only twenty years before, Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s sudden invasion, had nearly ended the existence of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev, who had been Stalin’s commissar during the desperate struggle at Stalingrad, saw it as imperative to place a Soviet presence in Cuba, despite breaking previous promises to the United States.5

    Not long after these series of events, the Soviet military, executing an initiative put forward by Khrushchev, began moving Soviet troops, equipment, fighter/bomber aircraft, small attack craft and missiles to Cuba under Operation Anadyr.6 Anadyr was a monumental undertaking in Soviet military affairs. It required the Soviet Union, whose naval and merchant fleet had very few ships designed to move military forces, to transport troops, equipment, supplies, and missiles enormous distances across the Atlantic Ocean.5 These obstacles made Operation Anadyr very difficult to execute, since the ships had to avoid detection from any hostile military force or intelligence service during the whole 8,000 mile trip from the USSR to Cuba.7 The Soviet military nonetheless managed to carry out Operation Anadyr successfully by using nondescript Soviet merchant marine ships.

    Despite these two challenges, Soviet troops and missiles arrived in Cuba without detection or incident. By night the missile forces were then put into position in uninhabited areas deep in Cuba. Their movements were covered by extensive camouflage and orders to maintain radio silence. Therefore, at the end of Operation Anadyr, there were numerous types of Soviet forces and missiles of varying ranges stationed throughout Cuba.

    Newly deployed Soviet nuclear armed forces included SS-4 ballistic missiles, carrying 1-megaton warheads. In addition, FROG tactical ballistic missiles equipped with 2-kiloton warheads and FKR-1 missiles armed with 12 kiloton warheads placed much of the mainland United States or US forces well within their ranges.8 However, despite the extensive Soviet preparations to keep the existence of missile forces in Cuba a secret, they would eventually be discovered by US surveillance of the country.

    On October 16, 1962, airborne surveillance photos of Cuba came to the attention of the President of the United States John F. Kennedy and those responsible for foreign and military affairs that the Soviet Union was placing what appeared to be nuclear armed weapons and forces in Cuba.9 This shocking discovery created a crisis of critical proportions for the Kennedy Administration along with the American diplomatic, military, and defensive establishments, and thus prompted them to swing into action. This response to the crisis led to the hasty creation of The Executive Committee of the National Security Council or EXCOMM to advise President Kennedy during this crisis.

    The EXCOMM its self was made up of President Kennedy, his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, the Secretaries of Defense, State, and the Treasury, along with the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell D. Taylor, and the Director of the CIA John McCone.10 Numerous other advisors and members of the military, intelligence, and diplomatic establishments were also present during EXCOMM meetings during the 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.11 From this point on, the policymakers on the EXCOMM were faced with extremely difficult and potentially fatal decisions on the threat that Soviet missiles in Cuba posed.

    The policymakers were under a high stress situation and faced with the urgency of a situation that was just coming to light. Individuals within the EXCOMM were faced with a number of facts about the situation in Cuba. These included the fact that the Soviet leadership had deceived the US about the placement of Soviet troops and missiles in Cuba, in addition to the fact that many of these missile forces in Cuba could hit targets within the mainland United States.12 Also, the EXCOMM was faced with imminent questions such as what the provocative Soviet move into Cuba could mean, and whether it was the start of a first strike. Many of these questions and realizations shaped the arguments and options over the U.S. plan of action against the Soviet presence in Cuba.

    Several questions perplexed American policymakers. What would be the most appropriate immediate response to the Soviet moves into Cuba? What response would deliver longer term security for the United States?13 The various military options the US could have taken included an outright invasion of Cuba, an ultimatum to the USSR followed by airstrikes, the option to do nothing, or initiate a blockade which would be succeeded or proceeded by political negotiations.

    Among the options the American leadership was considering included a naval “quarantine” of Cuba similar to a blockade, accompanied by wording to avoiding the appearance of an act of war. This would be the option eventually chosen by EXCOMM.14 However; all the courses of action and their potential benefits as well as draw backs will be reviewed to confirm if the “quarantine” option was the right choice.

    The first military option, which was an outright invasion of Cuba, was considered by the policymakers on the EXCOMM for a number of benefits. The most outright benefit that a US invasion of Cuba would bring for American security, would be the potential prevention of the Soviet threat hitting US soil and the elimination of the Castro regime in Havana. Another possible benefit of an invasion would be to send the message to the Soviet leadership as well as to other nations in the Communist World that any direct threat to the United States would be dealt with by swift military force if necessary. Yet another positive outcome for the Americans, is that it could have kept the Soviet Union or another Marxist nation from ever interfering in the Western Hemisphere again, as well as dealing the USSR and its allies a humiliating military blow if successful.15 Most policymakers of the military and intelligence establishment favored this course of action or a variant involving the use of military force.16

    Despite the advantages an invasion of Cuba could have offered the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this option came with many drawbacks as well. Among one of the most prominent drawbacks of the invasion option, was that it could have very easily started an open conflict with the Soviet Union that had the potential to involve a nuclear exchange. This particular problem with an invasion was reinforced by the possibility that a US invasion of Cuba could have forced the local Soviet commanders to employ their nuclear stockpiles on the island ether against invading US forces or against the mainland United States itself. The Soviet Union could have also opened up second or third fronts against the US and NATO in Central Europe, especially in Germany. Last but not least, given the strength of both the Soviet forces in Cuba with the Cuban defense forces factored in, US causalities in an invasion of the island could have been heavy.18

    Airstrikes that were of either a massive or limited nature against Soviet forces and missiles in Cuba were another option being considered by the EXCOMM. Saturated bombing against the missiles in Cuba would have assured at least some chance of doing damage to their targets. In addition to the strong possibility of doing heavy damage to Soviet/Cuban forces in the general area of the air attacks. Limited airstrikes on the other hand might have done less damage, although most likely would have been more accurate in destroying some Soviet/Cuban targets throughout the island.20 Limited airstrikes also could have had the benefit of sending a message to the Soviet Union about the errors of their move into Cuba, perhaps prompting the leadership to negotiate a settlement with the U.S. This specific plan of action was especially favored by the intelligence and defense establishments during the crisis.21

    Many questions arise though, when discussing the effectiveness as well as the logic behind both saturated and limited airstrikes against targets in Cuba. This is due to the fact that, like in an invasion scenario, airstrikes of ether kind risk the strong possibility of inviting a powerful Soviet response. Ether in opening another front against the US in Central Europe, or, perhaps even worse, the USSR might use the nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba against American targets in the Caribbean or against the mainland United States itself. Also one of the important aspects of defenses that the Soviet’s employed in Cuba, were SAM sites and air defenses of all types which could hit high flying aircraft in the event of an air attack.22 Airstrikes, especially those of the saturated response also risked collateral damage to Cuban property or people which could have the unwanted effect of further solidifying the position of Fidel Castro’s regime.23

    Yet one other possible response to the missile crisis in Cuba that President Kennedy and the policymakers on the EXCOMM could have supported was to do nothing in response to the presence of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba.24 This choice would have entailed letting the presence of Soviet forces and missiles stand. Leaving the Soviet presence in Cuba unquestioned and unharassed could have prevented a potentially nuclear showdown over the issue between the two powers at the time. Therefore, possibly providing a measure of security for the United States in regards to the presence of Soviet military forces and nuclear weapons in Cuba through nonintervention.

    Choosing a nonresponsive option to the presence of Soviet forces and missiles in Cuba however, would have had catastrophic domestic and international implications for the U.S. In terms of domestic politics and opinion, this option would have harmed President Kennedy, who only narrowly won the 1960 election. .If he walked away from the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy would have been perceived as weak. The same issue would have gone for members of the U.S. military, intelligence, and diplomatic establishments. A policy of non-response would have consequences internationally for U.S. influence and security. Soviet forces and nuclear missiles would have been only 90 miles from the US mainland. Additionally, the Soviet foothold in Cuba could have also been used to spread Soviet influence into other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America. In total, such a response would have made the U.S. look weak and even feckless against the spread of Soviet influence.

    The last military option that will be discussed is the Cuban blockade or “quarantine” option. This option was also the military plan of action that was to be chosen by the EXCOMM in response to the Soviet presence in Cuba. Over the wishes of his military and intelligence policymakers, 25 the “quarantine” option was picked by Kennedy and the EXCOMM because Kennedy thought it would send a message to the Soviet Union about the seriousness of the situation while keeping other options like airstrikes and invasion open.

    A further reason the “quarantine” was chosen by the EXCOMM, and especially advocated by President Kennedy, was that most policymakers on the EXCOMM eventually thought it was the only feasible action for the time being.26 In any event, further preparations for other military options, further discussion on the options, and more attempts at negotiations with the USSR, where needed.27 Lastly, the uncertainty of the geopolitical situation and risks of another military option might result in an open conflict with the Soviet Union. This consideration further argued for the “quarantine”. Therefore this summarizes a number of the reasons why the blockade or “quarantine” was chosen as a military option over others.
    Although, this isn’t to say though, that the blockade or “quarantine” option didn’t have any potential risks or shortcomings to it as a plan of action during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Among the most preeminent risks with this particular military option like the others, was that it stood a substantial chance as being seen as an aggressive action by the Soviet Union thus also inviting the prospect of war.28 Also another concern about the blockade during the crisis was that Soviet vessels of varying types could have slipped through the blockade and delivered personnel, missiles, or other weapons to Cuba regardless.29 In addition, a blockade even under the guise of“quarantine” still could have led to confrontation, because a blockade is traditionally considered an act of war.30 This also brought another concern for American policymakers, in which US Naval ships could have been in the dilemma of having to fire on ships that attempted to run the “quarantine”. Therefore, this could have heated up the confrontation with the Soviet Union in this manner of firing on ships that belonged to or were associated with the USSR’s support to its forces and nuclear weapons and Cuba.

    Of all the military and political options considered by the EXCOMM in regards to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the “quarantine” had the fewest perspective risks and flaws. These were the options US policymakers went over, invasion saturated or limited airstrikes, inaction to the Soviet presence in Cuba, or a “quarantine. From a choice of these options, the EXCOMM’s plan of a “quarantine” or blockade was most likely the best choice.31 This is due to the fact that all the other military options stressed either the direct use of force against Soviet troops and nuclear weapons in Cuba or inaction. Committing to military solutions could have started WWIII.32 Doing nothing would have allowed the threat posed by the Soviet Union to continue to exist and perhaps spread influence throughout the rest of Latin America or the Caribbean and diminished U.S. influence worldwide.33

    The blockade or “quarantine” was the best national security option because it contained and prevented further Soviet reinforcement of Cuba, while at the same time keeping open a possible non-violent political solution to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The advantages of leaving political options open eventually spurred negotiations leading to a nuclear swap between the two countries. This approach eliminated nuclear forces in Cuba and Turkey respectively and brought an end to the crisis in the Caribbean.34


    Footnotes
    1 Polmar, Norman, and John D. Gresham. Defcon-2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War During the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006), p 109
    3 Ibid, p 111
    4 Ibid, p 111
    5 Ibid, p 51
    6Ibid, p 51
    7Marshall, Dennis, and Thomas G. Paterson. eds. Major Problems in American Foreign Relations: Volume II Since 1914. Vol. 2. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2005), pp 367-413
    8 Ibid, p 51
    9 Ibid, p 66
    10 Kennedy, Robert F. Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: W.W Norton & Company, Inc., 1999), p 19
    11 Ibid, p 24
    12 Ibid, p 25
    13 Polmar, Norman, and John D. Gresham. Defcon-2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War During the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006), p 109
    14 Ibid, p 108
    15Ibid, p 131
    16 Ibid, p 109
    17 Ibid, p 109
    18 Ibid, p 68
    19 Ibid, p 64
    20 Ibid, p 108
    21 Ibid, p 109
    22 Ibid, p 109
    23 Ibid, p 54
    24 Ibid, p 130
    25 Ibid, pp 94-111
    26 Ibid, p 111
    27 Ibid, p 108
    28 Ibid, p 110
    29 Ibid, p 139
    30 White, Mark J. The Cuban Missile Crisis. London: MacMillan Press Ltd., 1996), pp 139-140
    31 Ibid, pp 232-233
    32 Ibid, pp 233-234
    33 Ibid, pp 234-236
    34 Ibid, p 241
    Last edited by Kevin Brown; 01 Jan 11, at 08:49.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Brown View Post
    Sorry to interrupt the conservation here but I've been following this thread here, and thought I would
    Kevin,

    If the topic still interests you (or if you are an IR, military history, or poly sci major), I'd highly recommend reading Amazon.com: Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (2nd Edition) (9780321013491): Graham Allison, Philip Zelikow: Books. The one thing that I would have liked to have seen more on was exploring the impact of the individual, i.e., the Soviets read on Kennedy, who had been outclassed by Kruschev at the Vienna summit. While this angle can be overplayed, I think it adds to the analysis of why the Soviets were willing to go forward (compare Kennedy's flexible response to Eisenhower's massive retaliation).
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    Like I said Z, it was over a decade ago & it was an undergrad subject. I got better at refining my argument, but unfortunately lost the enthusiasm. The Doctorate was commenced & has subsequently stalled. It covers some new territory & some that was new when I started but has subsequently been covered. Wish I could easily re-capture the love of learning & writing I had when I did the piece you wrote.
    I hope you can recapture the love.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Kevin,

    If the topic still interests you (or if you are an IR, military history, or poly sci major), I'd highly recommend reading Amazon.com: Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (2nd Edition) (9780321013491): Graham Allison, Philip Zelikow: Books. The one thing that I would have liked to have seen more on was exploring the impact of the individual, i.e., the Soviets read on Kennedy, who had been outclassed by Kruschev at the Vienna summit. While this angle can be overplayed, I think it adds to the analysis of why the Soviets were willing to go forward (compare Kennedy's flexible response to Eisenhower's massive retaliation).
    I actually originally had Allison's book amongst the sources I was going to use for my research when I was writing this paper. However, I dropped it because I thought it didn't directly address the prompt I was given, and I didn't want to deviate too much. Although, if I decide to add more to this in the future I would maybe want to include Allison's work in the research.

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