The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006
 

Enter Dr Dooley...


Moving down the list of GB snippets from Seth Jacobs book about Diem (see next-door pieces), I come to p159, which mentions Dr Thomas Dooley, a sterling publicist for US engagement in Vietnam. His good works in theatre during the 1950s got him the Congressional Gold Medal [1].

His first book, Deliver Us from Evil, dealt with his activities in helping refugees from the North reach the South in 1954-55. It wowed the Catholic press; and got Mike Mansfield to his feet on the Senate floor:
If the United States had aboard more ambassadors Like Thomas A Dooley, I think it not only would be better off, but it would be better understood in the countries which are underdeveloped.

Jacobs lists as being amongst Dooley's cheerleaders DDE, Earl Warren, Eleanor Roosevelt and - surprise, surprise! - Cardinal Spellman. And our friend Diem, of course.

[ER, eh? No doubt she was looking at the operation as purely humanitarian, overlooking the CIA-organised stunt element to proceedings. Otherwise, for a parlour-pink anti-imperialist, it would be rather odd. She wanted the French kept out of Indochina in 1945, I gather, as her old man was proposing.

For another day.]

  1. Much biographical info on this page. (I'm presently not interested in Dooley. But there's evidently no shortage of material there.) The murky details of the great move south are explored in a piece by John Prados.

MORE

On p161, Jacobs gives us a flavour of Dooley speechifying. It's vivid stuff:
What do you do for children who have had chopsticks driven into their ears? Or for old women whose collarbones have been shattered by rifle butts? Or for kids whose ears have been torn off with pincers? How do you treat a priest who has had nails driven into his skull to make a travesty of the Crown of Thorns?

There were atrocities a-plenty perpetrated by the Communists in Vietnam; but Prados calls Deliver Us a
highly stylized account of the events [which] could have been written by one of Ed Lansdaleā€™s CIA propaganda experts...

The Belgian atrocity stories of World War 1 naturally come to mind to counsel caution.

Added to which
American ignorance of Vietnam ensured that no one noticed when Dooley got his facts wrong. "My story is a story of Viet Nam, a country just a few miles wide and fewer miles long," he proclaimed in a Chicago address...In another speech, he claimed that the "tragedy in Vietnam was partly...of American's making, because we failed to completely crush the Chinese armies in Korea to the point where they could never have moved down...to Southeast Asia and taken over."

A pattern seems to be emerging...


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