Kissinger's "review" of Vietnam begins with John F. Kennedy's naive commitment and with what apologists have termed "Lyndon Johnson's war." Our involvement began with failure to press or being politically unable to press for designation of French Indochina as a trusteeship area after World War II, and subsequently with our amoral support of the French in attempting to retain their former colonial advantages, allegedly in exchange for their cooperation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
When the French bailed out, it was under the dogged insistence of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and a wary President Eisenhower that we inherited the "moral" mantle of "free world" responsibility in Indochina and began the search for a third force between then-considered monolithic communism and what Kissinger politely terms "authoritarianism."
Kissinger's "review" is a transparent attempt to parallel what he would have us believe were our timidities in Indochina with the present drawing back of the American public and Congress from adopting his recommendations of involvement in Central America. This time around--unlike the bitter days of Nixon's "secret plan" and Kissinger's sideshows--we are in the position of publicly deciding our options. The dubious to bad results of Kissinger's persistent chess game of going through the alphabet to get from A to B suggests that a brilliant man can be wrong--and cagey into the bargain.