July 21, 2003
Notes: Kaiser on the Vietnam War

One of the peak intellectual experiences of my friend Mike Levitin was a freshman seminar on the origins of World War I run by historian David Kaiser. Here Kaiser gives his one-sentence assessment of American policy in Vietnam: In 1965 there was obviously more support for the Viet Cong in South Viet Nam than for the Saigon government, and our attempt to make the Saigon government prevail killed, literally, millions (certainly well over one million) without affecting the result.... In short: Long-run benefits: zero. Short-run costs: millions dead. Even if you are fighting on the side of the good guys, it is only worth making war if the odds that you will win are very, very high indeed....

Posted by DeLong at 02:54 AM

February 14, 2003
The Marquis de Lafayette

Some people in the United States have too short a memory. Without Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), his example, and the decision he spurred France to to intervene in the American Revolution on the side of the colonists, this nation would not stand here now. There is a statue of Yves in the central square of what passes for Lafayette, California's downtown. Every time I pass it, I think of the debt for our very existence as a nation that we owe to the Marquis and to France--a debt that we can never repay, but only honor. He is buried in American soil: he brought some back from the United States to France, and it was used for his gravesite....

Posted by DeLong at 04:37 PM