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Vietnam DeclassifiedThe CIA and Counterinsurgency$
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Thomas L Ahern

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125619

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125619.001.0001

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Conclusion: The Limits of Pragmatism

Conclusion: The Limits of Pragmatism

(p.357) Conclusion: The Limits of Pragmatism
Vietnam Declassified

Thomas L. Ahern

University Press of Kentucky

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) experience with rural pacification in South Vietnam illustrates both the enormity of the challenge and the ways in which agency officials understood and responded to that challenge. Aside from the U.S. Information Agency, whose tiny resources and narrow charter prevented its playing a major role, the CIA was the first U.S. agency to treat the Vietnamese insurgency as at least partly a political phenomenon. What agency officers thought they were doing about that phenomenon, especially before the commitment of U.S. ground forces, is in effect what the U.S. government thought it was doing. The uninhibited correspondence that flowed between the Saigon Station and CIA Headquarters throughout the conflict reveals the assumptions and attitudes that drove program recommendations, and suggests the limitations that the collective mind-set imposed on both analysis and effective action.

Keywords:   CIA, rural pacification, South Vietnam, U.S. Information Agency, insurgency, United States, Saigon

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