The War: The Hawaii Conference

The decision, activist and abrupt, was in the quintessential Johnson style. With no advance warning, the President announced that he would fly to Hawaii for three days of talks with U.S. military commanders and leaders of South Viet Nam's government. The South Vietnamese did not even have time to draft position papers. Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, asked when he first heard about it, confessed in some embarrassment: "Very recently."

Nevertheless, the imposing array of officialdom at the Honolulu talks signaled that the President intended to conduct a wide-ranging examination of the military, political and psychological conduct of the Viet Nam war—indeed,...

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