Episode three of this ten-part documentary series discusses a 1965 secret memo sent to US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara by his assistant John McNaughton, where he attempted to weigh current US objectives by relative importance: “To avoid a humiliating US defeat” was given a 70% weighting and “to permit the people of SVN [South Vietnam] to enjoy a better, freer way of life” only 10%. The US also aimed “to emerge from crisis without unacceptable taint from methods used”. The viciousness of the “methods used” and systematic lying by members of a government who, in McNamara’s words, were “blind prisoners of their assumptions”, became public with the leaked Pentagon Papers in 1971.

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The Vietnam War, episode 3