Monday, April 4, 2022

Nathaniel L. Moir's "Number One Realist"

Nathaniel L. Moir is a Research Associate with the Applied History Project at the Kennedy School, Harvard University, an affiliate with the Contemporary History Research Group at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, and an Editor with the Journal of Applied History. He was formerly an Ernest May Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Policy at the Kennedy School, Harvard University from 2019 to 2021.

Moir applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Number One Realist: Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Number One Realist – Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare reveals the book's essence while evoking the horrific nature of war facing millions of humans today. It recounts the infliction of a brutal, illegal, and unprovoked invasion of one country by its neighbor and how the invasion created a chain of events leading to other wars. The invasion resulted from vast miscalculations, and it directly resulted in renewed German military rearmament as threats to the global security order increased.

The paradigmatic change leading to German rearmament recounted on the page describes how the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950 precipitated German rearmament and how this, in turn, generated fear among countries recovering from their destruction during World War II. In a compromise to permit German rearmament in 1951, France demanded that the United States guarantee its position in its colonies in Indochina. In exchange, France would remain committed to collective defense through a proposed European Defense Community united against Russian and Chinese threats.

Bernard Fall, a scholar of the French Indochina and Vietnam Wars and the subject of this book, lived through these tumultuous years. In 1950, Fall was a twenty-four-year-old former War Crimes Commission analyst at the Nuremberg Trials. Page 99 relates how Fall perceived the North Korean invasion as it sparked massive policy changes in the US and Europe. Those effects were so extensive that convicted Nazi war criminals, including Alfried Krupp of the German arms manufacturer Krupp Industries, were released to reignite the German arms industry. The page also describes Fall's frustration in seeing Krupp released from prison. At Nuremberg, Fall had spent years documenting the Third Reich's atrocities, and its victims included Fall's mother and father, among millions of others.

In 1951, the security guarantees the United States thus provided France pulled the United States further into the failing French reoccupation of Indochina. Thus, as one war began, it primed the furnaces for others. Finally, the page hints at a future that would eventually involve an escalating war involving the United States in Vietnam. By August 1964, the murky basis of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution formed a rationale for the invasion of South Vietnam that would eventually undermine American values and result in the death of millions. Ultimately, then as now, invasions initiate unforeseen consequences and constrain future choices, let alone the lives of those living today.
Visit Nathaniel L. Moir's website.

--Marshal Zeringue