6. The Pentagon Papers revealed a pattern of government deceit of the American people
American involvement in Vietnam was justified during the Eisenhower administration under what was called the domino theory. It proposed that failing to stop communism’s spread in one country in the region would lead others to fall, one by one, like toppling dominoes. The Pentagon Papers revealed that America’s true role in Vietnam, and other countries in Southeast Asia, was aimed at restricting the influence of China. Vietnam was one country in a ring which the United States wanted to use to encircle China with democratic allies, which also included Korea, Japan, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, and others.
Though in public McNamara endorsed the domino theory of preceding administrations (and Johnson), in private he informed Johnson, and presumably Kennedy, that China harbored imperial ambitions in Asia. In writing to the president, McNamara directly compared China to Germany in 1917 and 1939, and Imperial Japan in World War II, “as a major power threatening to undercut our importance and effectiveness in the world and, more remotely and more menacingly, to organize all of Asia against us. McNamara used the argument to support the strategic bombing operations in Vietnam, which began in 1965.