from Gary North’s review of Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War
Halberstam’s book should be read in conjunction with a book that almost nobody has read, Otto Scott’s book on South Africa, The Other End of the Lifeboat (1985). In the first half, he details the demise of a similar group of very bright fellows, the Roundtable Group run by Alfred Milner, who was the institutional heir of Cecil Rhodes. They got Britain into World War I, and then they got Britain into World War II. By 1946, Britain was finished as an empire. The two wars had bankrupted the nation.
1. The Other End of the Lifeboat, Otto Scott, 1985.
Here is Scott’s assessment. They were too clever by half.
When Britain pulled out of the empire trade, Harry Truman moved in. You cannot understand what happened from 1946 to the suicide of the Soviet Union in 1991 if you don’t recognize that the American establishment self-consciously moved into the vacuum that Britain had produced by leaving. It was a self-conscious effort. It produced the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was supervised by the CIA, which had been the OSS during World War II. The CIA, like the OSS, was staffed by members of Yale’s secret society, Skull & Bones. From 1952 to 1961, it was run by a Princeton grad, Allan Dulles. Dulles persuaded Kennedy to launch the Bay of Pigs invasion. These were the best and the brightest of their day.
2. The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam, 1993.
3. Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, Ilana Mercer, 2012.