Annotated Transcript of the IWP Panel Discussion

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Annotated Transcript of the IWP Panel

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MacKubin Thomas Owens

1 00:00:01,089 --> 00:00:04,089 (light tonal music)

2 00:00:05,870 --> 00:00:07,941 OWENS: - My name is Mac Owens, I'm the Dean of Academics here

3 00:00:07,941 --> 00:00:09,800 at The Institute of World Politics.

4 00:00:12,100 --> 00:00:15,040 Those of you who don't know anything about IWP,

5 00:00:15,040 --> 00:00:18,100 we are an independent Graduate School of National Security.

6 00:00:18,950 --> 00:00:23,560 We offer three MAs, several certificates,

7 00:00:23,560 --> 00:00:26,300 and we've just now instituted a professional doctorate,

8 00:00:26,300 --> 00:00:28,130 which is just kickin' off right now.

9 00:00:29,854 --> 00:00:31,580 If you know anybody who's interested in graduate school,

10 00:00:31,580 --> 00:00:34,650 let us know, send them our way.

11 00:00:36,185 --> 00:00:38,610 I'm real excited about this panel.

12 00:00:40,890 --> 00:00:44,860 As old Paul Harvey used to say,

13 00:00:44,860 --> 00:00:47,097 "If you watched the Burns-Novick,

14 00:00:47,097 --> 00:00:51,350 "let us say they left some things out." (laughing)

15 00:00:51,350 --> 00:00:54,610 And their perspective, that's all well and good,

16 00:00:54,610 --> 00:00:58,490 but we've pulled together, I think, an extraordinary panel

17 00:00:58,490 --> 00:01:01,590 of folks who've written on this, who know it pretty well.

18 00:01:01,590 --> 00:01:04,511 In most respects their voices were not heard

19 00:01:04,511 --> 00:01:09,080 in the Burns-Novick, which I think is really too bad.

20 00:01:10,060 --> 00:01:12,283 You more or less get the impression that

21 00:01:12,283 --> 00:01:16,330 there's been no new research on the war,

22 00:01:17,574 --> 00:01:22,470 in many respects we might as well be 1980s, 1970s,

23 00:01:22,470 --> 00:01:24,790 tellin' the same old stories.

24 00:01:24,790 --> 00:01:26,960 But, I think we have a pretty good panel here

25 00:01:26,960 --> 00:01:29,120 to talk about these things.

26 00:01:30,210 --> 00:01:32,550 Before I get them on, I'd like to introduce,

27 00:01:32,550 --> 00:01:37,030 just say hi to our Founder and President, John Lenczowski.

28 00:01:37,970 --> 00:01:42,870 John, and also to Marc LiVecche, from Providence,

29 00:01:42,870 --> 00:01:44,800 who is co-sponsoring this with us.

30 00:01:46,610 --> 00:01:49,380 In many respects, and he'll talk about this in a second,

31 00:01:49,380 --> 00:01:51,250 but this kind of got kicked off,

32 00:01:53,581 --> 00:01:58,480 right after the Burns-Novick, and I was very honored

33 00:01:58,480 --> 00:02:03,320 to have been included in the writing about my problems

34 00:02:03,320 --> 00:02:04,890 with Burns-Novick.

35 00:02:08,390 --> 00:02:10,390 My plan here is

36 00:02:11,986 --> 00:02:13,190 to ask each of our panelists

37 00:02:13,190 --> 00:02:17,990 to talk for about 17 minutes or so, and in this order.

38 00:02:19,340 --> 00:02:21,920 We have Bob Turner, Robert Turner from the University

39 00:02:21,920 --> 00:02:26,460 of Virginia at the Center for National Security Law,

40 00:02:26,460 --> 00:02:27,500 which he founded.

41 00:02:28,530 --> 00:02:32,440 We're gonna talk about the legal issues of the war.

42 00:02:32,440 --> 00:02:34,020 You know, the old saw that you got

43 00:02:34,020 --> 00:02:35,229 that was never really addressed,

44 00:02:35,229 --> 00:02:40,220 or was simply wrong is that, "Well, that whole thing,

45 00:02:40,220 --> 00:02:43,450 "we had no business involving ourselves in that

46 00:02:43,450 --> 00:02:45,400 "because after all it was a civil war."

47 00:02:46,300 --> 00:02:48,570 Except for the fact that, 1959,

48 00:02:48,570 --> 00:02:52,070 the Dong Party basically made the decision

49 00:02:52,070 --> 00:02:55,880 to begin infiltration and so forth,

50 00:02:55,880 --> 00:03:00,020 long before the United States had any major role in the war.

51 00:03:00,020 --> 00:03:02,520 So, we're gonna ask Bob to talk about that.

52 00:03:02,520 --> 00:03:07,100 Mark Moyar wrote a pathbreaking book on the early years

53 00:03:07,100 --> 00:03:11,650 of the war called, Triumph Forsaken.

54 00:03:12,600 --> 00:03:14,260 He put it aside, the second volume

55 00:03:14,260 --> 00:03:18,180 which I hope you're working on now, to finish up on that.

56 00:03:18,180 --> 00:03:22,240 But, one of the things that Mark did was he said

57 00:03:22,240 --> 00:03:26,180 well, there were some decision made in places other than

58 00:03:26,180 --> 00:03:28,600 in Washington and Saigon.

59 00:03:28,600 --> 00:03:31,840 For instance, Hanoi and Beijing,

60 00:03:33,892 --> 00:03:34,750 and also Moscow.

61 00:03:35,829 --> 00:03:40,670 His argument was to show, basically, that in many respects

62 00:03:45,330 --> 00:03:48,500 the best witnesses that things were going better

63 00:03:48,500 --> 00:03:51,900 than a lot of people thought were the Communists themselves,

64 00:03:51,900 --> 00:03:53,250 with what they were saying.

65 00:03:54,110 --> 00:03:58,480 And then, finally, Lewis, Bob, Sorley,

66 00:03:58,480 --> 00:04:02,370 who wrote three outstanding biographies

67 00:04:02,370 --> 00:04:05,160 on individuals which I'll talk about in a second.

68 00:04:05,160 --> 00:04:08,670 But his critical work, I think probably again,

69 00:04:10,767 --> 00:04:13,520 a pathbreaking book was, A Better War,

70 00:04:13,520 --> 00:04:16,056 where he talked about the transition

71 00:04:16,056 --> 00:04:18,956 from General Westmoreland to Creighton Abrams that's MACV,

72 00:04:20,530 --> 00:04:22,530 Commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command

73 00:04:22,530 --> 00:04:24,900 in Vietnam, and there's argument that,

74 00:04:24,900 --> 00:04:28,190 in many respects you go after 1969

75 00:04:28,190 --> 00:04:30,110 and things were much improved.

76 00:04:30,980 --> 00:04:34,890 So, let me, now having provided a synopsis here,

77 00:04:34,890 --> 00:04:36,600 let me go further.

78 00:04:36,600 --> 00:04:40,290 Bob Turner, as I say co-founded the Center

79 00:04:40,290 --> 00:04:43,580 for National Security Law at the University of Virginia.

80 00:04:45,610 --> 00:04:50,540 He chose his side early, (laughing) back from 1965-1968,

81 00:04:51,520 --> 00:04:52,850 he was the Director of Research

82 00:04:52,850 --> 00:04:56,590 for the National Student Committee for Victory in Vietnam.

83 00:04:57,560 --> 00:05:02,270 He wrote a 450-page undergraduate honors thesis on the war.

84 00:05:03,400 --> 00:05:07,254 He was commissioned into the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant,

85 00:05:07,254 --> 00:05:09,910 spent 2 tours in Vietnam.

86 00:05:09,910 --> 00:05:12,240 Gave up a deferment, at least for the time being,

87 00:05:12,240 --> 00:05:13,350 to go to Vietnam.

88 00:05:15,730 --> 00:05:19,330 And spent some time talking about the, you know,

89 00:05:19,330 --> 00:05:22,960 working with regard to the North Vietnamese and Viet-Cong.

90 00:05:24,860 --> 00:05:29,000 He also is a Fellow at the Stanford University

91 00:05:29,000 --> 00:05:30,814 Hoover Institution,

92 00:05:30,814 --> 00:05:35,330 and wrote the first major English language history

93 00:05:35,330 --> 00:05:38,010 of Vietnamese Communism.

94 00:05:38,010 --> 00:05:41,410 And he's talked on this subject, national security law,

95 00:05:41,410 --> 00:05:42,810 for 25 years.

96 00:05:44,490 --> 00:05:47,410 As I said, Mark Moyar, by the way I've known Bob

97 00:05:47,410 --> 00:05:49,448 since the 1980s.

98 00:05:49,448 --> 00:05:51,410 - 70's. - 70's, okay.

99 00:05:51,410 --> 00:05:52,510 Has it been that long?

100 00:05:54,350 --> 00:05:58,060 MOYAR: - I was only five then. (laughing)

101 00:05:58,060 --> 00:06:01,380 OWENS: - Mark Moyar, Dr. Mark Moyar, is the Director

102 00:06:01,380 --> 00:06:04,770 of the Project on Military and Diplomatic History

103 00:06:04,770 --> 00:06:07,055 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

104 00:06:07,055 --> 00:06:08,460 in Washington D.C.

105 00:06:09,550 --> 00:06:12,510 As a matter of fact, he put together a very nice panel

106 00:06:12,510 --> 00:06:15,810 over at CSIS several months ago.

107 00:06:19,589 --> 00:06:23,340 But, I got to know Mark through Jim Webb,

108 00:06:23,340 --> 00:06:25,480 when Mark was at Harvard and Jim Webb

109 00:06:25,480 --> 00:06:30,280 was on a six month tour up there, and connected us this way.

110 00:06:31,770 --> 00:06:36,149 He graduated with highest honors from Harvard,

111 00:06:36,149 --> 00:06:40,500 and then got his PhD from Cambridge University.

112 00:06:42,436 --> 00:06:46,250 His most recent book is Oppose Any Foe,

113 00:06:46,250 --> 00:06:48,980 the Rise of America's Special Operations Forces.

114 00:06:51,700 --> 00:06:54,560 And again, two ground-breaking histories on the Vietnam War,

115 00:06:54,560 --> 00:06:58,230 the first one called Phoenix and the Birds of Prey,

116 00:06:58,230 --> 00:07:01,270 Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism in Vietnam,

117 00:07:02,120 --> 00:07:05,690 from the Naval Institute Press in 1997.

118 00:07:05,690 --> 00:07:07,590 And then, as I mentioned before,

119 00:07:07,590 --> 00:07:12,590 Triumph Forsaken, the Vietnam War in 1954-1965.

120 00:07:15,560 --> 00:07:20,340 He is a member of the Hoover Institution Working Group

121 00:07:20,340 --> 00:07:24,090 on the role of military history and contemporary conflict.

122 00:07:24,090 --> 00:07:26,540 He's taught at the Marine Corps University

123 00:07:33,726 --> 00:07:37,110 from 2004-2010, and after that he taught

124 00:07:37,110 --> 00:07:40,340 at the Special Operations University.

125 00:07:42,780 --> 00:07:47,600 As I say, the book that he wrote is a pathbreaking.

126 00:07:48,670 --> 00:07:53,670 Bob Sorley, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy,

127 00:07:54,020 --> 00:07:59,020 also happened to get a PhD from Johns Hopkins,

128 00:08:00,280 --> 00:08:02,690 so you don't mind if we call him a Dr. Colonel

129 00:08:02,690 --> 00:08:05,480 or Col. Doctor as we go through.

130 00:08:05,480 --> 00:08:08,480 He has taught a number of places,

131 00:08:09,573 --> 00:08:12,410 but again, he is best known for his biographies,

132 00:08:12,410 --> 00:08:16,090 the first one, Thunderbolt, General Creighton Abrams

133 00:08:16,090 --> 00:08:18,430 and the Army of His Times,

134 00:08:18,430 --> 00:08:21,690 Honorable Warrior, General Harold K. Johnson

135 00:08:21,690 --> 00:08:23,520 and the Ethics of Command,

136 00:08:23,520 --> 00:08:26,730 and Westmoreland, the General who lost Vietnam.

137 00:08:30,130 --> 00:08:32,940 He has received numerous awards for his writing,

138 00:08:32,940 --> 00:08:33,980 and as I say,

139 00:08:35,850 --> 00:08:38,610 his pathbreaking book was of course the

140 00:08:38,610 --> 00:08:42,740 one called A Better War, the Unexamined Victories

141 00:08:42,740 --> 00:08:47,060 and Final Tragedies of America's Last Years in Vietnam,

142 00:08:47,060 --> 00:08:50,400 which was, by the way, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

143 00:08:50,400 --> 00:08:54,440 He also pulled together all of General Abrams' tapes,

144 00:08:54,440 --> 00:08:56,110 all of his meetings and so forth,

145 00:08:56,110 --> 00:09:01,110 which was the basis for his study on this.

146 00:09:01,330 --> 00:09:03,414 What I think you can conclude is

147 00:09:03,414 --> 00:09:05,390 that we have a pretty good panel, so I'm hoping you'll

148 00:09:05,390 --> 00:09:07,540 actually might know a little about Vietnam.

149 00:09:10,110 --> 00:09:12,180 Jim Webb one time said something very interesting,

150 00:09:12,180 --> 00:09:14,530 he wrote a piece back in the 1980s

151 00:09:14,530 --> 00:09:17,570 for the American Enterprise Institute,

152 00:09:17,570 --> 00:09:20,270 and he talked about the fact we talk about something called,

153 00:09:20,270 --> 00:09:21,960 the Vietnam Generation.

154 00:09:23,060 --> 00:09:26,930 He said, "What we call the Vietnam Generation is

155 00:09:26,930 --> 00:09:30,700 "an age group, and it's split over issues having

156 00:09:30,700 --> 00:09:34,660 "to do with culture, popular culture.

157 00:09:34,660 --> 00:09:38,100 "And there's no more importance and delusion

158 00:09:38,100 --> 00:09:39,600 "than views on Vietnam."

159 00:09:40,600 --> 00:09:43,151 And he points out that the Vietnam Generation is

160 00:09:43,151 --> 00:09:47,670 understood to be these guys who oppose it, the war,

161 00:09:47,670 --> 00:09:50,450 but he points out, "Hey, you know, there were a few of us

162 00:09:50,450 --> 00:09:54,210 "that we tried to do what our dad's did in World War II."

163 00:09:55,250 --> 00:09:56,660 His dad was in the Air Force, my dad was

164 00:09:56,660 --> 00:09:58,880 in the Marine Corps in World War II and things like that,

165 00:09:58,880 --> 00:10:00,750 so when the war rolled around we thought

166 00:10:00,750 --> 00:10:02,450 that's what you're supposed to do.

167 00:10:03,290 --> 00:10:05,700 That's what citizens do during time of peace.

168 00:10:05,700 --> 00:10:08,190 So, this idea somehow that there's

169 00:10:08,190 --> 00:10:12,440 this unified Vietnam Generation in opposition to the war,

170 00:10:13,320 --> 00:10:17,910 which is really reinforced, by the Burns-Novick piece,

171 00:10:17,910 --> 00:10:19,360 I think, is nonsense,

172 00:10:21,444 --> 00:10:26,400 if you can find that essay by Jim, it's worth reading.

173 00:10:27,290 --> 00:10:31,820 I'd like to invite Marc LiVecche from Providence

174 00:10:31,820 --> 00:10:34,120 to say a couple words before we get under way.

175 00:10:35,020 --> 00:10:38,740 LiVECCHE: I'll say the genesis of this- - Was all you.

176 00:10:39,950 --> 00:10:42,290 I'm just gonna take just a second to say, first of all,

177 00:10:42,290 --> 00:10:44,990 thank you to Mack and to John for hosting all of this.

178 00:10:45,958 --> 00:10:48,284 I'm thrilled with the way this has come together.

179 00:10:48,284 --> 00:10:51,480 The genesis is, I was simply sitting on the couch

180 00:10:51,480 --> 00:10:54,600 with my wife watching the Ken Burns documentary,

181 00:10:54,600 --> 00:10:56,230 and while I liked his earlier stuff,

182 00:10:56,230 --> 00:10:59,360 especially on baseball, I was naturally a bit apprehensive

183 00:10:59,360 --> 00:11:01,340 of how he might treat the Vietnam War.

184 00:11:01,340 --> 00:11:04,550 I was lulled into a sense of hopefulness by his commitment,

185 00:11:04,550 --> 00:11:06,830 at least his articulated commitment to simply,

186 00:11:06,830 --> 00:11:08,660 call balls and strikes.

187 00:11:08,660 --> 00:11:11,710 But, maybe 30 minutes into the 18-hour series

188 00:11:11,710 --> 00:11:13,610 it became evident that we needed

189 00:11:13,610 --> 00:11:16,960 to remember the subjective dimension of umpiring.

190 00:11:16,960 --> 00:11:18,560 So, I immediately wrote Mack, and I said,

191 00:11:18,560 --> 00:11:20,860 "Mack, if anybody can give me the contrary voice,

192 00:11:20,860 --> 00:11:22,330 "it's gonna be you."

193 00:11:22,330 --> 00:11:24,250 He agreed to do it, I asked for 800 words,

194 00:11:24,250 --> 00:11:26,292 he sent me about 4,000, I think.

195 00:11:26,292 --> 00:11:30,440 We split that into two posts for our Providence website,

196 00:11:30,440 --> 00:11:33,630 this state of origin might confuse you,

197 00:11:33,630 --> 00:11:35,000 it's not Providence, Rhode Island,

198 00:11:35,000 --> 00:11:36,630 it's Providence, a Journal of Christianity

199 00:11:36,630 --> 00:11:38,400 and American Foreign Policy.

200 00:11:38,400 --> 00:11:43,000 We split his review into two posts,

201 00:11:43,000 --> 00:11:45,509 and to prove, maybe, that the national conversation's

202 00:11:45,509 --> 00:11:47,160 not yet concluded.

203 00:11:47,160 --> 00:11:50,510 Those were our first and our third most read posts ever.

204 00:11:51,430 --> 00:11:53,030 I think that's true though I might be guilty

205 00:11:53,030 --> 00:11:58,000 of a slight Ken Burnsism, but I think it's true. (laughing)

206 00:11:58,000 --> 00:12:02,950 The commentary that followed, both salutary and hostile,

207 00:12:02,950 --> 00:12:04,800 suggested that more was to be said,

208 00:12:04,800 --> 00:12:06,550 and this is the beginning of all that.

209 00:12:06,550 --> 00:12:08,667 So I'm thrilled with this, thanks for doing it,

210 00:12:08,667 --> 00:12:11,190 thank you for comin' and I look forward to learning.

211 00:12:11,190 --> 00:12:13,190 OWENS: - Thank you very much, sir.

212 00:12:13,190 --> 00:12:15,970 So, Bob, let's kick things off with you, please.

Prof. Robert F. Turner

213 00:12:15,970 --> 00:12:19,040 TURNER: - All right, I am going to stand up here,

214 00:12:20,640 --> 00:12:22,738 not only because of other reasons,

215 00:12:22,738 --> 00:12:24,560 but so I can see my slides.

216 00:12:24,560 --> 00:12:28,010 I've never seen these before, I've cut scores of slides

217 00:12:28,010 --> 00:12:30,043 from presentations I've made,

218 00:12:30,043 --> 00:12:34,880 and I've got probably enough material for 50 minutes here,

219 00:12:34,880 --> 00:12:36,590 so I am going to go very quickly.

220 00:12:36,590 --> 00:12:38,360 I'm probably not going to finish,

221 00:12:38,360 --> 00:12:41,607 but I am going to give a copy of my set of slides

222 00:12:41,607 --> 00:12:45,590 to the organization so you can post some of these

223 00:12:45,590 --> 00:12:47,920 if anybody is interested.

224 00:12:47,920 --> 00:12:50,990 First thing to say about this film is it's beautifully done.

225 00:12:50,990 --> 00:12:54,220 Ken Burns always does beautiful work,

226 00:12:54,220 --> 00:12:57,930 the music was Yo-Yo Ma, he brought in incredible people.

227 00:12:57,930 --> 00:13:02,080 You can't complain about the music.

228 00:13:02,080 --> 00:13:04,930 Sadly, the content is almost irrelevant

229 00:13:04,930 --> 00:13:07,910 to a real understanding of the Vietnam War.

230 00:13:07,910 --> 00:13:09,790 I won't speculate about why

231 00:13:09,790 --> 00:13:11,860 they gave it such a biased presentation,

232 00:13:11,860 --> 00:13:13,860 I have Vietnam Veteran friends who think

233 00:13:13,860 --> 00:13:16,633 they're just lyin' lefties, may be true,

234 00:13:16,633 --> 00:13:19,360 but they also may have just hooked up

235 00:13:19,360 --> 00:13:20,640 with some lyin' lefties,

236 00:13:20,640 --> 00:13:24,610 or indirect people who gave them bad information.

237 00:13:24,610 --> 00:13:27,053 I'm not prepared to say that there was one cent

238 00:13:27,053 --> 00:13:32,053 of bad will on the part of the people who produced it.

239 00:13:32,700 --> 00:13:34,020 SORLEY:- I'll take care of that for you.

240 00:13:34,020 --> 00:13:36,138 TURNER:- You can do that. (laughing)

241 00:13:36,138 --> 00:13:37,340 I've never met Burns, I've never met Novick

242 00:13:37,340 --> 00:13:40,790 although she emailed me and called me several times.

243 00:13:40,790 --> 00:13:43,490 I had sent what I thought was a private email

244 00:13:43,490 --> 00:13:46,090 to a dozen or so Vietnam Veteran friends saying,

245 00:13:46,090 --> 00:13:48,450 "This thing's coming, it's gonna have an impact,

246 00:13:48,450 --> 00:13:50,250 "we need to be alert."

247 00:13:50,250 --> 00:13:53,140 And, apparently it went viral because she wrote me

248 00:13:53,140 --> 00:13:55,130 and said, "We've gotten a bunch of copies of this

249 00:13:55,130 --> 00:13:57,900 "and please don't comment until you've seen it."

250 00:13:57,900 --> 00:14:00,050 And I thought that was fair, so I said, "Okay."

251 00:14:00,050 --> 00:14:02,320 And sadly, I've been so busy since I saw it

252 00:14:02,320 --> 00:14:05,820 that this is the first time I've had to speak about it.

253 00:14:05,820 --> 00:14:08,120 My first hint it was a problem was when he kept talking

254 00:14:08,120 --> 00:14:09,940 about the Vietnamese and the antecedent

255 00:14:09,940 --> 00:14:12,910 that was always the North Vietnamese or the Viet Cong.

256 00:14:12,910 --> 00:14:13,840 You know, I guess they thought

257 00:14:13,840 --> 00:14:15,490 they were the American puppets,

258 00:14:15,490 --> 00:14:18,160 and then the real Vietnamese were on the other side.

259 00:14:18,160 --> 00:14:20,550 And that's just not fair.

260 00:14:20,550 --> 00:14:23,980 Overwhelmingly, the Vietnamese they interviewed were

261 00:14:23,980 --> 00:14:26,319 either North Vietnamese military,

262 00:14:26,319 --> 00:14:29,040 South Vietnamese Viet Cong,

263 00:14:29,040 --> 00:14:31,580 or South Vietnamese critics of the war.

264 00:14:31,580 --> 00:14:33,070 There were very few, there were some

265 00:14:33,070 --> 00:14:36,010 but there were very few who supported the war.

266 00:14:36,010 --> 00:14:40,560 The American Veterans were overwhelmingly anti-war.

267 00:14:40,560 --> 00:14:43,350 Roughly one-third of them had been documented

268 00:14:43,350 --> 00:14:47,050 to be members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

269 00:14:47,050 --> 00:14:49,460 That was an organization that claimed a membership

270 00:14:49,460 --> 00:14:51,480 of 25,000 veterans.

271 00:14:51,480 --> 00:14:53,260 I don't think they got anywhere near that level,

272 00:14:53,260 --> 00:14:55,510 but assuming they got to that level,

273 00:14:55,510 --> 00:14:58,750 they would have made up 100th of one percent

274 00:14:58,750 --> 00:15:01,890 of all Vietnam Veterans, slightly below that.

275 00:15:03,130 --> 00:15:05,610 We know from reliable public opinion polls

276 00:15:05,610 --> 00:15:07,810 the attitudes of veterans.

277 00:15:07,810 --> 00:15:10,283 Jimmy Carter asked the Veteran's Administration

278 00:15:10,283 --> 00:15:14,570 to hire the, I don't think he specified Harris,

279 00:15:14,570 --> 00:15:16,710 but Harris and Gallup were the two big pollsters

280 00:15:16,710 --> 00:15:19,299 of the time and they did a major poll

281 00:15:19,299 --> 00:15:24,100 of more than 2500 Vietnam Veterans in 1980.

282 00:15:24,100 --> 00:15:28,280 It was published by the Veterans Affairs Committee

283 00:15:28,280 --> 00:15:30,660 and is available in large libraries.

284 00:15:31,798 --> 00:15:35,590 91% percent of all Vietnam Veterans they interviewed

285 00:15:35,590 --> 00:15:38,960 said they were glad to have served their country.

286 00:15:38,960 --> 00:15:42,940 84% said they would be willing to serve again.

287 00:15:45,275 --> 00:15:48,310 They noted, "It is important to understand

288 00:15:48,310 --> 00:15:51,810 "that the vast majority of these veterans are patriots."

289 00:15:51,810 --> 00:15:54,150 They weren't anti-war people, they weren't liberals,

290 00:15:54,150 --> 00:15:57,140 they were people who loved the country

291 00:15:57,140 --> 00:16:01,020 and felt honored to have been able to serve it.

292 00:16:02,280 --> 00:16:07,280 Fewer than 10% of the veterans polled describe themselves

293 00:16:07,580 --> 00:16:09,220 as anti-war.

294 00:16:09,220 --> 00:16:11,960 Now I'd like to hope that every person in this room

295 00:16:11,960 --> 00:16:15,320 is anti-war in the sense that we prefer peace to war.

296 00:16:17,924 --> 00:16:20,344 The problem is, there's some people

297 00:16:20,344 --> 00:16:22,050 that think you should never do anything

298 00:16:22,050 --> 00:16:23,760 that would lead to hostilities,

299 00:16:23,760 --> 00:16:27,280 and thus the anti-war position is to allow Hitler

300 00:16:27,280 --> 00:16:30,640 to overrun Western Europe, to allow the Japanese

301 00:16:30,640 --> 00:16:32,400 to conquer the Far East.

302 00:16:32,400 --> 00:16:34,590 And this is not the way to peace.

303 00:16:37,420 --> 00:16:38,940 I don't think I know a veteran

304 00:16:38,940 --> 00:16:41,030 who doesn't prefer peace to war,

305 00:16:41,030 --> 00:16:44,940 but if you don't want a big war you need to be prepared

306 00:16:44,940 --> 00:16:49,420 to resist aggression when small wars break out.

307 00:16:49,420 --> 00:16:53,330 Now, I spent a lot of my early life studying Ho Chi Minh

308 00:16:53,330 --> 00:16:56,252 and his associates, Le Duan, then Truong Chinh

309 00:16:56,252 --> 00:16:57,320 and many others.

310 00:16:58,210 --> 00:16:59,890 I don't think there were many people in the country

311 00:16:59,890 --> 00:17:01,480 in the mid-60s doing that?

312 00:17:05,240 --> 00:17:08,417 Ho was a brilliant Leninist, and he did a great job

313 00:17:08,417 --> 00:17:11,180 of trying to portray himself to Americans

314 00:17:11,180 --> 00:17:13,050 as Jeffersonian Democrat.

315 00:17:14,630 --> 00:17:16,460 That's not what he was.

316 00:17:16,460 --> 00:17:19,140 I read all four volumes of his selected works,

317 00:17:19,140 --> 00:17:20,970 I read everything I could find he wrote

318 00:17:20,970 --> 00:17:22,850 when I was a Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

319 00:17:22,850 --> 00:17:25,950 I found a lot of old Comintern publications

320 00:17:25,950 --> 00:17:29,588 that he had written articles for by various pseudonyms.

321 00:17:29,588 --> 00:17:33,180 As young man, he was born May 19, 1890,

322 00:17:37,949 --> 00:17:40,460 and he left in 1911 for France.

323 00:17:40,460 --> 00:17:44,980 And at that point, I think he was a patriot, nationalist,

324 00:17:46,670 --> 00:17:48,590 an honorable person.

325 00:17:48,590 --> 00:17:51,100 He went to Paris, he lived there for several years,

326 00:17:51,100 --> 00:17:54,010 by the time he returned to Vietnam in 1941

327 00:17:54,010 --> 00:17:56,940 he was a dedicated Leninist, Internationalist

328 00:17:56,940 --> 00:18:00,570 serving Moscow and the Communist International.

329 00:18:00,570 --> 00:18:03,100 Official North Vietnamese histories

330 00:18:03,100 --> 00:18:05,610 of the Communist Party note that

331 00:18:05,610 --> 00:18:10,090 when Ho Chi Minh was present in Macau on February 3, 1930

332 00:18:10,090 --> 00:18:13,310 for the establishment of the Indo-Chinese Communist Party,

333 00:18:13,310 --> 00:18:15,850 he was there as the official representative

334 00:18:15,850 --> 00:18:17,800 of the Communist International.

335 00:18:17,800 --> 00:18:20,320 He spent years traveling around the world

336 00:18:20,320 --> 00:18:21,620 on a Soviet passport.

337 00:18:23,460 --> 00:18:27,520 The Burns-Novick film acknowledges that when Ho did return

338 00:18:27,520 --> 00:18:29,620 to Vietnam he named the mountain

339 00:18:29,620 --> 00:18:32,240 where his hideout was located, Karl Marx,

340 00:18:32,240 --> 00:18:34,050 and the stream, Lenin.

341 00:18:34,050 --> 00:18:37,900 That's not what a Nationalist, patriotic Vietnamese

342 00:18:37,900 --> 00:18:40,170 who was just trying to get some outside support

343 00:18:40,170 --> 00:18:42,250 for his revolution would do.

344 00:18:42,250 --> 00:18:44,800 He was a dedicated Leninist.

345 00:18:46,220 --> 00:18:49,330 The great Vietnam scholar, Dr. Benjamin Spock, (laughing)

346 00:18:49,330 --> 00:18:51,800 said, "Ho was sometimes called the George Washington

347 00:18:51,800 --> 00:18:53,545 "of Vietnam."

348 00:18:53,545 --> 00:18:55,750 And he was, certainly by his own agents,

349 00:18:55,750 --> 00:18:57,200 his propaganda agents,

350 00:18:57,200 --> 00:19:00,310 but he had nothing to do with George Washington.

351 00:19:00,310 --> 00:19:02,240 They quoted a friend of Ho Chi Minh saying,

352 00:19:02,240 --> 00:19:04,634 "He was a great Nationalist and patriot."

353 00:19:04,634 --> 00:19:05,710 They look at me and think I'm being unfair,

354 00:19:05,710 --> 00:19:08,240 but they led me to think if they were doing a documentary

355 00:19:08,240 --> 00:19:10,850 on World War II what they would quote a friend

356 00:19:10,850 --> 00:19:14,470 of Adolf Hitler's to tell us what a nice guy he was.

357 00:19:16,120 --> 00:19:18,880 This is a photo of Nguyen Ai Quoc,

358 00:19:18,880 --> 00:19:23,200 also known as Ho Chi Minh, December of 1920,

359 00:19:23,200 --> 00:19:26,700 speaking in favor of the French Socialist Party joining

360 00:19:26,700 --> 00:19:27,920 the Communist International,

361 00:19:27,920 --> 00:19:29,350 leaving the Second International

362 00:19:29,350 --> 00:19:31,630 and joining the Third International.

363 00:19:31,630 --> 00:19:33,540 This fact, his role as a co-founder

364 00:19:33,540 --> 00:19:35,240 of the French Communist Party is affirmed

365 00:19:35,240 --> 00:19:37,960 by numerous biographies published in Hanoi.

366 00:19:39,780 --> 00:19:41,690 It's also documented in the first chapter

367 00:19:41,690 --> 00:19:45,800 of my 1975 book, Vietnamese Communism.

368 00:19:45,800 --> 00:19:49,140 This is a quote from Ho and his selected works

369 00:19:49,140 --> 00:19:50,730 on his conversion to Leninism.

370 00:19:50,730 --> 00:19:53,770 Somebody gave him a copy of Lenin's thesis

371 00:19:53,770 --> 00:19:55,240 on the national and colonial questions,

372 00:19:55,240 --> 00:19:57,605 he read it and then it was like a religious experience,

373 00:19:57,605 --> 00:20:00,940 and he then became a Leninist.

374 00:20:00,940 --> 00:20:04,550 Here's a photo of Ho and others in the early 1920s

375 00:20:04,550 --> 00:20:06,830 in the Soviet Union.

376 00:20:06,830 --> 00:20:09,240 My old Hoover Institution colleague, Bert Wolfe,

377 00:20:09,240 --> 00:20:12,220 who had been a founder of the American Communist Party,

378 00:20:12,220 --> 00:20:16,780 traveled around the USSR with Ho Chi Minh in the early 1920s

379 00:20:16,780 --> 00:20:19,640 and he said, "Bob, Ho was not a Nationalist,

380 00:20:19,640 --> 00:20:23,789 "he was a dedicated, hard-line Internationalist Leninist."

381 00:20:23,789 --> 00:20:27,890 Not just somebody trying to get aid in defending his group.

382 00:20:30,450 --> 00:20:33,480 Anyway, like a good Leninist, he'd tried to conceal

383 00:20:33,480 --> 00:20:36,380 his Comintern background, he reached out for American aid,

384 00:20:36,380 --> 00:20:38,962 and yes, he did quote Thomas Jefferson

385 00:20:38,962 --> 00:20:41,850 in his declaration of independence.

386 00:20:43,640 --> 00:20:46,020 But he was not a Jeffersonian.

387 00:20:46,020 --> 00:20:48,150 It was a ruse and it worked very well,

388 00:20:48,150 --> 00:20:51,480 he conned the OSS Operatives we worked with

389 00:20:51,480 --> 00:20:53,470 into believing he really just wanted peace,

390 00:20:53,470 --> 00:20:55,760 and freedom and human rights, and so forth.

391 00:20:57,240 --> 00:21:00,480 Nor was he a potential Tito, I address that at some length

392 00:21:00,480 --> 00:21:05,480 in my book, if you want to raise it in Q&A we can do that,

393 00:21:05,950 --> 00:21:07,770 but it's not even close.

394 00:21:07,770 --> 00:21:10,488 Now one of the most useful documents on the Vietnam War

395 00:21:10,488 --> 00:21:11,980 are the Pentagon Papers.

396 00:21:12,940 --> 00:21:15,930 I actually did a piece in 1972 that's available

397 00:21:15,930 --> 00:21:19,490 on the internet, it's called Myths of the Vietnam War,

398 00:21:19,490 --> 00:21:21,180 the Pentagon Papers Reconsidered.

399 00:21:21,180 --> 00:21:23,850 And I pointed out that virtually every major argument

400 00:21:23,850 --> 00:21:25,920 being made by the anti-war movement,

401 00:21:25,920 --> 00:21:29,120 was refuted in the documents in the Pentagon Papers.

402 00:21:30,340 --> 00:21:32,610 If you're interested, email me and I'll be happy

403 00:21:32,610 --> 00:21:34,660 to send you a link to it.

404 00:21:35,520 --> 00:21:38,200 The Pentagon Papers note Ho was an old Stalinist,

405 00:21:38,200 --> 00:21:41,110 trained in Russia in the early '20s, Comintern colleague

406 00:21:41,110 --> 00:21:43,050 of Roorl Doon in Canton, China.

407 00:21:44,860 --> 00:21:47,510 One thing that most people don't know about Ho,

408 00:21:47,510 --> 00:21:51,360 is he actually invited the French to return to Indochina.

409 00:21:51,360 --> 00:21:54,033 After World War II, Indochina was divided

410 00:21:54,033 --> 00:21:58,280 with the National Chinese, Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang,

411 00:21:58,280 --> 00:22:00,960 occupying the North of the 16th parallel,

412 00:22:00,960 --> 00:22:04,980 and the British occupying the South.

413 00:22:06,860 --> 00:22:10,540 There were Nationalists groups of VNQDD and others

414 00:22:10,540 --> 00:22:12,910 who were very close to the Nationalists Chinese,

415 00:22:12,910 --> 00:22:15,330 so Ho's first objective

416 00:22:15,330 --> 00:22:17,560 since he wanted the Communist Revolution,

417 00:22:17,560 --> 00:22:19,490 was to get rid of the Nationalists Chinese

418 00:22:19,490 --> 00:22:23,930 so he actually, formally went to Paris and on March 6, 1946,

419 00:22:23,930 --> 00:22:26,840 he signed an agreement inviting the French

420 00:22:26,840 --> 00:22:30,400 to return to Vietnam, at which point they could

421 00:22:30,400 --> 00:22:32,880 then tell the Chinese to go back to China.

422 00:22:32,880 --> 00:22:35,590 This is in the Pentagon Papers, "On 6 March '46,

423 00:22:35,590 --> 00:22:37,400 "Ho signed the accord with the French providing

424 00:22:37,400 --> 00:22:40,210 "for French reentry into Vietnam for five years,"

425 00:22:40,210 --> 00:22:41,043 and so forth.

426 00:22:41,043 --> 00:22:43,529 "The accord act rose Ho's popularity to it's utmost,"

427 00:22:43,529 --> 00:22:45,130 and so forth.

428 00:22:45,130 --> 00:22:47,280 Now what else did the French and the Viet Minh do?

429 00:22:47,280 --> 00:22:49,960 The Viet Minh was Ho's Communist front group.

430 00:22:49,960 --> 00:22:54,090 In mid-June, the Viet Minh, supported by French troops,

431 00:22:54,090 --> 00:22:56,850 attacked the Dong Minh Hoi and the VNQDD,

432 00:22:56,850 --> 00:23:00,560 the major Nationalist groups, as enemies of the peace

433 00:23:00,560 --> 00:23:02,920 because they would not welcome the French colonials

434 00:23:02,920 --> 00:23:05,500 back to Vietnam, effectively suppressing

435 00:23:05,500 --> 00:23:08,720 organized opposition and ensuring Viet Minh control

436 00:23:08,720 --> 00:23:10,070 throughout North Vietnam.

437 00:23:12,946 --> 00:23:15,240 Why did we go to war in Vietnam?

438 00:23:15,240 --> 00:23:17,720 Was it a mistake happening with Gulf of Tonkin?

439 00:23:17,720 --> 00:23:20,600 Was it an accident, was it just stupidity?

440 00:23:20,600 --> 00:23:23,520 No, the State Department in February of 1965,

441 00:23:25,622 --> 00:23:27,717 I think it was, maybe 1966,

442 00:23:27,717 --> 00:23:29,833 put out a white paper called, Aggressions from the North.

443 00:23:29,833 --> 00:23:34,833 I took part in more than 100 teach-ins, protest panels,

444 00:23:35,270 --> 00:23:39,440 conferences about Vietnam from '65 to '68.

445 00:23:40,540 --> 00:23:42,850 I heard the same arguments all the time,

446 00:23:42,850 --> 00:23:45,430 and everybody, "Oh, the State Department lies

447 00:23:45,430 --> 00:23:48,340 "when it says it was aggression from the North."

448 00:23:48,340 --> 00:23:52,430 The problem is, Hanoi has now confirmed

449 00:23:52,430 --> 00:23:54,590 the State Department's version.

450 00:23:54,590 --> 00:23:56,890 This is one of the classic books against the war,

451 00:23:56,890 --> 00:23:58,700 Professors Kahin and Lewis.

452 00:23:58,700 --> 00:24:00,950 "The NLF, National Liberation Front,

453 00:24:00,950 --> 00:24:02,770 "is not Hanoi's creature,

454 00:24:02,770 --> 00:24:04,550 "abundant evidence has been available

455 00:24:04,550 --> 00:24:06,631 "to invalidate any argument the revival

456 00:24:06,631 --> 00:24:08,630 "in the war in the South was precipitated

457 00:24:08,630 --> 00:24:11,920 "by aggression from the North, it's a myth."

458 00:24:13,249 --> 00:24:15,557 And by the way, I found the multi-volume set

459 00:24:15,557 --> 00:24:17,225 of proceedings of the Third Party Congress

460 00:24:17,225 --> 00:24:21,240 in my college library, and I translated them into English,

461 00:24:21,240 --> 00:24:23,570 published them and sent it to them for free.

462 00:24:23,570 --> 00:24:25,600 This wasn't hard to find.

463 00:24:25,600 --> 00:24:29,490 Anyway, Le Duan, the first secretary of the party

464 00:24:30,892 --> 00:24:33,930 said at the conference, "To ensure the complete success

465 00:24:33,930 --> 00:24:36,600 "of the revolutionary struggle of South Vietnam,

466 00:24:36,600 --> 00:24:39,580 "our people there," this is a Communist Party meeting,

467 00:24:39,580 --> 00:24:42,180 "under the leadership of the Marxist-Leninist Party,

468 00:24:42,180 --> 00:24:44,431 "the working class must try to bring into being

469 00:24:44,431 --> 00:24:47,230 "a broad, national, united front.

470 00:24:47,230 --> 00:24:49,633 "It must carry on its work in a flexible manner

471 00:24:49,633 --> 00:24:52,030 "to rally all the forces that can be rallied."

472 00:24:52,030 --> 00:24:54,610 In other words, don't say we're Communist

473 00:24:54,610 --> 00:24:57,350 or we're gonna take away your land and kill your religion.

474 00:24:57,350 --> 00:24:59,670 Say we're for freedom, and peace, and justice,

475 00:24:59,670 --> 00:25:03,010 and ending colonial rule, and freeing political prisoners

476 00:25:03,010 --> 00:25:05,640 and so forth, kind of like what the Republicans

477 00:25:05,640 --> 00:25:07,960 and Democrats do to us every four years.

478 00:25:07,960 --> 00:25:10,990 Say whatever you think will get you the most support.

479 00:25:13,750 --> 00:25:15,400 This is Le Duan on the left with Ho

480 00:25:15,400 --> 00:25:17,390 at the Third Party Congress.

481 00:25:17,390 --> 00:25:20,300 And they passed a resolution to ensure the complete success

482 00:25:20,300 --> 00:25:22,400 of the revolutionary struggle in South Vietnam,

483 00:25:22,400 --> 00:25:24,874 our people there must bring, "Into being a broad,

484 00:25:24,874 --> 00:25:27,260 "national, united front."

485 00:25:27,260 --> 00:25:28,260 Three months later,

486 00:25:28,260 --> 00:25:30,450 Hanoi announced the National Liberation Front

487 00:25:30,450 --> 00:25:31,870 had been established.

488 00:25:31,870 --> 00:25:35,710 It was, from the beginning, a totally-controlled subsidiary

489 00:25:35,710 --> 00:25:36,860 of North Vietnam.

490 00:25:38,200 --> 00:25:43,200 Now, this was not easy to figure out, I have to admit.

491 00:25:43,627 --> 00:25:46,440 I was just so much smarter than others. (laughing)

492 00:25:46,440 --> 00:25:49,150 If you look at the flags of the two organizations,

493 00:25:49,150 --> 00:25:50,320 I think they were really very good

494 00:25:50,320 --> 00:25:53,380 at hiding their connections. (laughing)

495 00:25:53,380 --> 00:25:55,620 May of 1984, Vietnam Courier,

496 00:25:55,620 --> 00:25:58,000 one of many propaganda organs coming out of Hanoi,

497 00:25:58,000 --> 00:26:02,190 wrote a major article on the May 19, 1959 decision

498 00:26:02,190 --> 00:26:04,720 to liberate South Vietnam by force.

499 00:26:04,720 --> 00:26:07,220 What was written at the time was, "Absolute secret."

500 00:26:07,220 --> 00:26:09,300 Now if you ask me during the Q&A,

501 00:26:09,300 --> 00:26:10,570 I'll tell you the funny story

502 00:26:10,570 --> 00:26:14,273 of when I arrived at the Embassy one morning to go work,

503 00:26:14,273 --> 00:26:17,190 the Marine guard saluted me sharply and then said,

504 00:26:17,190 --> 00:26:19,628 "Sir, you're in trouble, they found a top secret document

505 00:26:19,628 --> 00:26:21,470 "open on your desk."

506 00:26:21,470 --> 00:26:24,810 Well, it was a North Vietnamese absolute secret document

507 00:26:24,810 --> 00:26:26,300 we were about to release to the press. (laughing)

508 00:26:26,300 --> 00:26:27,420 It was just a galley proof,

509 00:26:27,420 --> 00:26:29,620 so they actually took off the handcuffs

510 00:26:29,620 --> 00:26:33,540 and then let me stay but it was sort of funny anyway.

511 00:26:33,540 --> 00:26:35,490 This is not rocket science.

512 00:26:35,490 --> 00:26:37,680 After the war, in 2002,

513 00:26:37,680 --> 00:26:39,620 the University Press of Kansas published

514 00:26:39,620 --> 00:26:42,980 an English translation of a book which in English is called,

515 00:26:42,980 --> 00:26:45,717 Victory in Vietnam, it is the official party history

516 00:26:45,717 --> 00:26:46,830 of the war.

517 00:26:46,830 --> 00:26:48,780 And in the forward, William Dyker,

518 00:26:48,780 --> 00:26:51,320 a professor who's never supportive of the war,

519 00:26:51,320 --> 00:26:53,870 said, "One of the most perditious myths about the war

520 00:26:53,870 --> 00:26:55,979 "that the insurgency movement was autonomous

521 00:26:55,979 --> 00:26:58,010 "with limited ties to the North,

522 00:26:58,010 --> 00:27:00,580 "has been definitively dispelled.

523 00:27:00,580 --> 00:27:03,470 "This important, official party history notes

524 00:27:03,470 --> 00:27:07,340 "that on May 19, 1959, a decision was made

525 00:27:07,340 --> 00:27:08,810 "to open the Ho Chi Minh Trail

526 00:27:08,810 --> 00:27:10,960 "and start sending troops, supplies, weapons

527 00:27:10,960 --> 00:27:13,580 "into South Vietnam to overthrow its government

528 00:27:13,580 --> 00:27:15,550 "by military force."

529 00:27:17,150 --> 00:27:19,000 That's just one of the pages and we don't have time

530 00:27:19,000 --> 00:27:21,410 to read it even if you could, but it's there.

531 00:27:21,410 --> 00:27:25,630 I documented this in both of my undergraduate honors thesis

532 00:27:25,630 --> 00:27:27,200 and my 1975 book.

533 00:27:29,190 --> 00:27:31,590 This destroyed the international arguists.

534 00:27:31,590 --> 00:27:36,170 Indeed, in 2000 we tried to redo the old debates

535 00:27:36,170 --> 00:27:39,156 and we could not find anyone of any stature

536 00:27:39,156 --> 00:27:43,740 to debate us on either the constitutional issues

537 00:27:43,740 --> 00:27:45,800 or the international law issues.

538 00:27:47,609 --> 00:27:50,151 Once Hanoi admitted, "Yes, we made a decision,

539 00:27:50,151 --> 00:27:51,890 "we went to South Vietnam by force

540 00:27:51,890 --> 00:27:52,950 "and starting sending troops

541 00:27:52,950 --> 00:27:54,770 "into their country and supplies,"

542 00:27:54,770 --> 00:27:57,578 supplies by the way provided by Moscow and Beijing,

543 00:27:57,578 --> 00:27:59,770 then it was international aggression

544 00:27:59,770 --> 00:28:01,990 and we went to war for the same reason we went

545 00:28:01,990 --> 00:28:02,860 to war in Korea.

546 00:28:02,860 --> 00:28:04,350 And by the way, for those who will tell ya,

547 00:28:04,350 --> 00:28:06,590 wait a minute, it was only temporarily divided,

548 00:28:06,590 --> 00:28:08,570 and so it was perfectly all right for North Vietnam

549 00:28:08,570 --> 00:28:13,200 to invade South Vietnam, well, go back to June 25, 1950

550 00:28:13,200 --> 00:28:15,440 when North Korea also temporarily divided

551 00:28:15,440 --> 00:28:18,130 after World War II, invaded South Korea.

552 00:28:18,130 --> 00:28:20,740 The U.N Security Council denounced it as aggression

553 00:28:20,740 --> 00:28:23,690 and authorized a military response to protect South Korea.

554 00:28:24,570 --> 00:28:26,416 Was it a senseless war for no good reason?

555 00:28:26,416 --> 00:28:29,820 Absolutely not, Lin Biao, the Vice Chair

556 00:28:29,820 --> 00:28:32,655 of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party

557 00:28:32,655 --> 00:28:37,055 noted that, "The war in Vietnam was a testing ground

558 00:28:37,055 --> 00:28:40,107 "to see if American counter-revolutionary tactics

559 00:28:40,107 --> 00:28:42,710 "can defeat People's War.

560 00:28:42,710 --> 00:28:44,700 "A Communist victory in Vietnam will lead

561 00:28:44,700 --> 00:28:47,410 "to a chain reaction as people in other parts

562 00:28:47,410 --> 00:28:50,060 "of the world will see that what the Vietnamese can do,

563 00:28:50,060 --> 00:28:51,420 "they can do it, too."

564 00:28:51,420 --> 00:28:56,420 Che Guevara, Castro's top military adviser,

565 00:28:56,430 --> 00:28:59,930 "We enthusiastically raised the flag of Left,

566 00:28:59,930 --> 00:29:02,130 "is because the battlefront is most important

567 00:29:02,130 --> 00:29:04,430 "to the future of all America.

568 00:29:04,430 --> 00:29:07,672 "Vietnam is the great laboratory of Yankee Imperialism,

569 00:29:07,672 --> 00:29:11,000 "the victorious end of this battle will spell the end

570 00:29:11,000 --> 00:29:13,180 "of North American Imperialism."

571 00:29:13,180 --> 00:29:16,040 This was a test case, and if we walked away from Vietnam

572 00:29:16,040 --> 00:29:18,820 or been defeated earlier, we would have probably faced

573 00:29:18,820 --> 00:29:22,580 a dozen or more Vietnams around the Third World,

574 00:29:22,580 --> 00:29:26,540 and had the choice of either losing or using nukes.

575 00:29:26,540 --> 00:29:29,450 'Cause we certainly could not have fought a dozen Vietnams.

576 00:29:29,450 --> 00:29:33,450 In '64, Thailand and Indonesia were basket cases.

577 00:29:33,450 --> 00:29:37,010 By holding off until '75, a lot of things happened,

578 00:29:37,010 --> 00:29:39,260 both countries were much stronger,

579 00:29:39,260 --> 00:29:41,100 and China had gone through the great

580 00:29:41,100 --> 00:29:42,830 Proletarian Culture Revolution

581 00:29:42,830 --> 00:29:45,610 and was no longer exporting revolution.

582 00:29:45,610 --> 00:29:49,470 Had we walked away in '64 or '65, there were Chinese agents

583 00:29:49,470 --> 00:29:53,430 with money and weapons throughout Southeast Asia,

584 00:29:53,430 --> 00:29:55,850 and as far away as Mozambique.

585 00:29:55,850 --> 00:29:57,330 They would have been encouraged

586 00:29:57,330 --> 00:29:59,330 had we been defeated in Vietnam.

587 00:30:00,480 --> 00:30:03,890 And if they'd beat it, they might well have incentivized

588 00:30:03,890 --> 00:30:06,710 the Soviet's and Chinese to come together.

589 00:30:06,710 --> 00:30:08,690 I can give you some examples of how that was done,

590 00:30:08,690 --> 00:30:10,720 it was not a senseless war.

591 00:30:10,720 --> 00:30:15,400 Another big myth was repeated in this documentary,

592 00:30:15,400 --> 00:30:18,900 the U.S. blocked free elections to reunify Vietnam

593 00:30:18,900 --> 00:30:21,070 because we knew Ho Chi Minh would win.

594 00:30:21,070 --> 00:30:22,990 Simply not true.

595 00:30:25,387 --> 00:30:30,020 This is Kahin again saying, "U.S. reneged on a position

596 00:30:30,020 --> 00:30:32,900 "to take on free elections and thus war became inevitable.

597 00:30:32,900 --> 00:30:35,050 "Thus, the reason it was a war in Vietnam is

598 00:30:35,050 --> 00:30:37,610 "we were afraid to allow democratic elections."

599 00:30:37,610 --> 00:30:39,310 Simply not true.

600 00:30:41,690 --> 00:30:44,016 All right, that should cancel the critics.

601 00:30:44,016 --> 00:30:46,984 In Geneva, both the state of Vietnam,

602 00:30:46,984 --> 00:30:49,560 which later became South Vietnam, and the U.S. insisted

603 00:30:49,560 --> 00:30:54,020 that any unification elections be held under the supervision

604 00:30:54,020 --> 00:30:57,270 of the United Nations to ensure they're conducted fairly.

605 00:30:57,270 --> 00:31:00,410 Molotov, the Soviet delegate, and the Communist Vietnamese

606 00:31:00,410 --> 00:31:02,690 said, "No, no, that would be interference

607 00:31:02,690 --> 00:31:04,230 "in internal affairs"

608 00:31:04,230 --> 00:31:07,030 Hanoi had the bigger population and they insisted

609 00:31:07,030 --> 00:31:09,527 we get to count the votes and run the elections.

610 00:31:09,527 --> 00:31:14,527 And note that Ho never got less than 99.98% of the vote.

611 00:31:15,120 --> 00:31:17,350 So, the New York Times, just one last,

612 00:31:17,350 --> 00:31:20,570 the New York Times (bell chiming)

613 00:31:22,646 --> 00:31:24,796 both left some good quotes in here on this.

614 00:31:25,826 --> 00:31:28,830 The U.S. added that, "The United States' very principles

615 00:31:28,830 --> 00:31:31,600 "said, 'Yes, reunification elections are fine

616 00:31:31,600 --> 00:31:34,930 "'only if supervised by the UN to make sure they're fair.'"

617 00:31:34,930 --> 00:31:37,960 So, I'm probably half-way through the slides I put together,

618 00:31:37,960 --> 00:31:40,100 if you're interested in more, take a look at it,

619 00:31:40,100 --> 00:31:41,130 they'll be on the website.

620 00:31:41,130 --> 00:31:43,910 And I'm just honored to be on this panel

621 00:31:43,910 --> 00:31:46,620 with two of the very finest scholars in this area

622 00:31:46,620 --> 00:31:48,371 in the world. - Thank you.

623 00:31:48,371 --> 00:31:52,538 OWENS:- Thank you. (audience applauding)

Dr. Mark Moyar

624 00:32:02,847 --> 00:32:03,890 MOYAR: - So, good afternoon, I'd like to first thank

625 00:32:03,890 --> 00:32:07,610 the Institute of World Politics for hosting this event.

626 00:32:07,610 --> 00:32:11,630 And Mack Owens, Mark LiVecche,

627 00:32:11,630 --> 00:32:15,430 Liana Glass and the other who spent a lot of time getting

628 00:32:15,430 --> 00:32:17,740 this event organized.

629 00:32:20,160 --> 00:32:22,350 It's also a privilege to be on this stage

630 00:32:22,350 --> 00:32:23,760 with my good friends, Bob and Bob,

631 00:32:23,760 --> 00:32:25,400 Bob Sorley and Bob Turner.

632 00:32:26,970 --> 00:32:30,480 And we've already covered a few of the points

633 00:32:30,480 --> 00:32:32,840 that I was gonna make, so I'm may end a few minutes early

634 00:32:32,840 --> 00:32:36,240 so that we have more time for Q&A.

635 00:32:36,240 --> 00:32:40,470 Mack mentioned the Jim Webb article.

636 00:32:41,500 --> 00:32:44,506 I think that's something useful, especially for those

637 00:32:44,506 --> 00:32:47,890 who didn't live through the Vietnam era,

638 00:32:47,890 --> 00:32:50,490 to understand some of the dynamics.

639 00:32:50,490 --> 00:32:52,780 And Webb in that talked about how

640 00:32:54,950 --> 00:32:56,880 it was really the first time in U.S. history

641 00:32:56,880 --> 00:33:00,110 where a lot of people make the argument

642 00:33:00,110 --> 00:33:01,940 that actually it was a good thing not

643 00:33:01,940 --> 00:33:03,270 to go into the military,

644 00:33:03,270 --> 00:33:06,190 and that this has guided how a lot of people look

645 00:33:06,190 --> 00:33:10,420 at the Vietnam War in order to justify not serving

646 00:33:10,420 --> 00:33:13,850 in the military, it made sense to describe the war

647 00:33:13,850 --> 00:33:17,500 as unjust, unnecessary and unwinnable.

648 00:33:17,500 --> 00:33:21,510 And, I can't say that I can read the mind of Ken Burns,

649 00:33:21,510 --> 00:33:26,510 but if you look at how the documentary comes out,

650 00:33:26,630 --> 00:33:28,960 it certainly seems to support that interpretation,

651 00:33:28,960 --> 00:33:31,660 that we do know that Burns was opposed to the war

652 00:33:31,660 --> 00:33:36,285 at the time, and made the decision not to go to Vietnam.

653 00:33:36,285 --> 00:33:37,610 Now if you saw, and it's already been mentioned,

654 00:33:37,610 --> 00:33:40,829 that Burns kept talking about how this was gonna be,

655 00:33:40,829 --> 00:33:42,860 "Just call it balls and strikes,

656 00:33:42,860 --> 00:33:46,010 "that this was a neutral, objective production."

657 00:33:46,010 --> 00:33:49,630 But, if you have much familiarity with the war,

658 00:33:49,630 --> 00:33:50,786 you could see pretty quickly

659 00:33:50,786 --> 00:33:54,880 that it overwhelmingly sided with the view

660 00:33:54,880 --> 00:33:58,890 that the war was unjust, unnecessary and unwinnable,

661 00:33:58,890 --> 00:34:01,530 and omitted information that did not support

662 00:34:01,530 --> 00:34:03,450 those points of view.

663 00:34:03,450 --> 00:34:06,120 And I think the biggest problems we have

664 00:34:06,120 --> 00:34:08,710 with the documentary are,

665 00:34:09,800 --> 00:34:11,550 in terms of what is left out.

666 00:34:11,550 --> 00:34:13,280 And there's some factual inaccuracies,

667 00:34:13,280 --> 00:34:17,535 but by far, the biggest part is what's left out,

668 00:34:17,535 --> 00:34:21,230 compared to some extent, with our mainstream media today

669 00:34:21,230 --> 00:34:22,749 in that respect.

670 00:34:22,749 --> 00:34:26,640 So, I'm gonna touch on just a few of these,

671 00:34:27,610 --> 00:34:28,910 and Bob's already mentioned some of these,

672 00:34:28,910 --> 00:34:32,510 so I'll try to cover a few that he didn't hit on.

673 00:34:35,070 --> 00:34:38,630 1954, when the country was divided in two,

674 00:34:38,630 --> 00:34:41,610 there was an agreement between the French

675 00:34:41,610 --> 00:34:45,520 and Vietnamese Communists there would be an election in 1956

676 00:34:46,385 --> 00:34:49,030 for the Unified Vietnam.

677 00:34:49,030 --> 00:34:51,296 And the insinuation, as it comes across in the documentary,

678 00:34:51,296 --> 00:34:55,100 is that when the South Vietnamese government does not

679 00:34:55,100 --> 00:34:58,430 go along with it, it is going against the will

680 00:34:58,430 --> 00:35:01,009 of the Vietnamese people.

681 00:35:01,009 --> 00:35:02,630 What they don't tell you in the documentary is

682 00:35:02,630 --> 00:35:05,530 that most of the South Vietnamese and the Americans

683 00:35:05,530 --> 00:35:08,677 at that time were convinced that Ho Chi Minh

684 00:35:08,677 --> 00:35:11,598 and his Communists would have intimidated the population

685 00:35:11,598 --> 00:35:15,740 in Northern Vietnam, which they controlled, into voting

686 00:35:17,790 --> 00:35:18,880 unanimously for him.

687 00:35:18,880 --> 00:35:20,490 And since the North had a bigger population,

688 00:35:20,490 --> 00:35:24,840 it was automatically going to make the country Communist.

689 00:35:24,840 --> 00:35:27,680 So, the South did not go along with it

690 00:35:27,680 --> 00:35:30,210 and the South, by the way, also was not party

691 00:35:30,210 --> 00:35:32,920 to that 1954 agreement.

692 00:35:34,820 --> 00:35:37,789 This young government which takes control

693 00:35:37,789 --> 00:35:42,780 in the South in '54 receives a lot of scorn from Burns

694 00:35:42,780 --> 00:35:45,770 and his co-producer Lynn Novick.

695 00:35:45,770 --> 00:35:49,820 They are intent, as with the traditional anti-war narrative,

696 00:35:49,820 --> 00:35:52,235 in showing that this was a bankrupt government.

697 00:35:52,235 --> 00:35:56,571 They highlight the Battle of Ap Bac in January of 1963

698 00:35:56,571 --> 00:35:59,890 in which the South Vietnamese forces did not perform

699 00:35:59,890 --> 00:36:03,420 very well, and then try to portray that as representative

700 00:36:03,420 --> 00:36:05,720 of the Diem era.

701 00:36:05,720 --> 00:36:08,930 When, in fact, if you look, almost every other battle

702 00:36:08,930 --> 00:36:11,490 in the year before that and the year after that,

703 00:36:11,490 --> 00:36:16,380 were actually victories for the South Vietnamese government.

704 00:36:17,224 --> 00:36:20,710 The documentary doesn't talk very much

705 00:36:20,710 --> 00:36:22,360 about the strategic rationale

706 00:36:22,360 --> 00:36:24,250 for why the United States was there,

707 00:36:24,250 --> 00:36:26,110 which was so-called Domino Theory.

708 00:36:26,110 --> 00:36:27,850 There was a little mention of this idea

709 00:36:27,850 --> 00:36:30,010 that if South Vietnam falls

710 00:36:30,010 --> 00:36:31,620 then you would have other countries

711 00:36:31,620 --> 00:36:33,820 in the area fall into Communism.

712 00:36:34,830 --> 00:36:38,401 It was mentioned at the beginning and then the whole region

713 00:36:38,401 --> 00:36:40,270 sort of fades from the scene.

714 00:36:42,070 --> 00:36:44,730 In fact if you look at what happens,

715 00:36:44,730 --> 00:36:48,160 Bob alluded to this a bit, the most critical country

716 00:36:48,160 --> 00:36:51,123 in Southeast Asia from the American perspective at this time

717 00:36:51,123 --> 00:36:54,436 was not Vietnam, it was Indonesia.

718 00:36:54,436 --> 00:36:57,210 A huge country with massive natural resources,

719 00:36:57,210 --> 00:37:02,140 strategically located, and there's an anti-Communist coup

720 00:37:02,140 --> 00:37:06,000 there at the end of 1965, which I think, pretty clearly,

721 00:37:06,000 --> 00:37:09,740 was the result of American intervention in Vietnam.

722 00:37:09,740 --> 00:37:11,400 But you don't hear anything about that

723 00:37:11,400 --> 00:37:13,650 in the Burns production.

724 00:37:14,650 --> 00:37:19,650 If you look in the sections on 1966 and 1967,

725 00:37:20,320 --> 00:37:24,540 Burns and Novick cover six battles, and in each of these

726 00:37:24,540 --> 00:37:27,660 they go out of their way to show errors that were committed

727 00:37:27,660 --> 00:37:30,970 by Americans, American casualties.

728 00:37:30,970 --> 00:37:33,072 And you're left with the perception that

729 00:37:33,072 --> 00:37:37,080 this was kinda how the war was in 1966 and 1967.

730 00:37:37,080 --> 00:37:39,706 Well, I happened to have been working on chapters on my book

731 00:37:39,706 --> 00:37:43,520 in those period and

732 00:37:45,290 --> 00:37:47,090 there were hundreds of battles in those years.

733 00:37:47,090 --> 00:37:49,800 If you wanted to pick the worst six for the Americans,

734 00:37:49,800 --> 00:37:51,260 that's about what you got in this,

735 00:37:51,260 --> 00:37:54,100 so they completely cherry picked this.

736 00:37:54,100 --> 00:37:57,710 In fact, most of the battles were overwhelming victories

737 00:37:57,710 --> 00:38:00,620 for the United States during that period.

738 00:38:00,620 --> 00:38:03,090 Another thing that the series leaves out

739 00:38:03,090 --> 00:38:06,400 is the declining support among the population

740 00:38:06,400 --> 00:38:08,380 for the Vietnamese Communists.

741 00:38:08,380 --> 00:38:11,570 And I think the population was never really interested

742 00:38:11,570 --> 00:38:14,370 in Marxist-Leninist ideology,

743 00:38:14,370 --> 00:38:19,080 but the Communists were selling them, sort of a snake oil,

744 00:38:19,080 --> 00:38:20,690 telling them you're gonna get to keep your land,

745 00:38:20,690 --> 00:38:21,910 when you're really not.

746 00:38:21,910 --> 00:38:26,833 But, by 1967, as the was is going against the Communists,

747 00:38:26,833 --> 00:38:31,220 you see a sharp decline in recruitment of South Vietnamese

748 00:38:31,220 --> 00:38:32,966 for the Communists.

749 00:38:32,966 --> 00:38:35,150 And that pace of recruitment will continue to fall,

750 00:38:35,150 --> 00:38:37,140 it'll never really come back.

751 00:38:37,140 --> 00:38:40,930 We also know, ultimately, about 200,000 of the supposedly,

752 00:38:40,930 --> 00:38:45,619 die-hard Communists will defect to South Vietnam.

753 00:38:45,619 --> 00:38:48,910 The narrator also tells us in the documentary

754 00:38:48,910 --> 00:38:52,395 that 250,000 South Vietnamese troops were killed

755 00:38:52,395 --> 00:38:57,280 during this war, but we never hear why so many people were,

756 00:38:57,280 --> 00:38:59,150 in fact, willing to die for a government

757 00:38:59,150 --> 00:39:02,580 that was as bad as the documentary would suggest.

758 00:39:03,650 --> 00:39:04,740 Burns and Novick give us lots

759 00:39:04,740 --> 00:39:08,210 of information about the ideology

760 00:39:08,210 --> 00:39:11,480 of Ho Chi Minh, but we don't really hear anything

761 00:39:11,480 --> 00:39:15,420 about the ideology that caused these South Vietnamese

762 00:39:15,420 --> 00:39:18,010 to fight to the death on behalf of their country.

763 00:39:18,010 --> 00:39:21,410 In fact, there was a strong, growing sense of Nationalism

764 00:39:21,410 --> 00:39:23,020 within the South Vietnamese.

765 00:39:26,550 --> 00:39:29,260 If you watch the documentary there is sort of a sense

766 00:39:29,260 --> 00:39:31,300 of impending doom from the very beginning,

767 00:39:31,300 --> 00:39:33,680 and the music is very lugubrious.

768 00:39:35,581 --> 00:39:38,020 You have the sense that the outcome is foreordained

769 00:39:38,020 --> 00:39:40,070 and there is nothing you can do about it,

770 00:39:40,962 --> 00:39:42,310 and this kind of reinforces the idea

771 00:39:42,310 --> 00:39:46,425 that the war was unwinnable, it was just a total lost cause.

772 00:39:46,425 --> 00:39:50,720 There is, but in fact, more and more evidence we have,

773 00:39:50,720 --> 00:39:52,920 in fact the war could have been won,

774 00:39:52,920 --> 00:39:57,310 and it was American strategic choices in some respects

775 00:39:57,310 --> 00:40:01,030 that account for our inability to take advantage of those.

776 00:40:01,030 --> 00:40:03,390 One of those choices concerned

777 00:40:04,750 --> 00:40:07,640 where American ground forces went.

778 00:40:07,640 --> 00:40:11,120 The American ground forces were limited to South Vietnam,

779 00:40:11,120 --> 00:40:13,300 there was a lot of pressure from the military

780 00:40:13,300 --> 00:40:16,471 to go into Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam.

781 00:40:16,471 --> 00:40:19,870 And we've now heard from the North Vietnamese side

782 00:40:19,870 --> 00:40:22,668 that General Giap believed that if the United States had,

783 00:40:22,668 --> 00:40:25,380 in fact, expanded the boundaries of the war,

784 00:40:25,380 --> 00:40:27,660 the United States could have forded Hanoi

785 00:40:27,660 --> 00:40:29,460 with about 250,000 troops,

786 00:40:29,460 --> 00:40:32,880 which is less than half of what we ultimately deploy.

787 00:40:32,880 --> 00:40:35,900 We also know the Chinese were not interested

788 00:40:35,900 --> 00:40:37,750 in getting involved, that was one of the main arguments

789 00:40:37,750 --> 00:40:39,780 why the U.S. didn't do this, we thought the Chinese

790 00:40:39,780 --> 00:40:41,880 were gonna come in as they had in Korea.

791 00:40:41,880 --> 00:40:43,620 But, in fact, we know from the Chinese side,

792 00:40:43,620 --> 00:40:45,740 the Chinese wanted nothing to do with the war,

793 00:40:45,740 --> 00:40:47,742 another war with the United States.

794 00:40:47,742 --> 00:40:51,470 Another catastrophic choice made by the United States

795 00:40:51,470 --> 00:40:55,000 was the Kennedy Administration's support for a coup

796 00:40:55,000 --> 00:40:59,390 in November of 1963 against the government of Ngo Dinh Diem.

797 00:40:59,390 --> 00:41:01,586 As we see from the Communist side that

798 00:41:01,586 --> 00:41:05,730 there is lots of evidence that this coup sabotaged what,

799 00:41:05,730 --> 00:41:08,640 in fact, had been an effective war effort in the South.

800 00:41:10,150 --> 00:41:11,520 Another ill-fated choice,

801 00:41:11,520 --> 00:41:14,674 the decision of the United States Congress to slash aid

802 00:41:14,674 --> 00:41:17,980 and prohibit American military actions in South Vietnam

803 00:41:17,980 --> 00:41:21,210 after the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.

804 00:41:22,190 --> 00:41:26,272 The Easter Offensive of 1972 had shown that, in fact,

805 00:41:26,272 --> 00:41:29,530 the South Vietnamese Army could fend off

806 00:41:29,530 --> 00:41:30,363 the North Vietnamese

807 00:41:30,363 --> 00:41:33,770 if they had American aid and air support, we took that away.

808 00:41:35,190 --> 00:41:37,760 Now the Burns and Novick

809 00:41:39,510 --> 00:41:41,380 did, certainly, in their commentary

810 00:41:41,380 --> 00:41:42,970 made a very conscious effort

811 00:41:42,970 --> 00:41:45,960 to say that they were not going to malign Vietnam Veterans

812 00:41:45,960 --> 00:41:49,290 as so much of the prior anti-war

813 00:41:50,980 --> 00:41:52,490 history had done.

814 00:41:52,490 --> 00:41:56,497 To some extent, I think they avoided overt disrespect,

815 00:41:56,497 --> 00:41:59,350 but they were, in many respects,

816 00:41:59,350 --> 00:42:01,300 still did a disservice to veterans.

817 00:42:03,790 --> 00:42:07,200 Bob already alluded to this, but there's a huge number

818 00:42:07,200 --> 00:42:10,390 of anti-war veterans shown in the documentary.

819 00:42:10,390 --> 00:42:12,450 There is also, if you notice,

820 00:42:15,852 --> 00:42:17,310 the Gold Star mother happens

821 00:42:17,310 --> 00:42:20,276 to be one of the few who is actually opposed to the war.

822 00:42:20,276 --> 00:42:23,250 A POW happens to be married to one

823 00:42:23,250 --> 00:42:26,440 of the only anti-war POW wives.

824 00:42:26,440 --> 00:42:29,560 So clearly, there was a selective effort

825 00:42:29,560 --> 00:42:31,540 to try to convince you that

826 00:42:31,540 --> 00:42:34,840 there was much stronger anti-war sentiment than there was.

827 00:42:35,720 --> 00:42:39,230 You hear very little about the comradery,

828 00:42:39,230 --> 00:42:44,230 about the pride of American soldiers, American troops.

829 00:42:44,878 --> 00:42:47,760 And I think this is very much deliberate,

830 00:42:47,760 --> 00:42:52,760 part of an attempt to undermine the experience it governed.

831 00:42:53,507 --> 00:42:56,420 The only times we really see this sort pride

832 00:42:56,420 --> 00:42:59,270 or enthusiasm is when they show the North Vietnamese,

833 00:42:59,270 --> 00:43:01,640 who probably had less to be enthusiastic about

834 00:43:01,640 --> 00:43:03,410 since they lost so many times.

835 00:43:04,370 --> 00:43:06,850 We don't hear anything about the 259 Americans

836 00:43:06,850 --> 00:43:09,370 who won the Congressional Medal of Honor,

837 00:43:09,370 --> 00:43:11,630 or tens of thousands who won other awards,

838 00:43:11,630 --> 00:43:14,420 or many others who displayed valor

839 00:43:14,420 --> 00:43:17,270 but did not receive an award for it.

840 00:43:18,690 --> 00:43:20,830 We are, again, led to believe

841 00:43:20,830 --> 00:43:24,028 that Vietnam Veterans weren't really victims of the war,

842 00:43:24,028 --> 00:43:27,860 there's not much redeeming about them, and, hence again,

843 00:43:27,860 --> 00:43:31,572 that maybe going to Vietnam was the right thing to do.

844 00:43:31,572 --> 00:43:33,990 To the reason I started studying

845 00:43:33,990 --> 00:43:36,400 the Vietnam War 25 years ago,

846 00:43:36,400 --> 00:43:40,021 was my belief that the anti-war Left was

847 00:43:40,021 --> 00:43:44,410 unfairly besmirching America's Vietnam Veterans.

848 00:43:44,410 --> 00:43:47,320 And, although Burns and Novick don't besmirch

849 00:43:47,320 --> 00:43:50,520 the veterans as flagrantly, I think their misrepresentations

850 00:43:50,520 --> 00:43:54,760 of the war, and its warriors, have reopened old wounds.

851 00:43:54,760 --> 00:43:57,973 And it's not just the reputation of Vietnam Veterans

852 00:43:57,973 --> 00:44:01,680 that's at stake because how we view the war shapes

853 00:44:01,680 --> 00:44:04,780 how we view ourselves as Americans.

854 00:44:04,780 --> 00:44:07,050 If Burns and his interviewees go out of their way

855 00:44:07,050 --> 00:44:10,160 to claim the Vietnam War debunked the notion

856 00:44:10,160 --> 00:44:12,650 of American Exceptionalism.

857 00:44:12,650 --> 00:44:15,374 They seem to want us to believe that the United States,

858 00:44:15,374 --> 00:44:18,570 which is the world's first modern democracy

859 00:44:18,570 --> 00:44:22,530 in the principle of guarding the world order since 1945,

860 00:44:22,530 --> 00:44:25,220 is on moral par with North Vietnam,

861 00:44:25,220 --> 00:44:28,080 a dictatorship that waged several brutal wars

862 00:44:28,080 --> 00:44:29,880 in the name of Marxism-Leninism,

863 00:44:29,880 --> 00:44:31,820 and slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians

864 00:44:31,820 --> 00:44:34,740 before deciding that Marxism-Leninism actually wasn't

865 00:44:34,740 --> 00:44:36,594 such a good idea.

866 00:44:36,594 --> 00:44:39,770 And this aversion to American Exceptionalism

867 00:44:39,770 --> 00:44:42,010 and Patriotism has, I think pervaded too much

868 00:44:42,010 --> 00:44:46,590 of our society since the Vietnam War.

869 00:44:46,590 --> 00:44:49,330 For those of us that think that the United States is,

870 00:44:49,330 --> 00:44:51,780 in fact, a force for good in the world

871 00:44:51,780 --> 00:44:54,890 and believe that our country is so good that we would,

872 00:44:54,890 --> 00:44:57,780 in fact, risk our lives for it, the accurate retelling

873 00:44:57,780 --> 00:45:00,550 of the Vietnam War is imperative.

874 00:45:00,550 --> 00:45:02,100 And that's why I think it's so important

875 00:45:02,100 --> 00:45:03,922 to let the country know just how fallacious

876 00:45:03,922 --> 00:45:05,680 the Burns series is.

877 00:45:06,589 --> 00:45:11,589 Thank you. (audience applauding)

Lewis Sorley

878 00:45:19,521 --> 00:45:22,210 SORLEY: - These chairs are so comfortable, I was gonna do my talk

879 00:45:22,210 --> 00:45:24,210 from there, but since my colleagues come up here,

880 00:45:24,210 --> 00:45:26,740 I'll do the same thing.

881 00:45:26,740 --> 00:45:28,250 It really caught my attention, Bob,

882 00:45:28,250 --> 00:45:31,310 when you suggested the possible use of nuclear weapons

883 00:45:31,310 --> 00:45:34,230 in the Vietnam War, I damn sure wouldn't want

884 00:45:34,230 --> 00:45:35,860 to be the targeting officer for that mission.

885 00:45:35,860 --> 00:45:36,910 TURNER: - I suggested that?

886 00:45:37,911 --> 00:45:40,760 SORLEY: - You said that, if we didn't do it winnin' it this way,

887 00:45:40,760 --> 00:45:42,410 we might have to use nuclear weapons.

888 00:45:42,410 --> 00:45:44,480 TURNER: - Yeah, that was in other wars, yeah.

889 00:45:44,480 --> 00:45:48,810 SORLEY: - Well, General Westmoreland did explore the possibility

890 00:45:48,810 --> 00:45:50,940 of using nuclear weapons at Khe Sanh,

891 00:45:50,940 --> 00:45:52,950 and he had a planning group put together for that

892 00:45:52,950 --> 00:45:55,740 until some horrified people in Washington found out about it

893 00:45:55,740 --> 00:45:58,180 and said, "Burn all those documents

894 00:45:58,180 --> 00:46:01,260 "and disestablish that group right out."

895 00:46:01,260 --> 00:46:02,290 And, I guess he did.

896 00:46:03,900 --> 00:46:08,140 From my perspective, the Burns production had one objective,

897 00:46:08,140 --> 00:46:11,570 to reinforce the standard anti-war narrative

898 00:46:11,570 --> 00:46:15,060 that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, illegal,

899 00:46:15,060 --> 00:46:17,580 immoral, and unethically conducted

900 00:46:17,580 --> 00:46:19,610 by the Allies from start to finish.

901 00:46:20,620 --> 00:46:24,310 It went about making this case by,

902 00:46:24,310 --> 00:46:27,640 contrary to the claims of Burns and his associates

903 00:46:27,640 --> 00:46:30,321 that theirs was a historically respectable

904 00:46:30,321 --> 00:46:35,321 and unbiased account, by skewed and unrepresentative content

905 00:46:35,363 --> 00:46:40,363 and commentators, lack of context and crucial omissions.

906 00:46:41,530 --> 00:46:42,890 Some of this you've already heard

907 00:46:42,890 --> 00:46:45,180 from my distinguished colleagues.

908 00:46:45,180 --> 00:46:49,410 These omissions, I think, are the most damaging flaw

909 00:46:49,410 --> 00:46:51,120 in the Burns opus.

910 00:46:51,120 --> 00:46:54,800 The great heroes of the war, in view of almost all

911 00:46:54,800 --> 00:46:58,300 of those who fought there on our side, that is,

912 00:46:58,300 --> 00:47:01,220 were the dust-off pilots, and the nurses,

913 00:47:01,220 --> 00:47:02,720 and the forward observers.

914 00:47:04,330 --> 00:47:05,790 We don't see much of them.

915 00:47:05,790 --> 00:47:08,980 Instead, we see repeatedly, poor Mogie Crocker

916 00:47:08,980 --> 00:47:12,370 who we know, right away, is destined to get whacked.

917 00:47:12,370 --> 00:47:14,270 We see over and over again the clueless,

918 00:47:14,270 --> 00:47:17,950 General Westmoreland, but learn nothing of his refusal

919 00:47:17,950 --> 00:47:21,360 to provide modern weaponry to the South Vietnamese,

920 00:47:21,360 --> 00:47:23,840 or his disdain for pacification.

921 00:47:23,840 --> 00:47:27,330 We see precious little of his able successor,

922 00:47:27,330 --> 00:47:30,380 General Abrams, I was given 25 seconds

923 00:47:30,380 --> 00:47:33,220 to talk about him in episode seven.

924 00:47:34,160 --> 00:47:37,500 We see and hear almost nothing of William Colby

925 00:47:37,500 --> 00:47:41,200 and his brilliant work on pacification, and so on.

926 00:47:41,200 --> 00:47:45,530 These are serious failings in a film that bills itself

927 00:47:45,530 --> 00:47:48,620 as a landmark documentary event.

928 00:47:51,020 --> 00:47:54,280 As most people here know, and some of you may have attended,

929 00:47:54,280 --> 00:47:57,850 Burns and his associates have appeared at a large number

930 00:47:57,850 --> 00:47:59,960 of preview events.

931 00:47:59,960 --> 00:48:02,240 I attended one such session

932 00:48:02,240 --> 00:48:05,290 at the Newseum here in Washington.

933 00:48:05,290 --> 00:48:09,940 Amusingly to me, they billed it as an influencer event.

934 00:48:09,940 --> 00:48:12,438 And I was impressed by their self-regard

935 00:48:12,438 --> 00:48:15,140 and self-satisfaction.

936 00:48:15,140 --> 00:48:17,060 They apparently now view themselves

937 00:48:17,060 --> 00:48:18,820 as the premier historians

938 00:48:18,820 --> 00:48:22,350 of the Vietnam War, and they are candid in stating

939 00:48:22,350 --> 00:48:24,950 their most basic conclusions.

940 00:48:24,950 --> 00:48:29,760 Burns told us, "You can find no overtly redeeming quality

941 00:48:29,760 --> 00:48:31,090 "of the Vietnam War."

942 00:48:32,500 --> 00:48:35,720 I hope I may be forgiven for stating my own conviction

943 00:48:35,720 --> 00:48:38,800 that he is profoundly wrong,

944 00:48:38,800 --> 00:48:41,850 as he was in referring disparagingly to what,

945 00:48:41,850 --> 00:48:44,200 and I think Mark mentioned this, what he called,

946 00:48:44,200 --> 00:48:48,710 "American's puffed up sense of exceptionalism."

947 00:48:48,710 --> 00:48:52,360 Clearly, Burns does not much like America,

948 00:48:52,360 --> 00:48:54,600 an outlook that permeates his work.

949 00:48:56,010 --> 00:48:59,270 In that same discussion he was surprisingly candid

950 00:48:59,270 --> 00:49:02,394 in describing his objective in making the Vietnam film

951 00:49:02,394 --> 00:49:05,550 and his methods in realizing it.

952 00:49:05,550 --> 00:49:08,830 They had not been interested in dry facts he told us,

953 00:49:08,830 --> 00:49:12,900 but in, "An emotional reality."

954 00:49:12,900 --> 00:49:16,320 And, claiming objectivity, Burns said that

955 00:49:16,320 --> 00:49:18,970 in making the film they had not, as he put it,

956 00:49:18,970 --> 00:49:21,400 "Had their thumb on the scale."

957 00:49:21,400 --> 00:49:25,240 But only moments later, he stated his conviction that,

958 00:49:25,240 --> 00:49:28,980 "We need to remind people of the cost of war."

959 00:49:28,980 --> 00:49:31,440 I'm hoping that someday there will be a sequel,

960 00:49:31,440 --> 00:49:34,800 reminding people of the cost of losing a war.

961 00:49:36,900 --> 00:49:41,150 As we have heard already, the series opens in episode one

962 00:49:41,150 --> 00:49:44,630 with my strongest impression, a lot of noise.

963 00:49:44,630 --> 00:49:47,160 Helicopters whir around, explosions abound,

964 00:49:47,160 --> 00:49:50,710 small arms and artillery provide the prevailing atmosphere.

965 00:49:50,710 --> 00:49:54,550 This serves very well to underpin Burns' contention

966 00:49:54,550 --> 00:49:58,060 that war is Hell, but it does not do a lot

967 00:49:58,060 --> 00:50:00,890 to establish Burns and company as the historians

968 00:50:00,890 --> 00:50:02,510 they maintain they are.

969 00:50:02,510 --> 00:50:04,810 Most historians, at least in my judgment,

970 00:50:04,810 --> 00:50:06,660 would have begun a series on the war

971 00:50:06,660 --> 00:50:10,470 by providing some context and some background

972 00:50:10,470 --> 00:50:12,260 on how and why the war began,

973 00:50:12,260 --> 00:50:15,710 and how and why the United States became a party to it,

974 00:50:15,710 --> 00:50:19,010 and impelled a succession of U.S. administrations

975 00:50:19,010 --> 00:50:22,180 to view it as in America's interest to do so?

976 00:50:22,180 --> 00:50:24,180 But instead, we got noise.

977 00:50:26,155 --> 00:50:27,320 What of the research?

978 00:50:27,320 --> 00:50:31,240 We are told the Burns team spent 10 years on this project,

979 00:50:31,240 --> 00:50:33,590 and that in the course of it they interviewed

980 00:50:33,590 --> 00:50:36,240 more than 80 people.

981 00:50:36,240 --> 00:50:38,670 I know writers, working alone,

982 00:50:38,670 --> 00:50:40,910 who have interviewed several hundred people

983 00:50:40,910 --> 00:50:42,380 for a single book.

984 00:50:42,380 --> 00:50:45,100 The Burns team averaged eight interviews a year,

985 00:50:45,100 --> 00:50:48,880 an interview every month and a half over the decade.

986 00:50:48,880 --> 00:50:52,430 Not impressive, at least to me, certainly not comprehensive.

987 00:50:53,890 --> 00:50:58,890 At that same preview, I met General Merrill McPeak,

988 00:50:59,440 --> 00:51:01,729 United States Air Force Retired,

989 00:51:01,729 --> 00:51:05,020 a former Air Force Chief of Staff.

990 00:51:05,020 --> 00:51:07,720 He was giddy with excitement over the role he had played

991 00:51:07,720 --> 00:51:09,050 in making the series,

992 00:51:09,050 --> 00:51:12,250 describing how he had made repeated trips from his home

993 00:51:12,250 --> 00:51:15,080 in Oregon to the Burns studio in New Hampshire

994 00:51:15,080 --> 00:51:17,000 to help with the production

995 00:51:17,000 --> 00:51:19,970 and how he had seen the finished product several times

996 00:51:19,970 --> 00:51:22,580 and was immensely pleased with it.

997 00:51:22,580 --> 00:51:26,350 We, the rank and file of the other preview attendees,

998 00:51:26,350 --> 00:51:30,884 had not yet seen any of the product, when we did,

999 00:51:30,884 --> 00:51:34,326 we saw that same imbecilic General McPeak,

1000 00:51:34,326 --> 00:51:37,270 proclaiming his view that in Vietnam,

1001 00:51:37,270 --> 00:51:40,348 the United States was riding on the wrong side.

1002 00:51:40,348 --> 00:51:43,620 We should, I guess, in his view then have been helping

1003 00:51:43,620 --> 00:51:46,680 the Communists defeat the South Vietnamese.

1004 00:51:46,680 --> 00:51:50,650 Later, it is said, McPeak got so much negative feedback

1005 00:51:50,650 --> 00:51:54,980 that he withdrew the comment, as though such a thing might,

1006 00:51:54,980 --> 00:51:58,200 in some mystical manner, even be possible.

1007 00:51:58,200 --> 00:52:02,310 But instead, he is forever on record as having not only lent

1008 00:52:02,310 --> 00:52:04,630 himself whole-heartedly to the creation

1009 00:52:04,630 --> 00:52:07,470 of this terribly flawed creation of the war,

1010 00:52:07,470 --> 00:52:09,710 but having gone the last mile

1011 00:52:09,710 --> 00:52:11,950 in endorsing it's anti-war bias.

1012 00:52:11,950 --> 00:52:15,000 Sorry, General, too late to back out now,

1013 00:52:15,000 --> 00:52:17,880 too late to rescue even a shred of integrity

1014 00:52:17,880 --> 00:52:22,290 or reputation, you are a Burns man forever.

1015 00:52:22,290 --> 00:52:24,300 My email to him was brief,

1016 00:52:24,300 --> 00:52:27,443 "You are, Sir," I stated, "a fool."

1017 00:52:27,443 --> 00:52:29,010 (audience laughing) End of message.

1018 00:52:29,010 --> 00:52:31,900 I am sure his response will be along any day now.

1019 00:52:33,360 --> 00:52:37,590 Another star performer is the pathetic Mai Elliott,

1020 00:52:37,590 --> 00:52:41,470 supposedly representing the South Vietnamese outlook,

1021 00:52:41,470 --> 00:52:44,370 who earned, regarding the fall of Saigon

1022 00:52:44,370 --> 00:52:48,130 and the conquest of South Vietnam by the Communists,

1023 00:52:48,130 --> 00:52:53,130 the single most inane comment in the entire 18 hours.

1024 00:52:53,900 --> 00:52:56,540 "I didn't care which side won," she said,

1025 00:52:56,540 --> 00:52:59,970 "because they could now live normally."

1026 00:52:59,970 --> 00:53:02,210 Then came the bloodbath.

1027 00:53:06,160 --> 00:53:08,530 I can talk about that a little later, probably.

1028 00:53:15,170 --> 00:53:19,680 Nowhere in this 18 hours is it explained that both sides

1029 00:53:19,680 --> 00:53:24,660 in the war, North Vietnam and South Vietnam,

1030 00:53:24,660 --> 00:53:27,670 are wholly dependent on outside sources for their means

1031 00:53:27,670 --> 00:53:28,670 of making war.

1032 00:53:29,610 --> 00:53:32,370 As we all know, the North obtained its weapons, fuel

1033 00:53:32,370 --> 00:53:35,720 and so on from Communist China and the Soviet Union.

1034 00:53:35,720 --> 00:53:38,770 South Vietnam, of course, obtained much support

1035 00:53:38,770 --> 00:53:42,880 from the United States, until it did not.

1036 00:53:42,880 --> 00:53:46,054 Nowhere is it shown how valiantly and effectively

1037 00:53:46,054 --> 00:53:49,185 the South Vietnamese continued to fight for their freedom,

1038 00:53:49,185 --> 00:53:53,580 even after the United States had withdrawn all its forces,

1039 00:53:53,580 --> 00:53:56,200 and even after the Congress of the United States

1040 00:53:56,200 --> 00:53:59,130 had dishonorably slashed U.S. financial

1041 00:53:59,130 --> 00:54:01,560 and material assistance to them.

1042 00:54:04,550 --> 00:54:07,090 While you would never know it if you relied

1043 00:54:07,090 --> 00:54:09,990 on Burns for your knowledge of the war,

1044 00:54:09,990 --> 00:54:13,480 it did not have to end as it did, the Congress

1045 00:54:13,480 --> 00:54:16,410 of the United States decided that it should.

1046 00:54:16,410 --> 00:54:19,240 And depriving our ill-fated South Vietnamese allies

1047 00:54:19,240 --> 00:54:21,770 of the means of continuing to fight

1048 00:54:21,770 --> 00:54:26,140 while the Communists received greatly increased support

1049 00:54:26,140 --> 00:54:29,450 from their backers, the Congress made it so.

1050 00:54:32,640 --> 00:54:35,790 We're all veterans of one kind or another,

1051 00:54:36,630 --> 00:54:40,240 and so I was particularly interested in the veterans

1052 00:54:40,240 --> 00:54:44,410 who got to speak and what the whole program had

1053 00:54:44,410 --> 00:54:46,840 to say about veterans.

1054 00:54:46,840 --> 00:54:49,590 Burns is deeply interested in My Lai

1055 00:54:49,590 --> 00:54:53,420 and any other instances of misbehavior by American troops,

1056 00:54:53,420 --> 00:54:55,700 but he has next to nothing to say about the many,

1057 00:54:55,700 --> 00:54:59,520 many heroic actions by medevac pilots, the ones I've said,

1058 00:54:59,520 --> 00:55:03,150 nurses, forward observers, the ordinary infantryman

1059 00:55:03,150 --> 00:55:03,983 or advisor.

1060 00:55:03,983 --> 00:55:06,970 He's rather focused, at great length, on Mogie Crocker

1061 00:55:06,970 --> 00:55:09,350 and his pathetic destiny.

1062 00:55:09,350 --> 00:55:13,860 The real Vietnam Veterans, two-thirds of them volunteers,

1063 00:55:13,860 --> 00:55:16,160 in dramatic contrast I might say

1064 00:55:16,160 --> 00:55:19,033 to the Greatest Generation of World War II,

1065 00:55:19,033 --> 00:55:22,520 two-thirds of whom were draftees,

1066 00:55:22,520 --> 00:55:24,960 the greatest of the real Vietnam Veterans said

1067 00:55:24,960 --> 00:55:27,930 after the fact, as has been mentioned earlier,

1068 00:55:27,930 --> 00:55:31,260 that, "They were overwhelmingly glad they had served."

1069 00:55:31,260 --> 00:55:34,350 And, amazingly to me, two-thirds of them,

1070 00:55:34,350 --> 00:55:39,350 67% told those interviewers that they would serve again,

1071 00:55:40,000 --> 00:55:44,130 get this, even knowing the outcome of the war.

1072 00:55:44,130 --> 00:55:46,760 Burns could not find time in his allotted 18 hours

1073 00:55:46,760 --> 00:55:48,740 to mention that outlook.

1074 00:55:51,610 --> 00:55:56,610 Westmoreland, Burns portrays Westmoreland,

1075 00:55:57,360 --> 00:56:00,500 whose mindless, war of attrition squandered four years

1076 00:56:00,500 --> 00:56:03,750 of support by the American people, the congress,

1077 00:56:03,750 --> 00:56:08,230 and even much of the media, as a hero he never was.

1078 00:56:08,230 --> 00:56:11,480 The film describes Westmoreland as a decorated hero

1079 00:56:11,480 --> 00:56:13,220 from World War II.

1080 00:56:13,220 --> 00:56:16,260 In fact, Westmoreland was a Battalion Commander

1081 00:56:16,260 --> 00:56:20,480 in North Africa and Sicily, but a Division Staff Officer

1082 00:56:20,480 --> 00:56:22,060 through the rest of the war.

1083 00:56:22,060 --> 00:56:25,199 In three wars he never received a single decoration

1084 00:56:25,199 --> 00:56:28,240 for valor or bravery.

1085 00:56:28,240 --> 00:56:31,880 The film goes on the falsely laud what Burns calls,

1086 00:56:31,880 --> 00:56:34,420 "Westmoreland's impressive record.'

1087 00:56:34,420 --> 00:56:35,800 Adding, "That the men he led

1088 00:56:35,800 --> 00:56:38,370 "in Normandy called him Superman."

1089 00:56:39,490 --> 00:56:43,520 Westmoreland led no men in Normandy,

1090 00:56:43,520 --> 00:56:46,640 he was by then a Division Staff Officer.

1091 00:56:46,640 --> 00:56:49,770 And by the way, the division he was in didn't get

1092 00:56:49,770 --> 00:56:54,380 to Normandy until D plus 4, and then on Utah Beach.

1093 00:56:57,010 --> 00:57:00,300 I want to say a word about Burns advisors on the film.

1094 00:57:02,890 --> 00:57:05,820 Chief advisor, the only one listed,

1095 00:57:05,820 --> 00:57:08,090 chief advisor was one Thomas Vallely,

1096 00:57:08,090 --> 00:57:10,500 a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

1097 00:57:11,940 --> 00:57:13,540 During the latter stages of the war,

1098 00:57:13,540 --> 00:57:17,590 U.S. forces were progressively withdrawn in 14 increments

1099 00:57:17,590 --> 00:57:19,830 over three years, turning more and more

1100 00:57:19,830 --> 00:57:23,590 of the combat responsibility over to the South Vietnamese,

1101 00:57:23,590 --> 00:57:26,850 who, guess what, acquitted themselves valiantly.

1102 00:57:26,850 --> 00:57:30,870 Yet, Vallely is portrayed in the film characterizing

1103 00:57:30,870 --> 00:57:33,877 that highly professional sequence,

1104 00:57:33,877 --> 00:57:37,440 anti-historically he says,

1105 00:57:37,440 --> 00:57:41,580 "As we finally came lurching out of Vietnam."

1106 00:57:48,160 --> 00:57:53,160 It would have been easy, had they decided to do so,

1107 00:57:53,540 --> 00:57:56,431 to find some good evidence from the other side,

1108 00:57:56,431 --> 00:58:00,430 the North Vietnamese Communists about how things were going

1109 00:58:00,430 --> 00:58:04,290 for the South, even when we were withdrawing our forces

1110 00:58:04,290 --> 00:58:08,410 and even when, subsequent to that, withdrawing our support.

1111 00:58:09,560 --> 00:58:12,560 For example, North Vietnamese General Tran Va Tra

1112 00:58:14,090 --> 00:58:16,930 wrote this, "By the time of the ceasefire,"

1113 00:58:16,930 --> 00:58:21,542 ceasefire, as you know, was pursuant to the Paris Accords

1114 00:58:21,542 --> 00:58:23,125 in January of 1973.

1115 00:58:23,990 --> 00:58:26,760 "By the time of the ceasefire," said General Tra,

1116 00:58:26,760 --> 00:58:29,750 "our calvaries and men were exhausted.

1117 00:58:29,750 --> 00:58:32,630 "All our units were in disarray, and we were suffering

1118 00:58:32,630 --> 00:58:34,410 "from a lack of manpower and shortage

1119 00:58:34,410 --> 00:58:37,800 "of food and ammunition, so it was hard to stand up

1120 00:58:37,800 --> 00:58:39,150 "under enemy attacks.

1121 00:58:39,150 --> 00:58:41,080 "Sometimes we had to withdraw

1122 00:58:41,080 --> 00:58:44,510 "to let the enemy retake control of the population."

1123 00:58:44,510 --> 00:58:46,760 I don't remember seeing anything about that

1124 00:58:46,760 --> 00:58:48,480 in anything Burns had to say.

1125 00:58:53,390 --> 00:58:58,390 Here's another aspect that I haven't seen commented on

1126 00:58:58,790 --> 00:59:03,710 much of anyplace else, but it's what the fallout,

1127 00:59:03,710 --> 00:59:07,720 long-term consequences that Burns assigns

1128 00:59:07,720 --> 00:59:09,720 to our experience in Vietnam.

1129 00:59:09,720 --> 00:59:12,440 In a New York Times op-ed piece entitled,

1130 00:59:12,440 --> 00:59:16,470 "Vietnam's Unhealed Wounds", and with a shared byline

1131 00:59:16,470 --> 00:59:19,757 Burns and Novick lecture us on what they call,

1132 00:59:19,757 --> 00:59:23,310 "The troubles that trouble us today are the result of,"

1133 00:59:23,310 --> 00:59:27,320 they claim, "seeds sown during the Vietnam War."

1134 00:59:27,320 --> 00:59:31,040 They catalog those troubles as alienation, resentment

1135 00:59:31,040 --> 00:59:35,150 and Cynicism, mistrust of our government and one another,

1136 00:59:35,150 --> 00:59:38,520 breakdown of civil discourse and civic institutions,

1137 00:59:38,520 --> 00:59:41,880 conflicts over ethnicity and class,

1138 00:59:41,880 --> 00:59:45,240 and lack of accountability in powerful institutions.

1139 00:59:45,240 --> 00:59:48,810 It is apparently their view that had we not been

1140 00:59:48,810 --> 00:59:51,610 in the Vietnam War, those troubles would not

1141 00:59:51,610 --> 00:59:52,930 be afflicting us today.

1142 00:59:55,340 --> 00:59:58,907 Someone I failed to note the name of wrote recently

1143 00:59:58,907 --> 01:00:03,010 that in the production we are discussing here today,

1144 01:00:03,010 --> 01:00:05,740 "Burns somehow missed his chance to tell the true

1145 01:00:05,740 --> 01:00:07,520 "and accurate story of the war."

1146 01:00:08,920 --> 01:00:13,540 I don't think that is right, I think Burns did exactly

1147 01:00:13,540 --> 01:00:18,540 what he set out to do, reinforce, as I have suggested,

1148 01:00:18,550 --> 01:00:21,510 with all the might of his wand at filmmaking skills,

1149 01:00:21,510 --> 01:00:24,470 the standard anti-war narrative.

1150 01:00:27,190 --> 01:00:29,377 SORLEY:- How much time? OWENS: - Couple more minutes.

1151 01:00:29,377 --> 01:00:31,360 SORLEY: - Couple more minutes?

1152 01:00:31,360 --> 01:00:34,430 When we get to the end of this long, sad story

1153 01:00:34,430 --> 01:00:36,220 with South Vietnam in the iron grip

1154 01:00:36,220 --> 01:00:40,230 of its supposed liberators, and alluding to the bloodbath

1155 01:00:40,230 --> 01:00:42,050 that Mai Elliott and others cannot see

1156 01:00:42,050 --> 01:00:44,470 or will not acknowledge,

1157 01:00:44,470 --> 01:00:47,588 there lies ahead this half century so far,

1158 01:00:47,588 --> 01:00:50,670 of Vietnam as one of the most backward, repressive

1159 01:00:50,670 --> 01:00:53,440 and corrupt societies in the world.

1160 01:00:53,440 --> 01:00:56,450 Burns says nothing of all that, it does not accord

1161 01:00:56,450 --> 01:00:58,070 with his narrative of choice.

1162 01:01:00,320 --> 01:01:04,070 And, any competent historian, it seems to me,

1163 01:01:04,070 --> 01:01:07,620 would have found room to emphasize at some crucial points

1164 01:01:07,620 --> 01:01:11,177 along the way, I suggest beginning, middle and end,

1165 01:01:11,177 --> 01:01:14,760 that it was armed aggression by the North Vietnamese

1166 01:01:14,760 --> 01:01:18,700 that led to all this bloodshed and agony.

1167 01:01:18,700 --> 01:01:22,260 Burns does not remind us of that, doesn't even mention it.

1168 01:01:23,420 --> 01:01:25,760 The North Vietnamese, the aggressors, are treated

1169 01:01:25,760 --> 01:01:28,560 with respect, even admiration.

1170 01:01:28,560 --> 01:01:32,410 Nowhere is it admitted that the Communist way of war

1171 01:01:32,410 --> 01:01:35,800 deliberately featured bombs in schoolyards and pagodas,

1172 01:01:35,800 --> 01:01:38,690 murder of school teachers and village officials,

1173 01:01:38,690 --> 01:01:41,560 kidnapping and impressment of civilians,

1174 01:01:41,560 --> 01:01:44,474 indiscriminate rocketing of cities.

1175 01:01:44,474 --> 01:01:46,670 And by the way, the boat people

1176 01:01:46,670 --> 01:01:49,900 and other emigres now living in America and elsewhere

1177 01:01:49,900 --> 01:01:53,830 in the free world, have with great courage and industry,

1178 01:01:53,830 --> 01:01:57,090 made real lives for themselves and their families.

1179 01:01:57,090 --> 01:02:00,280 They get no credit from Burns, who also does not deign

1180 01:02:00,280 --> 01:02:03,550 to explain their determination not to live

1181 01:02:03,550 --> 01:02:06,150 under the oppressive Communist regime

1182 01:02:06,150 --> 01:02:08,100 that has seized control of their country.

1183 01:02:08,100 --> 01:02:11,090 Almost finished. (laughing)

1184 01:02:11,090 --> 01:02:14,050 Burns repeats in all the materials he distributes,

1185 01:02:14,050 --> 01:02:18,270 the mantra, there is no single truth immoral.

1186 01:02:18,270 --> 01:02:22,420 But there is such a thing as objective truth,

1187 01:02:22,420 --> 01:02:24,710 illusive though it may be.

1188 01:02:24,710 --> 01:02:27,410 What we have here is preferred truth,

1189 01:02:27,410 --> 01:02:29,690 as seen through the Burns prism.

1190 01:02:31,000 --> 01:02:35,316 Finally, the idea as suggested by Burns.

1191 01:02:35,316 --> 01:02:39,030 The idea that this deeply flawed version of the war

1192 01:02:39,030 --> 01:02:40,470 and those who fought it,

1193 01:02:40,470 --> 01:02:43,789 might somehow facilitate reconciliation,

1194 01:02:43,789 --> 01:02:47,280 can only be viewed at fatuous.

1195 01:02:47,280 --> 01:02:49,000 There is no middle ground

1196 01:02:49,000 --> 01:02:52,650 and the Burns film demonstrates if nothing else,

1197 01:02:52,650 --> 01:02:56,370 how deep and unbridgeable that divide remains.

1198 01:02:57,470 --> 01:03:00,093 The Washington Post, on a rare good day,

1199 01:03:00,093 --> 01:03:05,093 in this editorial 17 September, 1996, wrote this,

1200 01:03:06,450 --> 01:03:11,450 "The American role in the Vietnam War, for all its stumbles,

1201 01:03:11,600 --> 01:03:13,450 "was no accident.

1202 01:03:13,450 --> 01:03:16,070 "It arose from the deepest sources,

1203 01:03:16,070 --> 01:03:19,640 "the deepest and most legitimate sources

1204 01:03:19,640 --> 01:03:23,950 "of the American desire to affirm freedom in the world."

1205 01:03:23,950 --> 01:03:26,700 You would not gather that from the Burns film,

1206 01:03:26,700 --> 01:03:30,860 and that is how he is most profoundly

1207 01:03:30,860 --> 01:03:33,434 and fundamentally wrong, I think.

1208 01:03:33,434 --> 01:03:36,601 (audience applauding)

1209 01:03:39,296 --> 01:03:42,129 (uplifting music)