Episode 7. The Veneer of Civilization (June 1968-May 1969)

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Episode 7. The Veneer of Civilization (June 1968-May 1969)

Annotated Transcript Of Episode 7

Errors and Omissions Episode 7: Comments from the Nixon Library

The almost thirty-five hundred hours of Nixon White House tapes can be excerpted or taken out of context to “prove” just about anything.
The Burns/Novick film also includes edited audio tapes of LBJ-Dirksen and LBJ-Nixon conversations on this subject. The filmmakers cut sentences early, string segments of sentences together, and edit out three words in the middle of one of Nixon’s key sentences.
In the film, and in the companion book, Burns/Novick/ Ward select and edit sections of the tapes — amounting to a few hundred words out of 3,432 hours of tapes — in order to show what President Nixon or Dr. Kissinger “thought” or “believed” about issues or events.

John Del Vecchio

. . . [R]evelation regarding My Lai do not break until November 12th, 1969, approximately six years from the first story listed in the report, and less than six years from the fall of Saigon. Those 473 stories about My Lai represented approximately 10% of all TV evening news coverage from the moment of revelation to the final collapse. There are other major communist offensives, communist atrocities which dwarf the numbers at My Lai, Paris Peace Talks, POWs, communist offensives in Cambodia which lead to over 40,000 civilians being locked in gulag-camps that were precursors to the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Holocaust, yet ABC, NBC and CBS continued to focus on My Lai. Story builds narrative. My Lai became a plank in our national narrative far beyond its actual significance, and it is still a plank with extensive personal, social and political ramifications.

R.J. Del Vecchio

But the real peak of meaning in this episode was McPeak, a retired AF general who spent months bombing the hell out of traffic on the Trail. He ends up coming out so clearly and directly as a total antiwar fanatic that it was a real mindblower for me. We were the "wrong side" and he would have preferred to be on the side of the truck drivers he was blowing up nightly?
The point keeps getting hammered that there were brave, dedicated people on the other side who believed totally in the justness of their cause. And here's the newsflash again.... there were brave, dedicated people in the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe, the Kriegsmarine of the Third Reich. So what? Hell, there were brave dedicated men among the Redcoats that tried to smash the rebellious colonists of America. Not everyone fighting on one side has to be an evil person for that side to be the one that is serving evil.
McPeak is the perfect example of what Lenin would have called a "useful idiot". He drank down the Kool-Aid of communist propaganda and leftist idealism and liked its taste. And remember, he was one of the principal assets that Burns relied on in developing the series. What should that be telling everyone about the actual focus of the series?

Dan Kellum

If you shut out the background noise of antiwar music on occasion and the demonstrators marching in the streets yelling, protesting and in some cases breaking windows and burning vehicles, etc., and politicians throwing their military personnel under the bus to remain in office or be elected to one, you can almost feel the emotional Vietnam veterans' side of the Vietnam War story in the documentary....and feel empathy toward their traumatic experience. Having served in Vietnam, I can associate my experiences with theirs to a point. My war was in 1970 when all the major battles had been fought in my area up to that point and the VC/NVA generally tried to avoid us and attacked the RVN troops. To this day if I find someone who was in Nam in the earlier years, I shake their hand and thank them for their service and their thinning out the enemy troops' ranks before I stepped foot in Vietnam.

Charles Krohn

I also take issue portraying mostly the downside of the Phoenix Program. The PRUs operated in Go Da Hau District when I was serving as the senior military advisor in 1970/71. When the North tried to overrun the district in 1975, they met fierce resistance in part because the VC infrastructure had been weakened earlier. The district commander lived without apparent fear in the city with his wife behind a simple, unguarded bamboo fence. I would walk through the town unarmed and napped on a bridge when the mood struck me. After the North occupied Saigon, 30,000 members of Phoenix disappeared, along with the South Vietnamese Rangers who so stoutly resisted conquest from Hanoi.

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