Episode 8. The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970)

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Episode 8. The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970)

Annotated Transcript Of Episode 8

Errors and Omissions Episode 8: Comments from the Nixon Library

The Burns/Novick/Ward version of Vietnam is based on what they believe to be desperation and duplicity on the part of President Nixon. They purport to know what he thinks privately, and what he thinks privately turns out to be what they think he thinks privately, which is trying to find a surreptitious way to surrender.

John Del Vecchio (Combined essay on 7 & 8)

Without Vietnamese communist tutelage there is no Khmer Viet Minh, no reactionary Khmer Rouge, no Cambodian Holocaust [and no Pathet Lao either. ed.}. Declarations of neutrality were at best ripples in a vast lake. We heard less about this from Burns than I had anticipated. Treating the topic of the war as if it only involved North and South Vietnam and not all of Southeast Asia leads to many misunderstandings. The reaction on college campuses to the Cambodian Incursion occur in a knowledge vacuum. . . .

Dan Kellum

I think the photos that appeared in the media of the murdered villagers of My Lai (4) was a turning point in the ratcheting up of protests and violent demonstrations back home. I had the bad luck of being called a "baby killer" before I left for Vietnam and upon my return in a packed pizza parlor by a loudmouth antiwar, anti-serviceman young man. Not one person in my hometown eating establishment came to my defense as he continued to bait me from across the crowded room. I swallowed my anger and pride and left the pizza parlor never to set foot in there again. Others returning home suffered the same treatment I think in part due to My Lai (4) as now the antiwar demonstrators could point to that incident as proof we were the Bad Guys. I worry that Burns/Novick are dredging up those anti-military feelings again for the past and present military personnel with their documentary. . . .This documentary may not produce the healing discourse "Burns/Novick" are hoping for from an intellectual viewpoint but rather something altogether different...time will tell.

Charles Krohn

The disturbances at home were devastating and effective, in some parts of the country more than others. Whether they were good for the country in the long run is a matter of debate. General Merrill McPeak says "we are better for it." I'm not so sure.

Brian Robertson

Novick and Burns. . . . portray Nixon’s policy of Vietnamization — replacing U.S. troops with South Vietnamese troops — as one of venal political calculation, an attempt to purposefully continue the war to prevent South Vietnam from falling before his reelection in 1972. But when it came to the war, Nixon was an idealist, not a cold-eyed realist. He fought to provide South Vietnam with the best possible chance of survival, believing that its fall would have catastrophic consequences. Getting this wrong has serious consequences, because it badly distorts viewers’ understanding not only of the Vietnam War, but how presidents wage war more broadly.

Christian Appy (episodes 7 & 8)

. . . [T]he narrator describes communist efforts to “make the most” of these horrid conditions by “accusing the United States and its puppet government in Saigon of destroying Vietnamese culture in the South,” then adds, “But the citizens of Saigon were far freer than the North Vietnamese.” This is perhaps the film’s most jarring example of false equivalency. Somehow the disaster the United States created in the South is mitigated by the existence of a one-party state in the North.

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