Difference between revisions of "Annotated Transcript Of CSIS Panel"

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01:37:49,840 --> 01:37:51,950      but there's this relative freedom of press. 

2013 

01:37:51,950 --> 01:37:53,462      And what the press is trying to do 

2014 

01:37:53,462 --> 01:37:56,086      in the years after Ngo Dinh Diem falls 

2015 

01:37:56,086 --> 01:37:58,825      is continually try to push and enlarge that space. 

2016 

01:37:58,825 --> 01:38:02,992      And they're very much hemmed in by the government. 

=== 
Lewis Sorley (On the Press) ===

2017 

01:38:05,629 --> 01:38:07,090      LEWIS SORLEY: - I don't know where it came in, 

2018 

01:38:07,090 --> 01:38:09,298      I heard something about the distinguished role of the press 

2019 

01:38:09,298 --> 01:38:11,202      in the war in Vietnam, 

2020 

01:38:11,202 --> 01:38:13,285      which just astonishes me. 

2021 

Latest revision as of 11:26, 17 November 2017

ANNOTATED TRANSCRIPT OF CSIS PANEL

Color Coding: Red = False statement; Yellow = Warning; Green = Not yet used; Blue = Interesting, warranting Attention;

Gray = I’ve got to study and verify this item; Pink = Loaded Words?

This requires further editing and annotation (which has not yet been attempted)

Introduction

1

00:00:01,193 --> 00:00:02,756 - [Narrator] While support for the nation

2

00:00:02,756 --> 00:00:04,607 playing an active part in global affairs

3

00:00:04,607 --> 00:00:07,370 has remained strong since 1947,

4

00:00:07,370 --> 00:00:09,063 public opinion on key components

5

00:00:09,063 --> 00:00:10,946 of US international engagement,

6

00:00:10,946 --> 00:00:12,456 such as defense spending,

7

00:00:12,456 --> 00:00:14,661 has waxed and waned over the last 70 years

8

00:00:14,661 --> 00:00:18,191 in response to economic trends, military interventions,

9

00:00:18,191 --> 00:00:21,000 and domestic priorities.

10

00:00:21,000 --> 00:00:22,649 In the first decades of the Cold War,

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00:00:22,649 --> 00:00:24,994 America was committed to international engagement

12

00:00:24,994 --> 00:00:27,291 as a part of its strategy of containment

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00:00:27,291 --> 00:00:29,032 against the existential threat

14

00:00:29,032 --> 00:00:31,517 presented by the Soviet Union.

15

00:00:31,517 --> 00:00:33,470 The US experience in Vietnam, however,

16

00:00:33,470 --> 00:00:36,836 created an aversion to overseas military engagements,

17

00:00:36,836 --> 00:00:40,273 that lasted from the late 1960s through the 70s.

18

00:00:40,273 --> 00:00:42,874 MARK MOYAR - All right, we're gonna go ahead and get started.

19

00:00:42,874 --> 00:00:46,457 Hopefully Senator Warner will join us soon.

20

00:00:48,551 --> 00:00:50,468 Is Admiral DeMars here?

21

00:00:52,195 --> 00:00:53,517 Okay.

22

00:00:53,517 --> 00:00:55,261 And are you Mr Bowsher?

23

00:00:55,261 --> 00:00:57,142 Okay, well at least acknowledge

24

00:00:57,142 --> 00:01:00,184 the Honorable Charles Bowsher is here to join us,

25

00:01:00,184 --> 00:01:01,897 former Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

26

00:01:01,897 --> 00:01:03,363 So thank you for coming.

27

00:01:03,363 --> 00:01:05,919 Thanks everyone for coming here.

28

00:01:05,919 --> 00:01:07,657 I'm Dr Mark Moyar,

29

00:01:07,657 --> 00:01:11,324 I'm the Directory of the Project on Military

30

00:01:12,282 --> 00:01:14,865 and Diplomatic History at CSIS.

31

00:01:16,322 --> 00:01:18,133 I usually moderate these events,

32

00:01:18,133 --> 00:01:20,846 but since this happens to be my area,

33

00:01:20,846 --> 00:01:22,705 I'm gonna be one of the participants.

34

00:01:22,705 --> 00:01:25,238 But I just wanna say a few words.

35

00:01:25,238 --> 00:01:28,205 We just moved here this summer after a year

36

00:01:28,205 --> 00:01:31,206 at another thinktank, and we do events

37

00:01:31,206 --> 00:01:33,551 that are focused on history that is relevant

38

00:01:33,551 --> 00:01:35,718 to our contemporary world.

39

00:01:36,685 --> 00:01:38,587 If you go to our website, you can sign up.

40

00:01:38,587 --> 00:01:42,537 I'll give you a few plugs for our upcoming events.

41

00:01:42,537 --> 00:01:45,695 On October 6th we have Federica Fassinati coming here

42

00:01:45,695 --> 00:01:48,017 to talk about modern Libyan history.

43

00:01:48,017 --> 00:01:51,500 October 10th, Carter Malkasian will talk about his new book

44

00:01:51,500 --> 00:01:53,776 Illusions Of Victory, the Anbar Awakening

45

00:01:53,776 --> 00:01:56,070 and the Rise of the Islamic State.

46

00:01:56,070 --> 00:01:59,302 October 18th, Lawrence Friedman will talk about his new book

47

00:01:59,302 --> 00:02:01,926 The Future Of War, A History.

48

00:02:01,926 --> 00:02:05,223 And on October 24th Calder Walton will talk about

49

00:02:05,223 --> 00:02:09,542 the history of foreign interference in elections.

50

00:02:09,542 --> 00:02:11,957 It's actually something that's happened before.

51

00:02:11,957 --> 00:02:15,830 So Erik, our moderator, is gonna go over the directions,

52

00:02:15,830 --> 00:02:18,691 but I wanna, since this is something that takes

53

00:02:18,691 --> 00:02:20,572 a little time to remember,

54

00:02:20,572 --> 00:02:22,428 we have a Twitter handle up there,

55

00:02:22,428 --> 00:02:24,124 so for those who are watching us remotely,

56

00:02:24,124 --> 00:02:27,707 you can tweet questions to us at @CSISPMDH,

57

00:02:30,231 --> 00:02:31,564 again @CSISPMDH.

58

00:02:34,875 --> 00:02:39,194 Like I said, I'm going to let Erik Villard

59

00:02:39,194 --> 00:02:41,366 from the Army Center of Military History moderate.

60

00:02:41,366 --> 00:02:44,949 And Erik actually helped set this event up.

61

00:02:46,363 --> 00:02:49,016 He has worked with the producers

62

00:02:49,016 --> 00:02:52,081 of the Burns/Novick documentary,

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00:02:52,081 --> 00:02:55,540 and he was interested in bringing together

64

00:02:55,540 --> 00:02:58,420 people from different perspectives on the war.

65

00:02:58,420 --> 00:03:00,974 And so we're very fortunate we were able

66

00:03:00,974 --> 00:03:02,666 to put this group together.

67

00:03:02,666 --> 00:03:06,249 So I will turn things over to Erik Villard.

68

00:03:08,056 --> 00:03:11,700 ERIK VILLARD: - Testing, testing, all right great.

69

00:03:11,700 --> 00:03:13,578 Again, we welcome your questions,

70

00:03:13,578 --> 00:03:15,905 and so if you have questions here in the audience,

71

00:03:15,905 --> 00:03:18,784 please write down the questions as they occur to you.

72

00:03:18,784 --> 00:03:21,848 And if you could also add who you are,

73

00:03:21,848 --> 00:03:24,635 who you work for, where you come from,

74

00:03:24,635 --> 00:03:27,979 and then pass those down to the end of the aisle,

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00:03:27,979 --> 00:03:29,883 and we'll have someone coming by,

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00:03:29,883 --> 00:03:31,880 collecting them and then bringing them up to me,

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00:03:31,880 --> 00:03:34,272 so that when we get to the discussion phase,

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00:03:34,272 --> 00:03:36,385 we can go through those and cover those questions.

79

00:03:36,385 --> 00:03:39,496 Just a little about me, again Dr Erik Villard,

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00:03:39,496 --> 00:03:41,725 from the US Army Center of Military History,

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00:03:41,725 --> 00:03:44,579 which is here at Fort McNair,

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00:03:44,579 --> 00:03:47,670 over by the baseball stadiums.

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00:03:47,670 --> 00:03:50,061 Over by what will be the DC United soccer stadium.

84

00:03:50,061 --> 00:03:53,544 I'm very excited, I'm a soccer player.

85

00:03:53,544 --> 00:03:56,999 So I've been at CMH for 17 years now,

86

00:03:56,999 --> 00:04:01,021 and I am the principal Vietnam War historian for the army.

87

00:04:01,021 --> 00:04:04,128 My role here is to be a moderator.

88

00:04:04,128 --> 00:04:07,961 I am not here to give my opinions on the film.

89

00:04:09,400 --> 00:04:12,734 Again, I am an advisor to Ken Burns and Lynn Novick,

90

00:04:12,734 --> 00:04:14,067 but as LBJ said,

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00:04:18,561 --> 00:04:22,113 "I shall not seek and I will not accept"

92

00:04:22,113 --> 00:04:23,613 money for my role.

93

00:04:24,482 --> 00:04:27,125 So there's no financial interest,

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00:04:27,125 --> 00:04:29,821 I do this really as an honor.

95

00:04:29,821 --> 00:04:32,814 Indeed, I do a lot of things outside of work.

96

00:04:32,814 --> 00:04:34,931 I have a Facebook group,

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00:04:34,931 --> 00:04:37,137 for those of you who are interested,

98

00:04:37,137 --> 00:04:38,925 VietnamWarHistoryOrg.

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00:04:38,925 --> 00:04:41,638 We are now 20,000 members,

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00:04:41,638 --> 00:04:43,453 and it's a really fantastic community.

101

00:04:43,453 --> 00:04:45,171 Shoutout to my admins.

102

00:04:45,171 --> 00:04:47,052 But if you wanna continue discussion,

103

00:04:47,052 --> 00:04:50,210 there are places to do that.

104

00:04:50,210 --> 00:04:52,973 So what we're gonna do is we're gonna dispense with

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00:04:52,973 --> 00:04:55,133 as much of the formalities as possible,

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00:04:55,133 --> 00:04:56,805 to get right into it.

107

00:04:56,805 --> 00:04:59,870 We will have opening comments by our seven panelists,

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00:04:59,870 --> 00:05:03,887 and we will ask them to hold to eight minutes.

109

00:05:03,887 --> 00:05:05,470 It's gonna be hard.

110

00:05:06,348 --> 00:05:09,234 But just in order to give us time for discussion.

111

00:05:09,234 --> 00:05:12,478 So we'll go in the order, the panelists that you see here,

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00:05:12,478 --> 00:05:14,196 and then when they are done,

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00:05:14,196 --> 00:05:17,049 I will take the questions you've given me,

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00:05:17,049 --> 00:05:20,025 sort through them, and continue the discussion.

115

00:05:20,025 --> 00:05:22,997 If you have questions, you're certainly welcome

116

00:05:22,997 --> 00:05:25,319 to direct it to one or more people.

117

00:05:25,319 --> 00:05:28,198 Be great if it was the sort of question

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00:05:28,198 --> 00:05:31,864 you could have all of them talk about,

119

00:05:31,864 --> 00:05:33,327 if that's possible.

120

00:05:33,327 --> 00:05:35,257 So without further ado,

121

00:05:35,257 --> 00:05:39,947 let me introduce our first speaker, Thomas Vallely,

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00:05:39,947 --> 00:05:42,827 and have him give us the opening salvo

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00:05:42,827 --> 00:05:45,577 in the post-Ken Burns discussion.

Thomas Vallely

124

00:05:49,073 --> 00:05:51,697 THOMAS VALLELY: - Erik, thank you, and, Mark, thank you as well,

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00:05:51,697 --> 00:05:55,864 for putting together such an interesting afternoon.

126

00:05:57,571 --> 00:05:59,488 My name is Tom Vallely,

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00:06:00,381 --> 00:06:03,283 I work at the Harvard Kennedy School,

128

00:06:03,283 --> 00:06:07,450 and I have worked on Vietnam there for about 30 years.

129

00:06:08,413 --> 00:06:10,691 My interest in Vietnam has always been

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00:06:10,691 --> 00:06:12,641 contemporary Vietnam.

131

00:06:12,641 --> 00:06:15,985 I don't make any pretensions about

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00:06:15,985 --> 00:06:18,152 having a lot of knowledge,

133

00:06:19,096 --> 00:06:21,279 at least prior to working on this film,

134

00:06:21,279 --> 00:06:23,345 I worked on this film with Florentine Films,

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00:06:23,345 --> 00:06:25,714 for seven and a half years.

136

00:06:25,714 --> 00:06:29,313 But my study in Vietnam is about contemporary Vietnam,

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00:06:29,313 --> 00:06:31,519 contemporary politics in Vietnam,

138

00:06:31,519 --> 00:06:34,269 and Vietnamese political economy.

139

00:06:35,233 --> 00:06:39,400 I had the opportunity to work with Florentine Films.

140

00:06:41,012 --> 00:06:43,762 And my primary area of expertise,

141

00:06:49,398 --> 00:06:51,534 and there's other people on this panel

142

00:06:51,534 --> 00:06:53,229 that have worked with Florentine Films,

143

00:06:53,229 --> 00:06:55,988 it's a rather big operation,

144

00:06:55,988 --> 00:06:59,940 I know nothing about the music of the 1960s and 70s,

145

00:06:59,940 --> 00:07:04,120 I get confused about the music of the 1960s and 70s.

146

00:07:04,120 --> 00:07:06,140 I used to have a little cheat sheet with me,

147

00:07:06,140 --> 00:07:07,835 which song was a Beatles song,

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00:07:07,835 --> 00:07:09,752 which song was from ...

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00:07:11,179 --> 00:07:14,871 I know so little about music they used to have to

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00:07:14,871 --> 00:07:17,541 give me a little crib sheet,

151

00:07:17,541 --> 00:07:21,291 to know that is Crosby Stills, I had no idea.

152

00:07:24,902 --> 00:07:29,069 I also was in the Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1969,

153

00:07:30,567 --> 00:07:32,634 I served in Quang Nam Province.

154

00:07:32,634 --> 00:07:35,801 I was a rifleman in the Fifth Marines.

155

00:07:38,462 --> 00:07:41,629 Florentine Films approached us because

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00:07:42,827 --> 00:07:45,474 they were looking for a team to produce

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00:07:45,474 --> 00:07:48,807 the Vietnam side of the film in Vietnam.

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00:07:50,165 --> 00:07:54,082 And my role in the film basically starts there.

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00:07:55,106 --> 00:07:58,315 It expands a little bit as the film gets developed,

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00:07:58,315 --> 00:08:02,262 but the basic responsibility we had is

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00:08:02,262 --> 00:08:05,508 introduce Florentine Films to the people in Vietnam

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00:08:05,508 --> 00:08:09,479 that are otherwise hard to find access to.

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00:08:09,479 --> 00:08:11,431 And that's what we did.

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00:08:11,431 --> 00:08:15,196 I did not do it alone, I did it with two other colleagues.

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00:08:15,196 --> 00:08:18,122 Ben Wilkinson, who at the time was

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00:08:18,122 --> 00:08:20,914 the Harvard Kennedy School representative

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00:08:20,914 --> 00:08:24,281 in Ho Chi Minh City, who those of you that have worked there

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00:08:24,281 --> 00:08:27,021 in the Foreign Service and elsewhere know Ben.

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00:08:27,021 --> 00:08:31,224 Ben is an extremely fluent Vietnamese speaker.

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00:08:31,224 --> 00:08:35,472 He wrote his high school paper on Hill 875.

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00:08:35,472 --> 00:08:39,303 He learned about 875 by Rick Atkinson's book

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00:08:39,303 --> 00:08:40,720 A Long Gray Line.

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00:08:42,067 --> 00:08:45,225 And that's how we found out about 875

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00:08:45,225 --> 00:08:47,558 was Ben's high school paper.

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00:08:48,964 --> 00:08:52,354 We also, another person who had worked

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00:08:52,354 --> 00:08:55,395 at the Fulbright School, and Harvard managed

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00:08:55,395 --> 00:08:59,296 the Fulbright University program on Vietnam

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00:08:59,296 --> 00:09:00,827 for now 27 years,

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00:09:00,827 --> 00:09:04,080 that school focused on provinces.

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00:09:04,080 --> 00:09:05,936 We focused on provincial education.

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00:09:05,936 --> 00:09:09,583 So if we had to find someone in Tien Giang Province

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00:09:09,583 --> 00:09:12,043 or Dak Lak Province, as Robert Ogburn and others

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00:09:12,043 --> 00:09:16,236 can tell you, we know who the province chief is

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00:09:16,236 --> 00:09:18,684 and we know how to find out what's going on

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00:09:18,684 --> 00:09:20,427 in these various places.

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00:09:20,427 --> 00:09:22,260 So we had to find out,

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00:09:24,001 --> 00:09:26,998 so the three of us worked together.

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00:09:26,998 --> 00:09:30,086 And the last gentleman was in the first,

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00:09:30,086 --> 00:09:32,567 and second and third Indochina war,

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00:09:32,567 --> 00:09:35,400 and he was an officer in the Vietnamese Air Force,

191

00:09:35,400 --> 00:09:37,981 he was an intelligence officer in the Vietnamese Air Force,

192

00:09:37,981 --> 00:09:41,650 and the three of us were tasked with finding

193

00:09:41,650 --> 00:09:44,733 the communist side of the production.

194

00:09:50,009 --> 00:09:54,176 There's three basic areas of who we were looking for.

195

00:09:55,605 --> 00:09:58,322 The first one is, who's obvious that you want in the film?

196

00:09:58,322 --> 00:10:01,038 Who are the obvious people that you put in the film.

197

00:10:01,038 --> 00:10:03,128 And that's not particularly difficult.

198

00:10:03,128 --> 00:10:05,195 You'd want Bao Ninh, you'd want Nguyen Ngoc,

199

00:10:05,195 --> 00:10:08,528 you'd wanna have General Dong Si Nguyen,

200

00:10:11,952 --> 00:10:14,686 who built the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

201

00:10:14,686 --> 00:10:16,828 You know the ones that you want,

202

00:10:16,828 --> 00:10:19,683 the problem is getting Bao Ninh to talk to you

203

00:10:19,683 --> 00:10:22,980 is harder than getting the Beatles music.

204

00:10:22,980 --> 00:10:27,741 So you need to develop a relationship with him to do that.

205

00:10:27,741 --> 00:10:29,918 The second group of people we identified

206

00:10:29,918 --> 00:10:33,473 by where they served during the war,

207

00:10:33,473 --> 00:10:35,806 and I'm looking at my watch,

208

00:10:37,470 --> 00:10:39,885 where they served during the war,

209

00:10:39,885 --> 00:10:42,997 and based on were they at the battle of Ap Bac,

210

00:10:42,997 --> 00:10:46,497 Binh Gia, Ia Drang, Hill 875, Tet, mini-Tet,

211

00:10:48,221 --> 00:10:49,963 where they were.

212

00:10:49,963 --> 00:10:52,958 So finding them was more detective work.

213

00:10:52,958 --> 00:10:55,466 That was much harder.

214

00:10:55,466 --> 00:10:57,207 And let me give you an example

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00:10:57,207 --> 00:10:59,878 using the Hill 875 example.

216

00:10:59,878 --> 00:11:03,264 We had an officer in the film, Matt Harrison,

217

00:11:03,264 --> 00:11:07,378 he was in the class of '66 at West Point.

218

00:11:07,378 --> 00:11:11,836 We needed to find a counterpart for him on the other side.

219

00:11:11,836 --> 00:11:13,836 And we read the company,

220

00:11:17,594 --> 00:11:20,634 the history report from that unit,

221

00:11:20,634 --> 00:11:23,551 found the commander of that battle,

222

00:11:25,095 --> 00:11:27,626 and we call him, he's in the hospital.

223

00:11:27,626 --> 00:11:28,972 He says, oh I can't help you,

224

00:11:28,972 --> 00:11:30,992 but here's a gentleman in Vung Tau

225

00:11:30,992 --> 00:11:32,821 who knows exactly what to do.

226

00:11:32,821 --> 00:11:35,544 We go to Vung Tau, Hoa goes to Vung Tau,

227

00:11:35,544 --> 00:11:38,167 we find the guy, he says it's not me,

228

00:11:38,167 --> 00:11:39,928 it's the guy in Tang Hoa.

229

00:11:39,928 --> 00:11:41,790 So we go to Tang Hoa,

230

00:11:41,790 --> 00:11:44,274 and we find the gentleman who's in the film,

231

00:11:44,274 --> 00:11:46,643 the film Nguyen Tang San,

232

00:11:46,643 --> 00:11:49,522 he really wants to tell his story,

233

00:11:49,522 --> 00:11:51,448 he was a company commander on Hill 875.

234

00:11:51,448 --> 00:11:53,313 No one has ever asked his story,

235

00:11:53,313 --> 00:11:56,465 and he was a terrific interviewee.

236

00:11:56,465 --> 00:11:59,132 So it was detective work to find

237

00:12:00,250 --> 00:12:03,036 about half the people in this film.

238

00:12:03,036 --> 00:12:06,426 And then we developed the list of about 80 people,

239

00:12:06,426 --> 00:12:08,980 and then Florentine Films through interviews

240

00:12:08,980 --> 00:12:11,067 would select who they wanted,

241

00:12:11,067 --> 00:12:14,065 and then we interviewed them all without a camera.

242

00:12:14,065 --> 00:12:16,364 No one's filming at the beginning,

243

00:12:16,364 --> 00:12:19,174 they're just going forward and saying x, y, or z.

244

00:12:19,174 --> 00:12:20,381 The third group of people,

245

00:12:20,381 --> 00:12:21,705 and I think I'm gonna run out of time,

246

00:12:21,705 --> 00:12:24,166 people that talk about politics.

247

00:12:24,166 --> 00:12:26,372 So that in this film,

248

00:12:26,372 --> 00:12:28,996 the politics of the United is front and center,

249

00:12:28,996 --> 00:12:30,644 the politics of South Vietnam,

250

00:12:30,644 --> 00:12:33,918 trying to develop a strategy to build a nation,

251

00:12:33,918 --> 00:12:36,449 and the politics of the Communist Party

252

00:12:36,449 --> 00:12:39,753 and how they're going to govern the war,

253

00:12:39,753 --> 00:12:43,392 and conduct the war, both militarily and politically.

254

00:12:43,392 --> 00:12:45,412 And in that frame we use Bao Ninh,

255

00:12:45,412 --> 00:12:48,311 Bao Ninh to some extent, but Huy Duc,

256

00:12:48,311 --> 00:12:52,587 who's a journalist and a veteran of the Cambodia war,

257

00:12:52,587 --> 00:12:54,087 and Mr Nguyen Ngoc.

258

00:12:55,369 --> 00:12:58,137 And those are the three categories,

259

00:12:58,137 --> 00:12:59,437 the obvious ones,

260

00:12:59,437 --> 00:13:01,687 the ones by area or battle,

261

00:13:03,269 --> 00:13:05,660 and the ones that talk about internal part

262

00:13:05,660 --> 00:13:06,749 of the Communist Party.

263

00:13:06,749 --> 00:13:08,470 Once that's all together,

264

00:13:08,470 --> 00:13:10,606 then we're part of the team that,

265

00:13:10,606 --> 00:13:12,719 along with other people on the panel,

266

00:13:12,719 --> 00:13:14,804 where does that go in the film?

267

00:13:14,804 --> 00:13:17,340 And that was the role that I played.

268

00:13:17,340 --> 00:13:21,798 Today's my last day, I'm gonna miss working on the film,

269

00:13:21,798 --> 00:13:25,188 and I'm happy to answer any questions

270

00:13:25,188 --> 00:13:28,137 about the production of the film on the Vietnam side.

271

00:13:28,137 --> 00:13:28,970 Thank you.

272

00:13:29,991 --> 00:13:33,158 (audience applauding)

Lewis Sorley

273

00:13:38,516 --> 00:13:42,185 LEWIS SORLEY: - Okay, we've seen the Burns Vietnam at the Corps,

274

00:13:42,185 --> 00:13:44,948 at least some of us have.

275

00:13:44,948 --> 00:13:47,031 What do we think of this?

276

00:13:48,310 --> 00:13:51,868 The storyline is not very complicated.

277

00:13:51,868 --> 00:13:52,868 War is hell.

278

00:13:54,283 --> 00:13:57,283 Americans who opposed the war, good.

279

00:13:58,300 --> 00:14:02,383 Americans who fought in it, inept, even pitiable.

280

00:14:03,729 --> 00:14:06,062 North Vietnamese, admirable.

281

00:14:07,284 --> 00:14:10,784 South Vietnamese, hardly worth mentioning.

282

00:14:12,092 --> 00:14:14,842 War is hell, let's all make nice.

283

00:14:18,081 --> 00:14:21,400 They probably didn't need 18 hours to tell that story,

284

00:14:21,400 --> 00:14:24,486 but there was always on more explosion to feature,

285

00:14:24,486 --> 00:14:26,988 one more bloody body to examine,

286

00:14:26,988 --> 00:14:29,738 one more anti-war riot to recall.

287

00:14:32,590 --> 00:14:34,935 Had there been somewhat greater economy

288

00:14:34,935 --> 00:14:37,322 in telling the Burns version of the story,

289

00:14:37,322 --> 00:14:39,625 there might have been room to recall

290

00:14:39,625 --> 00:14:43,944 that it was aggression by the North Vietnamese communists

291

00:14:43,944 --> 00:14:47,361 that led to all this bloodshed and agony.

292

00:14:48,309 --> 00:14:50,840 The communist way of war,

293

00:14:50,840 --> 00:14:53,696 deliberately featured bombs in schoolyards

294

00:14:53,696 --> 00:14:55,529 and villages,

295

00:14:55,529 --> 00:14:59,176 murder of schoolteachers and village officials,

296

00:14:59,176 --> 00:15:02,961 kidnapping and impressment of civilians,

297

00:15:02,961 --> 00:15:05,878 indiscriminate rocketing of cities.

298

00:15:06,793 --> 00:15:09,091 Or, they might have mentioned that

299

00:15:09,091 --> 00:15:11,599 under communist rule today,

300

00:15:11,599 --> 00:15:14,107 Vietnam is one of the world's most repressive

301

00:15:14,107 --> 00:15:16,613 and corrupt societies.

302

00:15:16,613 --> 00:15:18,844 They might have mentioned the boat people

303

00:15:18,844 --> 00:15:20,976 and other émigrés now living in America

304

00:15:20,976 --> 00:15:23,441 and elsewhere in the free world,

305

00:15:23,441 --> 00:15:26,344 who have made, with great courage and industry,

306

00:15:26,344 --> 00:15:29,270 made new lives for themselves and their families,

307

00:15:29,270 --> 00:15:32,353 and enriched our society by doing so.

308

00:15:33,217 --> 00:15:37,093 That list could be extended almost indefinitely.

309

00:15:37,093 --> 00:15:40,296 What of the filmmaker's outlook?

310

00:15:40,296 --> 00:15:43,457 Burns and his associates have appeared

311

00:15:43,457 --> 00:15:46,777 at a large number of preview events.

312

00:15:46,777 --> 00:15:50,944 At one such session, at the Newseum here in Washington,

313

00:15:51,816 --> 00:15:55,457 billed by them as an influencer event,

314

00:15:55,457 --> 00:15:58,897 one could not help but be impressed by their self regard

315

00:15:58,897 --> 00:16:00,730 and self satisfaction.

316

00:16:02,219 --> 00:16:04,885 They apparently now view themselves

317

00:16:04,885 --> 00:16:08,950 as the premier historians of the Vietnam War,

318

00:16:08,950 --> 00:16:13,117 and they are candid in stating their most basic conclusions.

319

00:16:14,428 --> 00:16:19,355 Burns: "you can find no overtly redeeming qualities

320

00:16:19,355 --> 00:16:21,855 "of the Vietnam War," he said.

321

00:16:24,069 --> 00:16:26,297 I hope I may be forgiven for stating

322

00:16:26,297 --> 00:16:30,464 my own conviction that he is in that profoundly wrong.

323

00:16:31,930 --> 00:16:35,842 As he was in referring disparagingly to what he called

324

00:16:35,842 --> 00:16:39,509 America's puffed-up sense of exceptionalism.

325

00:16:42,067 --> 00:16:45,103 Clearly, Burns does not much like America,

326

00:16:45,103 --> 00:16:48,103 and outlook that permeates his work.

327

00:16:49,445 --> 00:16:51,488 What of the research?

328

00:16:51,488 --> 00:16:55,459 We are told the Burns team spent 10 years on this project,

329

00:16:55,459 --> 00:16:57,502 and that in the course of it,

330

00:16:57,502 --> 00:17:00,935 they interviewed more than 80 people.

331

00:17:00,935 --> 00:17:03,435 I know writers, working alone,

332

00:17:04,723 --> 00:17:07,603 who have interviewed several hundred people

333

00:17:07,603 --> 00:17:09,020 for single books.

334

00:17:10,087 --> 00:17:12,939 The Burns team averaged eight interviews a year,

335

00:17:12,939 --> 00:17:17,262 an interview every month and a half over the decade.

336

00:17:17,262 --> 00:17:20,072 Not impressive, at least to me,

337

00:17:20,072 --> 00:17:22,405 certainly not comprehensive.

338

00:17:23,529 --> 00:17:27,696 Crucial omissions are a damaging flaw in the Burns opus.

339

00:17:28,593 --> 00:17:31,380 The great heroes of the war,

340

00:17:31,380 --> 00:17:34,491 in view of almost all who fought there,

341

00:17:34,491 --> 00:17:36,558 at least on our side,

342

00:17:36,558 --> 00:17:39,739 were the Dustoff pilots and the nurses.

343

00:17:39,739 --> 00:17:42,177 We don't see much of them.

344

00:17:42,177 --> 00:17:46,008 Instead, we repeatedly see poor Mogie Crocker,

345

00:17:46,008 --> 00:17:48,656 who we know right away is destined to get whacked.

346

00:17:48,656 --> 00:17:50,823 We see over and over again

347

00:17:51,925 --> 00:17:54,646 the clueless General Westmoreland,

348

00:17:54,646 --> 00:17:56,643 but learn nothing of his refusal

349

00:17:56,643 --> 00:18:00,683 to provide modern weaponry to the South Vietnamese,

350

00:18:00,683 --> 00:18:03,350 or his disdain for pacification.

351

00:18:04,631 --> 00:18:07,998 We see precious little of his able successor,

352

00:18:07,998 --> 00:18:09,388 General Abrams.

353

00:18:09,388 --> 00:18:13,661 We see, and hear, almost nothing of William Colby,

354

00:18:13,661 --> 00:18:14,494 and so on.

355

00:18:16,241 --> 00:18:19,283 These are serious failings in a film that bills itself as,

356

00:18:19,283 --> 00:18:22,450 quote, "a landmark documentary event."

357

00:18:25,291 --> 00:18:27,712 Burns and company are said to have made a decision

358

00:18:27,712 --> 00:18:31,879 not to interview former government officials for the film.

359

00:18:33,027 --> 00:18:35,142 Folks, that's like going to an opera

360

00:18:35,142 --> 00:18:37,321 and listening only to the chorus,

361

00:18:37,321 --> 00:18:39,763 and them one at a time,

362

00:18:39,763 --> 00:18:43,986 with the diva and the tenor silenced and ignored.

363

00:18:43,986 --> 00:18:46,125 How does that contribute to an understanding

364

00:18:46,125 --> 00:18:47,958 of the war writ large?

365

00:18:49,977 --> 00:18:53,253 Burns repeats, in all of the materials he distributes,

366

00:18:53,253 --> 00:18:57,003 the mantra "there is no single truth in war."

367

00:18:58,524 --> 00:19:03,029 But there is such a thing as objective truth,

368

00:19:03,029 --> 00:19:05,397 elusive though it may be.

369

00:19:05,397 --> 00:19:08,178 What we have here is preferred truth

370

00:19:08,178 --> 00:19:10,845 as seen through the Burns prism.

371

00:19:11,736 --> 00:19:14,964 Finally, the idea that this deeply flawed

372

00:19:14,964 --> 00:19:17,867 version of the war and those who fought it

373

00:19:17,867 --> 00:19:21,200 might somehow facilitate reconciliation,

374

00:19:22,093 --> 00:19:23,760 as claimed by Burns,

375

00:19:24,902 --> 00:19:27,402 can only be viewed as fatuous.

376

00:19:29,305 --> 00:19:31,749 There is no middle ground,

377

00:19:31,749 --> 00:19:35,832 and the Burns film demonstrates, if nothing else,

378

00:19:36,904 --> 00:19:40,654 how deep and unbridgeable the divide remains.

379

00:19:44,172 --> 00:19:47,339 (audience applauding)

Mark Selverstone

380

00:19:50,205 --> 00:19:51,927 MARK SELVERSTONE: - Good afternoon, everybody.

381

00:19:51,927 --> 00:19:53,947 Thanks to Erik and to Mark for the opportunity to come by

382

00:19:53,947 --> 00:19:55,480 and participate.

383

00:19:55,480 --> 00:19:57,706 I'm Mark Selverstone, I'm a historian

384

00:19:57,706 --> 00:20:00,310 at the University of Virginia's Miller Center.

385

00:20:00,310 --> 00:20:04,671 And I'm gonna respond to prompts from Mark earlier

386

00:20:04,671 --> 00:20:06,579 and talk a little bit about my participation

387

00:20:06,579 --> 00:20:08,946 and then make some broader remarks.

388

00:20:08,946 --> 00:20:11,961 About six years ago, I got a call from Sarah Botstein,

389

00:20:11,961 --> 00:20:14,752 who told me, and Sarah was one of the producers on the film,

390

00:20:14,752 --> 00:20:17,608 who told me that they were going to make this film,

391

00:20:17,608 --> 00:20:20,390 and they were interested in the work that we were doing

392

00:20:20,390 --> 00:20:23,576 in the Miller Center on the presidential recordings.

393

00:20:23,576 --> 00:20:27,889 Since 1998, we have sunken a fair amount of resources

394

00:20:27,889 --> 00:20:31,222 to transcribe, annotate and then publish

395

00:20:32,835 --> 00:20:35,250 the secret White House tapes that had been made

396

00:20:35,250 --> 00:20:36,689 starting with Franklin Roosevelt

397

00:20:36,689 --> 00:20:37,984 all the way through Richard Nixon.

398

00:20:37,984 --> 00:20:40,335 As far as we believe, that's as far as they go,

399

00:20:40,335 --> 00:20:42,309 until we're told otherwise, we find out otherwise.

400

00:20:42,309 --> 00:20:45,642 This work is arduous, it is challenging,

401

00:20:46,999 --> 00:20:50,249 and as a result it is incumbent upon us

402

00:20:54,590 --> 00:20:57,494 to make sure that we get it right.

403

00:20:57,494 --> 00:21:00,583 Because when we are offering the Florentine team

404

00:21:00,583 --> 00:21:02,580 or anybody else, including Bob,

405

00:21:02,580 --> 00:21:06,144 transcripts of material that we have generated,

406

00:21:06,144 --> 00:21:08,554 we recognize that while we encourage everybody

407

00:21:08,554 --> 00:21:10,277 to go to the audiotapes,

408

00:21:10,277 --> 00:21:13,295 those are clearly the primary documents,

409

00:21:13,295 --> 00:21:15,822 it's more likely than not that people will

410

00:21:15,822 --> 00:21:17,986 avail themselves of the transcripts first.

411

00:21:17,986 --> 00:21:21,492 So we began a process, over a couple of years,

412

00:21:21,492 --> 00:21:24,673 of sending to Sarah, and then Mariah Doran,

413

00:21:24,673 --> 00:21:26,334 another one of the producers,

414

00:21:26,334 --> 00:21:29,602 transcripts of conversations that Kennedy, Johnson,

415

00:21:29,602 --> 00:21:31,685 and Nixon had on Vietnam.

416

00:21:33,012 --> 00:21:37,404 We completed this work roughly in around 2014,

417

00:21:37,404 --> 00:21:39,703 and obviously there are three years between now and then.

418

00:21:39,703 --> 00:21:41,069 So our work has continued,

419

00:21:41,069 --> 00:21:42,762 and they haven't necessarily had the chance

420

00:21:42,762 --> 00:21:46,018 to use additional transcripts that we made.

421

00:21:46,018 --> 00:21:47,969 But we do believe that what we sent them

422

00:21:47,969 --> 00:21:49,850 was a pretty fair representation

423

00:21:49,850 --> 00:21:53,377 of the kinds of conversations that those presidents had

424

00:21:53,377 --> 00:21:56,909 on Vietnam, the topics that they felt were most salient,

425

00:21:56,909 --> 00:22:01,076 and which they devoted a significant amount of time to.

426

00:22:01,920 --> 00:22:03,805 And I'd be happy in the Q&A to talk about

427

00:22:03,805 --> 00:22:06,423 the intricacies of the respective regimes,

428

00:22:06,423 --> 00:22:08,911 because it's fascinating and it does provide a clue

429

00:22:08,911 --> 00:22:11,559 into what each thought was important.

430

00:22:11,559 --> 00:22:13,325 But we did send them all this material.

431

00:22:13,325 --> 00:22:15,084 And then it was, of course, up to them

432

00:22:15,084 --> 00:22:16,617 to decide what to do with it.

433

00:22:16,617 --> 00:22:18,776 We were not going to make those decisions.

434

00:22:18,776 --> 00:22:21,005 They had to factor them into the narrative

435

00:22:21,005 --> 00:22:22,491 that they wanted to tell,

436

00:22:22,491 --> 00:22:24,744 they had to select those portions of audio

437

00:22:24,744 --> 00:22:27,320 that they felt were most representative

438

00:22:27,320 --> 00:22:29,155 of the narrative they wanted to tell.

439

00:22:29,155 --> 00:22:30,990 And by and large I thought that they did

440

00:22:30,990 --> 00:22:34,030 a very judicious and fair job with that.

441

00:22:34,030 --> 00:22:37,282 Again, I'm happy to clarify more broadly.

442

00:22:37,282 --> 00:22:40,011 There are of course topics that all of us

443

00:22:40,011 --> 00:22:41,230 would like to have seen addressed.

444

00:22:41,230 --> 00:22:43,180 Bob, I know, would like to have seen

445

00:22:43,180 --> 00:22:44,898 a lot of other topics addressed.

446

00:22:44,898 --> 00:22:46,710 But as far as the tapes, I'll just point to three

447

00:22:46,710 --> 00:22:49,911 that complicate the story but don't necessarily

448

00:22:49,911 --> 00:22:51,584 change it all that much

449

00:22:51,584 --> 00:22:54,813 from what Burns and Novick and the Florentine team offered.

450

00:22:54,813 --> 00:22:56,980 First, with regard to JFK.

451

00:22:58,041 --> 00:23:01,640 There was a mention in the film of the incipient withdrawal,

452

00:23:01,640 --> 00:23:04,960 the possibility that JFK was looking to get of Vietnam,

453

00:23:04,960 --> 00:23:07,932 to get American troops out of Vietnam by 1965.

454

00:23:07,932 --> 00:23:11,601 I was thrilled that it was included.

455

00:23:11,601 --> 00:23:15,195 It was not a part of the 1983 film,

456

00:23:15,195 --> 00:23:17,586 the Stanley Karnow WGBH film.

457

00:23:17,586 --> 00:23:20,373 Certainly not to the extent that

458

00:23:20,373 --> 00:23:21,905 it's received attention since.

459

00:23:21,905 --> 00:23:23,014 And it is an important conversation.

460

00:23:23,014 --> 00:23:24,668 It's a conversation that has

461

00:23:24,668 --> 00:23:26,294 animated the literature recently,

462

00:23:26,294 --> 00:23:29,359 it's a conversation that the public wants to engage in.

463

00:23:29,359 --> 00:23:32,282 So I was thrilled that Florentine interested in

464

00:23:32,282 --> 00:23:33,956 at least remarking upon it.

465

00:23:33,956 --> 00:23:35,605 There are some interesting conversations

466

00:23:35,605 --> 00:23:38,902 that shed light on that, and those were not included.

467

00:23:38,902 --> 00:23:42,223 But again, in many ways, I see this film

468

00:23:42,223 --> 00:23:44,796 as serving the kind of function that that 1983 film

469

00:23:44,796 --> 00:23:45,796 did as well.

470

00:23:46,913 --> 00:23:51,511 Particularly for me, I was a senior in college at the time.

471

00:23:51,511 --> 00:23:53,717 And it offered a springboard to me and to others,

472

00:23:53,717 --> 00:23:55,481 and I believe even to Lynn,

473

00:23:55,481 --> 00:23:57,409 to ask more questions about Vietnam,

474

00:23:57,409 --> 00:24:00,724 and I think that's one of the great benefits

475

00:24:00,724 --> 00:24:02,327 that the film is going to provide now.

476

00:24:02,327 --> 00:24:04,392 It will be a springboard for further research,

477

00:24:04,392 --> 00:24:06,975 and further questioning about the war.

478

00:24:06,975 --> 00:24:08,142 Regarding LBJ,

479

00:24:09,344 --> 00:24:11,154 I think that the guns and butter trade off

480

00:24:11,154 --> 00:24:14,057 is incredibly important for Johnson.

481

00:24:14,057 --> 00:24:16,124 It's alluded to in the film,

482

00:24:16,124 --> 00:24:18,372 and I would say that the film alludes

483

00:24:18,372 --> 00:24:22,649 to most everything of great significance regarding the war,

484

00:24:22,649 --> 00:24:25,272 certainly as far as the presidents themselves

485

00:24:25,272 --> 00:24:26,573 were concerned.

486

00:24:26,573 --> 00:24:29,057 Some more context might have been helpful.

487

00:24:29,057 --> 00:24:32,146 And we are trying to provide that.

488

00:24:32,146 --> 00:24:34,560 We've been working with the Florentine team

489

00:24:34,560 --> 00:24:37,643 in post-production to try and provide

490

00:24:39,065 --> 00:24:41,225 some of this content enrichment.

491

00:24:41,225 --> 00:24:42,873 So if you go to the PBS site for the film,

492

00:24:42,873 --> 00:24:45,009 we provide some additional resources,

493

00:24:45,009 --> 00:24:48,678 you can hear any number of recordings, free of charge,

494

00:24:48,678 --> 00:24:51,047 through a pass-through.

495

00:24:51,047 --> 00:24:54,460 On Kennedy and Johnson, and then on Nixon as well.

496

00:24:54,460 --> 00:24:55,900 And while the decent interval,

497

00:24:55,900 --> 00:24:58,593 the endgame that Nixon and Kissinger hit upon

498

00:24:58,593 --> 00:25:00,705 to extricate the United States.

499

00:25:00,705 --> 00:25:04,352 Of course it's questioned as to when they hit upon this,

500

00:25:04,352 --> 00:25:07,277 and the context in which they carried it out,

501

00:25:07,277 --> 00:25:09,027 it's a complex story.

502

00:25:10,528 --> 00:25:14,401 And I think that Ken and Lynn and the team

503

00:25:14,401 --> 00:25:18,562 certainly hit upon the most significant dimensions of that,

504

00:25:18,562 --> 00:25:20,931 but I think it is a broad story,

505

00:25:20,931 --> 00:25:22,858 and I would encourage anybody interested in that

506

00:25:22,858 --> 00:25:26,108 to avail themselves of those materials.

507

00:25:27,432 --> 00:25:28,849 The artistic dimension of the film,

508

00:25:28,849 --> 00:25:31,240 something that Mark had asked us to comment about.

509

00:25:31,240 --> 00:25:32,517 I thought it was extraordinary,

510

00:25:32,517 --> 00:25:34,583 I think it's simply stunning.

511

00:25:34,583 --> 00:25:36,279 And I felt that from the first time

512

00:25:36,279 --> 00:25:38,462 that I had a chance to see it with Tom

513

00:25:38,462 --> 00:25:41,179 at a post-lock screening in New York in 2015

514

00:25:41,179 --> 00:25:43,939 straight up through now.

515

00:25:43,939 --> 00:25:46,148 I particularly like the way that

516

00:25:46,148 --> 00:25:48,121 they represented the recordings.

517

00:25:48,121 --> 00:25:50,121 I love the reel-to-reel,

518

00:25:51,309 --> 00:25:52,556 I like the text on the screen,

519

00:25:52,556 --> 00:25:53,903 I thought that that was very effective.

520

00:25:53,903 --> 00:25:55,736 And of course the music and the way it dovetails

521

00:25:55,736 --> 00:25:57,107 with the action was great.

522

00:25:57,107 --> 00:25:58,431 Let me say one thing about the music

523

00:25:58,431 --> 00:26:00,892 and that'll lead into my final comments here.

524

00:26:00,892 --> 00:26:03,516 To hear Led Zeppelin and Marvin Gaye,

525

00:26:03,516 --> 00:26:07,649 bands and artists that you don't often hear

526

00:26:07,649 --> 00:26:09,897 in the Vietnam soundtrack.

527

00:26:09,897 --> 00:26:12,804 And it's probably because much of that soundtrack for us

528

00:26:12,804 --> 00:26:16,217 comes by way of Hollywood films.

529

00:26:16,217 --> 00:26:18,679 And I would point to not just the late 1970s,

530

00:26:18,679 --> 00:26:21,787 but the mid 1980s, Good Morning Vietnam

531

00:26:21,787 --> 00:26:26,016 may be the best representation of that Vietnam soundtrack.

532

00:26:26,016 --> 00:26:28,428 And because of the time in the war that it's representing,

533

00:26:28,428 --> 00:26:31,467 you won't get Zeppelin or Marvin Gaye,

534

00:26:31,467 --> 00:26:32,631 certainly not like that.

535

00:26:32,631 --> 00:26:33,884 It would have been great to have heard

536

00:26:33,884 --> 00:26:36,117 Jim Morrison and the Doors.

537

00:26:36,117 --> 00:26:38,137 And not just because it's the beginning sequence

538

00:26:38,137 --> 00:26:39,366 of Apocalypse Now, but because it's

539

00:26:39,366 --> 00:26:41,899 pretty representative of the time.

540

00:26:41,899 --> 00:26:45,794 But I would also point out that it would've been nice

541

00:26:45,794 --> 00:26:46,790 to have heard Barry Sadler,

542

00:26:46,790 --> 00:26:48,520 and the Ballad of the Green Beret,

543

00:26:48,520 --> 00:26:50,517 the number one song in 1966.

544

00:26:50,517 --> 00:26:53,605 To give people a better sense of the context of the time.

545

00:26:53,605 --> 00:26:55,834 And while, in many ways, Ken and Lynn and the team

546

00:26:55,834 --> 00:26:58,293 are offering a popular history,

547

00:26:58,293 --> 00:27:00,218 a people's history of the war,

548

00:27:00,218 --> 00:27:02,457 I think to have included music like that,

549

00:27:02,457 --> 00:27:05,653 and also to break through individuals

550

00:27:05,653 --> 00:27:08,627 like the Bill Zimmerman, or a Nancy Bieberman,

551

00:27:08,627 --> 00:27:12,831 antiwar activists, and there are concerns about the way

552

00:27:12,831 --> 00:27:15,571 that what comes out of their mouths,

553

00:27:15,571 --> 00:27:18,137 I also think it would have been helpful, again,

554

00:27:18,137 --> 00:27:20,842 to represent the era, helpful to have heard

555

00:27:20,842 --> 00:27:23,628 somebody from, say, Young Americans For Freedom.

556

00:27:23,628 --> 00:27:25,904 At least to have heard that person's voice

557

00:27:25,904 --> 00:27:26,967 threaded throughout.

558

00:27:26,967 --> 00:27:29,314 We certainly see placards and people supporting the troops

559

00:27:29,314 --> 00:27:31,778 and supporting the president,

560

00:27:31,778 --> 00:27:34,849 but to have heard a live flesh-and-blood person

561

00:27:34,849 --> 00:27:39,047 articulating those concerns would have been great.

562

00:27:39,047 --> 00:27:43,390 My personal perspective is that I want a policy history,

563

00:27:43,390 --> 00:27:46,320 that's what I do, that's what I'm interested in,

564

00:27:46,320 --> 00:27:48,479 but I recognize that that's not the story

565

00:27:48,479 --> 00:27:49,799 they're interested in telling.

566

00:27:49,799 --> 00:27:53,286 So as we go on and critique the war and the film on the war,

567

00:27:53,286 --> 00:27:56,907 I hope that we're able to address it on its own terms.

568

00:27:56,907 --> 00:27:59,089 What is it that they were trying to achieve,

569

00:27:59,089 --> 00:28:02,110 the stories that they were trying to tell,

570

00:28:02,110 --> 00:28:05,778 and as we do in the academe, review the book that's written,

571

00:28:05,778 --> 00:28:09,029 and not the book that we wish that person had written.

572

00:28:09,029 --> 00:28:09,862 Thanks.

573

00:28:10,882 --> 00:28:14,049 (audience applauding)

Greg Daddis

574

00:28:16,851 --> 00:28:18,101 GREG DADDIS: - Good afternoon, I'm Greg Daddis,

575

00:28:18,101 --> 00:28:20,214 I'm director of the Masters of Arts program

576

00:28:20,214 --> 00:28:22,122 in War and Society at Chatham University

577

00:28:22,122 --> 00:28:24,049 in Orange California, so I'm here visiting

578

00:28:24,049 --> 00:28:25,744 from the left coast.

579

00:28:25,744 --> 00:28:27,527 Mark, thank you so much for

580

00:28:27,527 --> 00:28:29,251 your invitation to come out here.

581

00:28:29,251 --> 00:28:30,992 Sam, thanks so much for all the hard work

582

00:28:30,992 --> 00:28:32,501 in getting us all here,

583

00:28:32,501 --> 00:28:34,799 and Tom I'm gonna let you borrow my phone cover

584

00:28:34,799 --> 00:28:38,632 so you can know the difference of the Beatles.

585

00:28:44,362 --> 00:28:46,271 So as the dust settles on this 18-hour documentary

586

00:28:46,271 --> 00:28:48,994 I think we can already get a sense that it seems unlikely

587

00:28:48,994 --> 00:28:53,794 that longstanding debates engendered by this conflict

588

00:28:53,794 --> 00:28:54,812 are going to abate much in the film's aftermath.

589

00:28:54,812 --> 00:28:58,979 And, I think as Mark alluded to, as so often is the case,

590

00:29:01,175 --> 00:29:02,594 most reviews, and even before the first episode

591

00:29:02,594 --> 00:29:05,729 even aired, say more about the reviewer

592

00:29:05,729 --> 00:29:08,000 than the film itself.

593

00:29:08,000 --> 00:29:10,466 And without a doubt, when it comes to the war in Vietnam,

594

00:29:10,466 --> 00:29:14,389 there are plenty of high horses to mount.

595

00:29:14,389 --> 00:29:16,220 It likely will take time for Americans in particular

596

00:29:16,220 --> 00:29:18,553 to process this documentary.

597

00:29:20,265 --> 00:29:24,189 Old wounds are reopened, death and wounding are relentless.

598

00:29:24,189 --> 00:29:27,506 Passionate, sometimes vulgar, voices are transposed

599

00:29:27,506 --> 00:29:30,226 on top of duplicity at the highest levels of government.

600

00:29:30,226 --> 00:29:32,943 And so if nothing else, it think this film

601

00:29:32,943 --> 00:29:37,587 intimately exposes its audience to the trauma of war.

602

00:29:37,587 --> 00:29:40,002 It seems to me though that there is something

603

00:29:40,002 --> 00:29:43,183 incredibly important not to take out of this documentary.

604

00:29:43,183 --> 00:29:44,850 And that is lessons.

605

00:29:46,225 --> 00:29:48,524 Now, at first blush, this may seem counterintuitive.

606

00:29:48,524 --> 00:29:52,028 The Secretary of State and US Senator,

607

00:29:52,028 --> 00:29:55,931 John Kerry and John McCain, both veterans of the conflict,

608

00:29:55,931 --> 00:29:58,531 already have outlined their lessons in the Washington Post

609

00:29:58,531 --> 00:30:00,807 after reviewing the film.

610

00:30:00,807 --> 00:30:03,895 And yet arguably, this is the least valuable way

611

00:30:03,895 --> 00:30:07,959 to come to grips with such a multifaceted conflict.

612

00:30:07,959 --> 00:30:11,392 Lessons to compartmentalize history,

613

00:30:11,392 --> 00:30:15,830 hewing off the rough edges of complex human experiences,

614

00:30:15,830 --> 00:30:20,029 so that they can be packaged into neatly readable lists.

615

00:30:20,029 --> 00:30:22,282 They also reduce, if not disregard,

616

00:30:22,282 --> 00:30:26,111 the numerous independent and dependent variables

617

00:30:26,111 --> 00:30:27,528 so common in war.

618

00:30:28,799 --> 00:30:31,242 Looking back, do we not think that David Galula,

619

00:30:31,242 --> 00:30:33,606 who was a French officer in Algeria,

620

00:30:33,606 --> 00:30:36,420 who had a famous eight-step procedure

621

00:30:36,420 --> 00:30:39,253 for winning the counterinsurgency.

622

00:30:40,348 --> 00:30:43,485 Doesn't that seem a bit formulaic right now?

623

00:30:43,485 --> 00:30:45,715 Clearly his lessons from the French wars in Algeria

624

00:30:45,715 --> 00:30:48,428 and Indochina proved impractical

625

00:30:48,428 --> 00:30:50,730 during America's more recent conflicts

626

00:30:50,730 --> 00:30:52,773 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

627

00:30:52,773 --> 00:30:56,976 Historical lessons rarely play out as anticipated.

628

00:30:56,976 --> 00:30:59,739 Rather to me, viewers of this saga,

629

00:30:59,739 --> 00:31:02,056 Americans in particular,

630

00:31:02,056 --> 00:31:04,894 should seek to gain a newfound perspective

631

00:31:04,894 --> 00:31:07,053 from this complex story.

632

00:31:07,053 --> 00:31:09,515 And in short, again as Mark just alluded to,

633

00:31:09,515 --> 00:31:11,952 this film should start new conversations about the war

634

00:31:11,952 --> 00:31:14,739 rather than serve to end debate because

635

00:31:14,739 --> 00:31:18,553 two of our nation's finest directors have spoken.

636

00:31:18,553 --> 00:31:22,720 This should not be the accepted gospel on Vietnam.

637

00:31:23,721 --> 00:31:27,255 And arguably the best way to gain much-needed perspective

638

00:31:27,255 --> 00:31:30,854 is through empathizing with the multitude of voices

639

00:31:30,854 --> 00:31:32,617 we hear in the film.

640

00:31:32,617 --> 00:31:35,359 Perhaps most importantly, the voices from those

641

00:31:35,359 --> 00:31:38,192 with whom we reflexively disagree.

642

00:31:39,162 --> 00:31:42,208 Empathy helps us fathom how competing motives

643

00:31:42,208 --> 00:31:45,064 drive humans to make difficult decisions,

644

00:31:45,064 --> 00:31:46,564 both good and bad.

645

00:31:47,735 --> 00:31:50,382 Empathy leads us to better appreciate

646

00:31:50,382 --> 00:31:53,815 why so many Vietnamese saw foreigners as invaders,

647

00:31:53,815 --> 00:31:57,110 and why so many Americans in the early 1960s

648

00:31:57,110 --> 00:31:59,089 were unwilling to question

649

00:31:59,089 --> 00:32:02,339 their nation's sense of exceptionalism.

650

00:32:03,408 --> 00:32:06,845 It helps us grasp why Mogie Crocker and John Musgrave

651

00:32:06,845 --> 00:32:09,469 define their sense of manhood through service

652

00:32:09,469 --> 00:32:11,052 in US combat units.

653

00:32:12,069 --> 00:32:14,340 Or why Bill Ehrhart pined at the chance

654

00:32:14,340 --> 00:32:18,060 to become a star in his own John Wayne movie.

655

00:32:18,060 --> 00:32:21,032 Empathy involves seeing American protestors

656

00:32:21,032 --> 00:32:25,096 as more than just spoiled, privileged kids.

657

00:32:25,096 --> 00:32:28,184 To considering that deserter Jack Todd,

658

00:32:28,184 --> 00:32:30,947 that he might actually be more courageous,

659

00:32:30,947 --> 00:32:34,802 by heading to Canada, than Tim O'Brien,

660

00:32:34,802 --> 00:32:39,232 who instead deployed reluctantly to Vietnam.

661

00:32:39,232 --> 00:32:42,395 It forces us to wrestle with the uncomfortable proposition

662

00:32:42,395 --> 00:32:44,624 from both US Marine Karl Marlantes

663

00:32:44,624 --> 00:32:47,213 and North Vietnamese soldier Nguyen Ngoc

664

00:32:47,213 --> 00:32:51,311 that there can in fact be a savage joy to combat.

665

00:32:51,311 --> 00:32:55,394 And yes, empathy even can prompt fresh questions.

666

00:32:57,415 --> 00:32:59,205 Asking whether senior US leaders,

667

00:32:59,205 --> 00:33:02,082 like Lyndon Johnson and Robert Macnamara,

668

00:33:02,082 --> 00:33:04,777 were indeed shaped, in George Kennan's words,

669

00:33:04,777 --> 00:33:08,277 by illusions of invincibility on our part.

670

00:33:09,864 --> 00:33:12,464 After these grueling 18 hours,

671

00:33:12,464 --> 00:33:14,531 we might also ask ourselves if we agree

672

00:33:14,531 --> 00:33:17,059 with journalist Neil Sheehan's supposition

673

00:33:17,059 --> 00:33:20,213 that far too many Americans feel as if

674

00:33:20,213 --> 00:33:22,713 history doesn't apply to them.

675

00:33:23,932 --> 00:33:26,138 Now of course, seeking perspective from history

676

00:33:26,138 --> 00:33:28,553 does not mean you must agree with the decision

677

00:33:28,553 --> 00:33:31,776 of these historical actors or the narrative choices

678

00:33:31,776 --> 00:33:35,031 made by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

679

00:33:35,031 --> 00:33:37,373 Even as an adviser to the film,

680

00:33:37,373 --> 00:33:39,443 I left the film feeling that the writers

681

00:33:39,443 --> 00:33:42,879 had vastly oversimplified US strategy,

682

00:33:42,879 --> 00:33:44,779 and unjustly reduced its objectives

683

00:33:44,779 --> 00:33:47,732 to the well-worn tropes of attrition and body count.

684

00:33:47,732 --> 00:33:50,117 I agree with Bob Sorley,

685

00:33:50,117 --> 00:33:52,301 that as the film nears its end,

686

00:33:52,301 --> 00:33:56,655 Creighton Abrams becomes a snapshot at best.

687

00:33:56,655 --> 00:33:58,884 Others were likely frustrated by the Saigon government

688

00:33:58,884 --> 00:34:02,947 being painted as little more than a corrupt band of thieves.

689

00:34:02,947 --> 00:34:04,686 And still others might question why

690

00:34:04,686 --> 00:34:06,895 then-young military officers are the ones

691

00:34:06,895 --> 00:34:09,077 speaking on decision-making

692

00:34:09,077 --> 00:34:10,796 at the highest levels of government,

693

00:34:10,796 --> 00:34:14,255 either in Hanoi or in Washington DC.

694

00:34:14,255 --> 00:34:17,274 Is a former Marine, Karl Marlantes,

695

00:34:17,274 --> 00:34:20,176 who went to Vietnam in 1969, for instance,

696

00:34:20,176 --> 00:34:23,195 equipped to speak on the inner workings

697

00:34:23,195 --> 00:34:25,445 of the Johnson White House?

698

00:34:26,463 --> 00:34:29,046 Still, any displeasure with the director's choices

699

00:34:29,046 --> 00:34:32,963 should not lead to handy checklists of lessons.

700

00:34:34,712 --> 00:34:36,593 Viewers should resist temptations

701

00:34:36,593 --> 00:34:38,726 to view the documentary simply as an indictment

702

00:34:38,726 --> 00:34:41,476 of those with whom they disagree.

703

00:34:42,490 --> 00:34:46,044 Such an approach leads, to me inappropriately,

704

00:34:46,044 --> 00:34:49,127 to an if-only fabrication of history.

705

00:34:50,850 --> 00:34:53,613 If only Americans had found a better leader

706

00:34:53,613 --> 00:34:55,196 than Ngo Dinh Diem.

707

00:34:56,531 --> 00:35:00,530 If only LBJ had allowed his military officers

708

00:35:00,530 --> 00:35:03,893 to expand the war into Laos and Cambodia.

709

00:35:03,893 --> 00:35:07,422 If only the antiwar movement had been silenced.

710

00:35:07,422 --> 00:35:10,491 If only our media had been more patriotic.

711

00:35:10,491 --> 00:35:14,658 If only, if only Americans could have won their war.

712

00:35:17,341 --> 00:35:19,499 Yet war, not just the one in Vietnam,

713

00:35:19,499 --> 00:35:22,189 but war more generally, rarely accords

714

00:35:22,189 --> 00:35:24,772 to such simple counterfactuals.

715

00:35:25,723 --> 00:35:28,835 War is intended to be chaotic,

716

00:35:28,835 --> 00:35:31,168 traumatic, and yes horrific.

717

00:35:33,154 --> 00:35:35,337 Some might rightly see it as an organic,

718

00:35:35,337 --> 00:35:37,888 ever-evolving entity that too often breaks free

719

00:35:37,888 --> 00:35:41,974 from the control of the humans who unleash it.

720

00:35:41,974 --> 00:35:46,141 Few assumptions rarely play out as expected in war.

721

00:35:47,016 --> 00:35:48,874 So to me what's been most surprising

722

00:35:48,874 --> 00:35:51,405 is that in the end these 18 hours

723

00:35:51,405 --> 00:35:54,377 are in fact hardly enough time to fully embrace

724

00:35:54,377 --> 00:35:57,790 the complexity of the multiple wars, plural,

725

00:35:57,790 --> 00:35:59,578 both home and abroad,

726

00:35:59,578 --> 00:36:01,854 that engulfed southeast Asia and the United States

727

00:36:01,854 --> 00:36:04,686 for much of the Cold War era.

728

00:36:04,686 --> 00:36:07,937 So if Americans failed to question

729

00:36:07,937 --> 00:36:11,002 some of their deeply-held assumptions on that war,

730

00:36:11,002 --> 00:36:12,860 and what war more generally could achieve for them

731

00:36:12,860 --> 00:36:13,943 in the 1960s,

732

00:36:14,810 --> 00:36:19,034 perhaps it's time for all of us to do so now.

733

00:36:19,034 --> 00:36:22,125 A checklist of lessons won't get us there,

734

00:36:22,125 --> 00:36:26,397 but perhaps seeking a sense of historical perspective will.

735

00:36:26,397 --> 00:36:27,230 Thank you.

736

00:36:29,088 --> 00:36:32,255 (audience applauding)

Nu-Anh Tran

737

00:36:36,156 --> 00:36:39,093 NU-ANH TRAN: - Hi, my name is Nu-anh Tran,

738

00:36:39,093 --> 00:36:41,374 I teach history at the University of Connecticut.

739

00:36:41,374 --> 00:36:45,339 My own specialization is in southeast Asian history,

740

00:36:45,339 --> 00:36:47,089 specifically Vietnam,

741

00:36:48,085 --> 00:36:50,128 and I was asked to give a perspective

742

00:36:50,128 --> 00:36:54,295 from Vietnam studies, so that is what I will proceed to do.

743

00:36:55,140 --> 00:36:59,021 So I very much appreciate the inclusion of Vietnamese voices

744

00:36:59,021 --> 00:37:00,484 in this documentary.

745

00:37:00,484 --> 00:37:03,524 I think that is fairly new, not completely new,

746

00:37:03,524 --> 00:37:05,519 but fairly new for American media

747

00:37:05,519 --> 00:37:07,520 representations of the war.

748

00:37:07,520 --> 00:37:11,351 Yet, despite this inclusion of new perspectives,

749

00:37:11,351 --> 00:37:14,277 I would argue that the documentary was in some ways

750

00:37:14,277 --> 00:37:17,027 quite conventional, and somewhat,

751

00:37:18,779 --> 00:37:21,568 at times it felt cliched to me.

752

00:37:21,568 --> 00:37:23,820 And I want to explore what that is.

753

00:37:23,820 --> 00:37:26,444 So I would argue, with what I picked up,

754

00:37:26,444 --> 00:37:29,137 that the documentary has two main storylines.

755

00:37:29,137 --> 00:37:31,709 The first storyline is a story about

756

00:37:31,709 --> 00:37:34,077 American loss of innocence, disillusionment,

757

00:37:34,077 --> 00:37:37,597 and the enduring conflicts in American society.

758

00:37:37,597 --> 00:37:39,087 The second storyline,

759

00:37:39,087 --> 00:37:42,729 which I'll get into in a little bit more detail later,

760

00:37:42,729 --> 00:37:45,264 is a story about a conflict between the United States

761

00:37:45,264 --> 00:37:48,582 and communist Vietnamese nationalists.

762

00:37:48,582 --> 00:37:50,836 The story, and the documentary begins

763

00:37:50,836 --> 00:37:53,971 with a partnership between Ho Chi Minh and the OSS

764

00:37:53,971 --> 00:37:58,035 in 1945, the relationship eventually turns to war,

765

00:37:58,035 --> 00:38:01,285 and then the storyline ends with normalization

766

00:38:01,285 --> 00:38:03,952 and reconciliation in the 1990s.

767

00:38:05,507 --> 00:38:06,974 But both of these storylines

768

00:38:06,974 --> 00:38:08,809 are actually fairly conventional.

769

00:38:08,809 --> 00:38:11,502 They represent the dominant scholarship on the war

770

00:38:11,502 --> 00:38:14,242 as this two-dimensional scholarship

771

00:38:14,242 --> 00:38:16,332 between the United States and Vietnam.

772

00:38:16,332 --> 00:38:18,724 But I would argue that the whole point

773

00:38:18,724 --> 00:38:21,253 of including new Vietnamese voices

774

00:38:21,253 --> 00:38:24,641 isn't just to supplement the interpretation we have,

775

00:38:24,641 --> 00:38:26,920 it should be to test those interpretations

776

00:38:26,920 --> 00:38:29,173 and consider new ones.

777

00:38:29,173 --> 00:38:31,425 So let me break that down a little bit further.

778

00:38:31,425 --> 00:38:33,584 So the documentary uses interviews

779

00:38:33,584 --> 00:38:36,324 to represent the four main belligerents in the war:

780

00:38:36,324 --> 00:38:39,691 United States, North Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam

781

00:38:39,691 --> 00:38:41,869 usually referred to as South Vietnam,

782

00:38:41,869 --> 00:38:46,495 and the NLF, known to most Americans as the Viet Cong.

783

00:38:46,495 --> 00:38:48,583 But the storyline, despite the fact that

784

00:38:48,583 --> 00:38:50,881 they talk about these four belligerents,

785

00:38:50,881 --> 00:38:52,954 the storyline is really about

786

00:38:52,954 --> 00:38:55,394 the war between North Vietnam and the US.

787

00:38:55,394 --> 00:38:58,575 That is, a conflict between communist nationalism,

788

00:38:58,575 --> 00:39:01,083 and American anticommunism.

789

00:39:01,083 --> 00:39:04,264 To the perspective, the NLF and the Saigon regime,

790

00:39:04,264 --> 00:39:07,677 the RVN, we don't really get their interpretations

791

00:39:07,677 --> 00:39:10,296 of the war, they're not fully developed.

792

00:39:10,296 --> 00:39:12,948 So what that means is we have the northern Vietnamese,

793

00:39:12,948 --> 00:39:15,502 we don't have the southern Vietnamese voices,

794

00:39:15,502 --> 00:39:18,448 on either the communist or the anticommunist side.

795

00:39:18,448 --> 00:39:20,216 And I want to talk a little more on

796

00:39:20,216 --> 00:39:22,558 why I think that matters.

797

00:39:22,558 --> 00:39:25,324 So the NLF, even though the NLF was created

798

00:39:25,324 --> 00:39:28,546 on orders by Hanoi, we also know as researchers

799

00:39:28,546 --> 00:39:32,379 that the NLF was motivated by local grievances

800

00:39:33,985 --> 00:39:36,352 against the Saigon government.

801

00:39:36,352 --> 00:39:40,115 We know from interviews with defectors done during the war

802

00:39:40,115 --> 00:39:43,686 that the NLF was not just fighting for national liberation,

803

00:39:43,686 --> 00:39:46,385 but also for social and economic changes.

804

00:39:46,385 --> 00:39:49,310 If you look at the program of the NLF in the 1960s,

805

00:39:49,310 --> 00:39:52,074 there's an array of economic and social demands

806

00:39:52,074 --> 00:39:54,210 that have nothing to do with nationalism.

807

00:39:54,210 --> 00:39:56,584 So where are the interviews to express

808

00:39:56,584 --> 00:39:58,581 this interpretation of the war,

809

00:39:58,581 --> 00:40:01,737 these social and economic demands?

810

00:40:01,737 --> 00:40:04,148 On the side of the Republic of Vietnam,

811

00:40:04,148 --> 00:40:06,354 the RVN, the Saigon government.

812

00:40:06,354 --> 00:40:08,771 So, I could not find a moment

813

00:40:09,814 --> 00:40:11,764 where the movie really explains

814

00:40:11,764 --> 00:40:13,993 what the war meant to this side,

815

00:40:13,993 --> 00:40:16,660 other than not liking communism.

816

00:40:17,499 --> 00:40:19,589 But there's no explanation why.

817

00:40:19,589 --> 00:40:23,142 If you look at Vietnamese writing from the RVN,

818

00:40:23,142 --> 00:40:25,068 beginning in the mid 50s,

819

00:40:25,068 --> 00:40:27,322 what you're gonna find is that

820

00:40:27,322 --> 00:40:29,620 many anticommunist nationalists in the RVN

821

00:40:29,620 --> 00:40:32,475 believed that this conflict was a struggle

822

00:40:32,475 --> 00:40:36,142 of a nationalist struggle against communism.

823

00:40:37,469 --> 00:40:41,462 And some of these narratives, many of them,

824

00:40:41,462 --> 00:40:44,456 will remember 1945 not as a moment

825

00:40:44,456 --> 00:40:46,641 of Vietnamese-American partnership,

826

00:40:46,641 --> 00:40:48,870 but as the beginning of this rupture

827

00:40:48,870 --> 00:40:51,563 between communists and anticommunists.

828

00:40:51,563 --> 00:40:55,441 Where are the interviews expressing this perspective?

829

00:40:55,441 --> 00:40:57,939 And I would point out

830

00:40:57,939 --> 00:40:59,521 that one of the people they interviewed,

831

00:40:59,521 --> 00:41:01,518 the former South Vietnamese ambassador, Bui Diem,

832

00:41:01,518 --> 00:41:03,301 has actually written a memoir

833

00:41:03,301 --> 00:41:06,348 in which he talks about the mid 1940s.

834

00:41:06,348 --> 00:41:08,879 So it's not that the filmmakers couldn't find someone,

835

00:41:08,879 --> 00:41:11,155 they found someone, they just either didn't talk to him

836

00:41:11,155 --> 00:41:12,757 about it or they didn't show us the clip

837

00:41:12,757 --> 00:41:14,840 of them talking about it.

838

00:41:15,891 --> 00:41:18,474 So the purpose of the inclusion

839

00:41:19,421 --> 00:41:21,325 of these new voices, I would argue,

840

00:41:21,325 --> 00:41:23,090 should have been to shed light

841

00:41:23,090 --> 00:41:24,808 on some of these alternative perspectives,

842

00:41:24,808 --> 00:41:26,989 these other interpretations.

843

00:41:26,989 --> 00:41:29,308 This would have resulted in a richer,

844

00:41:29,308 --> 00:41:32,424 more multidimensional view of the conflict,

845

00:41:32,424 --> 00:41:35,091 as a war between four belligerents.

846

00:41:35,091 --> 00:41:37,785 My second major critique of the documentary

847

00:41:37,785 --> 00:41:39,808 is the use of interviews.

848

00:41:39,808 --> 00:41:42,734 I understand that the filmmakers chose not

849

00:41:42,734 --> 00:41:46,728 to interview experts, but only historical witnesses.

850

00:41:46,728 --> 00:41:49,677 To me, one of the purposes of their

851

00:41:49,677 --> 00:41:52,173 talking to historical witnesses

852

00:41:52,173 --> 00:41:54,971 is to understand how they experienced an event,

853

00:41:54,971 --> 00:41:57,150 and how that experience of an event

854

00:41:57,150 --> 00:42:00,590 leads them to a particular interpretation of that event.

855

00:42:00,590 --> 00:42:02,633 But what I found is that many of the interviews,

856

00:42:02,633 --> 00:42:07,115 at least the ones that I could see as the viewer,

857

00:42:07,115 --> 00:42:09,088 were either about people's opinions,

858

00:42:09,088 --> 00:42:11,643 so their interpretations, or about their experiences,

859

00:42:11,643 --> 00:42:14,893 but there wasn't a lot of linking between the two.

860

00:42:14,893 --> 00:42:17,842 So parts of the documentary actually sound

861

00:42:17,842 --> 00:42:20,350 like an opinion poll rather than testimonies

862

00:42:20,350 --> 00:42:21,997 from witnesses.

863

00:42:21,997 --> 00:42:23,601 So I felt that that quite weakened the storyline,

864

00:42:23,601 --> 00:42:26,852 because it didn't give the dramatic tension,

865

00:42:26,852 --> 00:42:29,476 or dramatic narrative, where this is how it felt,

866

00:42:29,476 --> 00:42:33,643 and this is why these experiences led me to feel this way.

867

00:42:37,034 --> 00:42:41,546 A related problem was choosing appropriate interviews.

868

00:42:41,546 --> 00:42:44,360 So for example, during the portrayal of

869

00:42:44,360 --> 00:42:46,121 the Kent State shootings,

870

00:42:46,121 --> 00:42:47,934 three were several interviews with people

871

00:42:47,934 --> 00:42:49,886 who were horrified with the shootings.

872

00:42:49,886 --> 00:42:51,439 And then the voiceover tells us

873

00:42:51,439 --> 00:42:53,415 that the majority of Americans at the time

874

00:42:53,415 --> 00:42:55,273 thought the shootings were justified.

875

00:42:55,273 --> 00:42:57,428 Where are the interviews that explain that perspective?

876

00:42:57,428 --> 00:43:01,031 Regardless of whether or not we agree with that perspective,

877

00:43:01,031 --> 00:43:03,771 that perspective is important for understanding,

878

00:43:03,771 --> 00:43:08,160 or getting a historical snapshot of that time.

879

00:43:08,160 --> 00:43:10,018 When they covered the massacre in Hue

880

00:43:10,018 --> 00:43:12,101 during the Tet offensive,

881

00:43:13,036 --> 00:43:15,149 there were interviews with North Vietnamese veterans.

882

00:43:15,149 --> 00:43:16,798 As a viewer, I wasn't sure if those

883

00:43:16,798 --> 00:43:20,071 North Vietnamese veterans were actually there,

884

00:43:20,071 --> 00:43:22,858 or they heard about it, or what their relationship was

885

00:43:22,858 --> 00:43:24,902 with the event.

886

00:43:24,902 --> 00:43:27,456 When the filmmaker covers the My Lai massacre,

887

00:43:27,456 --> 00:43:30,358 there are interviews with Tim O'Brien and other Americans.

888

00:43:30,358 --> 00:43:33,447 And Tim O'Brien says, the peasants in that area,

889

00:43:33,447 --> 00:43:36,279 they were very different, I couldn't understand why.

890

00:43:36,279 --> 00:43:39,599 But what was missing was interviews with survivors,

891

00:43:39,599 --> 00:43:41,944 with victims, with people who,

892

00:43:41,944 --> 00:43:44,197 if not themselves witnessed it,

893

00:43:44,197 --> 00:43:45,730 their family and friends did in the general area.

894

00:43:45,730 --> 00:43:49,897 So I think our first duty when we talk about atrocities,

895

00:43:51,558 --> 00:43:54,089 and we're using multiple perspectives,

896

00:43:54,089 --> 00:43:57,595 is that we need to prioritize the voices of the victims,

897

00:43:57,595 --> 00:43:59,755 not the perpetrators and the bystanders.

898

00:43:59,755 --> 00:44:03,563 So that for me was a mind-boggling decision,

899

00:44:03,563 --> 00:44:05,896 and I think I'm out of time.

900

00:44:06,814 --> 00:44:09,981 (audience applauding)

Jay Veith

901

00:44:13,083 --> 00:44:14,407 JAY VEITH: - Good afternoon everyone.

902

00:44:14,407 --> 00:44:16,399 Mark, again, thank you very much for having us up here.

903

00:44:16,399 --> 00:44:18,794 I feel so honored to be on the panel

904

00:44:18,794 --> 00:44:20,211 with all these scholars.

905

00:44:20,211 --> 00:44:22,278 So I'll try to make my speech quick,

906

00:44:22,278 --> 00:44:24,252 because I know most of you are ready to fall asleep

907

00:44:24,252 --> 00:44:25,947 at this point.

908

00:44:25,947 --> 00:44:28,079 So the staggering complexity of the Vietnam War

909

00:44:28,079 --> 00:44:31,148 really had resisted any conclusive definition

910

00:44:31,148 --> 00:44:33,606 of what precisely the war was about.

911

00:44:33,606 --> 00:44:36,837 Much like physics, we still have no grand unified theory

912

00:44:36,837 --> 00:44:38,996 among either scholars or the public.

913

00:44:38,996 --> 00:44:41,644 Perhaps the sheer scope and depth of that long conflict

914

00:44:41,644 --> 00:44:43,455 prevents any easy explanation,

915

00:44:43,455 --> 00:44:46,334 as colonialism, and nationalism, and ideology,

916

00:44:46,334 --> 00:44:48,726 and civil war sort of all intertwine

917

00:44:48,726 --> 00:44:50,606 to create this historical facsimile

918

00:44:50,606 --> 00:44:52,928 of the proverbial Gordian knot.

919

00:44:52,928 --> 00:44:55,692 Among us we can all command a dizzying array of facts

920

00:44:55,692 --> 00:44:59,265 about the war, or fervently believe in historical truths,

921

00:44:59,265 --> 00:45:01,936 yet remain surprisingly uninformed.

922

00:45:01,936 --> 00:45:04,301 Worse, even possessing intimate knowledge of the war

923

00:45:04,301 --> 00:45:06,694 often leads to disdain for other viewpoints,

924

00:45:06,694 --> 00:45:08,692 rejecting even the slightest opening

925

00:45:08,692 --> 00:45:10,361 to contrary perspectives.

926

00:45:10,361 --> 00:45:13,826 Such divides long ago hardened into competing views,

927

00:45:13,826 --> 00:45:16,732 with each side unfortunately viewing its perspective

928

00:45:16,732 --> 00:45:19,428 as canon and the other side as heretical.

929

00:45:19,428 --> 00:45:22,749 So having heard both Burns and Novick speak,

930

00:45:22,749 --> 00:45:25,392 I understand that their documentary

931

00:45:25,392 --> 00:45:27,160 hoped to bridge that divide and spark healing

932

00:45:27,160 --> 00:45:29,152 among these factions.

933

00:45:29,152 --> 00:45:30,733 According to Mr Burns, they sought neutrality,

934

00:45:30,733 --> 00:45:32,873 to in his words "only call balls and strikes."

935

00:45:32,873 --> 00:45:35,795 Perhaps seeking middle ground was the best approach,

936

00:45:35,795 --> 00:45:38,371 as undoubtedly most people watching,

937

00:45:38,371 --> 00:45:40,744 especially those without specialized knowledge of the war,

938

00:45:40,744 --> 00:45:42,718 or did not live through those times,

939

00:45:42,718 --> 00:45:45,388 will view the series as magisterial.

940

00:45:45,388 --> 00:45:48,871 I suspect, however, that much like the 1983 effort,

941

00:45:48,871 --> 00:45:51,423 those invested in a particular political viewpoint

942

00:45:51,423 --> 00:45:53,260 will not be pleased with the outcome.

943

00:45:53,260 --> 00:45:54,978 Each side, both left and right,

944

00:45:54,978 --> 00:45:56,975 wants vindication instead of being forced

945

00:45:56,975 --> 00:45:59,413 to accept alternative facts.

946

00:45:59,413 --> 00:46:01,689 And my review of several hundred news articles

947

00:46:01,689 --> 00:46:04,121 and commentaries about the film seems to confirm

948

00:46:04,121 --> 00:46:05,473 my misgivings.

949

00:46:05,473 --> 00:46:07,099 So I'm sort of reminded of the old Biblical phrase,

950

00:46:07,099 --> 00:46:09,235 because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,

951

00:46:09,235 --> 00:46:12,962 I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

952

00:46:12,962 --> 00:46:15,017 So if Burns and Novick sought fairness,

953

00:46:15,017 --> 00:46:16,989 it behooves the rest of us to also

954

00:46:16,989 --> 00:46:19,591 only call balls and strikes on their ten-year effort.

955

00:46:19,591 --> 00:46:21,263 So in my view the filmmakers ought to be commended

956

00:46:21,263 --> 00:46:23,097 for creating an amazing movie,

957

00:46:23,097 --> 00:46:25,443 one that covers the war's scope.

958

00:46:25,443 --> 00:46:28,113 More importantly, they sought to out numerous sides,

959

00:46:28,113 --> 00:46:30,574 from both the young men who answered a country's call,

960

00:46:30,574 --> 00:46:32,803 to others who became draft resisters.

961

00:46:32,803 --> 00:46:34,939 Yet even with an exhausting 18 hours,

962

00:46:34,939 --> 00:46:36,583 and it was exhausting,

963

00:46:36,583 --> 00:46:38,771 in many ways it is a lengthy redundancy,

964

00:46:38,771 --> 00:46:41,859 repeating old stories and unchallenging surface realities.

965

00:46:41,859 --> 00:46:44,088 The war was never black and white

966

00:46:44,088 --> 00:46:46,944 but shades of gray reflecting multiple degrees of truth.

967

00:46:46,944 --> 00:46:48,988 Now should we focus on the American experience,

968

00:46:48,988 --> 00:46:51,356 the series portrays how the United States enters the war

969

00:46:51,356 --> 00:46:54,305 and its effect upon servicemen and their suffering families

970

00:46:54,305 --> 00:46:56,462 and upon American society and government.

971

00:46:56,462 --> 00:46:59,201 The film also represents those who resisted it,

972

00:46:59,201 --> 00:47:01,039 and while the series appears to take umbrage

973

00:47:01,039 --> 00:47:04,058 at some antiwar protests, one sense an understated

974

00:47:04,058 --> 00:47:07,006 yet pervasive antiwar sentiment from the filmmakers.

975

00:47:07,006 --> 00:47:10,509 In many clips, one sees protesters waving Viet Cong flags,

976

00:47:10,509 --> 00:47:14,390 yet the commentator never remarks on this obvious absurdity.

977

00:47:14,390 --> 00:47:17,223 Most US veterans shown, in my opinion,

978

00:47:17,223 --> 00:47:19,216 perhaps because of involvement,

979

00:47:19,216 --> 00:47:21,422 spanned a substantial portion of the war,

980

00:47:21,422 --> 00:47:23,725 seem chosen solely to provide authentic voices

981

00:47:23,725 --> 00:47:25,861 from those who became opposed to the war,

982

00:47:25,861 --> 00:47:27,533 yet rarely do we see American veterans

983

00:47:27,533 --> 00:47:29,878 who are proud of their service

984

00:47:29,878 --> 00:47:32,223 and do not believe the war was a mistake.

985

00:47:32,223 --> 00:47:34,104 It seems disingenuous to me portray one Marine

986

00:47:34,104 --> 00:47:36,217 through a major part of the series

987

00:47:36,217 --> 00:47:38,284 only to learn near the end that he eventually joined

988

00:47:38,284 --> 00:47:41,111 the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

989

00:47:41,111 --> 00:47:42,997 Moreover, while accurate to highlight

990

00:47:42,997 --> 00:47:45,110 flawed American battle tactics,

991

00:47:45,110 --> 00:47:46,875 such as taking a hill at great cost

992

00:47:46,875 --> 00:47:48,454 only to subsequently retreat,

993

00:47:48,454 --> 00:47:50,172 it does not provide a corresponding view

994

00:47:50,172 --> 00:47:53,376 of successful battles that drove off enemy units.

995

00:47:53,376 --> 00:47:55,671 It seems that only the negative was accentuated,

996

00:47:55,671 --> 00:47:58,067 mainly to provide the unspoken pieces of the war

997

00:47:58,067 --> 00:48:00,256 as a costly mistake.

998

00:48:00,256 --> 00:48:01,898 To support that implicit narrative

999

00:48:01,898 --> 00:48:04,517 it seems an overt cherry-picking of White House tapes

1000

00:48:04,517 --> 00:48:06,399 in both the Johnson and Nixon eras.

1001

00:48:06,399 --> 00:48:08,609 If in multiple instances both presidents

1002

00:48:08,609 --> 00:48:10,675 were taped clearly outlining their policies

1003

00:48:10,675 --> 00:48:12,437 to help the South Vietnamese,

1004

00:48:12,437 --> 00:48:14,065 but on occasion lapsed into doubt,

1005

00:48:14,065 --> 00:48:15,807 and only the doubts are broadcast,

1006

00:48:15,807 --> 00:48:19,876 what does that say about the motivation of the directors?

1007

00:48:19,876 --> 00:48:22,461 I once asked Dr Kissinger specifically about the comment

1008

00:48:22,461 --> 00:48:24,527 heard in the film that no one will care about Vietnam

1009

00:48:24,527 --> 00:48:25,360 in a year.

1010

00:48:26,202 --> 00:48:28,106 He observed to me that US officials and policymakers

1011

00:48:28,106 --> 00:48:30,869 are human also, subject to the same doubts

1012

00:48:30,869 --> 00:48:32,982 and fatigues as others, and hence liable

1013

00:48:32,982 --> 00:48:34,003 to express frustration at an intractable problem.

1014

00:48:34,003 --> 00:48:38,183 Yet, when shown in isolation and portrayed

1015

00:48:38,183 --> 00:48:41,829 as the single comment revealing Kissinger and Nixon's

1016

00:48:41,829 --> 00:48:45,865 true feeling rather than one remark among many.

1017

00:48:45,865 --> 00:48:47,959 Commendably, the film was translated into Vietnamese,

1018

00:48:47,959 --> 00:48:49,863 being shown online in that country.

1019

00:48:49,863 --> 00:48:52,139 The film provides voices from their side,

1020

00:48:52,139 --> 00:48:53,538 often measured on occasion,

1021

00:48:53,538 --> 00:48:56,225 willing if somewhat grudgingly to admit past mistakes.

1022

00:48:56,225 --> 00:48:58,350 However it required Huy Duc, the young journalist,

1023

00:48:58,350 --> 00:49:01,087 to speak more plainly than the others.

1024

00:49:01,087 --> 00:49:03,458 Oddly, I noticed that according to one news article,

1025

00:49:03,458 --> 00:49:05,825 the Vietnamese government response has been muted,

1026

00:49:05,825 --> 00:49:08,590 with only the Foreign Ministry making the bland statement

1027

00:49:08,590 --> 00:49:10,378 that they hoped the filmmakers would understand

1028

00:49:10,378 --> 00:49:12,323 that the war was a righteous revolution

1029

00:49:12,323 --> 00:49:14,720 that mobilized the entire nation.

1030

00:49:14,720 --> 00:49:16,647 In my opinion, the film's most egregious flaw

1031

00:49:16,647 --> 00:49:18,900 is the unflattering view of the nationalist,

1032

00:49:18,900 --> 00:49:20,734 or South Vietnamese voice,

1033

00:49:20,734 --> 00:49:22,728 who are portrayed almost continually as corrupt,

1034

00:49:22,728 --> 00:49:24,937 authoritarian and cowardly.

1035

00:49:24,937 --> 00:49:26,818 These have become, in my opinion, code words

1036

00:49:26,818 --> 00:49:28,719 meant to delegitimize the country and their people,

1037

00:49:28,719 --> 00:49:31,972 making them not worth fighting with or dying for.

1038

00:49:31,972 --> 00:49:34,178 South Vietnam certainly had those elements,

1039

00:49:34,178 --> 00:49:36,124 but also many positive accomplishments

1040

00:49:36,124 --> 00:49:37,634 that were never mentioned.

1041

00:49:37,634 --> 00:49:40,169 South Vietnam was unquestionably flawed,

1042

00:49:40,169 --> 00:49:42,352 and we could easily enumerate those flaws.

1043

00:49:42,352 --> 00:49:44,163 But it was a relatively free country,

1044

00:49:44,163 --> 00:49:46,021 and struggled to become a democracy

1045

00:49:46,021 --> 00:49:48,250 while concurrently fighting an implacable enemy

1046

00:49:48,250 --> 00:49:50,708 that used terrorism to achieve its aims.

1047

00:49:50,708 --> 00:49:53,748 It is a clever editorial trick to use South Vietnamese

1048

00:49:53,748 --> 00:49:56,860 to criticize their own former government.

1049

00:49:56,860 --> 00:49:57,840 This, however, is an easy accomplishment,

1050

00:49:57,840 --> 00:49:59,349 as the South Vietnamese even today remain riven by faction

1051

00:49:59,349 --> 00:50:01,432 and incessant backbiting.

1052

00:50:03,145 --> 00:50:04,864 If truly designed to be neutral,

1053

00:50:04,864 --> 00:50:07,093 then why was there no corresponding voice

1054

00:50:07,093 --> 00:50:08,974 discussing Saigon's many accomplishments,

1055

00:50:08,974 --> 00:50:11,686 like land reform, or that thousands of enemy soldiers

1056

00:50:11,686 --> 00:50:14,430 left their own ranks to join the South Vietnamese

1057

00:50:14,430 --> 00:50:17,347 in their program know as Chieu Hoi?

1058

00:50:19,190 --> 00:50:21,141 For example, we are told that Party Secretary Le Duan

1059

00:50:21,141 --> 00:50:22,809 launched the '68 Tet offensive because it believed

1060

00:50:22,809 --> 00:50:24,833 the South Vietnamese military would quickly collapse,

1061

00:50:24,833 --> 00:50:26,714 and the South Vietnamese people would rise

1062

00:50:26,714 --> 00:50:29,007 and take to the streets to overthrow their government.

1063

00:50:29,007 --> 00:50:31,683 They provided numerous interviews with communist soldiers

1064

00:50:31,683 --> 00:50:33,633 and cadre who fought during the battle

1065

00:50:33,633 --> 00:50:35,398 and admitted this did not occur,

1066

00:50:35,398 --> 00:50:37,557 if only at the end, as the commentator acknowledges,

1067

00:50:37,557 --> 00:50:39,508 all of them fought well and that the civilians

1068

00:50:39,508 --> 00:50:41,514 did not rise up, although he claims

1069

00:50:41,514 --> 00:50:43,211 they simply hid in their houses.

1070

00:50:43,211 --> 00:50:45,255 Such begrudging afterthoughts are,

1071

00:50:45,255 --> 00:50:48,134 as the daughter of a prominent South Vietnamese general

1072

00:50:48,134 --> 00:50:51,826 remarked to me, are like a rifle butt to the heart.

1073

00:50:51,826 --> 00:50:54,102 Ultimately, I believe that despite their valiant effort,

1074

00:50:54,102 --> 00:50:55,704 this was at best an imperfect effort

1075

00:50:55,704 --> 00:50:58,072 to tell an extraordinarily complex story.

1076

00:50:58,072 --> 00:51:00,903 At worst it has cemented, perhaps forever unfortunately,

1077

00:51:00,903 --> 00:51:02,739 the old stereotypes.

1078

00:51:02,739 --> 00:51:04,574 The US as bumbling interlopers,

1079

00:51:04,574 --> 00:51:07,500 layering mistakes upon bad judgment and governmental deceit,

1080

00:51:07,500 --> 00:51:09,752 and the communists as ardent nationalist

1081

00:51:09,752 --> 00:51:12,097 simply trying to unify their country,

1082

00:51:12,097 --> 00:51:14,402 and the southerners as corrupt incompetents

1083

00:51:14,402 --> 00:51:17,402 not worth the lives of American men.

1084

00:51:18,326 --> 00:51:21,086 The film served as a stark reminder that in war,

1085

00:51:21,086 --> 00:51:23,086 truth is the first casualty.

1086

00:51:23,086 --> 00:51:23,919 Thank you.

1087

00:51:24,781 --> 00:51:27,948 (audience applauding)

Mark Moyar

1088

00:51:32,442 --> 00:51:33,442 MRK MOYAR: - Thank you.

1089

00:51:35,067 --> 00:51:38,082 So, for those who have seen some of the interviews

1090

00:51:38,082 --> 00:51:39,241 that preceded the series,

1091

00:51:39,241 --> 00:51:42,869 Burns I think made fairly clear that he wanted to,

1092

00:51:42,869 --> 00:51:45,696 he felt that he wanted to,

1093

00:51:45,696 --> 00:51:47,934 he felt that the country had done veterans a disservice

1094

00:51:47,934 --> 00:51:50,363 by how they were treated when they came back,

1095

00:51:50,363 --> 00:51:52,824 and he wants to support the troops,

1096

00:51:52,824 --> 00:51:55,074 without supporting the war.

1097

00:51:57,050 --> 00:52:00,877 And I think if you look at how the veterans are treated,

1098

00:52:00,877 --> 00:52:03,018 I think that is where some of the strengths

1099

00:52:03,018 --> 00:52:04,829 of the production lie.

1100

00:52:04,829 --> 00:52:07,470 The American veterans I think are treated more fairly

1101

00:52:07,470 --> 00:52:10,123 than they have been in some productions.

1102

00:52:10,123 --> 00:52:12,375 You get to see the patriotic motives

1103

00:52:12,375 --> 00:52:13,708 that drove many.

1104

00:52:14,674 --> 00:52:17,275 And there are quite a few veterans

1105

00:52:17,275 --> 00:52:20,758 who take issue with the depiction of veterans

1106

00:52:20,758 --> 00:52:23,632 as being deranged baby-killers.

1107

00:52:23,632 --> 00:52:27,050 We do have some South Vietnamese veterans included,

1108

00:52:27,050 --> 00:52:30,580 as Nu-Ahn mentioned, but again I think there's problems

1109

00:52:30,580 --> 00:52:33,086 in terms of what they're actually saying.

1110

00:52:33,086 --> 00:52:34,806 But the very fact that they're included

1111

00:52:34,806 --> 00:52:37,424 was I think a step forward.

1112

00:52:37,424 --> 00:52:41,284 I have more problems with how the war itself is handled.

1113

00:52:41,284 --> 00:52:43,115 Some of these have already been covered,

1114

00:52:43,115 --> 00:52:46,973 so I won't cover them all, for the sake of brevity.

1115

00:52:46,973 --> 00:52:49,643 I would point out, there are a few things that are good

1116

00:52:49,643 --> 00:52:53,726 that were not in similar type productions before.

1117

00:52:54,659 --> 00:52:56,815 We get a better, a more sober view of

1118

00:52:56,815 --> 00:52:59,416 the Vietnamese communists.

1119

00:52:59,416 --> 00:53:01,462 We do hear early on about Ho Chi Minh's

1120

00:53:01,462 --> 00:53:04,225 true Communist Party affiliations,

1121

00:53:04,225 --> 00:53:06,478 about how he was pulling the strings

1122

00:53:06,478 --> 00:53:09,311 of the so-called National Liberation Front

1123

00:53:09,311 --> 00:53:11,327 at the beginning.

1124

00:53:11,327 --> 00:53:13,955 There are some brief references to how

1125

00:53:13,955 --> 00:53:16,718 there was actually democracy in South Vietnam,

1126

00:53:16,718 --> 00:53:20,246 but these are very small pieces in the big story.

1127

00:53:20,246 --> 00:53:22,708 And I think for the most part the storyline

1128

00:53:22,708 --> 00:53:24,843 is quite similar to what we saw in the last

1129

00:53:24,843 --> 00:53:29,001 PBS mega-series, Vietnam in Television History,

1130

00:53:29,001 --> 00:53:30,668 which aired in 1983.

1131

00:53:31,857 --> 00:53:33,413 In terms of the military side,

1132

00:53:33,413 --> 00:53:35,085 there are lots of battle scenes,

1133

00:53:35,085 --> 00:53:37,616 and one thing that most people aren't gonna know

1134

00:53:37,616 --> 00:53:40,965 is the he very much cherry-picked the battle scenes

1135

00:53:40,965 --> 00:53:43,798 where the Americans had the most difficulty,

1136

00:53:43,798 --> 00:53:46,213 which were actually quite small in number.

1137

00:53:46,213 --> 00:53:49,022 And the same thing with the South Vietnamese.

1138

00:53:49,022 --> 00:53:52,691 And so I think, from the troops perspective,

1139

00:53:52,691 --> 00:53:56,912 I think they would view it sort of like a football team

1140

00:53:56,912 --> 00:54:00,377 that won most of their games, tied a few,

1141

00:54:00,377 --> 00:54:01,905 maybe lost a couple,

1142

00:54:01,905 --> 00:54:03,605 but somebody decided to do a video about them

1143

00:54:03,605 --> 00:54:07,339 and just focused on those few tides of defeat.

1144

00:54:07,339 --> 00:54:09,546 So I think it's going to be very hard

1145

00:54:09,546 --> 00:54:11,151 to convince veterans that he's actually

1146

00:54:11,151 --> 00:54:13,100 supporting the troops

1147

00:54:13,100 --> 00:54:17,017 given how he portrays the way that they fought.

1148

00:54:19,227 --> 00:54:23,803 There's also, reference has been made to the fact

1149

00:54:23,803 --> 00:54:25,867 that a lot of these veterans are disillusioned

1150

00:54:25,867 --> 00:54:27,544 as they come through, and we see time and again how there's

1151

00:54:27,544 --> 00:54:29,309 battles where you have one or two Americans

1152

00:54:29,309 --> 00:54:30,809 telling the story,

1153

00:54:32,026 --> 00:54:34,766 and they show how bad things are going,

1154

00:54:34,766 --> 00:54:36,298 people are killed and wounded,

1155

00:54:36,298 --> 00:54:40,826 and they talk about how they became disillusioned.

1156

00:54:40,826 --> 00:54:43,471 And Jay's made reference to this already,

1157

00:54:43,471 --> 00:54:46,260 but there was a survey after the war that found

1158

00:54:46,260 --> 00:54:49,325 that 90% of Vietnam veterans said they were glad

1159

00:54:49,325 --> 00:54:51,554 to have served in Vietnam,

1160

00:54:51,554 --> 00:54:55,060 and 69% said they enjoyed their time there.

1161

00:54:55,060 --> 00:54:57,939 But we don't hear that in the interviews.

1162

00:54:57,939 --> 00:55:01,933 We get a lot of Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

1163

00:55:01,933 --> 00:55:06,066 who were at most 1% of the population,

1164

00:55:06,066 --> 00:55:09,155 but about a third of the people who were interviewed

1165

00:55:09,155 --> 00:55:13,322 were actually part of that or similar organizations.

1166

00:55:14,379 --> 00:55:16,954 Another interesting finding of that Veterans Administration

1167

00:55:16,954 --> 00:55:20,509 survey was that 92% of veterans agreed with this statement:

1168

00:55:20,509 --> 00:55:22,734 "the trouble in Vietnam was that our troops

1169

00:55:22,734 --> 00:55:25,850 "were asked to fight in a war which our political leaders

1170

00:55:25,850 --> 00:55:28,961 "in Washington would not let them win."

1171

00:55:28,961 --> 00:55:30,819 And this is another subject we almost never hear

1172

00:55:30,819 --> 00:55:32,676 in the on-camera interviews,

1173

00:55:32,676 --> 00:55:36,828 because it doesn't fit the narrative of the unwinnable war.

1174

00:55:36,828 --> 00:55:39,364 We don't hear about the bitter disputes in Washington

1175

00:55:39,364 --> 00:55:43,729 over whether US ground forces should have been used in Laos

1176

00:55:43,729 --> 00:55:45,169 and North Vietnam,

1177

00:55:45,169 --> 00:55:47,070 or about the later acknowledgement from the communist side

1178

00:55:47,070 --> 00:55:50,987 that these measures could have changed the war.

1179

00:55:53,156 --> 00:55:55,078 Again, think, our South Vietnamese allies,

1180

00:55:55,078 --> 00:55:56,918 America's South Vietnamese allies

1181

00:55:56,918 --> 00:56:00,494 are particularly poorly treated in terms of how they

1182

00:56:00,494 --> 00:56:03,322 portrayed the strategic Hamlet Program,

1183

00:56:03,322 --> 00:56:05,951 which I think was actually successful in many respects.

1184

00:56:05,951 --> 00:56:09,201 According to the documentary it actually self-imploded

1185

00:56:09,201 --> 00:56:11,872 because the population was so alienated,

1186

00:56:11,872 --> 00:56:14,472 but if you actually look at what the communists said

1187

00:56:14,472 --> 00:56:16,208 it was hurting them quite a bit until

1188

00:56:16,208 --> 00:56:19,865 the American-sponsored coup of November 1963.

1189

00:56:19,865 --> 00:56:23,623 The great improvement we see in the South Vietnamese forces

1190

00:56:23,623 --> 00:56:27,790 after the Tet offensive receives almost no mention at all.

1191

00:56:30,175 --> 00:56:32,543 We don't hear much about the strategic rationale

1192

00:56:32,543 --> 00:56:34,145 for the war.

1193

00:56:34,145 --> 00:56:36,885 There's a mention of the domino theory at the beginning,

1194

00:56:36,885 --> 00:56:38,696 but then it kind of disappears,

1195

00:56:38,696 --> 00:56:42,296 so you don't know that in 1965 that most of Asia

1196

00:56:42,296 --> 00:56:44,385 is calling for American intervention,

1197

00:56:44,385 --> 00:56:47,822 or that the Vietnam intervention actually influenced events

1198

00:56:47,822 --> 00:56:50,905 in the critical country of Indonesia.

1199

00:56:51,839 --> 00:56:54,787 Also, given our interest here in history,

1200

00:56:54,787 --> 00:56:57,714 I want to highlight historical perspective,

1201

00:56:57,714 --> 00:57:00,799 because I think it would be useful to look at that.

1202

00:57:00,799 --> 00:57:04,097 If you look at what's in the film,

1203

00:57:04,097 --> 00:57:05,794 and then also some of the comments,

1204

00:57:05,794 --> 00:57:08,578 one of the big indictments is that American presidents,

1205

00:57:08,578 --> 00:57:12,734 Johnson and Nixon and Kennedy all lied about it.

1206

00:57:12,734 --> 00:57:14,432 And they did all lie about it.

1207

00:57:14,432 --> 00:57:16,127 But if you look back through history,

1208

00:57:16,127 --> 00:57:19,192 Lincoln lied about the Civil War,

1209

00:57:19,192 --> 00:57:21,886 Woodrow Wilson about World War I,

1210

00:57:21,886 --> 00:57:23,999 Franklin Roosevelt about World War II.

1211

00:57:23,999 --> 00:57:28,341 And yet we don't question the validity of those wars.

1212

00:57:28,341 --> 00:57:31,406 The other historical point I would mention is,

1213

00:57:31,406 --> 00:57:34,122 we talk about, there's repeated references

1214

00:57:34,122 --> 00:57:35,837 to the corruption and ineffectiveness

1215

00:57:35,837 --> 00:57:37,253 of the South Vietnamese.

1216

00:57:37,253 --> 00:57:39,529 And certainly, you could make the case

1217

00:57:39,529 --> 00:57:41,599 that they were not as effective as the North Vietnamese.

1218

00:57:41,599 --> 00:57:44,154 But you could have said the same thing about South Korea

1219

00:57:44,154 --> 00:57:46,798 or Taiwan, a short time earlier,

1220

00:57:46,798 --> 00:57:49,773 but because we stuck with them,

1221

00:57:49,773 --> 00:57:51,677 those countries were able to survive,

1222

00:57:51,677 --> 00:57:54,092 and they are now prosperous, vibrant countries,

1223

00:57:54,092 --> 00:57:58,259 whereas their adversaries are repressive dictatorships.

1224

00:58:00,384 --> 00:58:03,589 So I will leave my comments there,

1225

00:58:03,589 --> 00:58:05,330 so we have plenty of time for discussion.

1226

00:58:05,330 --> 00:58:08,700 I do wanna also extend a welcome to Senator Warner,

1227

00:58:08,700 --> 00:58:11,094 sir thank you for joining us here,

1228

00:58:11,094 --> 00:58:13,950 it's a privilege to have you.

1229

00:58:13,950 --> 00:58:17,317 So I'll turn it back over to Erik.

1230

00:58:17,317 --> 00:58:20,484 (audience applauding)

Erik Villard

1231

00:58:26,419 --> 00:58:27,789 ERIK VILLARD: - All right.

1232

00:58:27,789 --> 00:58:29,043 I have a couple of questions here

1233

00:58:29,043 --> 00:58:30,668 that we received through Twitter.

1234

00:58:30,668 --> 00:58:33,337 And if you have questions,

1235

00:58:33,337 --> 00:58:36,566 go ahead and give it to the person who's coming around,

1236

00:58:36,566 --> 00:58:38,517 and we'll get those.

1237

00:58:38,517 --> 00:58:40,769 So the first question, thank you,

1238

00:58:40,769 --> 00:58:44,936 comes from Scott W. Johnson via Twitter, and he writes:

1239

00:58:45,912 --> 00:58:49,349 "the documentary was still describing the conflict

1240

00:58:49,349 --> 00:58:51,949 "as a civil war, episode ten,

1241

00:58:51,949 --> 00:58:55,782 "as North Vietnamese tanks rolled into Saigon.

1242

00:58:59,206 --> 00:59:01,063 "What gives?"

1243

00:59:01,063 --> 00:59:03,980 Now let me extend a little on that,

1244

00:59:04,985 --> 00:59:07,170 I think I know what he's talking about.

1245

00:59:07,170 --> 00:59:09,420 So I think the question is,

1246

00:59:10,374 --> 00:59:14,136 was South Vietnam actually a state, was it a nation?

1247

00:59:14,136 --> 00:59:16,315 Was it a country?

1248

00:59:16,315 --> 00:59:18,313 Because I think the point of the question is,

1249

00:59:18,313 --> 00:59:20,986 if you define civil war as a war between

1250

00:59:20,986 --> 00:59:23,720 the people in South Vietnam,

1251

00:59:23,720 --> 00:59:26,907 then it does seem a little funny to have T54s

1252

00:59:26,907 --> 00:59:28,490 from North Vietnam.

1253

00:59:31,923 --> 00:59:33,850 So what do we mean by civil war,

1254

00:59:33,850 --> 00:59:35,940 is it truly a Vietnamese thing,

1255

00:59:35,940 --> 00:59:38,401 and I guess the question that I'll give to the panelists,

1256

00:59:38,401 --> 00:59:41,930 was South Vietnam actually a state, was it a nation?

1257

00:59:41,930 --> 00:59:45,576 In what way can we talk about that?

1258

00:59:45,576 --> 00:59:47,776 Anyone who'd like to --

1259

00:59:47,776 --> 00:59:49,030 MARK MOYAR: - Erik, can you read a couple?

1260

00:59:49,030 --> 00:59:49,863 ERIK VILLARD: - Oh sure.

1261

00:59:52,025 --> 00:59:54,278 Okay, and a second question that we have

1262

00:59:54,278 --> 00:59:57,993 comes from Rick Hunter, again on Twitter.

1263

00:59:57,993 --> 01:00:00,338 And he writes: "Didn't the fall of South Vietnam

1264

01:00:00,338 --> 01:00:02,660 "to the communists in 1975

1265

01:00:02,660 --> 01:00:07,021 "validate why we'd been been there in the first place?"

1266

01:00:07,021 --> 01:00:08,349 Which I think gets to the question of,

1267

01:00:08,349 --> 01:00:13,155 we knew that was the objective of the communists.

1268

01:00:13,155 --> 01:00:14,340 That's why we were there,

1269

01:00:14,340 --> 01:00:17,423 so why are we debating whether it was

1270

01:00:18,659 --> 01:00:20,659 a worthwhile experience?

1271

01:00:26,205 --> 01:00:28,388 And let's see a third question here.

1272

01:00:28,388 --> 01:00:30,454 Okay, this is from our audience,

1273

01:00:30,454 --> 01:00:32,730 and I'm just gonna read this here,

1274

01:00:32,730 --> 01:00:34,563 and this is to anyone.

1275

01:00:36,209 --> 01:00:38,951 "Despite conflicting views over the war in Iraq

1276

01:00:38,951 --> 01:00:42,018 "and what has happened since,

1277

01:00:42,018 --> 01:00:45,385 "today society expresses universal support

1278

01:00:45,385 --> 01:00:47,098 "for the troops and veterans,

1279

01:00:47,098 --> 01:00:50,679 "in contrast to the feelings during the Vietnam War.

1280

01:00:50,679 --> 01:00:53,465 "What do you think accounts for the differences

1281

01:00:53,465 --> 01:00:54,882 "in the feelings?

1282

01:00:55,927 --> 01:00:59,828 "What changed in terms of the motivations

1283

01:00:59,828 --> 01:01:03,914 "people back then expressed, at least some of them,

1284

01:01:03,914 --> 01:01:07,049 "so much animus towards the veterans,

1285

01:01:07,049 --> 01:01:09,382 "and that is no longer true.

1286

01:01:11,063 --> 01:01:13,945 "What were the factors that explain that change

1287

01:01:13,945 --> 01:01:15,362 "in our society?"

=== Thomas Vallely (on civil war)

===

1288

01:01:19,518 --> 01:01:23,101 THOMAS VALLELY: - I'll take a crack at the civil war issue.

1289

01:01:26,995 --> 01:01:29,990 The United States goes to war in Vietnam

1290

01:01:29,990 --> 01:01:31,964 to create South Vietnam.

1291

01:01:31,964 --> 01:01:34,240 South Vietnam is why,

1292

01:01:34,240 --> 01:01:36,701 we go to Vietnam to create an alternative

1293

01:01:36,701 --> 01:01:38,201 to the communists.

1294

01:01:40,230 --> 01:01:42,808 And our whole strategy is based on,

1295

01:01:42,808 --> 01:01:45,034 let's build the nation,

1296

01:01:45,034 --> 01:01:47,354 let's build South Vietnam as a nation.

1297

01:01:47,354 --> 01:01:49,658 And I think that's what Mark was referring to

1298

01:01:49,658 --> 01:01:51,283 when they said, that's why we go.

1299

01:01:51,283 --> 01:01:54,484 This enterprise is to create South Vietnam.

1300

01:01:54,484 --> 01:01:56,484 That's what we're trying to do.

1301

01:01:56,484 --> 01:01:58,226 I think there's a debate in the film

1302

01:01:58,226 --> 01:02:01,476 about how well South Vietnam does that,

1303

01:02:02,707 --> 01:02:05,470 how skillful is Ngo Dinh Diem?

1304

01:02:05,470 --> 01:02:07,514 And I think the film portrays fairly

1305

01:02:07,514 --> 01:02:12,320 the complications in South Vietnam's own politics

1306

01:02:12,320 --> 01:02:14,340 of how it develops itself.

1307

01:02:14,340 --> 01:02:16,915 I think it's hard to develop a nation,

1308

01:02:16,915 --> 01:02:21,283 I think if you want to compare it to South Korea,

1309

01:02:21,283 --> 01:02:24,370 I think Park Chung-Hee was just really much better at it

1310

01:02:24,370 --> 01:02:26,714 than Ngo Dinh Diem was.

1311

01:02:26,714 --> 01:02:28,594 I think, unlike South Korea,

1312

01:02:28,594 --> 01:02:31,523 the French had been there previously,

1313

01:02:31,523 --> 01:02:34,472 when South Vietnam tries to get created,

1314

01:02:34,472 --> 01:02:37,328 it still gets tainted with colonialism,

1315

01:02:37,328 --> 01:02:39,255 it still gets tainted with the French occupation,

1316

01:02:39,255 --> 01:02:42,755 the French colonial system is still there.

1317

01:02:44,828 --> 01:02:47,289 And so when South Vietnam tries to develop,

1318

01:02:47,289 --> 01:02:51,372 they don't completely shed the French connection,

1319

01:02:54,092 --> 01:02:56,183 and I think Diem himself,

1320

01:02:56,183 --> 01:02:58,131 the French don't like Diem,

1321

01:02:58,131 --> 01:02:59,549 Diem tries to get rid of it.

1322

01:02:59,549 --> 01:03:02,615 I think Diem tries pretty hard to get rid of it.

1323

01:03:02,615 --> 01:03:05,912 So I think Vietnam is a civil war

1324

01:03:05,912 --> 01:03:08,768 and a war of national liberation, it is both.

1325

01:03:08,768 --> 01:03:12,878 And I think in the film we try to make sure

1326

01:03:12,878 --> 01:03:15,314 that both are represented,

1327

01:03:15,314 --> 01:03:17,313 and I think we took,

1328

01:03:17,313 --> 01:03:19,797 at least on the Vietnam participant's side,

1329

01:03:19,797 --> 01:03:22,254 Huy Duc says it's more of a civil war

1330

01:03:22,254 --> 01:03:25,043 than when Nguyen Ngoc says it's more of

1331

01:03:25,043 --> 01:03:28,157 a traditional war of liberation.

1332

01:03:28,157 --> 01:03:30,334 And that's what they argue about in the film,

1333

01:03:30,334 --> 01:03:32,220 and I think both sides of whether it's a civil war

1334

01:03:32,220 --> 01:03:35,262 of a war of national liberation and survival

1335

01:03:35,262 --> 01:03:37,607 are both represented in the film.

1336

01:03:37,607 --> 01:03:40,254 The complication is how the United States

1337

01:03:40,254 --> 01:03:43,366 and South Vietnam together tried to create a nation,

1338

01:03:43,366 --> 01:03:46,783 and that experiment doesn't do very well.

Nu-Anh Tran (on the nature of war)

1339

01:03:50,570 --> 01:03:53,487 NU-ANH TRAN: - May I address the first question?

1340

01:03:54,741 --> 01:03:56,973 So I wanna start by saying that a civil war

1341

01:03:56,973 --> 01:03:59,086 and a war of national liberation

1342

01:03:59,086 --> 01:04:01,500 are not somehow mutually exclusive.

1343

01:04:01,500 --> 01:04:03,381 A conflict can be both.

1344

01:04:03,381 --> 01:04:06,284 I would argue that what we see in Vietnam,

1345

01:04:06,284 --> 01:04:08,234 if we take it over the long span,

1346

01:04:08,234 --> 01:04:10,876 is this conflict with three dimensions to it.

1347

01:04:10,876 --> 01:04:14,359 One of them is a war against colonialism.

1348

01:04:14,359 --> 01:04:16,779 One of them is a war between Vietnamese,

1349

01:04:16,779 --> 01:04:19,124 the civil war aspect of it.

1350

01:04:19,124 --> 01:04:21,930 And the third one is the Cold War aspect of it.

1351

01:04:21,930 --> 01:04:24,349 If we go back to 1945,

1352

01:04:24,349 --> 01:04:27,785 and take it all the way between 1945 and 1975,

1353

01:04:27,785 --> 01:04:29,731 what we're gonna see in 1945 is

1354

01:04:29,731 --> 01:04:32,197 there is no Vietnamese state,

1355

01:04:32,197 --> 01:04:34,891 there is a colonial state that is under

1356

01:04:34,891 --> 01:04:36,350 Japanese occupation.

1357

01:04:36,350 --> 01:04:40,324 After Japan surrenders at the end of World War II,

1358

01:04:40,324 --> 01:04:42,182 there are multiple Vietnamese groups

1359

01:04:42,182 --> 01:04:43,784 trying to seize power.

1360

01:04:43,784 --> 01:04:46,637 The ones who succeed is the Viet Minh,

1361

01:04:46,637 --> 01:04:49,566 a communist-led nationalist movement.

1362

01:04:49,566 --> 01:04:51,400 But they're not the only group,

1363

01:04:51,400 --> 01:04:53,745 and when they seize power, the other groups

1364

01:04:53,745 --> 01:04:55,183 are also trying to seize power.

1365

01:04:55,183 --> 01:04:56,898 So the way we should think about this,

1366

01:04:56,898 --> 01:04:59,778 are these are all aspiring states.

1367

01:04:59,778 --> 01:05:03,286 All of them think that they speak for the Vietnamese people.

1368

01:05:03,286 --> 01:05:05,423 All of them are trying to lay claim

1369

01:05:05,423 --> 01:05:08,467 to the entire territory of what was once

1370

01:05:08,467 --> 01:05:12,467 the three easternmost parts of French Indochina.

1371

01:05:13,877 --> 01:05:17,289 I don't believe, looking at the sources,

1372

01:05:17,289 --> 01:05:20,007 in South Vietnam, it's not that anyone thought

1373

01:05:20,007 --> 01:05:22,608 that their nation was only the southern half.

1374

01:05:22,608 --> 01:05:24,930 If you look at geography textbooks from the north

1375

01:05:24,930 --> 01:05:27,972 and the south they will show the exact same map.

1376

01:05:27,972 --> 01:05:30,722 So I do not think it's a question

1377

01:05:31,571 --> 01:05:33,704 of whether South Vietnam was a state,

1378

01:05:33,704 --> 01:05:38,302 as much as how these are states, aspiring states,

1379

01:05:38,302 --> 01:05:41,226 and one is definitely more successful than the other.

1380

01:05:41,226 --> 01:05:43,967 And this conflict is one between communist and anticommunist

1381

01:05:43,967 --> 01:05:47,570 that predate American involvement,

1382

01:05:47,570 --> 01:05:50,309 and it outlasts American involvement.

1383

01:05:50,309 --> 01:05:52,492 In that sense I think it is very much

1384

01:05:52,492 --> 01:05:54,992 a conflict between Vietnamese.

Marc Selverstone (on Sovereignty)

1385

01:05:56,904 --> 01:05:58,595 MARC SELVERSTONE: - Yeah, if I could just add to that,

1386

01:05:58,595 --> 01:06:00,105 and I'm not gonna add much,

1387

01:06:00,105 --> 01:06:01,780 because I think that's really well-said.

1388

01:06:01,780 --> 01:06:04,404 One of the ways that I have been thinking about this,

1389

01:06:04,404 --> 01:06:06,633 and I'm hardly the only one who's done so,

1390

01:06:06,633 --> 01:06:08,815 Ed Miller who's at Dartmouth

1391

01:06:08,815 --> 01:06:10,139 has done wonderful work on this,

1392

01:06:10,139 --> 01:06:12,925 is to think of what transpired as

1393

01:06:12,925 --> 01:06:15,689 the challenge of sovereignty.

1394

01:06:15,689 --> 01:06:17,800 That what we have here are competing sovereignties

1395

01:06:17,800 --> 01:06:21,633 that stretch back to 1945 and extend through

1396

01:06:21,633 --> 01:06:25,483 the French war, and up through the 1950s.

1397

01:06:25,483 --> 01:06:27,983 And the development of the war

1398

01:06:29,871 --> 01:06:31,756 and the respective positions

1399

01:06:31,756 --> 01:06:34,682 turns on who can provide the most compelling case

1400

01:06:34,682 --> 01:06:36,849 for the sovereign Vietnam.

1401

01:06:37,933 --> 01:06:41,042 And for me, focusing on that concept

1402

01:06:41,042 --> 01:06:42,875 has been very helpful.

Greg Daddis (on Vietnam and the Cold War)

1403

01:06:45,433 --> 01:06:47,568 GREG DADDIS: - If I could link this discussion, which was wonderful,

1404

01:06:47,568 --> 01:06:51,735 to the third question on 1975 validating US entry.

1405

01:06:52,632 --> 01:06:55,046 I think we should all be careful with that,

1406

01:06:55,046 --> 01:06:58,065 because what it does I think is it presupposes

1407

01:06:58,065 --> 01:07:01,638 that history, the larger history, I would argue,

1408

01:07:01,638 --> 01:07:05,888 the Cold War is static from 1945 to 1975.

1409

01:07:05,888 --> 01:07:07,980 And I think we should ask ourselves

1410

01:07:07,980 --> 01:07:11,207 why South Vietnam was as important

1411

01:07:11,207 --> 01:07:13,432 to the Johnson Administration,

1412

01:07:13,432 --> 01:07:17,895 as it wasn't as important to the Nixon administration.

1413

01:07:17,895 --> 01:07:20,379 That the context of the Cold War is changing

1414

01:07:20,379 --> 01:07:22,957 between the Nixon and Johnson administrations.

1415

01:07:22,957 --> 01:07:27,601 And we should ask ourselves why Nixon and Kissinger

1416

01:07:27,601 --> 01:07:31,386 felt that South Vietnam was no longer as important

1417

01:07:31,386 --> 01:07:34,288 as it was to the United States,

1418

01:07:34,288 --> 01:07:37,539 in a larger Cold War context, in 1970

1419

01:07:37,539 --> 01:07:40,622 as it might have been in 1964 or 1965

1420

01:07:41,483 --> 01:07:43,297 when President Johnson was making decisions

1421

01:07:43,297 --> 01:07:45,852 to send in ground combat troops.

1422

01:07:45,852 --> 01:07:47,802 So I think we just need to be careful

1423

01:07:47,802 --> 01:07:49,475 of thinking about this time period

1424

01:07:49,475 --> 01:07:51,500 where the Cold War is static,

1425

01:07:51,500 --> 01:07:54,936 and that thus validates what happens in 1975,

1426

01:07:54,936 --> 01:07:56,748 the decisions that are made in 1970, or 1965, or 1960,

1427

01:07:56,748 --> 01:08:00,248 because I'm just not sure that's accurate.

Lewis Sorley (On Vietnam and Mideast)

1428

01:08:04,149 --> 01:08:06,407 LEWIS SORLEY: - The question was raised as to what's different

1429

01:08:06,407 --> 01:08:10,574 with Iraq and Afghanistan as compared to the Vietnam War.

1430

01:08:12,607 --> 01:08:15,320 I guess in two ways, attitudes towards those

1431

01:08:15,320 --> 01:08:18,273 who are serving in the war,

1432

01:08:18,273 --> 01:08:21,856 and towards the validity of the war itself.

1433

01:08:23,567 --> 01:08:26,793 The two obvious things that suggest themselves are these.

1434

01:08:26,793 --> 01:08:28,698 In the Vietnam War,

1435

01:08:28,698 --> 01:08:32,599 that war was fought partly by drafted soldiers,

1436

01:08:32,599 --> 01:08:34,099 sailors and so on.

1437

01:08:34,944 --> 01:08:39,287 Whereas now, it's fought, these current battles

1438

01:08:39,287 --> 01:08:42,143 are fought entirely by volunteers.

1439

01:08:42,143 --> 01:08:43,230 We all know that, of course.

1440

01:08:43,230 --> 01:08:47,063 The other obvious thing is that the importance

1441

01:08:48,694 --> 01:08:53,179 and the value of fighting the war in Vietnam

1442

01:08:53,179 --> 01:08:56,732 was never as dramatically apparent in the United States

1443

01:08:56,732 --> 01:09:00,565 as it has been in these more recent conflicts.

1444

01:09:03,321 --> 01:09:06,020 We used to have a World Trade Center.

1445

01:09:06,020 --> 01:09:07,757 We don't have one any more.

1446

01:09:07,757 --> 01:09:09,549 It went away, and we know why it went away.

1447

01:09:09,549 --> 01:09:12,466 So those are important differences.

1448

01:09:14,588 --> 01:09:16,422 I do think, and this refers to the film,

1449

01:09:16,422 --> 01:09:20,087 I do think it's important to state,

1450

01:09:20,087 --> 01:09:21,837 that the war was not,

1451

01:09:23,574 --> 01:09:25,571 as we may have been given to understand,

1452

01:09:25,571 --> 01:09:27,893 fought primarily by unwilling draftees

1453

01:09:27,893 --> 01:09:30,560 from the lower economic stratum.

1454

01:09:31,399 --> 01:09:33,582 Most people don't seem to know this,

1455

01:09:33,582 --> 01:09:37,177 but the Veteran's Administration documents it.

1456

01:09:37,177 --> 01:09:41,453 Unlike the so-called greatest generation of World War II,

1457

01:09:41,453 --> 01:09:45,238 which was composed 1/3 of volunteers,

1458

01:09:45,238 --> 01:09:47,821 and 2/3 of draftees,

1459

01:09:48,884 --> 01:09:53,226 the army of the Vietnam era was just the opposite.

1460

01:09:53,226 --> 01:09:57,683 2/3 volunteers, 1/3 draftees.

1461

01:09:57,683 --> 01:10:00,145 So there's an interesting and important difference

1462

01:10:00,145 --> 01:10:04,062 that needs to be more emphasized in the record.

Mark Moyar (Response)

1463

01:10:08,156 --> 01:10:11,802 MARK MOYAR: - Let me build on what Greg was saying about the stakes.

1464

01:10:11,802 --> 01:10:15,842 So 1965, if you look at what's going on

1465

01:10:15,842 --> 01:10:19,070 in Southeast Asia, there are all sorts of indications

1466

01:10:19,070 --> 01:10:23,017 that China and North Vietnam are working together

1467

01:10:23,017 --> 01:10:24,898 to spread communism.

1468

01:10:24,898 --> 01:10:26,870 There's actually not much in the film

1469

01:10:26,870 --> 01:10:30,144 about the Tito thesis that Ho Chi Minh

1470

01:10:30,144 --> 01:10:32,142 was the next Tito, which is interesting.

1471

01:10:32,142 --> 01:10:35,115 But we now know China's actually putting

1472

01:10:35,115 --> 01:10:38,064 hundreds of thousands of troops into North Vietnam.

1473

01:10:38,064 --> 01:10:41,964 And so, you can never know exactly what would have happened

1474

01:10:41,964 --> 01:10:43,776 if we pulled out, but there was strong reason to believe

1475

01:10:43,776 --> 01:10:46,394 that American withdrawal would have caused

1476

01:10:46,394 --> 01:10:48,536 the dominoes to fall.

1477

01:10:48,536 --> 01:10:51,036 And the most important domino,

1478

01:10:52,178 --> 01:10:53,876 if you look at the time what people were saying,

1479

01:10:53,876 --> 01:10:56,941 was Indonesia, which I don't think is ever mentioned.

1480

01:10:56,941 --> 01:10:59,310 I don't think that word appears in the whole series.

1481

01:10:59,310 --> 01:11:01,516 But there's a coup at the end of 1965,

1482

01:11:01,516 --> 01:11:03,722 which I think was heavily influenced

1483

01:11:03,722 --> 01:11:05,974 by what happened in Vietnam,

1484

01:11:05,974 --> 01:11:09,039 which reverses the tide there.

1485

01:11:09,039 --> 01:11:12,872 The film shows George F. Kennan in '66 or '67,

1486

01:11:15,076 --> 01:11:18,025 talking about well, maybe our rationale is as much there.

1487

01:11:18,025 --> 01:11:20,742 And a big part of his argument was,

1488

01:11:20,742 --> 01:11:22,433 well now we've saved Indonesia,

1489

01:11:22,433 --> 01:11:25,153 maybe Vietnam's not as important any more.

1490

01:11:25,153 --> 01:11:27,685 And others had made that case.

1491

01:11:27,685 --> 01:11:29,356 But I think the president felt,

1492

01:11:29,356 --> 01:11:31,586 once you send in 300,000 American troops,

1493

01:11:31,586 --> 01:11:34,534 it's pretty hard to pull them out quickly.

1494

01:11:34,534 --> 01:11:36,346 And so that is why,

1495

01:11:36,346 --> 01:11:38,157 when you get to Nixon and Kissinger,

1496

01:11:38,157 --> 01:11:41,106 you also then have China in the throes

1497

01:11:41,106 --> 01:11:43,063 of the Cultural Revolution,

1498

01:11:43,063 --> 01:11:46,350 you have the Soviet Union becoming

1499

01:11:46,350 --> 01:11:48,165 the closest ally of North Vietnam

1500

01:11:48,165 --> 01:11:49,855 and this falling out.

1501

01:11:49,855 --> 01:11:51,740 So there is a legitimate case to be made

1502

01:11:51,740 --> 01:11:55,657 that America's interest in Vietnam had declined

1503

01:11:57,355 --> 01:12:02,259 because Southeast Asia as a whole was moving favorably.

Erik Villard (Moderator)

1504

01:12:02,259 --> 01:12:05,278 ERIK VILLARD: - Let me say that I've been getting tons of great questions,

1505

01:12:05,278 --> 01:12:07,278 and if I may be so bold,

1506

01:12:08,897 --> 01:12:11,013 I may prevail on Mark and the rest of them,

1507

01:12:11,013 --> 01:12:13,585 if we can't cover all of the questions now,

1508

01:12:13,585 --> 01:12:16,630 to give them a little homework,

1509

01:12:16,630 --> 01:12:18,931 so we do cover everybody's question.

1510

01:12:18,931 --> 01:12:22,762 I'm gonna do my best to organize it into themes,

1511

01:12:22,762 --> 01:12:24,527 but we can't get them all done today.

1512

01:12:24,527 --> 01:12:26,895 We will get them done, because this is important.

1513

01:12:26,895 --> 01:12:28,498  ????- Are you grading our homework?

1514

01:12:28,498 --> 01:12:31,627 ERIK VILLARD: - Yes. No. (audience laughing)

1515

01:12:31,627 --> 01:12:35,137 My graduate school grading days are done.

1516

01:12:35,137 --> 01:12:37,577 But again, they're sort of coming in in themes.

1517

01:12:37,577 --> 01:12:39,327 And here's one theme,

1518

01:12:40,246 --> 01:12:42,913 and I'll read the two questions.

1519

01:12:45,867 --> 01:12:47,840 And this is, I think from in the room,

1520

01:12:47,840 --> 01:12:50,301 it doesn't say who it is, but the question is:

1521

01:12:50,301 --> 01:12:52,484 "I notice the documentary only dealt briefly

1522

01:12:52,484 --> 01:12:54,109 "with other countries fighting in the war

1523

01:12:54,109 --> 01:12:56,753 "on the American side like South Korea and Australia.

1524

01:12:56,753 --> 01:12:58,684 "Is this a significant omission,

1525

01:12:58,684 --> 01:13:02,050 "or did they make only a minor contribution?"

1526

01:13:02,050 --> 01:13:04,721 And second, which I feel is kind of a related question,

1527

01:13:04,721 --> 01:13:08,549 comes from Jack Hurley, who is in the audience.

1528

01:13:08,549 --> 01:13:12,314 "While there was reference to SEAG as existing,

1529

01:13:12,314 --> 01:13:16,064 "there's no reference made to the definition,

1530

01:13:19,303 --> 01:13:22,089 "the Saigon Civil Assistance Group,"

1531

01:13:22,089 --> 01:13:26,106 an element of CORDS, which is a major part of pacification,

1532

01:13:26,106 --> 01:13:28,563 map this pacification support,

1533

01:13:28,563 --> 01:13:33,421 so the question here is, that seems to be an omission.

1534

01:13:33,421 --> 01:13:37,761 So let me put it to the panelists this way.

1535

01:13:37,761 --> 01:13:41,060 Given that there's 18 hours, that's it, no more.

1536

01:13:41,060 --> 01:13:44,102 You gotta cut something to put something in.

1537

01:13:44,102 --> 01:13:45,602 So what's missing?

1538

01:13:47,144 --> 01:13:49,884 And do answer those specific questions,

1539

01:13:49,884 --> 01:13:51,625 but along those lines, what would you cut out.

1540

01:13:51,625 --> 01:13:55,916 But specifically, let's talk about the free world allies,

1541

01:13:55,916 --> 01:14:00,356 and other organizations, like CORDS and stuff.

1542

01:14:00,356 --> 01:14:03,189 If anyone would like to take that.

1543

01:14:04,697 --> 01:14:05,697  ???? - Okay good.

Jay Veith (On Allies)

1544

01:14:06,625 --> 01:14:11,544 JAY VEITH: - Well, certainly the Australians did a fantastic job

1545

01:14:11,544 --> 01:14:14,659 cleaning out Phuoc Tuy province down in the South,

1546

01:14:14,659 --> 01:14:18,862 but that was a relatively minor sideshow.

1547

01:14:18,862 --> 01:14:20,766 The Koreans, I think, were quite significant

1548

01:14:20,766 --> 01:14:23,692 in the central highlands, they held the coast.

1549

01:14:23,692 --> 01:14:26,873 And we can talk about, they had more atrocities than us.

1550

01:14:26,873 --> 01:14:30,790 They enabled the Americans to then move

1551

01:14:30,790 --> 01:14:32,421 into the central highlands.

1552

01:14:32,421 --> 01:14:34,046 So the two South Korean divisions that were there

1553

01:14:34,046 --> 01:14:36,438 were extremely significant in terms of holding

1554

01:14:36,438 --> 01:14:40,605 the very key coastal part of the central highlands.

Greg Daddis (On CORDS)

1555

01:14:44,797 --> 01:14:46,632 GREG DADDIS: - I can talk a little bit about CORDS,

1556

01:14:46,632 --> 01:14:49,325 because I do think it is an important storyline.

1557

01:14:49,325 --> 01:14:51,530 Neither Robert Komer nor William Colby,

1558

01:14:51,530 --> 01:14:53,272 who both directed CORDS,

1559

01:14:53,272 --> 01:14:56,189 from its inception in March of 1967

1560

01:14:58,892 --> 01:15:00,587 through the end of the war,

1561

01:15:00,587 --> 01:15:02,837 or at least Colby till '72?

1562

01:15:03,811 --> 01:15:06,728 Is Colby '72, is when he went home?

1563

01:15:07,878 --> 01:15:10,295 Yeah, that's right thank you.

1564

01:15:16,743 --> 01:15:18,466 I do think it is an important consideration

1565

01:15:18,466 --> 01:15:20,883 for all of us to think about.

1566

01:15:22,715 --> 01:15:26,882 My estimation, based on the readings of documents is that

1567

01:15:28,660 --> 01:15:32,577 American strategy was always more comprehensive

1568

01:15:33,489 --> 01:15:35,822 than what we've come to see.

1569

01:15:36,694 --> 01:15:40,107 The cliches of attrition and crossover point

1570

01:15:40,107 --> 01:15:43,524 and body count are conveNinht shorthands,

1571

01:15:45,123 --> 01:15:48,416 but I'm not sure that they embrace the complexity

1572

01:15:48,416 --> 01:15:51,416 of the American approach to Vietnam.

1573

01:15:53,203 --> 01:15:55,432 And I think we need to be careful about

1574

01:15:55,432 --> 01:15:59,003 looking back to the past with a sense of hubris.

1575

01:15:59,003 --> 01:16:01,586 And the reason I say that is that when we

1576

01:16:01,586 --> 01:16:03,629 describe American strategy as just being this

1577

01:16:03,629 --> 01:16:05,379 narrow-minded attempt

1578

01:16:08,250 --> 01:16:11,660 at achieving crossover point through body counts,

1579

01:16:11,660 --> 01:16:15,982 what it suggest is that if only those in the past

1580

01:16:15,982 --> 01:16:17,886 were smarter than us, because clearly we can see it now,

1581

01:16:17,886 --> 01:16:21,636 then Americans would have helped win the war.

1582

01:16:23,018 --> 01:16:25,456 And I think we need to take care with that.

1583

01:16:25,456 --> 01:16:29,472 And perhaps give those in the past some credit.

1584

01:16:29,472 --> 01:16:33,954 My studies have found that American officers

1585

01:16:33,954 --> 01:16:37,320 understood that this was just as much a political war

1586

01:16:37,320 --> 01:16:39,661 as it was a military war.

1587

01:16:39,661 --> 01:16:43,265 That they did their best to try and integrate

1588

01:16:43,265 --> 01:16:46,348 efforts at revolutionary development,

1589

01:16:47,561 --> 01:16:49,581 or nation-building, or pacification,

1590

01:16:49,581 --> 01:16:51,375 or civic action, there was a problem

1591

01:16:51,375 --> 01:16:54,481 because all these words get jumbled up together.

1592

01:16:54,481 --> 01:16:56,292 But there was in fact a good faith effort

1593

01:16:56,292 --> 01:16:59,078 through much of the American experience in Vietnam

1594

01:16:59,078 --> 01:17:02,097 to do just that, to try and link the local population

1595

01:17:02,097 --> 01:17:04,628 to the central government in Saigon.

1596

01:17:04,628 --> 01:17:06,736 And I think that's an important story for us,

1597

01:17:06,736 --> 01:17:10,873 because what it suggest is that even if Americans

1598

01:17:10,873 --> 01:17:13,790 were as comprehensive as they were,

1599

01:17:15,513 --> 01:17:17,327 and I think they were, in their approach

1600

01:17:17,327 --> 01:17:19,717 to the political and military problems in Vietnam,

1601

01:17:19,717 --> 01:17:24,040 and still failed, that tells us a very different story

1602

01:17:24,040 --> 01:17:28,680 than the Americans lost because they were just

1603

01:17:28,680 --> 01:17:32,817 narrowly focused on body counts and attrition.

1604

01:17:32,817 --> 01:17:36,317 And I think the problems with pacification

1605

01:17:38,041 --> 01:17:41,032 and the implementation of CORDS are

1606

01:17:41,032 --> 01:17:43,846 fully worth our attention.

1607

01:17:43,846 --> 01:17:47,283 Because too often times the political and the military

1608

01:17:47,283 --> 01:17:49,507 are working at cross purposes with each other.

1609

01:17:49,507 --> 01:17:51,648 And those are incredibly relevant questions

1610

01:17:51,648 --> 01:17:53,575 for us to ask today

1611

01:17:53,575 --> 01:17:56,640 in American military endeavors abroad.

1612

01:17:56,640 --> 01:17:59,956 How do you balance military operations,

1613

01:17:59,956 --> 01:18:03,908 which need to happen, because in fact we are at war,

1614

01:18:03,908 --> 01:18:06,741 with other non-military functions.

1615

01:18:08,065 --> 01:18:10,572 Whether it be some semblance of nation-building,

1616

01:18:10,572 --> 01:18:13,336 or pacification, or working on behalf of the population

1617

01:18:13,336 --> 01:18:18,212 to help build a stable and legitimate local government.

1618

01:18:18,212 --> 01:18:20,371 And that's an incredibly difficult proposition,

1619

01:18:20,371 --> 01:18:23,110 both today as it was in the 1960s.

1620

01:18:23,110 --> 01:18:25,805 And I think it's important for us to consider

1621

01:18:25,805 --> 01:18:28,145 that portion of the story,

1622

01:18:28,145 --> 01:18:30,890 because I think that's where we can, again,

1623

01:18:30,890 --> 01:18:33,931 gain some important and relevant perspective

1624

01:18:33,931 --> 01:18:37,264 from the American experience in Vietnam.

Lewis Sorley (on the shift of policy)

1625

01:18:40,037 --> 01:18:42,825 LEWIS SORLEY: - So those comments by Professor Daddis are very useful,

1626

01:18:42,825 --> 01:18:47,767 because they highlight a major omission in this film,

1627

01:18:47,767 --> 01:18:50,766 which is that there was a dramatic shift,

1628

01:18:50,766 --> 01:18:54,156 or change, or difference, between the first years

1629

01:18:54,156 --> 01:18:56,989 of American involvement in Vietnam,

1630

01:18:56,989 --> 01:18:59,915 when LBJ administration is in power

1631

01:18:59,915 --> 01:19:03,537 and we have Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge,

1632

01:19:03,537 --> 01:19:06,347 and we have Maxwell Taylor, and then we have Lodge again

1633

01:19:06,347 --> 01:19:08,274 as our ambassador to Vietnam,

1634

01:19:08,274 --> 01:19:10,875 and we have General Westmoreland as our commander there.

1635

01:19:10,875 --> 01:19:14,056 And the later years, when we have

1636

01:19:14,056 --> 01:19:16,238 ambassador Ellsworth Bunker,

1637

01:19:16,238 --> 01:19:20,144 while we have the Nixon administration, Ellsworth Bunker,

1638

01:19:20,144 --> 01:19:22,177 Abrams as commander,

1639

01:19:22,177 --> 01:19:26,281 and Colby in charge of the pacification program.

1640

01:19:26,281 --> 01:19:29,369 In the earlier years, as Professor Daddis pointed out,

1641

01:19:29,369 --> 01:19:31,598 it's a war of attrition.

1642

01:19:31,598 --> 01:19:33,765 Westmoreland chooses that,

1643

01:19:35,244 --> 01:19:37,380 and he's not repentant about that.

1644

01:19:37,380 --> 01:19:39,163 He says so in his memoirs.

1645

01:19:39,163 --> 01:19:42,396 And here's something that that highlights that again

1646

01:19:42,396 --> 01:19:45,600 most people don't seem to realize.

1647

01:19:45,600 --> 01:19:48,847 In both the earlier and the later periods,

1648

01:19:48,847 --> 01:19:52,055 the American commander in Vietnam

1649

01:19:52,055 --> 01:19:54,537 had pretty much carte blanche as to how he wanted

1650

01:19:54,537 --> 01:19:57,787 to fight the war, within South Vietnam.

1651

01:19:58,719 --> 01:20:01,456 We've heard about the Tuesday lunches

1652

01:20:01,456 --> 01:20:05,244 and choosing the bombing targets and so on,

1653

01:20:05,244 --> 01:20:07,496 but those are in North Vietnam,

1654

01:20:07,496 --> 01:20:09,377 and of course they're the sanctuaries

1655

01:20:09,377 --> 01:20:11,235 provided the enemy in Laos and Cambodia

1656

01:20:11,235 --> 01:20:12,953 that we all know about.

1657

01:20:12,953 --> 01:20:14,532 But within South Vietnam,

1658

01:20:14,532 --> 01:20:16,901 the commander could pretty much fight the war

1659

01:20:16,901 --> 01:20:18,384 the way he chose.

1660

01:20:18,384 --> 01:20:20,616 Westmoreland's way to fight the war

1661

01:20:20,616 --> 01:20:24,192 was to have a war of attrition in which

1662

01:20:24,192 --> 01:20:26,792 the tactical approach was search and destroy,

1663

01:20:26,792 --> 01:20:30,970 and the metric, or measure of merit, was body count.

1664

01:20:30,970 --> 01:20:33,153 And he apparently believed that if you could

1665

01:20:33,153 --> 01:20:34,664 kill enough of the enemy,

1666

01:20:34,664 --> 01:20:37,009 the North Vietnamese communists would lose heart,

1667

01:20:37,009 --> 01:20:39,958 cease their aggression against the South and go home.

1668

01:20:39,958 --> 01:20:42,721 And in order to achieve that he kept asking

1669

01:20:42,721 --> 01:20:46,134 for more and more and more US forces.

1670

01:20:46,134 --> 01:20:48,108 And for a long time he got them.

1671

01:20:48,108 --> 01:20:49,858 He got up to 543,400.

1672

01:20:53,681 --> 01:20:57,764 Well over half a million at the high water point.

1673

01:20:58,836 --> 01:21:02,156 But beginning in '67, and in the administration,

1674

01:21:02,156 --> 01:21:05,453 and in the larger body politic,

1675

01:21:05,453 --> 01:21:07,520 there were many voices raised against this approach,

1676

01:21:07,520 --> 01:21:11,187 as there were within his command in Vietnam.

1677

01:21:12,466 --> 01:21:14,416 General Fred Weyand a good example,

1678

01:21:14,416 --> 01:21:16,901 but there are many examples of people in Vietnam

1679

01:21:16,901 --> 01:21:19,037 who said this isn't working, it's not going to work

1680

01:21:19,037 --> 01:21:20,663 and it cannot work.

1681

01:21:20,663 --> 01:21:22,842 And one of the main reasons was set forth

1682

01:21:22,842 --> 01:21:27,009 in a study done under the auspices of a little-known general

1683

01:21:28,348 --> 01:21:31,530 Harold K. Johnson, who was Chief of Staff of the Army

1684

01:21:31,530 --> 01:21:33,944 during the same four years Westmoreland commanded

1685

01:21:33,944 --> 01:21:35,129 in Vietnam.

1686

01:21:35,129 --> 01:21:36,820 His study was called PROVN,

1687

01:21:36,820 --> 01:21:39,772 short for Program for the Pacification

1688

01:21:39,772 --> 01:21:42,489 and Long-term Development of South Vietnam.

1689

01:21:42,489 --> 01:21:44,602 And it said very clearly,

1690

01:21:44,602 --> 01:21:46,526 what Westmoreland is doing is not working

1691

01:21:46,526 --> 01:21:48,014 and it cannot work,

1692

01:21:48,014 --> 01:21:49,847 and the reason is, it has no impact

1693

01:21:49,847 --> 01:21:54,582 on the covert infrastructure that the enemy has in place,

1694

01:21:54,582 --> 01:21:57,397 especially in the rural hamlets and villages

1695

01:21:57,397 --> 01:22:00,554 of South Vietnam, here through terror and coercion

1696

01:22:00,554 --> 01:22:04,386 they have the populace under their domination.

1697

01:22:04,386 --> 01:22:08,553 Well, the other big change between the earlier period

1698

01:22:09,866 --> 01:22:12,210 and later period is, during the earlier period,

1699

01:22:12,210 --> 01:22:14,787 ramping up, ramping up, ramping up,

1700

01:22:14,787 --> 01:22:18,759 until finally in '67 Westmoreland asked for

1701

01:22:18,759 --> 01:22:20,129 200,000 more troops,

1702

01:22:20,129 --> 01:22:23,194 and he gets just a small fragment of that.

1703

01:22:23,194 --> 01:22:26,607 And then after claiming a great victory at Tet '68,

1704

01:22:26,607 --> 01:22:29,274 he asks for 206,000 more troops.

1705

01:22:30,833 --> 01:22:33,109 And that somehow just didn't compute.

1706

01:22:33,109 --> 01:22:34,548 For years he lied about that,

1707

01:22:34,548 --> 01:22:37,358 finally about 1986 he admits to some newsman,

1708

01:22:37,358 --> 01:22:39,750 well yes, he said, General Wheeler,

1709

01:22:39,750 --> 01:22:41,491 who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,

1710

01:22:41,491 --> 01:22:46,042 General Wheeler persuaded me to ask for those troops.

1711

01:22:46,042 --> 01:22:50,524 But one of the things illustrated by these two periods,

1712

01:22:50,524 --> 01:22:53,171 and in the later period, as we all know,

1713

01:22:53,171 --> 01:22:56,979 but it's not very much emphasized in the film,

1714

01:22:56,979 --> 01:22:59,672 instead of the build up, build up, build up,

1715

01:22:59,672 --> 01:23:01,270 we have decrements.

1716

01:23:01,270 --> 01:23:04,131 14 increments of decrements, US forces taken out,

1717

01:23:04,131 --> 01:23:07,010 and it is shown in the film that by the time we get to '72

1718

01:23:07,010 --> 01:23:09,796 Easter offensive, I think they say we have only

1719

01:23:09,796 --> 01:23:12,091 60,000 US troops left, that's from 543,400

1720

01:23:12,091 --> 01:23:16,275 at the high water mark, and that very few of them

1721

01:23:16,275 --> 01:23:18,620 were combat troops.

1722

01:23:18,620 --> 01:23:21,990 I think there may have been one maneuver battalion left,

1723

01:23:21,990 --> 01:23:23,657 as they were called.

1724

01:23:24,500 --> 01:23:26,822 But here's the other thing that's really important here,

1725

01:23:26,822 --> 01:23:29,469 I know I'm going on a little too long here,

1726

01:23:29,469 --> 01:23:31,165 but just give me another minute.

1727

01:23:31,165 --> 01:23:34,369 It's extremely important to understand

1728

01:23:34,369 --> 01:23:36,134 that both sides in this conflict

1729

01:23:36,134 --> 01:23:38,753 were totally dependent on external sources

1730

01:23:38,753 --> 01:23:41,892 for the means of making war.

1731

01:23:41,892 --> 01:23:44,651 The North Vietnamese were supported by, of course,

1732

01:23:44,651 --> 01:23:47,535 communist China and the Soviet Union,

1733

01:23:47,535 --> 01:23:51,341 and sometimes other Warsaw Pact nations.

1734

01:23:51,341 --> 01:23:56,103 And the South Vietnamese were totally dependent on us.

1735

01:23:56,103 --> 01:23:57,103 So we leave.

1736

01:24:00,374 --> 01:24:03,110 End of March 1973, got our prisoners back,

1737

01:24:03,110 --> 01:24:05,600 we got all our troops out.

1738

01:24:05,600 --> 01:24:08,241 And we had promised the South Vietnamese,

1739

01:24:08,241 --> 01:24:10,104 if they'll sign the Paris Accords,

1740

01:24:10,104 --> 01:24:13,518 that we will continue to support them.

1741

01:24:13,518 --> 01:24:14,351 We say,

1742

01:24:16,072 --> 01:24:19,207 if the North Vietnamese continue or resume aggression,

1743

01:24:19,207 --> 01:24:21,923 we will punish them militarily.

1744

01:24:21,923 --> 01:24:25,472 That means bring back the B52s, we don't do it.

1745

01:24:25,472 --> 01:24:29,071 We say, if there's renewed fighting,

1746

01:24:29,071 --> 01:24:32,326 we will replace on a one-for-one basis

1747

01:24:32,326 --> 01:24:34,637 the losses of major combat systems,

1748

01:24:34,637 --> 01:24:37,872 that's things artillery pieces and aircraft and tanks

1749

01:24:37,872 --> 01:24:39,269 and so on.

1750

01:24:39,269 --> 01:24:41,655 Guess what? As provided for in the Paris Accords,

1751

01:24:41,655 --> 01:24:43,072 we don't do that.

1752

01:24:44,052 --> 01:24:46,235 And we say we will continue to provide

1753

01:24:46,235 --> 01:24:50,600 robust financial support for the foreseeable future.

1754

01:24:50,600 --> 01:24:53,363 So when the Congress decides in its wisdom,

1755

01:24:53,363 --> 01:24:55,407 we've got all our troops out,

1756

01:24:55,407 --> 01:24:57,816 we've got all our prisoners back,

1757

01:24:57,816 --> 01:25:00,468 now they wanna save money.

1758

01:25:00,468 --> 01:25:02,674 So they cut by a third what we had provided

1759

01:25:02,674 --> 01:25:05,368 the South Vietnamese the year before.

1760

01:25:05,368 --> 01:25:09,106 And then another decrement of the same amount the next year.

1761

01:25:09,106 --> 01:25:13,023 And so by the time we get to the '75 offensive,

1762

01:25:14,540 --> 01:25:19,509 the South Viet forces are on short rations indeed.

1763

01:25:19,509 --> 01:25:22,342 Our final Chief of Station Saigon,

1764

01:25:23,801 --> 01:25:25,301 named Tom Polgar,

1765

01:25:27,866 --> 01:25:32,326 says in his final message, this was quoted in the film,

1766

01:25:32,326 --> 01:25:34,416 it's the war's over, it's lost.

1767

01:25:34,416 --> 01:25:36,315 But what they didn't say was,

1768

01:25:36,315 --> 01:25:40,172 Polgar says "outcome no longer in doubt,

1769

01:25:40,172 --> 01:25:42,751 "because the South Vietnamese cannot continue

1770

01:25:42,751 --> 01:25:46,918 "without our support so long as the North Vietnamese

1771

01:25:48,603 --> 01:25:51,134 "continue to get robust support

1772

01:25:51,134 --> 01:25:53,717 "from their communist patrons."

1773

01:25:54,593 --> 01:25:57,631 End of message, and that's the end of the war.

1774

01:25:57,631 --> 01:26:00,964 So thanks to the United States Congress.

1775

01:26:04,655 --> 01:26:06,698 Well, the voters threw most of those guys out

1776

01:26:06,698 --> 01:26:08,788 the next time round, but too late then.

Marc Selverstone (on Policy)

1777

01:26:08,788 --> 01:26:11,221 MARC SELVERSTONE: - That's actually where I wanted to pick up.

1778

01:26:11,221 --> 01:26:15,220 Because the reference to the Tuesday lunch crew,

1779

01:26:15,220 --> 01:26:19,701 and CORDS, as an institution that was created

1780

01:26:19,701 --> 01:26:23,273 to help manage elements of this war raise question

1781

01:26:23,273 --> 01:26:25,988 of how policy was made.

1782

01:26:25,988 --> 01:26:28,943 And it's an implicit question,

1783

01:26:28,943 --> 01:26:32,217 that is explicit at times in the film.

1784

01:26:32,217 --> 01:26:36,443 And I think one of the opportunities for us going forward,

1785

01:26:36,443 --> 01:26:39,229 and I know that the intention of the filmmakers

1786

01:26:39,229 --> 01:26:42,503 was to provoke these kinds of conversations,

1787

01:26:42,503 --> 01:26:46,544 is about how policy gets made, generally.

1788

01:26:46,544 --> 01:26:49,748 And one of those institutions that I think

1789

01:26:49,748 --> 01:26:52,767 we can focus on more going forward is Congress.

1790

01:26:52,767 --> 01:26:55,684 It is not a major part of the film,

1791

01:26:56,644 --> 01:27:01,312 it comes in at various points, and then it leaves.

1792

01:27:01,312 --> 01:27:04,017 It's certainly there in August of 1964

1793

01:27:04,017 --> 01:27:06,896 surrounding the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

1794

01:27:06,896 --> 01:27:09,479 It's there a little bit in 1966

1795

01:27:10,820 --> 01:27:13,444 when we were thinking about

1796

01:27:13,444 --> 01:27:15,696 the Senate Foreign Relation Committee hearings.

1797

01:27:15,696 --> 01:27:18,506 It's slightly there in allusions in 1967

1798

01:27:18,506 --> 01:27:20,506 to the Stennis hearings.

1799

01:27:21,641 --> 01:27:25,044 But one of those moments of silence

1800

01:27:25,044 --> 01:27:28,415 is actually just before Johnson decides

1801

01:27:28,415 --> 01:27:30,389 to Americanize the war.

1802

01:27:30,389 --> 01:27:31,972 And in May of 1965,

1803

01:27:32,966 --> 01:27:36,101 there's the question of an appropriation,

1804

01:27:36,101 --> 01:27:38,098 a supplemental appropriation that Johnson is looking for,

1805

01:27:38,098 --> 01:27:41,418 not only for Vietnam, but for the Dominican Republic.

1806

01:27:41,418 --> 01:27:43,462 And there were 20 or 30,000 US Marines

1807

01:27:43,462 --> 01:27:46,615 that went into the Dominican Republic April/May 1965.

1808

01:27:46,615 --> 01:27:48,988 And there were some very interesting conversations

1809

01:27:48,988 --> 01:27:51,054 that LBJ has with Macnamara and Bundy

1810

01:27:51,054 --> 01:27:54,027 about the propriety of engaging Congress

1811

01:27:54,027 --> 01:27:58,016 in a conversation about what is probably about to happen.

1812

01:27:58,016 --> 01:28:00,714 And that Westmoreland makes more explicit on June 7th '65

1813

01:28:00,714 --> 01:28:03,797 when he asks for those 44 battalions.

1814

01:28:05,158 --> 01:28:07,622 And we know what happened as a result of that.

1815

01:28:07,622 --> 01:28:10,617 But here's LBJ and Macnamara and his awesome foursome,

1816

01:28:10,617 --> 01:28:13,680 including McGeorge Bundy and Dean Rusk,

1817

01:28:13,680 --> 01:28:16,283 thinking about whether they should engage Congress

1818

01:28:16,283 --> 01:28:19,836 in a conversation about drastically changing

1819

01:28:19,836 --> 01:28:22,111 the terms of the American engagement in Vietnam.

1820

01:28:22,111 --> 01:28:25,613 And they decided, it's basically LBJ deciding,

1821

01:28:25,613 --> 01:28:27,963 that he will not go to Congress.

1822

01:28:27,963 --> 01:28:30,749 He talks to Mansfield, he'll talk to Fulbright.

1823

01:28:30,749 --> 01:28:32,699 But he puts them on the spot,

1824

01:28:32,699 --> 01:28:34,762 do you really wanna think about this?

1825

01:28:34,762 --> 01:28:36,481 Do you wanna open it up again?

1826

01:28:36,481 --> 01:28:39,568 We've basically addressed it in August of 1964,

1827

01:28:39,568 --> 01:28:41,105 you told me what you wanna do,

1828

01:28:41,105 --> 01:28:44,026 and now with this $700 million appropriation,

1829

01:28:44,026 --> 01:28:45,726 not only are we supporting the troops,

1830

01:28:45,726 --> 01:28:47,978 but you're saying you are supporting the policy.

1831

01:28:47,978 --> 01:28:51,041 And Johnson decides not to go back to Congress,

1832

01:28:51,041 --> 01:28:53,791 even though in early July of '65,

1833

01:28:55,316 --> 01:28:58,497 he and Macnamara speak about this and say,

1834

01:28:58,497 --> 01:29:00,517 we know among ourselves,

1835

01:29:00,517 --> 01:29:04,043 we had never intended to put in the number of troops

1836

01:29:04,043 --> 01:29:05,556 we're now considering,

1837

01:29:05,556 --> 01:29:08,574 based upon the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

1838

01:29:08,574 --> 01:29:11,593 So as we think about key questions and invocations

1839

01:29:11,593 --> 01:29:13,868 that the film offers to us,

1840

01:29:13,868 --> 01:29:17,070 we should think about how policy gets made going forward.

1841

01:29:17,070 --> 01:29:18,791 Talk about the AUMF,

1842

01:29:18,791 --> 01:29:20,924 the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

1843

01:29:20,924 --> 01:29:23,712 Who should get involved in the making

1844

01:29:23,712 --> 01:29:25,223 of American foreign policy,

1845

01:29:25,223 --> 01:29:26,756 and what is the appropriate posture

1846

01:29:26,756 --> 01:29:28,079 for the United States in the world?

1847

01:29:28,079 --> 01:29:29,630 Those are questions that the film raises.

1848

01:29:29,630 --> 01:29:33,303 And I would encourage you to continue to pursue those,

1849

01:29:33,303 --> 01:29:36,276 perhaps even avail yourself of the White House tapes

1850

01:29:36,276 --> 01:29:39,271 to hear how it was done in the past.

Mark Moyar (on COORDS)

1851

01:29:39,271 --> 01:29:41,105 MARK MOYAR: - Yeah, I wanna comment on CORDS.

1852

01:29:41,105 --> 01:29:44,519 I actually was talking about CORDS this morning,

1853

01:29:44,519 --> 01:29:47,653 USAID had their Global Innovation Week right now,

1854

01:29:47,653 --> 01:29:49,441 and they had asked me to talk about

1855

01:29:49,441 --> 01:29:52,989 defense and development, because that's something

1856

01:29:52,989 --> 01:29:54,968 I've looked at in other contexts.

1857

01:29:54,968 --> 01:29:56,477 But we actually talked about CORDS

1858

01:29:56,477 --> 01:29:59,635 because that is still seen as one of the relatively few

1859

01:29:59,635 --> 01:30:04,302 examples of where we used development and defense together

1860

01:30:04,302 --> 01:30:06,135 in reasonable harmony.

1861

01:30:07,344 --> 01:30:09,803 And I think a lot of that I think was that

1862

01:30:09,803 --> 01:30:12,011 we basically forced the civilians, kicking and screaming,

1863

01:30:12,011 --> 01:30:14,911 to fit within this military organization.

1864

01:30:14,911 --> 01:30:16,377 They didn't like it, but it actually I think

1865

01:30:16,377 --> 01:30:17,886 worked out pretty well,

1866

01:30:17,886 --> 01:30:19,790 and didn't allow them to go do their own thing

1867

01:30:19,790 --> 01:30:23,621 without worrying about what other people thought.

1868

01:30:23,621 --> 01:30:27,778 I'm right now working on the history of Vietnam,

1869

01:30:27,778 --> 01:30:30,328 the sequel to my early book,

1870

01:30:30,328 --> 01:30:32,022 and I happen to be in 1967

1871

01:30:32,022 --> 01:30:33,861 when they're talking about forming CORDS.

1872

01:30:33,861 --> 01:30:36,088 One of the most interesting comments

1873

01:30:36,088 --> 01:30:37,716 is from Ambassador Bunker,

1874

01:30:37,716 --> 01:30:40,223 he says this CORDS thing is nice and we will

1875

01:30:40,223 --> 01:30:43,451 clean ourselves up, but what really matters in pacification

1876

01:30:43,451 --> 01:30:46,400 is the Vietnamese, and no matter how well organized we are,

1877

01:30:46,400 --> 01:30:48,322 we're only advisers,

1878

01:30:48,322 --> 01:30:50,603 and it's gonna depend on the Vietnamese.

1879

01:30:50,603 --> 01:30:52,948 We touched on this a little bit earlier,

1880

01:30:52,948 --> 01:30:55,357 but one aspect which really doesn't get covered

1881

01:30:55,357 --> 01:30:57,197 which I think deserves to get covered

1882

01:30:57,197 --> 01:31:00,448 is the evolution of the South Vietnamese

1883

01:31:00,448 --> 01:31:05,008 governmental leadership, aside from the top level.

1884

01:31:05,008 --> 01:31:08,262 1960 and 61, when the Viet Cong get going,

1885

01:31:08,262 --> 01:31:12,859 the South Vietnamese leaders not performing very well.

1886

01:31:12,859 --> 01:31:15,971 There's a big turnaround in 1962,

1887

01:31:15,971 --> 01:31:18,641 which is I think well-documented.

1888

01:31:18,641 --> 01:31:21,422 And that is the result of Diem being able to put in

1889

01:31:21,422 --> 01:31:24,661 younger officers who are less close

1890

01:31:24,661 --> 01:31:26,772 to the French colonial legacy.

1891

01:31:26,772 --> 01:31:29,769 And '62/'62 you see a big shift in the war.

1892

01:31:29,769 --> 01:31:33,391 After the coup at the end of '63 there's massive purges,

1893

01:31:33,391 --> 01:31:36,874 which aren't referenced, I believe there's a reference

1894

01:31:36,874 --> 01:31:39,103 about how things don't get better as we'd thought.

1895

01:31:39,103 --> 01:31:41,565 But from '64 to '67 they're living through

1896

01:31:41,565 --> 01:31:43,699 the aftermath of that.

1897

01:31:43,699 --> 01:31:47,184 And in '68, partly because of the Tet offensive

1898

01:31:47,184 --> 01:31:49,227 and how it galvanized the South,

1899

01:31:49,227 --> 01:31:51,451 we immediately start to see a turnaround

1900

01:31:51,451 --> 01:31:54,266 in the quality of the South Vietnamese leadership.

1901

01:31:54,266 --> 01:31:56,727 And there are still imperfections,

1902

01:31:56,727 --> 01:32:01,505 but there are wholesale differences among these period

1903

01:32:01,505 --> 01:32:04,088 that are worth keeping in mind.

Erik Villard (Moderator)

1904

01:32:05,313 --> 01:32:08,633 ERIK VILLARD: - I was expecting this, and indeed the molotov cocktail

1905

01:32:08,633 --> 01:32:10,633 has been put on my desk.

1906

01:32:11,629 --> 01:32:12,883 I was a little surprised, in fact,

1907

01:32:12,883 --> 01:32:15,541 we hadn't gotten there sooner, but we are here.

1908

01:32:15,541 --> 01:32:18,124 So Twitter user Rick Rios asks:

1909

01:32:20,650 --> 01:32:22,688 "What was the real effect of the press

1910

01:32:22,688 --> 01:32:25,021 "on the outcome of the war?"

Thomas Vallely (On the Press)

1911

01:32:30,867 --> 01:32:33,200 THOMAS VALLELY: - I'll take a crack at that.

1912

01:32:34,535 --> 01:32:36,285 I think first of all,

1913

01:32:37,507 --> 01:32:40,840 as a group, talking about the Americans,

1914

01:32:43,011 --> 01:32:45,843 as a group of people, I think the American press

1915

01:32:45,843 --> 01:32:49,510 distinguished themselves in the Vietnam War.

1916

01:32:52,763 --> 01:32:56,930 I think they create a lot of the original narrative

1917

01:32:58,149 --> 01:33:01,316 of the war, there was complete access.

1918

01:33:02,562 --> 01:33:07,206 I think the film depicts how it's easy for a reporter

1919

01:33:07,206 --> 01:33:10,623 to go along with the Marines or the Army.

1920

01:33:13,355 --> 01:33:16,522 And I think the journalism of the war,

1921

01:33:19,231 --> 01:33:22,564 I think follows elite American politics.

1922

01:33:24,063 --> 01:33:26,525 I don't think the journalists,

1923

01:33:26,525 --> 01:33:30,192 I then they push the war policy in the news,

1924

01:33:32,562 --> 01:33:36,045 but I don't think they get so far out in front of it

1925

01:33:36,045 --> 01:33:39,319 that they dominate the policy operation.

1926

01:33:39,319 --> 01:33:41,917 I was once talking to Neil Sheehan,

1927

01:33:41,917 --> 01:33:44,866 and I was telling him how impressed I was

1928

01:33:44,866 --> 01:33:47,841 with A Bright Shining Lie, and his book,

1929

01:33:47,841 --> 01:33:49,930 and the journalists in general.

1930

01:33:49,930 --> 01:33:52,513 He said, we never went too far,

1931

01:33:53,646 --> 01:33:56,313 someone else owns the newspaper,

1932

01:33:57,148 --> 01:34:01,315 and someone else always has a say over what we write.

1933

01:34:02,957 --> 01:34:05,859 But I think in the film, I think you see,

1934

01:34:05,859 --> 01:34:09,442 you see Westmoreland coming back addressing

1935

01:34:11,757 --> 01:34:15,507 the joint session of Congress before Tet '68.

1936

01:34:17,005 --> 01:34:20,422 Johnson is on a PR binge to sell the war,

1937

01:34:24,226 --> 01:34:26,309 in 1967 before Tet comes,

1938

01:34:27,338 --> 01:34:28,708 and he brings Westmoreland,

1939

01:34:28,708 --> 01:34:30,937 they have a joint session of Congress, they have this thing,

1940

01:34:30,937 --> 01:34:32,702 and they set themselves up,

1941

01:34:32,702 --> 01:34:34,977 they set themselves up for Tet.

1942

01:34:34,977 --> 01:34:38,367 After Tet they fall into this trap

1943

01:34:38,367 --> 01:34:40,825 and they don't know how to get out of it.

1944

01:34:40,825 --> 01:34:42,861 And then I think the press gets more freedom then.

1945

01:34:42,861 --> 01:34:46,861 The press gets more freedom to be more critical.

1946

01:34:48,887 --> 01:34:50,637 I think the press is,

1947

01:34:51,998 --> 01:34:55,165 I think when Morley Safer is reporting

1948

01:34:56,154 --> 01:34:58,821 on how the Marines land in 1965,

1949

01:35:00,007 --> 01:35:02,935 at that time the American press

1950

01:35:02,935 --> 01:35:06,162 is not against the Vietnam War.

1951

01:35:06,162 --> 01:35:10,226 The American press at that time is against Ngo Dinh Diem.

1952

01:35:10,226 --> 01:35:14,127 They're against Diem, but they're not against the war.

1953

01:35:14,127 --> 01:35:16,333 And they still wanna be for the war.

1954

01:35:16,333 --> 01:35:18,423 I think the American journalists for a long time

1955

01:35:18,423 --> 01:35:21,348 wanna do, they wanna support the American effort.

1956

01:35:21,348 --> 01:35:23,949 It gets to a point where they don't support

1957

01:35:23,949 --> 01:35:25,365 the American effort.

1958

01:35:25,365 --> 01:35:27,153 It gets to a point, we live in a democracy,

1959

01:35:27,153 --> 01:35:30,195 and American doesn't support the American effort.

1960

01:35:30,195 --> 01:35:31,653 But I think they do a good job,

1961

01:35:31,653 --> 01:35:33,986 but I don't think they lead.

Nu-Anh Tran (On South Vietnamese Press)

1962

01:35:39,762 --> 01:35:41,085 NU-ANH TRAN: - This is sort of shifting the topic a little bit,

1963

01:35:41,085 --> 01:35:43,082 but I was wondering if it would be appropriate

1964

01:35:43,082 --> 01:35:47,169 if I talked a little bit about the South Vietnamese press.

1965

01:35:47,169 --> 01:35:48,980 So I think the South Vietnamese press

1966

01:35:48,980 --> 01:35:51,023 actually plays a very interesting role.

1967

01:35:51,023 --> 01:35:55,190 Not necessarily in changing the course of the war,

1968

01:35:57,940 --> 01:36:01,728 but I think it tells us a lot about South Vietnam

1969

01:36:01,728 --> 01:36:03,478 as a political space.

1970

01:36:05,977 --> 01:36:07,575 So under the first nine years, under Ngo Dinh Diem,

1971

01:36:07,575 --> 01:36:11,643 the South Vietnamese press plays a pretty important role

1972

01:36:11,643 --> 01:36:14,522 in spreading anticommunism.

1973

01:36:14,522 --> 01:36:17,030 It's because it's under the thumb,

1974

01:36:17,030 --> 01:36:19,027 or it's under considerable pressure

1975

01:36:19,027 --> 01:36:20,787 from the Ministry of Information.

1976

01:36:20,787 --> 01:36:22,974 There are also a number of anticommunist nationalists,

1977

01:36:22,974 --> 01:36:26,363 especially in '54/'55, who get really excited,

1978

01:36:26,363 --> 01:36:28,477 and they decide we're gonna publish our own newspaper,

1979

01:36:28,477 --> 01:36:30,567 and we're gonna talk about all the horrible things

1980

01:36:30,567 --> 01:36:32,053 the communists did.

1981

01:36:32,053 --> 01:36:33,539 So it comes both from government pressure

1982

01:36:33,539 --> 01:36:35,872 and of a sincere conviction.

1983

01:36:36,999 --> 01:36:39,344 However, one of the problems is that Ngo Dinh Diem

1984

01:36:39,344 --> 01:36:41,805 was probably more repressive of the press,

1985

01:36:41,805 --> 01:36:45,056 the local press, than any other of his successors,

1986

01:36:45,056 --> 01:36:47,889 and so that meant the Ministry of Information

1987

01:36:47,889 --> 01:36:50,629 also pressured the press to cover certain events,

1988

01:36:50,629 --> 01:36:53,225 to publish certain articles.

1989

01:36:53,225 --> 01:36:55,923 So sometimes you would see that same article

1990

01:36:55,923 --> 01:36:57,755 appearing in four newspapers.

1991

01:36:57,755 --> 01:36:59,963 You can imagine that if you live under the society,

1992

01:36:59,963 --> 01:37:02,309 it makes you question the press,

1993

01:37:02,309 --> 01:37:06,535 because you don't know which article came from where.

1994

01:37:06,535 --> 01:37:09,135 And I think that that really affects

1995

01:37:09,135 --> 01:37:11,155 how people view the press.

1996

01:37:11,155 --> 01:37:13,059 So after Ngo Dinh Diem falls,

1997

01:37:13,059 --> 01:37:16,264 I think the press really tries to play a role

1998

01:37:16,264 --> 01:37:18,377 in pushing for change.

1999

01:37:18,377 --> 01:37:21,370 And I think that the press is actually one of the places

2000

01:37:21,370 --> 01:37:25,691 where we see the most differences between Hanoi and Saigon.

2001

01:37:25,691 --> 01:37:28,083 In the sense that, even though there was censorship,

2002

01:37:28,083 --> 01:37:31,914 it was a boundary that people vaguely knew where it was,

2003

01:37:31,914 --> 01:37:33,516 and they pushed against it,

2004

01:37:33,516 --> 01:37:35,349 so they could critique the government

2005

01:37:35,349 --> 01:37:37,092 up to a certain point.

2006

01:37:37,092 --> 01:37:39,252 Whereas in North Vietnam the press was largely composed

2007

01:37:39,252 --> 01:37:42,200 directly by the party or the government.

2008

01:37:42,200 --> 01:37:43,938 So that means that in South Vietnam,

2009

01:37:43,938 --> 01:37:46,612 there's this narrow space for political action.

2010

01:37:46,612 --> 01:37:48,376 It's not completely free,

2011

01:37:48,376 --> 01:37:49,840 we don't have total freedom of press,

2012

01:37:49,840 --> 01:37:51,950 but there's this relative freedom of press.

2013

01:37:51,950 --> 01:37:53,462 And what the press is trying to do

2014

01:37:53,462 --> 01:37:56,086 in the years after Ngo Dinh Diem falls

2015

01:37:56,086 --> 01:37:58,825 is continually try to push and enlarge that space.

2016

01:37:58,825 --> 01:38:02,992 And they're very much hemmed in by the government.

Lewis Sorley (On the Press)

2017

01:38:05,629 --> 01:38:07,090 LEWIS SORLEY: - I don't know where it came in,

2018

01:38:07,090 --> 01:38:09,298 I heard something about the distinguished role of the press

2019

01:38:09,298 --> 01:38:11,202 in the war in Vietnam,

2020

01:38:11,202 --> 01:38:13,285 which just astonishes me.

2021

01:38:21,187 --> 01:38:25,187 The people who were the most prominent reporters

2022

01:38:28,490 --> 01:38:30,910 probably did a pretty good job

2023

01:38:30,910 --> 01:38:34,045 of reporting the kinds of thing that most laymen

2024

01:38:34,045 --> 01:38:36,128 think wars are all about.

2025

01:38:37,388 --> 01:38:40,476 You know, battles and bombing and artillery

2026

01:38:40,476 --> 01:38:43,809 and logistics and those kinds of things.

2027

01:38:45,539 --> 01:38:47,953 Which meant to me that as we moved into the latter part

2028

01:38:47,953 --> 01:38:51,437 of the war, as I've tried to describe briefly,

2029

01:38:51,437 --> 01:38:54,200 those things became less important,

2030

01:38:54,200 --> 01:38:56,103 and what became more important was the things

2031

01:38:56,103 --> 01:38:58,357 that were happening in the pacification program,

2032

01:38:58,357 --> 01:39:01,003 and the economic development of South Vietnam,

2033

01:39:01,003 --> 01:39:03,302 and the introduction of Miracle Rice

2034

01:39:03,302 --> 01:39:06,013 and other things like that.

2035

01:39:06,013 --> 01:39:09,027 And there was virtually none of that reported

2036

01:39:09,027 --> 01:39:10,610 in any serious way.

2037

01:39:15,297 --> 01:39:18,130 And then my friend, my new friend,

2038

01:39:19,016 --> 01:39:20,990 speaks of his admiration for Neil Sheehan

2039

01:39:20,990 --> 01:39:23,823 and his book A Bright Shining Lie,

2040

01:39:25,071 --> 01:39:29,238 which I consider to be an extraordinarily dishonest book.

2041

01:39:30,115 --> 01:39:34,457 The nominal subject of that book is John Paul Vann,

2042

01:39:34,457 --> 01:39:39,357 a very important person in our fighting of the war,

2043

01:39:39,357 --> 01:39:41,151 particularly in the latter part of the war,

2044

01:39:41,151 --> 01:39:45,005 when he's deeply involved in the pacification program.

2045

01:39:45,005 --> 01:39:47,755 As well as in the later fighting.

2046

01:39:50,485 --> 01:39:53,364 Sheehan writes a book of, these are not the exact numbers,

2047

01:39:53,364 --> 01:39:55,364 but let's say 675 pages.

2048

01:39:57,403 --> 01:40:00,070 600 of these go through Tet '68,

2049

01:40:01,213 --> 01:40:03,256 and he essentially dismisses the rest of the war

2050

01:40:03,256 --> 01:40:04,756 in about 75 pages.

2051

01:40:06,251 --> 01:40:08,596 Even though John Paul Vann,

2052

01:40:08,596 --> 01:40:10,312 the nominal subject of his book,

2053

01:40:10,312 --> 01:40:13,217 lives and works and has his most important responsibilities

2054

01:40:13,217 --> 01:40:17,384 for four more years in this part that's dismissed.

2055

01:40:19,045 --> 01:40:21,855 And Sheehan says, in effect, because early on

2056

01:40:21,855 --> 01:40:25,755 Vann was very critical of the way the war was being fought,

2057

01:40:25,755 --> 01:40:28,330 and rightly so in my opinion,

2058

01:40:28,330 --> 01:40:30,121 and he and others shared those views

2059

01:40:30,121 --> 01:40:32,096 with people like Sheehan and Malcolm Browne

2060

01:40:32,096 --> 01:40:33,346 and Halberstam.

2061

01:40:34,951 --> 01:40:36,669 And that was reported in the press,

2062

01:40:36,669 --> 01:40:39,474 and you could say that that's good journalism.

2063

01:40:39,474 --> 01:40:42,641 But now, now, John Paul Vann says hey,

2064

01:40:44,936 --> 01:40:49,368 things have really been going really well here now,

2065

01:40:49,368 --> 01:40:52,575 he says at one point, you suffer more hazard

2066

01:40:52,575 --> 01:40:56,658 from the hustling, bustling Lambrettas and Hondas

2067

01:40:58,051 --> 01:41:02,094 on the road than you do from the Viet Cong.

2068

01:41:02,094 --> 01:41:05,183 So does Sheehan say, you can trust Vann,

2069

01:41:05,183 --> 01:41:07,831 if he says that it's true, as he did in the early period?

2070

01:41:07,831 --> 01:41:12,121 No. He says Vann sold out, can't trust him anymore.

2071

01:41:12,121 --> 01:41:14,746 So I'm not sorry, I can't join my friend Tom

2072

01:41:14,746 --> 01:41:18,883 in his great admiration either for the press writ large

2073

01:41:18,883 --> 01:41:22,716 or Neil Sheehan in the latter part of the war.

Thomas Vallely (Response on Sheehan)

2074

01:41:26,964 --> 01:41:28,612 THOMAS VALLELY: - I'd like to comment.

2075

01:41:28,612 --> 01:41:32,529 I think Neil Sheehan is a brilliant biographer.

2076

01:41:38,434 --> 01:41:41,128 As well as a brilliant journalist.

2077

01:41:41,128 --> 01:41:44,565 I think A Bright Shining Lie is a masterpiece.

2078

01:41:44,565 --> 01:41:47,049 I think A Bright Shining Lie is the equivalent

2079

01:41:47,049 --> 01:41:50,249 of an American War And Peace.

2080

01:41:50,249 --> 01:41:54,416 I think Bob Sorley I think describes John Vann correctly.

2081

01:41:56,198 --> 01:41:59,658 And I think Neil Sheehan reports in the book

2082

01:41:59,658 --> 01:42:01,885 about John Vann's, in his biography,

2083

01:42:01,885 --> 01:42:03,744 that John Vann in fact does change,

2084

01:42:03,744 --> 01:42:05,911 the way that is described.

2085

01:42:08,528 --> 01:42:12,528 And John Vann is not the person he was at Ap Bac

2086

01:42:13,798 --> 01:42:16,881 when he gets to the Easter Offensive.

2087

01:42:18,139 --> 01:42:20,608 He's a completely different person.

2088

01:42:20,608 --> 01:42:22,819 And I think what Sheehan does,

2089

01:42:22,819 --> 01:42:25,281 Sheehan makes him a completely different person,

2090

01:42:25,281 --> 01:42:28,508 the way that John Vann is in reality,

2091

01:42:28,508 --> 01:42:31,341 he describes John Vann the way you describe him.

2092

01:42:31,341 --> 01:42:33,984 I think that's part of the genius

2093

01:42:33,984 --> 01:42:37,651 of the Sheehan book, is that he's using Vann

2094

01:42:38,563 --> 01:42:42,970 as a way to describe the war and the strategy of the war,

2095

01:42:42,970 --> 01:42:46,736 and I think we all know the other side of John Vann,

2096

01:42:46,736 --> 01:42:51,450 but I think A Bright Shining Lie is a masterpiece.

2097

01:42:51,450 --> 01:42:55,617 And I think this film benefited by that masterpiece.

2098

01:42:57,487 --> 01:43:00,820 I read, after I had worked on this film,

2099

01:43:02,433 --> 01:43:05,846 for a bunch of years, I reread A Bright Shining Lie.

2100

01:43:05,846 --> 01:43:08,885 I learned more after working on the film

2101

01:43:08,885 --> 01:43:12,046 reading A Bright Shining Lie for a third time,

2102

01:43:12,046 --> 01:43:16,060 it became even a bigger masterpiece for me.

2103

01:43:16,060 --> 01:43:18,727 And I highly recommend the book.

Greg Daddis (Response on "Blame")

2104

01:43:20,126 --> 01:43:23,238 GREG DADDIS: - If I can, I'd like to wrap this back

2105

01:43:23,238 --> 01:43:24,821 to where I started,

2106

01:43:26,134 --> 01:43:29,391 about both certain approaches to history,

2107

01:43:29,391 --> 01:43:30,715 if-only approaches to history,

2108

01:43:30,715 --> 01:43:32,593 and also gaining a sense of empathy

2109

01:43:32,593 --> 01:43:35,010 by watching this documentary.

2110

01:43:36,287 --> 01:43:38,772 First, as I mentioned in my opening comments,

2111

01:43:38,772 --> 01:43:40,258 I think we need to be careful with this

2112

01:43:40,258 --> 01:43:41,558 if-only approach to history,

2113

01:43:41,558 --> 01:43:43,602 because I think it can be dangerous.

2114

01:43:43,602 --> 01:43:46,434 But so too can be looking at history

2115

01:43:46,434 --> 01:43:48,267 as a search for blame.

2116

01:43:49,871 --> 01:43:51,677 And we've heard Bob today say that,

2117

01:43:51,677 --> 01:43:56,646 to bring out some of these folks that deserve blame.

2118

01:43:56,646 --> 01:43:59,600 The media, Westmoreland, Congress.

2119

01:43:59,600 --> 01:44:02,363 And we might ask ourselves to be careful

2120

01:44:02,363 --> 01:44:04,729 with that approach to history.

2121

01:44:04,729 --> 01:44:06,404 But I think we also should be reminded

2122

01:44:06,404 --> 01:44:09,701 that empathy is an important part of this.

2123

01:44:09,701 --> 01:44:11,350 So having watched the film,

2124

01:44:11,350 --> 01:44:13,439 one of its most striking moments, I thought,

2125

01:44:13,439 --> 01:44:17,456 was in the final episode when Bob is being asked

2126

01:44:17,456 --> 01:44:19,873 to recall the fall of Saigon,

2127

01:44:21,218 --> 01:44:23,679 and he says at the end of the film

2128

01:44:23,679 --> 01:44:25,932 that he regrets to this day

2129

01:44:25,932 --> 01:44:29,182 that he didn't lay waste to a number of students

2130

01:44:29,182 --> 01:44:33,349 at Tufts University who were cheering the fall of Saigon.

2131

01:44:34,221 --> 01:44:39,121 So we should ask ourselves not to judge that comment,

2132

01:44:39,121 --> 01:44:41,396 because it's not our right to, I don't think,

2133

01:44:41,396 --> 01:44:43,436 but to be empathetic with that comment,

2134

01:44:43,436 --> 01:44:45,645 and then ask ourselves, how did that sense of anger,

2135

01:44:45,645 --> 01:44:47,732 over the results of the war,

2136

01:44:47,732 --> 01:44:49,848 color interpretations of the war,

2137

01:44:49,848 --> 01:44:52,466 and color the history of the war?

2138

01:44:52,466 --> 01:44:55,560 Because I think it's important to us,

2139

01:44:55,560 --> 01:44:59,133 again speaking from the American perspective,

2140

01:44:59,133 --> 01:45:01,597 that there is a sense of disappointment,

2141

01:45:01,597 --> 01:45:04,802 and disillusionment, and even anger over the outcome

2142

01:45:04,802 --> 01:45:07,802 of the American endeavor in Vietnam.

2143

01:45:08,981 --> 01:45:12,882 That anger and disillusionment should not force us

2144

01:45:12,882 --> 01:45:15,924 into a search for blame as we look backwards.

2145

01:45:15,924 --> 01:45:18,618 Because I don't know if that's the most helpful way

2146

01:45:18,618 --> 01:45:23,192 to use history, in terms of gaining a sense of importance

2147

01:45:23,192 --> 01:45:26,234 for that long endeavor in Vietnam.

2148

01:45:26,234 --> 01:45:28,974 But also one that hopefully gets us to

2149

01:45:28,974 --> 01:45:33,525 more of an appreciation for the different voices

2150

01:45:33,525 --> 01:45:36,729 that come out of that conflict.

Erik Villard (Moderator)

2151

01:45:36,729 --> 01:45:38,819 ERIK VILLARD: - All right, we are coming towards the end

2152

01:45:38,819 --> 01:45:41,582 of our conference, but I wanna end with one question,

2153

01:45:41,582 --> 01:45:43,718 this comes from the audience,

2154

01:45:43,718 --> 01:45:45,414 and I think it might be a fitting one,

2155

01:45:45,414 --> 01:45:49,384 something I've given a lot of thought to myself.

2156

01:45:49,384 --> 01:45:51,608 This comes from Phil Jennings,

2157

01:45:51,608 --> 01:45:53,796 who was a Marine captain and helicopter pilot,

2158

01:45:53,796 --> 01:45:58,533 flew into Laos and knows what he's talking about.

2159

01:45:58,533 --> 01:46:02,533 Question is: "on what date did we lose the war?"

2160

01:46:04,570 --> 01:46:07,570 So let me put that in another frame,

2161

01:46:09,702 --> 01:46:12,702 particularly in context of the film.

2162

01:46:13,556 --> 01:46:17,723 You recall from the opening segment the voiceover,

2163

01:46:19,617 --> 01:46:22,950 that the war began with good intentions,

2164

01:46:24,035 --> 01:46:26,035 and it ended in failure.

2165

01:46:28,185 --> 01:46:31,435 And those of you who were on the advisory panel

2166

01:46:31,435 --> 01:46:33,476 will know this,

2167

01:46:33,476 --> 01:46:37,059 the debate that raged with Burns and Novick

2168

01:46:37,914 --> 01:46:40,862 and all the other folks between the choice of the word

2169

01:46:40,862 --> 01:46:43,362 defeat or failure was intense.

2170

01:46:44,996 --> 01:46:46,598 I think it's a fascinating one.

2171

01:46:46,598 --> 01:46:50,427 I have my views, but we're not here to hear my views.

2172

01:46:50,427 --> 01:46:52,518 I'd like to throw that to the panel,

2173

01:46:52,518 --> 01:46:57,161 and reinforce the question that Phil Jennings asked.

2174

01:46:57,161 --> 01:46:59,994 At what point did we lose the war?

2175

01:47:01,320 --> 01:47:04,820 Was it a defeat, or was it something else?

Greg Daddis (on Vietnamese responsibilities)

2176

01:47:08,123 --> 01:47:11,536 GREG DADDIS: - If I may respectively submit that that might be

2177

01:47:11,536 --> 01:47:14,276 a bit of a fallacious question.

2178

01:47:14,276 --> 01:47:16,923 To me, and I think Nu-Anh brought this out

2179

01:47:16,923 --> 01:47:21,349 quite perceptively, that there were fundamental questions

2180

01:47:21,349 --> 01:47:24,516 that were not for Americans to answer.

2181

01:47:25,831 --> 01:47:27,643 Questions about independence,

2182

01:47:27,643 --> 01:47:29,267 questions about sovereignty,

2183

01:47:29,267 --> 01:47:31,767 and who represents the people.

2184

01:47:32,869 --> 01:47:37,118 Questions about what it meant to be a Vietnamese

2185

01:47:37,118 --> 01:47:38,618 in the modern era.

2186

01:47:39,506 --> 01:47:41,807 And quite frankly I don't think any of those questions

2187

01:47:41,807 --> 01:47:43,898 could be answered by Americans or any foreigners,

2188

01:47:43,898 --> 01:47:45,524 to be quite frank.

2189

01:47:45,524 --> 01:47:47,588 And so I think it's important,

2190

01:47:47,588 --> 01:47:50,052 and I think what this film hopefully will do

2191

01:47:50,052 --> 01:47:51,932 for Americans in particular is to get us

2192

01:47:51,932 --> 01:47:53,882 to move away from questions like that,

2193

01:47:53,882 --> 01:47:55,624 did we lose or did we win?

2194

01:47:55,624 --> 01:47:59,386 And start to think more about this American war

2195

01:47:59,386 --> 01:48:01,658 in Vietnam less as an American war

2196

01:48:01,658 --> 01:48:05,241 and more about the war as a Vietnamese war.

Phil Jennings (Audience member)

2197

01:48:18,775 --> 01:48:20,377 PHIL JENNINGS: - I really don't care

2198

01:48:20,377 --> 01:48:22,699 if you think that I'm crazy or fallacious or anything else.

2199

01:48:22,699 --> 01:48:26,135 I read about the war for the first time at 14 years old

2200

01:48:26,135 --> 01:48:28,063 about Dien Bien Phu fell.

2201

01:48:28,063 --> 01:48:30,454 14 years later, shot down in Dien Bien Phu.

2202

01:48:30,454 --> 01:48:32,614 All that time I studied the war.

2203

01:48:32,614 --> 01:48:34,352 I was a pilot in Vietnam,

2204

01:48:34,352 --> 01:48:36,213 I was a pilot for Air America,

2205

01:48:36,213 --> 01:48:37,963 I then infiltrated in

2206

01:48:39,160 --> 01:48:42,024 the Vietnam Veterans Against the War assholes,

2207

01:48:42,024 --> 01:48:43,132 pardon me.

2208

01:48:43,132 --> 01:48:46,049 I then went into Cubans with Mexico

2209

01:48:47,007 --> 01:48:51,349 and went into Cuban groups who were against the war,

2210

01:48:51,349 --> 01:48:53,999 a lot of them sending torturers to North Vietnam.

2211

01:48:53,999 --> 01:48:56,205 I researched very strongly about the war.

2212

01:48:56,205 --> 01:48:58,318 And here's the point.

2213

01:48:58,318 --> 01:49:01,151 In 1972, late '72, most of our combat troops

2214

01:49:01,151 --> 01:49:03,636 were out of Vietnam, it's just a fact,

2215

01:49:03,636 --> 01:49:05,679 it's not something I made up.

2216

01:49:05,679 --> 01:49:07,072 The Vietnamese, we all know,

2217

01:49:07,072 --> 01:49:09,139 were very recalcitrant in peace,

2218

01:49:09,139 --> 01:49:12,389 so Nixon ordered the Christmas bombing.

2219

01:49:14,222 --> 01:49:17,972 It was called the worst crime in the century.

2220

01:49:19,959 --> 01:49:21,863 1500 people were killed.

2221

01:49:21,863 --> 01:49:25,207 Half of the people killed in the World Trade Center.

2222

01:49:25,207 --> 01:49:26,925 And that was the worst crime of the century?

2223

01:49:26,925 --> 01:49:30,196 The Vietnamese came back and signed a peace treaty.

2224

01:49:30,196 --> 01:49:32,661 They said we'll quit fighting,

2225

01:49:32,661 --> 01:49:34,370 we'll give you your troops back,

2226

01:49:34,370 --> 01:49:36,409 we'll give you your POWs back,

2227

01:49:36,409 --> 01:49:40,402 and we came home from that war in 1973,

2228

01:49:40,402 --> 01:49:44,128 and it was over for America, as you said.

2229

01:49:44,128 --> 01:49:46,056 So what is it about us as a country

2230

01:49:46,056 --> 01:49:48,494 that wants to ignore the fact that

2231

01:49:48,494 --> 01:49:52,441 we simply abandoned the people in South Vietnam

2232

01:49:52,441 --> 01:49:53,608 to their fate?

2233

01:49:55,599 --> 01:49:58,640 Millions were killed after we left.

2234

01:49:58,640 --> 01:50:02,816 Bob Sorley is exactly, exactly right in my opinion.

2235

01:50:02,816 --> 01:50:04,528 I pause for a continuous time,

2236

01:50:04,528 --> 01:50:08,788 I spent a great deal of my life in this war in my head.

2237

01:50:08,788 --> 01:50:12,132 I've written books about it, I've talked about it,

2238

01:50:12,132 --> 01:50:14,939 lectured about it, I've never had anybody explain to me

2239

01:50:14,939 --> 01:50:17,772 why we have to feel like, in 1973,

2240

01:50:19,376 --> 01:50:21,907 we lost that war in Vietnam.

2241

01:50:21,907 --> 01:50:24,619 And the reason this is important is because

2242

01:50:24,619 --> 01:50:26,198 it became a political war,

2243

01:50:26,198 --> 01:50:28,682 and our politics then have never recovered

2244

01:50:28,682 --> 01:50:33,006 from lying to ourselves about what was really at issue

2245

01:50:33,006 --> 01:50:34,562 in the Vietnam War.

2246

01:50:34,562 --> 01:50:36,229 Thank you very much.

2247

01:50:37,232 --> 01:50:40,367 (applauding)

Jay Veith (on the Fall of Saigon)

2248

01:50:40,367 --> 01:50:41,482 JAY VEITH: - I'd like to comment.

2249

01:50:41,482 --> 01:50:43,362 I've written an entire book on the fall,

2250

01:50:43,362 --> 01:50:44,872 so I know a little bit about it.

2251

01:50:44,872 --> 01:50:47,076 But I think I agree with Professor Daddis,

2252

01:50:47,076 --> 01:50:49,330 in that it wasn't our war to lose.

2253

01:50:49,330 --> 01:50:51,722 Ultimately it was the South Vietnamese war to lose.

2254

01:50:51,722 --> 01:50:53,324 Now I agree with you 100% in the sense

2255

01:50:53,324 --> 01:50:54,671 that we abandoned them,

2256

01:50:54,671 --> 01:50:56,993 we certainly left them to the tender mercies

2257

01:50:56,993 --> 01:50:58,432 of the communists.

2258

01:50:58,432 --> 01:51:02,356 But ultimately it was the South Vietnamese

2259

01:51:02,356 --> 01:51:04,326 that were going to win or lose that war,

2260

01:51:04,326 --> 01:51:06,629 and we could only do so much for them.

2261

01:51:06,629 --> 01:51:08,579 I think in some ways we probably went overboard

2262

01:51:08,579 --> 01:51:11,596 trying to help them, in other ways we didn't.

2263

01:51:11,596 --> 01:51:13,757 But I have to agree with Professor Daddis,

2264

01:51:13,757 --> 01:51:15,685 that ultimately it was the South Vietnamese.

2265

01:51:15,685 --> 01:51:18,332 We're the ones that came home, they didn't.

2266

01:51:18,332 --> 01:51:21,082 They were there for the duration.

Mark Moyar (on Turning Points)

2267

01:51:22,482 --> 01:51:26,223 MARK MOYAR: - I wanna just make a couple comments on that question.

2268

01:51:26,223 --> 01:51:29,723 I think there were a couple key junctures.

2269

01:51:30,708 --> 01:51:34,377 The coup of November 1st 1963 I think was

2270

01:51:34,377 --> 01:51:37,326 probably the single biggest event of the war.

2271

01:51:37,326 --> 01:51:40,205 This actually also is relevant to Neil Sheehan,

2272

01:51:40,205 --> 01:51:44,710 because in my view, Sheehan spent much of the ensuing period

2273

01:51:44,710 --> 01:51:48,332 justifying why he and other journalists supported that coup,

2274

01:51:48,332 --> 01:51:50,631 because at the time it was being portrayed

2275

01:51:50,631 --> 01:51:52,651 as this was gonna be the coup that fixes

2276

01:51:52,651 --> 01:51:55,669 these messy political problems,

2277

01:51:55,669 --> 01:51:59,728 but by all accounts the war goes dramatically worse.

2278

01:51:59,728 --> 01:52:02,821 I mean there's no US combat troops in Vietnam in 1963,

2279

01:52:02,821 --> 01:52:05,979 and the South Vietnamese are actually doing pretty well.

2280

01:52:05,979 --> 01:52:08,556 That was a critical mistake,

2281

01:52:08,556 --> 01:52:10,758 and we the US government incited that

2282

01:52:10,758 --> 01:52:13,476 with the journalists helping out,

2283

01:52:13,476 --> 01:52:15,589 and I think that colors much of what Sheehan

2284

01:52:15,589 --> 01:52:17,891 and Halberstam later write.

2285

01:52:17,891 --> 01:52:20,004 There is the '73 to '74 period,

2286

01:52:20,004 --> 01:52:23,278 and a series of actions taken which preclude,

2287

01:52:23,278 --> 01:52:27,411 reduce US aid, preclude the use of air power.

2288

01:52:27,411 --> 01:52:29,501 The series does mention this,

2289

01:52:29,501 --> 01:52:31,982 in the end of '74 there's a strategic reconnaissance

2290

01:52:31,982 --> 01:52:35,482 by Hanoi that they attack in one province,

2291

01:52:36,815 --> 01:52:39,438 because they wanna see if the Americans

2292

01:52:39,438 --> 01:52:41,041 are coming back with their air power.

2293

01:52:41,041 --> 01:52:44,060 Because they know, if the Americans are ready to bomb,

2294

01:52:44,060 --> 01:52:45,917 they're not gonna be able to do what they want.

2295

01:52:45,917 --> 01:52:48,239 Then when we don't, then that's the signal to go ahead.

2296

01:52:48,239 --> 01:52:50,445 The other comment I would make is,

2297

01:52:50,445 --> 01:52:52,953 if you look at what our original objectives were

2298

01:52:52,953 --> 01:52:55,504 in Vietnam, we accomplished those.

2299

01:52:55,504 --> 01:52:57,522 Our broader objectives were to prevent the spread

2300

01:52:57,522 --> 01:52:59,896 of communism in Southeast Asia.

2301

01:52:59,896 --> 01:53:01,610 And for the most part we did that,

2302

01:53:01,610 --> 01:53:03,541 for reasons that I alluded to earlier.

2303

01:53:03,541 --> 01:53:06,769 As Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia fall,

2304

01:53:06,769 --> 01:53:09,274 and I think in my view that was disgraceful,

2305

01:53:09,274 --> 01:53:11,596 we could have kept those going at a reasonable cost,

2306

01:53:11,596 --> 01:53:13,663 but most of the rest of Southeast Asia

2307

01:53:13,663 --> 01:53:15,311 did not go communist,

2308

01:53:15,311 --> 01:53:17,332 and that is something that has ramifications

2309

01:53:17,332 --> 01:53:18,911 for the United States today,

2310

01:53:18,911 --> 01:53:22,244 where we are still competing with China.

Nu-Anh Tran (on Vietnamese rivalries)

2311

01:53:23,764 --> 01:53:25,668 NU-ANH TRAN: - So as usual I'm going to try and turn that

2312

01:53:25,668 --> 01:53:28,222 to a Vietnamese question.

2313

01:53:28,222 --> 01:53:29,986 I think there are three moments that I would point to

2314

01:53:29,986 --> 01:53:30,983 that was a loss, and not a loss for a particular side,

2315

01:53:30,983 --> 01:53:32,900 but loss of principles.

2316

01:53:35,238 --> 01:53:38,238 So I would say 1945, 1954, and 1975.

2317

01:53:39,952 --> 01:53:41,879 So as I've sort of alluded to,

2318

01:53:41,879 --> 01:53:43,481 the Vietnamese nationalist movement

2319

01:53:43,481 --> 01:53:44,781 is actually quite diverse,

2320

01:53:44,781 --> 01:53:46,128 there are a lot of communists,

2321

01:53:46,128 --> 01:53:47,428 there are also a variety of non-communists.

2322

01:53:47,428 --> 01:53:50,819 There were actually multiple types of communists as well.

2323

01:53:50,819 --> 01:53:53,257 And the question should have been,

2324

01:53:53,257 --> 01:53:56,786 how do we create a state in which all these groups

2325

01:53:56,786 --> 01:53:59,869 can co-exist and not kill each other.

2326

01:54:01,012 --> 01:54:05,027 But in 1945, the communist-led Viet Minh seizes power,

2327

01:54:05,027 --> 01:54:06,630 so one of the first things they do,

2328

01:54:06,630 --> 01:54:09,673 a couple days after the declaration of independence

2329

01:54:09,673 --> 01:54:11,851 of Ho Chi Minh, one of the first thing that happens

2330

01:54:11,851 --> 01:54:15,501 is that they start purging, harassing, jailing,

2331

01:54:15,501 --> 01:54:17,834 killing, rival nationalists.

2332

01:54:18,868 --> 01:54:21,167 In 1954, in South Vietnam,

2333

01:54:21,167 --> 01:54:22,700 one of the first things Ngo Dinh Diem does,

2334

01:54:22,700 --> 01:54:25,486 is he also goes after, not only communists,

2335

01:54:25,486 --> 01:54:27,667 but anticommunist rivals.

2336

01:54:27,667 --> 01:54:31,128 In 1975, when the war ends, the postwar government,

2337

01:54:31,128 --> 01:54:34,610 and there were promises of national reconciliation,

2338

01:54:34,610 --> 01:54:37,117 harmony and not taking vengeance,

2339

01:54:37,117 --> 01:54:39,650 one of the first things that happened

2340

01:54:39,650 --> 01:54:41,065 is they go after people who are associated

2341

01:54:41,065 --> 01:54:42,460 with the former regime.

2342

01:54:42,460 --> 01:54:44,571 I think I pick all of those moments

2343

01:54:44,571 --> 01:54:48,242 as moments where a government was faced with a problem,

2344

01:54:48,242 --> 01:54:50,889 of what do we do with people we disagree with?

2345

01:54:50,889 --> 01:54:54,209 And the answer in all those moments was we suppress them.

2346

01:54:54,209 --> 01:54:56,067 And I think that loss of political diversity

2347

01:54:56,067 --> 01:54:58,900 has a lot to do with the later conflict

2348

01:54:58,900 --> 01:55:01,616 and the enduring divisions between Vietnamese people.

2349

01:55:01,616 --> 01:55:04,333 And I think that is a loss for Vietnamese people as a whole,

2350

01:55:04,333 --> 01:55:08,048 because for so much of the history of modern Vietnam,

2351

01:55:08,048 --> 01:55:10,092 it's about people killing each other because

2352

01:55:10,092 --> 01:55:12,878 they can't agree on what type of government to have.

2353

01:55:12,878 --> 01:55:16,795 And I think that is a true defeat for everyone.

Marc Selverstone (On Kennedy)

2354

01:55:18,307 --> 01:55:21,678 MARC SELVERSTONE::- Very quickly, just to add one more point,

2355

01:55:21,678 --> 01:55:24,903 historical juncture to what is really a question of

2356

01:55:24,903 --> 01:55:28,990 how did the windows of opportunity continually narrow?

2357

01:55:28,990 --> 01:55:33,079 And that would be November 15th, I think it is, 1961,

2358

01:55:33,079 --> 01:55:35,517 when the Kennedy administration decides to militarize

2359

01:55:35,517 --> 01:55:39,836 a conflict that it believes is largely political.

2360

01:55:39,836 --> 01:55:42,994 And from that point forward we go from under 700

2361

01:55:42,994 --> 01:55:45,911 US military advisers to over 16,000

2362

01:55:46,849 --> 01:55:49,682 by the end of the Kennedy period.

2363

01:55:49,682 --> 01:55:51,469 So it's a critical moment.

2364

01:55:51,469 --> 01:55:53,234 There are obviously others, and we have all

2365

01:55:53,234 --> 01:55:54,697 articulated them here.

2366

01:55:54,697 --> 01:55:55,951 I very much agree that November 1st '63

2367

01:55:55,951 --> 01:55:57,809 is a very critical moment,

2368

01:55:57,809 --> 01:55:59,155 but I think when the Kennedy administration

2369

01:55:59,155 --> 01:56:00,943 decides to change the nature

2370

01:56:00,943 --> 01:56:03,191 of the American advisory commitment,

2371

01:56:03,191 --> 01:56:06,237 that it crosses the River Styx.[1]

2372

01:56:06,237 --> 01:56:07,863 LEWIS SORLEY: - With respect to the comment that you could only

2373

01:56:07,863 --> 01:56:10,196 help the Vietnamese so much,

2374

01:56:11,810 --> 01:56:13,645 we don't know what would have happened

2375

01:56:13,645 --> 01:56:15,640 if the war had gone on, we cant's say

2376

01:56:15,640 --> 01:56:18,264 that they would have prevailed or survived,

2377

01:56:18,264 --> 01:56:19,519 we don't know that.

2378

01:56:19,519 --> 01:56:21,330 But what we do know is that when we stopped helping them,

2379

01:56:21,330 --> 01:56:23,164 they went under.

2380

01:56:23,164 --> 01:56:25,065 And the reason they did was because we no longer

2381

01:56:25,065 --> 01:56:27,507 gave them the wherewithal.

2382

01:56:27,507 --> 01:56:29,759 Meanwhile the North Vietnamese were getting

2383

01:56:29,759 --> 01:56:32,290 from their communist sponsors greatly increased

2384

01:56:32,290 --> 01:56:33,790 levels of support.

2385

01:56:36,306 --> 01:56:39,070 As Tom Polgar cabled an I told you,

2386

01:56:39,070 --> 01:56:41,322 outcome no longer in doubt.

2387

01:56:41,322 --> 01:56:44,405 Most Americans would not like it said

2388

01:56:47,476 --> 01:56:50,309 that the communist governments of China

2389

01:56:50,309 --> 01:56:52,793 and the Soviet Union proved to be better

2390

01:56:52,793 --> 01:56:55,493 and more reliable allies to their patrons

2391

01:56:55,493 --> 01:56:59,765 than the democratic Americans did to theirs.

2392

01:56:59,765 --> 01:57:03,932 But ladies and gentlemen, that is in fact the case.

Erik Villard (Conclusion)

2393

01:57:04,966 --> 01:57:06,801 ERIK VILLARD: - Well I would like to thank everyone

2394

01:57:06,801 --> 01:57:09,468 for attending this fantastic discussion.

2395

01:57:09,468 --> 01:57:11,551 Our panelists especially.

2396

01:57:12,699 --> 01:57:15,206 I'm also giving a shoutout to all of you

2397

01:57:15,206 --> 01:57:18,504 who are following this on Twitter and the livestream,

2398

01:57:18,504 --> 01:57:20,222 it's been a fantastic experience,

2399

01:57:20,222 --> 01:57:22,472 I thank you all for coming.

2400

01:57:25,397 --> 01:57:28,564 (audience applauding) CLOSED CAPTIONS COURTESY OF VVFH.ORG

2401

01:57:29,928 --> 01:57:32,845 (inspiring music) CLOSED CAPTIONS COURTESY OF VVFH.ORG

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References

  1. Rubicon?

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