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Tags "The Vietnam War" , documentaries , ken burns , US-Vietnam relations , Vietnam history

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Old 24th May 2020, 10:58 AM   #1
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I've been watching Ken Burns' "The Vietnam War"

I'm barely old enough to remember the Vietnam War. I was 10 years old when the peace accords were signed in 1973. So, I recognized a lot of the terms that were used to describe the war, like "Tet Offensive" and "Khe Sanh" and "Ho Chi Minh Trail" and all that, but I really couldn't put them into a context. I knew it was said that our soldiers won the war, but our politicians lost it, but I really didn't know what that meant. I had never read a book about the war, so my knowledge was pretty fragmented. I played wargames, but I always avoided modern stuff, like Vietnam.

Well, the Vietnam war is not as modern as it used to be, and I found myself watching a Ken Burns documentary for my Covid 19 entertainment.


What a thoroughly and utterly messed up piece of history. The people who ran that war were a disgrace. Whether it's LBJ, or McNamara, or Westmoreland. The lot of them should be remembered by history as completely awful people, or at least so thoroughly and utterly inept that it borders on criminal.

I vaguely remember "body counts". As a small child I remember seeing on the news that our team lost 400, but their team lost 640, so that meant we were winning. That made sense to my six year old brain, but come to find out that was the level of thinking of the people in charge, too. It's incredible that such incompetence went on for so long.

Meanwhile, our generals knew how the NVA was getting into the country, and how they were shipping supplies to the Viet Cong, and we bombed the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but didn't actually occupy it to prevent those supplies from coming in, because as long as we had a positive kill ratio, we were winning.

I had heard about all this stuff before, but I think it took a documentary of that length to really grasp just how incredibly stupid it all was.

If you want to see something that shows you just how incredibly stupid a government and militiary industrial complex can be, watch it.
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Old 24th May 2020, 11:14 AM   #2
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Burns always tells a good story, but his scholarship is superficial at best, and from your description I doubt this film is going to reverse that trend.
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Old 24th May 2020, 11:30 AM   #3
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I've watched that documentary. I found it thanks to listening to a podcast by Sam Harris, where he talked to the creators, I believe the co-creator's name is Lynn Novick. It's a good episode, if really short, and goes into all the work they did to make the 18 hour monstrosity of a documentary.

Last year my brother married a girl who was originally from Viet Nam, and we held the wedding in Nha Trang. So naturally I've taken an interest to Vietnamese history, in particular the Viet Nam war, and these past weeks I've been working my way through the documentary again.

I agree, it was a cluster ****. On every level. I'm glad the documentary was made, because the younger generation needs to have this discussion, and know about the atrocities and horrific decisions of the war.
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Old 24th May 2020, 12:20 PM   #4
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I remember how preposterous it seemed in Back to the Future II when there was a travel poster in 2015 to "Surf Vietnam!". In 1985 (BTTF II's release year) we weren't all that far removed from the events -- Saigon had fallen only 14 years before. Odd to find out that it was prescient and it's now a travel destination. (Or was, until a few months ago.)
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Old 24th May 2020, 12:45 PM   #5
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I have watched the whole series two or three times (its a very big story naturally). I thought it fantastic and balanced. Burns may not be a “scholar” but most of the documentary involves interviewing people from both sides who were there, and the footage speaks for itself.

Maybe conservative viewers (or non-viewers) might think “this is heavy criticism of the US, so it will be crap”, but you can’t properly cover that war without poking at sore wounds,

Also, apart from those who committed war crimes (Calley et al), soldiers were treated with understanding and dignity by Burns.

I was a young man of draft age at the start of the war (thankfully my birthdate wasn’t drawn in the ballot) and followed it closely. This was I think the first war where censorship and propaganda did not prevent people from getting a true picture of what happened, and for every Jane Fonda on one side and US propagandists on the other, there were hundreds of journalists at the front bravely reporting what was really happening. Many of them are in the series.
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Old 24th May 2020, 01:04 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
I have watched the whole series two or three times (its a very big story naturally). I thought it fantastic and balanced. Burns may not be a “scholar” but most of the documentary involves interviewing people from both sides who were there, and the footage speaks for itself.

Maybe conservative viewers (or non-viewers) might think “this is heavy criticism of the US, so it will be crap”, but you can’t properly cover that war without poking at sore wounds
Yeah, there's definitely no good guys and bad guys in their narrative. The South Vietnamese government comes across as inept, divided, and corrupt, the US leadership and generals make no attempt to understand the country they are supporting/invading and try to fight a conventional war against a guerilla and insurgency, and also seem to have a disregard for the human rights of both the Vietnamese and their own people back home, and the North Vietnamese are, well, as ruthless and Stalinist as you'd expect. The hardships and humanity of soldiers is given much air time, but so is the war crimes committed by both sides, and civilian suffering is covered at length. It can't be used as a propaganda movie by any camp, except I suppose if you cherry pick episodes.
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Old 24th May 2020, 01:08 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
I remember how preposterous it seemed in Back to the Future II when there was a travel poster in 2015 to "Surf Vietnam!". In 1985 (BTTF II's release year) we weren't all that far removed from the events -- Saigon had fallen only 14 years before. Odd to find out that it was prescient and it's now a travel destination. (Or was, until a few months ago.)
Gives you hope for conflict zones of today. I saw the scenes with a Vietnam in tatters and boat refugees flooding into other countries, and was reminded of the state of Syria today, and the refugees crossing the Mediterranean.

Maybe in 2050 it will be Syria that's a thriving tourist destination.
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Old 24th May 2020, 01:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Burns always tells a good story, but his scholarship is superficial at best, and from your description I doubt this film is going to reverse that trend.
So you haven’t seen it? Okay, I need say no more.

BTW the series first aired in 2017 if you wish to watch it. I think one can stream it from Netflix, or maybe Amazon Prime. Or just buy it on DVDs. I recommend it highly. It is a truly excellent series, matches very well what I saw and experienced living through that era and what I’ve learned subsequently from reading and other documentaries. Very balanced too, to the point of upsetting me when it undermined some of what I had come to believe.

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Old 24th May 2020, 01:31 PM   #9
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I also strongly recommend “Fog of War,” a documentary/interview with Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense during much of that time. As an anti war student I hated McNamara so much. He was the White House’s main spokesman for Johnson’s pro-escalation, pro-war policies. But the truth was that inside the administration he had concluded that the war could not be won, and he opposed further escalation and recommended withdrawal. But he also felt that outwardly he had to remain a supporter of LBJ and his policies. McNamara was a very painfully morally conflicted man and the film does an excellent job of exploring his anguish. Provides a lot of thought as to the morality of serving an evil when you feel you might be able to help turn it around from inside. About being careful who you pretend to be because you may ultimately become what you pretend.

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Old 24th May 2020, 02:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
So you haven’t seen it? Okay, I need say no more.

BTW the series first aired in 2017 if you wish to watch it. I think one can stream it from Netflix, or maybe Amazon Prime. Or just buy it on DVDs. I recommend it highly. It is a truly excellent series, matches very well what I saw and experienced living through that era and what I’ve learned subsequently from reading and other documentaries. Very balanced too, to the point of upsetting me when it undermined some of what I had come to believe.
I'm watching on Netflix now.
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Old 24th May 2020, 02:58 PM   #11
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I'm old enough to have fought in it but fortunately didn't have to. I don't know if I want to watch that.
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Old 24th May 2020, 03:10 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
I also strongly recommend “Fog of War,” a documentary/interview with Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense during much of that time. As an anti war student I hated McNamara so much. He was the White House’s main spokesman for Johnson’s pro-escalation, pro-war policies. But the truth was that inside the administration he had concluded that the war could not be won, and he opposed further escalation and recommended withdrawal. But he also felt that outwardly he had to remain a supporter of LBJ and his policies. McNamara was a very painfully morally conflicted man and the film does an excellent job of exploring his anguish. Provides a lot of thought as to the morality of serving an evil when you feel you might be able to help turn it around from inside. About being careful who you pretend to be because you may ultimately become what you pretend.
Wife and I have been watching the series. It's quite consistent with my memory of specific events. Truly a clusterf... but the cold war was going full force. Domino theory and all that. Funny that not long after the end of US's involvement the Communist Chinese and Communist Vietnamese went to war with each other. Not completely surprising because a lot of the reasons S. Vietnam was unable to stand on it's own was the dominance of the commercial/educated/political classes by ethnic Chinese (with French influence). The hoi polloi didn't relate well to them. People are more intensely driven by nationalism and there is an instinctive skepticism if not outright dislike of foreign countries insisting they are there to help you. Classic empire overreach which seems to afflict all empires eventually.

JFK knew better but perhaps his "The Best and the Brightest" didn't serve him too well.

So true about McNamara. A bright fellow, trapped. As was LBJ. I was just out of college when they started the draft lottery and wound up with a very high number so could plan on things w/o the uncertainty.

Also funny how Communism just sort of rotted on the vine. Great intentions but human nature will not be easily changed. Even with rather extreme measures. The Road to Hell has been paved many times.
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Old 24th May 2020, 03:12 PM   #13
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To really understand how FUBAR that war was, read The Pentagon Papers. The major lies from US administrations went back to 1945.

Bush et al learned to control the media's imagery, embedding reporters and attacking whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning instead of learning the lesson of a useless war.

Obama carried on by intimidating reporters who reported on stories from whistleblowers but that goes beyond the Vietnam War and its lack of consequences (besides Nixon and that was for unrelated campaign cheating) for those responsible.
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Old 24th May 2020, 03:22 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
To really understand how FUBAR that war was, read The Pentagon Papers. The major lies from US administrations went back to 1945.

Bush et al learned to control the media's imagery, embedding reporters and attacking whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning instead of learning the lesson of a useless war.

Obama carried on by intimidating reporters who reported on stories from whistleblowers but that goes beyond the Vietnam War and its lack of consequences (besides Nixon and that was for unrelated campaign cheating) for those responsible.
Yep. There was a great attempt to control the narrative. Apparently that was the "lesson learned" from the Vietnam War. Didn't work so well with the Iraqis. Iraq was seen as an easy target. One of, if not the most Western country in the Gulf. They would welcome us with flowers. Then it's on to Iran and Syria. So much for the shining city on the hill.
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Old 24th May 2020, 03:23 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
I'm old enough to have fought in it but fortunately didn't have to. I don't know if I want to watch that.
My older brother volunteered and went to Vietnam. I joined the protest marches and my younger brother joined the Air Force about the time the war was winding down so never went.

That didn't stop him from trying to shame me for not wanting my son to join the service (any of them) and go fight the useless war in Iraq. I would have moved to Canada and made sure my son could come with me. But instead of renewing the draft, Bush et al simply sent National Guard persons on 5 and 6 tours of duty.

My apologies to the vets on this Memorial Day. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate soldiers who fought to keep this country free. The wars of my generation were wrong but I fully appreciate the soldiers who fought for the right reasons.
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Old 24th May 2020, 03:28 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Burns always tells a good story, but his scholarship is superficial at best, and from your description I doubt this film is going to reverse that trend.
So what! Its not in the purview of the producer or director to be a scholar on the subject material. Their task is to get the necessary qualified people (and scholars if you like) to advise and participate - something that Ken Burns did a great job of for "The Civil War".

Other examples would be Tom Hanks, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard - not exactly a scholars, but that didn't stop them from producing and directing what is indisputably the greatest dramatized documentary series ever made about the Apollo program.
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Old 24th May 2020, 04:46 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
My apologies to the vets on this Memorial Day. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate soldiers who fought to keep this country free. The wars of my generation were wrong but I fully appreciate the soldiers who fought for the right reasons.
Reminds me of a scene from Tom Clancy's "Op Center" where the new Director tells his 2 IC, a US Army General, that he marched in opposition to the war in Vietnam. The General said words to the effect that its why he joined the army - to defend others' rights not to have to fight. That is a feeling which is real (although not universal) among the military. I know my Dad felt the same away about WW2... "we did what we did so that you would not have to".
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Old 24th May 2020, 06:18 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Reminds me of a scene from Tom Clancy's "Op Center" where the new Director tells his 2 IC, a US Army General, that he marched in opposition to the war in Vietnam. The General said words to the effect that its why he joined the army - to defend others' rights not to have to fight. That is a feeling which is real (although not universal) among the military. I know my Dad felt the same away about WW2... "we did what we did so that you would not have to".
And we fought to end the Vietnam war saving countless lives that would have been lost if no one had stood up to the lying government that thought saving face was more important than 55,000 American lives and millions of lives of the Vietnamese.

If it was a war against Hitler or Japan (at the time) I'm sure I would have had a different POV.
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Old 24th May 2020, 07:01 PM   #19
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The one that stuck out for me from the series was the woman whose job it was to repair the Ho Chi Min trail. The US would bomb the crap out of it and the NVA had thousands that would go right back and fill in the bomb craters.

The whole bombing campaign was just totally misguided and ineffective. So, of course, the conclusion was that it just wasn't enough. More tonnage!
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Old 24th May 2020, 09:55 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Meanwhile, our generals knew how the NVA was getting into the country, and how they were shipping supplies to the Viet Cong, and we bombed the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but didn't actually occupy it to prevent those supplies from coming in....
Occupying the HCM trail would have meant occupying large areas of Cambodia and Laos. That might have just brought in more people willing to fight the U.S., a greater perception that the U.S. was an imperial aggressor. It might just have moved the fighting further west, with new HCM trails forming further west.

Plus, in the Cold War context, Vietnam was just one place of out many where the fight was happening. Were we to hit too hard in Vietnam, the USSR could trigger things somewhere else. The willingness of the USSR to keep things going was a big factor in what made it unwinnable, just as the U.S. willingness to keep things going in Afghanistan made that war unwinnable for the USSR. Berlin, Cuba, Central America, Africa, the USSR had options. Indo/Pakistan, Suez, Middle East - all areas could get stirred up if either superpower wanted to just shift the fight somewhere else.


I don't remember if the documentary mentioned how many of the bombs dropped on the HCM trail failed to detonate and are still there - something like 30% - and millions were dropped as cluster bombs. It's like millions of grenade-side bombs lying around Cambodia and Laos, still waiting to go off if disturbed.
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Old 24th May 2020, 11:02 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
Occupying the HCM trail would have meant occupying large areas of Cambodia and Laos. That might have just brought in more people willing to fight the U.S., a greater perception that the U.S. was an imperial aggressor. It might just have moved the fighting further west, with new HCM trails forming further west.
All true, but it was the only way to fight the war. As it was, the US was fighting half a war, but the people dying were all dead.

I don't know, and the documentary barely went into, what the political situation was in those nations. As I recall, Laos was communist and Cambodia was struggling against a communist insurgency, which they would eventually lose to the Khmer Rouge. I don't know what diplomatic pressures were in place to keep foot soldiers outside of Cambodia and Laos.

So anyway, I don't know what would have happened had we occupied the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but anyone ought to have been able to figure out what would happen if we didn't.

As for perception around the world, I can't imagine anyone saying, "Sure they are dropping bombs, but as long as they don't have people there, it's ok." I can't imagine how it could have been worse if, in addition to doing what they did, they also would have sent ground troops in to actually make the plan work.

I just look at the idea of "pacification" or "winning the hearts and minds", of areas where not only is there some sentiment to support the enemy, but that enemy is actually present and is being constantly resupplied.


Quote:
I don't remember if the documentary mentioned how many of the bombs dropped on the HCM trail failed to detonate and are still there - something like 30% - and millions were dropped as cluster bombs. It's like millions of grenade-side bombs lying around Cambodia and Laos, still waiting to go off if disturbed.
Only a brief note that every year people are killed by leftover ordnance exploding.
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Old 24th May 2020, 11:17 PM   #22
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Cambodia (Khmer Rouge) and Laos (Pathet Lao) at least, was already involved in the Vietnam War, so I don't see how occupying their territory to try to block the HCM would have escalated things. Just would have made their participation "official".
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Old 25th May 2020, 12:28 AM   #23
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I just finished episode 3 of this series.

It's a slow go, here, because the mrs doesn't like these kinds of documentaries, so I have to schedule it when she's doing one of her things.

Anyway.
I'm old enough to remember the Boat refugees from Vietnam, but too young to remember the war itself. It is depressing watching and in a way it reminds me of what Massie describes in his book Dreadnought. Politicians, nations, people marching towards a war they don't want, but don't know how to stop, or feel that they can't stop (beause can't be seen to be weak and things like that).

Very depressing watching indeed.
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Old 25th May 2020, 02:36 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
The one that stuck out for me from the series was the woman whose job it was to repair the Ho Chi Min trail. The US would bomb the crap out of it and the NVA had thousands that would go right back and fill in the bomb craters.

The whole bombing campaign was just totally misguided and ineffective. So, of course, the conclusion was that it just wasn't enough. More tonnage!
The way a quarter million people carried supplies and weapons through the jungle for that pivotal assault on the French was incredibly impressive, too.
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Old 25th May 2020, 02:44 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Safe-Keeper View Post
The way a quarter million people carried supplies and weapons through the jungle for that pivotal assault on the French was incredibly impressive, too.
Good point. A lot of Vietnamese consider they have been at war for most of the 20th century, and their victory over the French was amazing.

Sure, the French didn’t really want to be there from the mid-1950s, but they had a seasoned, professional army which was very well resourced. They were beaten by passion.
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Old 25th May 2020, 06:19 AM   #26
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I joined the army in 1964, out of high school. Lack of anything better to do. The army had a program then where they guaranteed your MOS if you qualified, and would also send you where you wanted.
I became a medic and went to Germany.

At the time, as far as the media went, Vietnam was just a rumor. A few “advisors” over there helping the US-friendly government against the Commies. We had no notion what was really going on.
Even in the military press, nothing much was being said. We’d get occasional little articles about a firefight here or a few more troops being sent... Then, about the second year I was there, they began mass transfers of NCO-rank personnel. Anyone E5 or above was gone... Orders just said “west coast”.

We assumed everyone was being sent to Vietnam. Then we began to hear from some of our guys that were transferred. Nope, they were all being put into training positions to train the draftees and volunteers who were being sent to Vietnam. Lots of them.

I cooled my heels in Germany for 3 years and went home.... Had no idea the extent of things till we got stateside and started seeing actual reporting from the battlefield.

The Burns documentary was very powerful. I strongly remember an interview with a young lad who’d been at My Lai. He was ME. He LOOKED like me. He was the same age. Calmly recalling the horrid mess, and his participation.
Had I not enlisted when I did, I would almost certainly have been drafted. A sobering thought, and a difficult-to-watch documentary.
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Old 25th May 2020, 08:04 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
I joined the army in 1964, out of high school. Lack of anything better to do. The army had a program then where they guaranteed your MOS if you qualified, and would also send you where you wanted.
I became a medic and went to Germany.

At the time, as far as the media went, Vietnam was just a rumor. A few “advisors” over there helping the US-friendly government against the Commies. We had no notion what was really going on.
Even in the military press, nothing much was being said. We’d get occasional little articles about a firefight here or a few more troops being sent... Then, about the second year I was there, they began mass transfers of NCO-rank personnel. Anyone E5 or above was gone... Orders just said “west coast”.

We assumed everyone was being sent to Vietnam. Then we began to hear from some of our guys that were transferred. Nope, they were all being put into training positions to train the draftees and volunteers who were being sent to Vietnam. Lots of them.

I cooled my heels in Germany for 3 years and went home.... Had no idea the extent of things till we got stateside and started seeing actual reporting from the battlefield.

The Burns documentary was very powerful. I strongly remember an interview with a young lad who’d been at My Lai. He was ME. He LOOKED like me. He was the same age. Calmly recalling the horrid mess, and his participation.
Had I not enlisted when I did, I would almost certainly have been drafted. A sobering thought, and a difficult-to-watch documentary.
For me the most powerful aspects of the documentary were the interviews with the soldiers who were there. The reality of the war rather than how it was being portrayed by politicians and ignorant self-proclaimed patriots. The loss, the fear, and the horror. But especially sad were the soldiers who expected to be greeted by the Vietnamese as heros who had arrived to save them from Communism, only to find that they were often viewed with suspicion, fear, and hatred.

Sadder still was how soon many US soldiers came in turn to view all Vietnamese as the enemy and to treat them in that fashion.
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Old 25th May 2020, 08:37 AM   #28
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Does it go into President Trump's pivotal role in the conflict?
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Old 25th May 2020, 08:38 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Good point. A lot of Vietnamese consider they have been at war for most of the 20th century, and their victory over the French was amazing.

Sure, the French didn’t really want to be there from the mid-1950s, but they had a seasoned, professional army which was very well resourced. They were beaten by passion.


My biggest take-away was how Ho Chi Min spent so much of his life trying to find anyone who was willing to support an independent Vietnam, and how he kept coming up empty. The Communists were pretty much his last option. Who knows what would have happened if someone other than the Soviets had stepped up to help first. The whole mess might have been avoided.

That, and how the people in the US government knew for 10 years that they weren't going to win, but kept fighting anyways. That was just insane.
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Old 25th May 2020, 08:46 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Safe-Keeper View Post
The way a quarter million people carried supplies and weapons through the jungle for that pivotal assault on the French was incredibly impressive, too.
If you read "The Ugly American", they get into the impact that had. The American and British governments looked at that and realized that the communists were very effective at motivating people in rural areas. Very, very effective. This was at the same time that some papers were leaking out of the USSR demonstrating that forced labor (in the gulag system) was not cost effective.

So they looked at the effort that went into dismantling moving the big guns (and ammunition) at night with no lights, digging the gun emplacements overlooking the French position without the French being aware, the reassembling of the guns. Much of it done at night, with little or no lights, the work near the French done very quietly. The British and American governments looked at that and concluded - you can't force that much discipline on people - at least, not by force or brutality alone. You can't get that level of work and discipline unless the people are at least somewhat motivated to do it for themselves. And that really worried the western governments.

They realized that while the west was working in larger cities and capitals with governments, making deals and building some big projects, the communists were in the countryside, in singles and in pairs spread out everywhere converting people to the cause. This in nations where the majority, often the great majority, were living in the countryside as subsistence farmers. They realized that the Western efforts to portray communism as bad and capitalism as freedom were literally not reaching those people - work done in the capitals stayed there, or close to it. Money spent, propaganda efforts, it all didn't reach out very far.

That eventually (along with other factors) contributed to the creation of the Volunteer Service Overseas, followed a year or two later by the Peace Corps. The idea had been kicking around for years (inspired also by the willingness of conscientious objectors in WWII to place themselves at risk, even if not willing to kill people). But Den Bien Phu seems to have been the kick needed to get those things actually established. The idea that we needed to get people out into the villages, meeting people one on one and working with them.
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Old 25th May 2020, 09:44 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Reminds me of a scene from Tom Clancy's "Op Center" where the new Director tells his 2 IC, a US Army General, that he marched in opposition to the war in Vietnam. The General said words to the effect that its why he joined the army - to defend others' rights not to have to fight. That is a feeling which is real (although not universal) among the military. I know my Dad felt the same away about WW2... "we did what we did so that you would not have to".
No reflection on your Dad's view, (my Dad felt the same way, he served in WW2), but you reminded me of something: When I read Barbara Tuchman's history of the 14th Century, "A Distant Mirror", I remember being struck by the British royalty's insistence that they had to fight a war with France, in France, because "otherwise we'll have to fight them here." When I read "The Guns of August", I was struck that one side (I forget which) made the claim that "if we don't fight them there, we'll have to fight them here." When I was draft eligible in 1968, (#288, I'll never forget), I remember being told that "if we don't fight them there, we'll have to fight them here." Apparently, not much changes. If you've got a winning PR gimmick, stick with it for a few centuries.

As long as there are psychopaths born into the word, fighting will occasionally be necessary. I did not believe in 1968 and I do not believe now that Vietnam was one of those times. (My father, by the way, held the same opinion.) I think it may be time to read "The March of Folly", Tuchman's 1985 book on military eff-ups from Troy to Vietnam.
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Old 25th May 2020, 09:49 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Resume View Post
Does it go into President Trump's pivotal role in the conflict?
Don't you remember, Cadet Bonespurs served his military time stateside.
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Old 25th May 2020, 09:54 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Don't you remember, Cadet Bonespurs served his military time stateside.
I'm thinking he might "remember" something the way he "remembered" protesting Muslims in NJ after 9/11 and helping "dig out" after same.
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Old 25th May 2020, 10:23 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
My biggest take-away was how Ho Chi Min spent so much of his life trying to find anyone who was willing to support an independent Vietnam, and how he kept coming up empty. The Communists were pretty much his last option. Who knows what would have happened if someone other than the Soviets had stepped up to help first. The whole mess might have been avoided.

That, and how the people in the US government knew for 10 years that they weren't going to win, but kept fighting anyways. That was just insane.
Ho initially idealized the USA and looked to us as a potential ally and friend. But the USA’s decision to support French colonialism, and later to support the violation of the agreement to hold free elections to resolve the partition of North and South, ended that. As the North turned to the Soviets and China for support the USA then lumped them naively into the International Communist Threat, rather than recognize the complexity of the actual situation. For example, China was a historic enemy of Vietnam.

Also sad: Ho Chi Min was increasingly marginalized as hard core ideologues took over the working of the North Vietnamese government as the war progressed. Ironically in many ways the USA’s actions escalating the war helped these hardcore gain support within the government and helped drive North Vietnam into the very communist ideology and alliances that we had first feared.

I am convinced that the USA could have established friendly relations with Vietnam in the 1950s and on. Or at worst a neutral relationship, as we have now, without so much death and destruction in between.
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Old 25th May 2020, 10:29 AM   #35
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It does appear that each war we fight is supposed to be the war to end all wars. Or at least the next war. Hasn’t generally worked out that way.

Smithsonian Magazine has a chart showing the times in USA history that we have been involved in wars or military actions:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/histo...ion-180971014/

While sectors on the graph are the times without either. Not very much of the chart is white!
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Old 30th May 2020, 06:25 AM   #36
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I saw this documentary longer ago so it's not quite as fresh in my memory but I remember thinking that every decision that drew us deeper into the conflict had a certain political logic to it. At least in the short term. I see parallels with Afghanistan.
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Old 30th May 2020, 09:24 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I saw this documentary longer ago so it's not quite as fresh in my memory but I remember thinking that every decision that drew us deeper into the conflict had a certain political logic to it. At least in the short term. I see parallels with Afghanistan.
Indeed.

Where I see a difference is that the Taliban is kind of like the Viet Cong, but there isn't really an equivalent of North Vietnam. There are slight parallels with that area of Pakistan where the Taliban has so much influence. I can't recall the name of the province.

What struck me about the Vietnam War was the absurdity of relying on "body counts" as a way of measuring success in the war, while refusing to cut the enemy supply lines. I got to the end of the series, and Nixon finally did go after the Ho Chi Minh trail, but it was too little, too late. I vaguely recall that, and my nine year old brain went along with what I heard about how horrible it was that Nixon was widening the war and invading another country. Today I think I would say, "It's about time!"

But, really, I probably would have said, "Get the heck out. Fight the war, or end it today, and it's not worth fighting."

I think John Kerry's comments at the Senate hearings were very appropriate, about trying to come up with how to ask someone to be the last American to die in Vietnam.
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Old 1st June 2020, 09:18 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I saw this documentary longer ago so it's not quite as fresh in my memory but I remember thinking that every decision that drew us deeper into the conflict had a certain political logic to it. At least in the short term. I see parallels with Afghanistan.
Ther are diffrerences; you certianly could make a case that Al Qaida presence in Adghanistan, and their support from the Taliaban, did pose a clear and presetn danger to the US.Can'r say that about Vietnam.
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Old 1st June 2020, 09:21 PM   #39
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What impressedme si that many Vietcong , after the war was over, felt betrayed by the North Vietamense Communist regime,which they felt turned out to be little better then the South Vietamese regime.
Fact was, Vietnam in the end was a gang fight between 2 dictatorships, neither one of which realtly liked Democracy, and the US should never have stepped in.
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Old 1st June 2020, 09:45 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
There are differences; you certainly could make a case that Al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan, and their support from the Taliban, did pose a clear and present danger to the US.Can't say that about Vietnam.
B b b b b but...... The Domino Theory !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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