The Vietnam War: A conversation with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick


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Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 6, 2017 - 09:17am PT
As flawed as communism is, we often manage to make it a better choice than what we offer.

Right, that's exactly why people risk their lives to escape communist states.
They just can't take all the goodness!

Maybe you missed the news last week that Uncle Raul is banning renting rooms and starting restaurants cause it wasn't carried on The Daily Worker.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 6, 2017 - 10:18am PT
What I learned:

There's plenty of big money to be made by supplying the army with the tools of the trade, and peace doesn't stand a chance against corporate payrolls.

Mountain climber
golden, rollin hills of California
Oct 6, 2017 - 11:26am PT
Noam Chomsky - The Crimes of U.S. Presidents


Boulder climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 6, 2017 - 03:22pm PT
Right, that's exactly why people risk their lives to escape communist states.
They just can't take all the goodness!

Did you clue into the premis regarding the proliferation of Communism in third world countries due to oppressive and brutal dictators supported by the US?

I didn't see that anyone suggested Communism is a better choice than a true Western Democracy. Imperialistic countries have a habit of forcing their puppet governments to deny due process to the citizenry. People's rights, too often run contrary to the mass exploitation of a country. The carrot is usually turning a blind eye while the complicit ruling class funnel financial aid directly into their bank accounts, further exasperating the situation.

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Oct 16, 2017 - 10:16am PT
A few excerpts from an interview with historian Christian Appy on the "The Vietnam War" film...

One of my disappointments is that we don’t have a wider range of responses. We don’t hear, for example, from an American who would take the view that this was without question a war of American imperial aggression in the pursuit of counterrevolution, as opposed to the dominant narrative told by Burns and Novick, which is that this was a great tragedy on all sides. That, I would submit, is the dominant American view. And maybe increasingly in Vietnam as well, as they look back on 3 million lost lives and ask, “Was it really worth it?” But it certainly doesn’t explain the mix of wartime feelings, when people would get into open battle over these different interpretations of the war.

To understand the basic reality of this war, you have to understand that military force does not guarantee political legitimacy. The government you’re backing in South Vietnam never had sufficient political support from its own people, otherwise the outcome might have been different. So all of this battle-after-battle that the documentary reveals ultimately is meaningless except insofar as it did eventually wear down the political will of Americans and South Vietnamese — both soldiers and civilians — to keep fighting against their more resolute enemy.

I spent a lot of time watching again and again the way the films end. A lot of them end in a kind of montage of photographs with a classic song over it. The one I really studied was this one at the end of Episode 5, where it’s the Rolling Stones playing “Paint It Black” — which is a very bleak song: “I look inside myself and see my heart is black” — but you’re seeing these very beautiful black-and-white pictures, they’re treated as works of art, really, mostly of American soldiers. It freezes them in the moment when this song came out and where this happened. It’s like a butterfly collection.

Sport climber
Oct 16, 2017 - 10:22am PT

August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Oct 16, 2017 - 01:19pm PT
Many historians say the bombings did not lead to the Japanese surrender, and the Soviet declaration of war on Japan two days later was a bigger shock.

It put an end to any hope the Soviets would negotiate a favourable surrender for Japan.

And just why did the Soviet declare war on Japan two days later?

Stalin had agreed to declare war on Japan after Germany surrendered, but he didn't do so. Not until it was reasonably clear that Japan was going to surrender soon did he do it.

Given the horrors that had already taken place in WWII, I'm not too judgmental on the decision to drop the bombs on cities. I know there has been some debate about the exact numbers, but the firebombing of Dresden was on a similar scale of civilian causalities.

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Oct 16, 2017 - 01:58pm PT

As agreed with the Allies at the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Soviet Union entered World War II's Pacific Theater within three months of the end of the war in Europe. The invasion began on 9 August 1945, exactly three months after the German surrender on May 8 (9 May, 0:43 Moscow time).

Although the commencement of the invasion fell between the American atomic bombings of Hiroshima, on 6 August, and only hours before the Nagasaki attack on 9 August, the timing of the invasion had been planned well in advance and was determined by the timing of the agreements at Tehran and Yalta, the long term buildup of Soviet forces in the Far East since Tehran, and the date of the German surrender some three months earlier; on August 3, Marshal Vasilevsky reported to Premier Joseph Stalin that, if necessary, he could attack on the morning of 5 August.


Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Oct 17, 2017 - 10:04pm PT
I just watched episode 4, which works up through the year I graduated from high school.

I want to try to type this, while it is still fresh in my mind about PFC Corker, who wrote a series of letters to his family & was killed in Vietnam.

When I first started getting in fights in combat, I was very religious & prayed a lot.

Then I was an athesist.

Now I only pray, when I am in a fight.

I'm sad now for what we did & in return suffered, in that needless war.

Social climber
Oct 18, 2017 - 06:28am PT
I streamed all 10 episodes in a 4-5 day period, which kept it at the forefront of my mind. The interviews with the Veterans from the North were the most compelling parts for me.

I am a child of 1956, raised in the city that is the so-called home of Ft. Benning, where many of these soldiers trained and departed for Vietnam. It began as Camp Benning, a training ground for WWI soldiers.

I remember wading through the military surplus stores that thrived here, buying flight suits, badges, BDU's and the treasured K-bar. I was too young to understand what these items represented in terms that I later came to understand.

Needless to say, the general consensus of the local population is pro-military as the local economy would shrivel up and die without the base. In recent years when the military was closing bases, GA fought hard to keep the base open and did so by having the armory school of Ft. Knox moved here, due to the clout of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn ( U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations).

The My Lai trials for Lt. William Calley were held here. On the stand Calley pleaded the 5th amendment when asked about his role. I read the news articles at the time both national and local. My assumption, based on nothing more than what I wanted to believe, was that he was a scapegoat. My perception seemed accurate with the reduction of his sentence to house arrest and release 3 years later. (Sam Nunn supposedly had a large part in having his sentence reduced.)

The Burns documentary portrayed him in a different light, as if he enjoyed the brutal slaying and torture of those people. My assumption that he "was following orders" and not so willingly cooperating as the interviewed soldiers who were there stated otherwise and my assumption was altered.

I recalled the brave helicopter pilot who put and end to the slaughter, but that only was evidence of the incident and did not affect my assumption of Lt. Calley's role.

After he was released from house arrest he married a local girl and worked in a Jewelery Store a short distance from my parent's house. I was going to college in N.O. then, but on several occasions when I was home I would go to the store and pretend to be shopping for a present for my mother or some other excuse for a kid my age (18). I am sure Mr. Calley was aware of my true intent, to gawk. It was hard for me to believe he was ever a soldier back then. He is not very tall and looked and spoke like anything other than a soldier, especially one that could have committed such atrocities.

I write about Mr. Calley is not to defend him but rather to share my idea of the way war transforms people. I doubt this man had ever dreamed of committing an act of genocide without the training and placement in a war such as this one, or any war fought in a place thousands of miles from home, without clear justification or in defense of one's homeland. At least I hope not.

Several books have been suggested on this thread, I offer two, Huê 1968 by Mark Bowden and Novel Without A Name by Duong Thu Huong.
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