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  #1  
Old 09-29-17, 12:02 PM
mcm.1019 mcm.1019 is offline
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The Vietnam War: Ken Burns documentary

Just curious how many others watched this documentary and if they had opinions. I love history, but honestly didn't know alot about Vietnam. I'm 47, and we simply didn't learn about it in school. When I went to college I took some elective history courses about WWII, but don't remember if they even offered courses about Vietnam. It was amazing to see the US make the same mistakes the French had made before us. And disheartening to see how corrupt our political leaders were, all for the sake of keeping their jobs. I have an uncle who was a Marine in Vietnam, who I've never heard mention his time over there. In fact, I can remember growing up that the adults would always make a point of telling us not to ask him about the war.
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  #2  
Old 09-29-17, 12:12 PM
EastYoungstown EastYoungstown is offline
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fantastic stuff

I've been making my way through it on my lunch breaks

as I'm in my 40s, it's not something that was covered in high school

i did however take 2 classes in college on it and my father in law talks pretty freely about his time there. he and his 4 brothers all went and came back
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  #3  
Old 09-29-17, 12:58 PM
clarkgriswold clarkgriswold is offline
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I'm 53, so I came in on the tail end of it. My dad would watch the news and I remember the body counts. Even at 4 or 5, I thought they must be BS.

I think the documentary is fantastic. The history lesson on how we inherited France's mess was very helpful. It made me think about how we ended up with the UK's mess in the Middle East. I catch myself yelling at the screen when they show guys like Westmoreland and McNamara. I hope there's a special corner in hell where they're in firefights with the VC every day of their eternity.
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  #4  
Old 09-29-17, 01:19 PM
mcm.1019 mcm.1019 is offline
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My wife walked into the room during one of the Nixon episodes and asked me if it was any good, and I went on a 30-second tirade where I don't think I even took a breathe. It's beyond my comprehension how our Presidents could admit defeat in private, yet continue to send more and more soldiers to die. I'm tempted to call my uncle and see if he would be interested in talking about his experiences, but I certainly don't want to upset him. East Youngstown, it's incredible that 5 brothers from the same family all made it back alive!
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  #5  
Old 09-29-17, 01:36 PM
clarkgriswold clarkgriswold is offline
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I haven't had my chance yet to scream at Tricky Dick. I'm about a week behind!
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  #6  
Old 09-29-17, 01:46 PM
mcm.1019 mcm.1019 is offline
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He makes LBJ look like a Boy Scout.
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  #7  
Old 09-29-17, 01:54 PM
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Auggie Auggie is offline
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I too am 53 and remember my folks turning on the news to see Walter Cronkite and the daily reports from Saigon. But the thing I remember the most was my cool Uncle was drafted and spent 2 tours in the 'Nam, to this day the guy will not talk about his time there.

As for this series... For the most part I like Ken Burns docs but he really is getting predictable in the way they are presented to the point that I was telling the wife what was probably coming next. I wished he would change up things or move to executive producer for his next project.
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  #8  
Old 09-29-17, 01:55 PM
4cards 4cards is offline
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Being around at that's time, I got to witness the daily updates on the 6pm news and will never forget watching the Viet Cong prisoner executed in front of my eyes. As far as the all the politics involved in why we were there and why we stayed as long as we did can only be traced back to who profited the most from it.

I've read accounts from Robert McNamara who said in 1963 that Kennedy wanted a complete pullout (after the 1964 election)...he was assinated 50 days later! Mmmmph
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Old 09-29-17, 02:07 PM
Irwin20 Irwin20 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcm.1019 View Post
My wife walked into the room during one of the Nixon episodes and asked me if it was any good, and I went on a 30-second tirade where I don't think I even took a breathe. It's beyond my comprehension how our Presidents could admit defeat in private, yet continue to send more and more soldiers to die. I'm tempted to call my uncle and see if he would be interested in talking about his experiences, but I certainly don't want to upset him. East Youngstown, it's incredible that 5 brothers from the same family all made it back alive!
It does sound astounding until you break down the numbers. 9,087,000 military personnel served in Vietnam in some capacity. There were 58,220 deaths attributed to the war. So the casualty rate was somewhere around .06%. That being said, My older brother had 2 kids from his HS football killed in action. I'm old enough to have actually watched the draft lottery. My birthdate was in the 300's. I learned quite a bit from watching it. The behind the scenes stuff in the WH was very disturbing.
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  #10  
Old 09-29-17, 02:09 PM
USA70PP USA70PP is offline
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Have not watched this series yet. Maybe in time.
You could talk to a dozen guys that had been in Nam, and they would all have a different story to tell. It all depended on when, where and what branch of the service you were in.
I notice two or three have mentioned the politicos and no mention thus far of JFK who got the whole ball rolling for the US.
At the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, I must say the "Fog of war" won that encounter. When we had to conform to rules of engagement coming daily out of DC, you can imagine the problems those ROEs caused for us.
One good thing? Chris Noel on AFN/FEN. Every guy was in love with her.
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  #11  
Old 09-29-17, 06:22 PM
clarkgriswold clarkgriswold is offline
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Two lasting images are that execution and the burning Buddhist monk.
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  #12  
Old 10-01-17, 12:34 PM
chs1971 chs1971 is offline
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Johnson thought it was a bad idea but took us into war anyway. The US military was not designed to fight a guerilla war in the jungle. Nixon got us out of the war but gets most of the blame.

I knew all that already.
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Old 10-01-17, 01:40 PM
irish_buffalo irish_buffalo is offline
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Originally Posted by chs1971 View Post
Johnson thought it was a bad idea but took us into war anyway. The US military was not designed to fight a guerilla war in the jungle. Nixon got us out of the war but gets most of the blame.

I knew all that already.
You seem to know everything...
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  #14  
Old 10-01-17, 01:51 PM
eastisbest eastisbest is offline
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My history may be spotty but I'm pretty sure Wilson gets the blame. Ho Chi Mien early in the century tried to go western but was rebuffed. Not sure why, maybe because he was Asian. Pretty fascinating guy Ho Chi Mien.
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  #15  
Old 10-01-17, 02:26 PM
Purplemojo Purplemojo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastisbest View Post
Ho Chi Mien early in the century tried to go western but was rebuffed. Not sure why, maybe because he was Asian. Pretty fascinating guy Ho Chi Mien.
Sure, just like Castro.
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  #16  
Old 10-01-17, 02:38 PM
EastYoungstown EastYoungstown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcm.1019 View Post
My wife walked into the room during one of the Nixon episodes and asked me if it was any good, and I went on a 30-second tirade where I don't think I even took a breathe. It's beyond my comprehension how our Presidents could admit defeat in private, yet continue to send more and more soldiers to die. I'm tempted to call my uncle and see if he would be interested in talking about his experiences, but I certainly don't want to upset him. East Youngstown, it's incredible that 5 brothers from the same family all made it back alive!
It is.

When the last brother went, my father in law, the 2 oldest actually signed up to go back not wanting him to be there by himself.

they're an amazing group.
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  #17  
Old 10-01-17, 04:51 PM
eastisbest eastisbest is offline
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Originally Posted by Purplemojo View Post
Sure, just like Castro.
Support the statement. Cheap and eas to sa stuff, takes balls to support, so support.

I don't think I'd equate the two. Ho Chi Mien actually came first to the west seeking help. The west, American, ignored him. He believed in American ideals and Vietnam post war embraced capitalist enterprise much more readily than Cuba ever did. Westerners and Americans were welcome visitors. Former combatants have been welcome visitors even not long after that war was over. Not giving them their due would be dickless, be like Germany or Japan not giving us our due.

He wasn't looking for Communism. He was surrounded by it. The French and later the southern part of the country were abusing them. You think they should have let themselves be decimated to satisfy your sense of American superiority?

It would be nice to think they would have worked it out without war but their history says "no." EVERYONE invaded the north.

You really think they would have survived if they hadn't taken Chinese and Russian aid?

Vietnam and the dominoes were all on Wilson. They could possibly have gone the way of the Philipines, if he'd provided backing and aid and if the French and US had taken a reasonably humane post WWII approach to business interests.
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  #18  
Old 10-01-17, 06:10 PM
Termite2 Termite2 is offline
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Originally Posted by eastisbest View Post
Support the statement. Cheap and eas to sa stuff, takes balls to support, so support.

I don't think I'd equate the two. Ho Chi Mien actually came first to the west seeking help. The west, American, ignored him. He believed in American ideals and Vietnam post war embraced capitalist enterprise much more readily than Cuba ever did. Westerners and Americans were welcome visitors. Former combatants have been welcome visitors even not long after that war was over. Not giving them their due would be dickless, be like Germany or Japan not giving us our due.

He wasn't looking for Communism. He was surrounded by it. The French and later the southern part of the country were abusing them. You think they should have let themselves be decimated to satisfy your sense of American superiority?

It would be nice to think they would have worked it out without war but their history says "no." EVERYONE invaded the north.

You really think they would have survived if they hadn't taken Chinese and Russian aid?

Vietnam and the dominoes were all on Wilson. They could possibly have gone the way of the Philipines, if he'd provided backing and aid and if the French and US had taken a reasonably humane post WWII approach to business interests.

What?
It is true that the US gave aid during WW2 to Ho[ who was a member of the Chinese communist 8th Army], because he was fighting the Japanese. It is also true that the US didn't care for English or French colonialism. BUT, Ho Chi Minh was one of the founders of the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930.[and also the French communist party in 1919 when they split from the French socialist party] The ICP wanted Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to be one country. In the 1920's; he was at every Commitern international meeting.
Ho believed in American ideals?? Obviously, not freedom of press, religion or speech or private ownsership. When they split the country, the catholics in the North were ruthlessly suppressed, which led them to fleeing to the south[which caused problems with the Buddists in the south] when someone spoke up, they were simply declared traitors to Vietnam and they disappeared.
When Ho took over in North Vietnam, he instituted land reform by simply killing off the thousands of peasants who protested. Whether in the North or south, mass murder was state policy against any who didn't follow the party line.
Ho wrote "La Race Noire" in 1924, critical of American capitalism and also American racism[ against orientals]
As for the economy, it was only in the mid 80's when they went from centralized planned economy to a mixed economy, but Ho had died by then and their economic system was not working.
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Old 10-01-17, 06:21 PM
Termite2 Termite2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4cards View Post
.................................
I've read accounts from Robert McNamara who said in 1963 that Kennedy wanted a complete pullout (after the 1964 election)...he was assinated 50 days later! Mmmmph

Yep, the Dead Kennedy was an visionary ; the live Kennedy, who was willing to go to war over Quemoy and Matsu, not so much.
In the 1960 election, Kennedy was the Hawk, Nixon was a dove by comparison.









War is politics by other means - von Clauswitz
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  #20  
Old 10-01-17, 06:58 PM
clarkgriswold clarkgriswold is offline
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Interesting that Ho tried to correspond with Truman but his correspondence never made it to Truman. Also interesting how Ho was at one point our ally then evolved into the enemy, not unlike Bin Laden.
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  #21  
Old 10-01-17, 07:28 PM
eastisbest eastisbest is offline
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Originally Posted by Termite2 View Post
What?
It is true that the US gave aid during WW2 to Ho[ who was a member of the Chinese communist 8th Army], because he was fighting the Japanese. It is also true that the US didn't care for English or French colonialism. BUT, Ho Chi Minh was one of the founders of the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930.[and also the French communist party in 1919 when they split from the French socialist party] .
So far you've not contradicted anything I posted. You just haven't read your history. Look further back. I said "Wilson." You're usually good at this history stuff. Boggled why you decided not to start at the beginning? How do you explain an effect without a cause?
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  #22  
Old 10-01-17, 10:02 PM
Termite2 Termite2 is offline
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Originally Posted by eastisbest View Post
So far you've not contradicted anything I posted. You just haven't read your history. Look further back. I said "Wilson." You're usually good at this history stuff. Boggled why you decided not to start at the beginning? How do you explain an effect without a cause?
American ideals?
The only Wilsonian ideal he admired was the one that supported his movement to create an independent Indochina
Ho wasn't looking for communism? of course he was.
Vietnam embraced some capitalism ONLY after Ho died.
Vietnam and the dominoes were all on Wilson? kind of ignores France and Britain, not to mention American isolationism, he couldn't even get Congress to join the League of Nations.France and Britain made the decisions, not the US, which they considered a second rate power.
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  #23  
Old 10-02-17, 11:32 AM
chs1971 chs1971 is offline
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Originally Posted by irish_buffalo View Post
You seem to know everything...
Hardly, just more than you.
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  #24  
Old 10-02-17, 04:05 PM
EastYoungstown EastYoungstown is offline
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Finished it this morning. Excellent stuff from beginning to end from every side. A must for anyone and everyone.

Love that they tied in Tim O'Brien.
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  #25  
Old 10-03-17, 10:51 AM
eastisbest eastisbest is offline
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Originally Posted by Termite2 View Post
American ideals?
The only Wilsonian ideal he admired was the one that supported his movement to create an independent Indochina
Ho wasn't looking for communism? of course he was.
Vietnam embraced some capitalism ONLY after Ho died.
Vietnam and the dominoes were all on Wilson? kind of ignores France and Britain, not to mention American isolationism, he couldn't even get Congress to join the League of Nations.France and Britain made the decisions, not the US, which they considered a second rate power.
I think the book disputes you. His preference was AMERICAN POLITICAL IDEALs, his best given option was communism. Wilson could have changed that so yes, acknowledging those other components you mentioned, dominoes don't fall if the first one isn't pushed. Wilson could have stopped that.

Vietnam would have been an ally at least as strong as Philipines, a Spanish colony oddley enough to have reasonable stability and success even given it's horrific geographics.


Quote:
Mr. Logevall, in a recent interview with Jeff Glor of CBS, said that Ho “saw communism as the best path of development for his country, but it was always his country.” Independence from Japanese invaders and French colonialists was his original intent, highest priority and enduring goal.
“Ho emerges as an unexpected hero in this balanced book, first seen trying to buttonhole Woodrow Wilson at the Paris peace conference of 1919,” says a new review in The Economist.
“But gradually he and his fellow North Vietnamese were viewed as agents of international communism, not admirable rebels against colonialism.

Mr. Logevall bemoans the fact that Ho’s admiration for American political ideals and French culture did not lead to a life-sparing compromise.”
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  #26  
Old 10-03-17, 11:28 AM
Zunardo Zunardo is offline
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Originally Posted by Termite2 View Post
In the 1960 election, Kennedy was the Hawk, Nixon was a dove by comparison.
Interestingly, JFK was also the pollyanna when it came to our military involvement Vietnam, particularly when supporting the coup of President Diem. He was advised that doing so would almost assure Diem's death, and he refused to seriously consider that outcome. When it happened, he was quite shaken, both by the act, and by how much he had mis-read the situation. We'll never know for sure how much different the Vietnam War would have been, good or bad, had he been around for a second term.

I'll have to check out the Burns doc, sounds interesting. Richard Reeves' book "JFK: Profile In Power" also provides a detailed account of how our involvements ramped up during Kennedy's short tenure.
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