tv Conversation with Henry Kissinger CSPAN April 30, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT
tuesday, henry kissinger defended his role in the vietnam war to a gathering of policymakers, vietnamese, veterans, and were protesters. veterans and more protesters. ofe 40 years after the fall saigon in america's withdrawal from vietnam, he called the 1975 evacuation one of the saddest moments of his life, but insisted he had no regrets. kissinger sat down with lbj presidential library director updegrove.grove -- and then took questions from the audience. from his daughters. the conversation with kissinger starts in about 30 minutes. this program is two hours. welcome, the archivist daughterited states,
of lyndon and lady bird johnson, andhonorable hubert held, miss lucy baines johnson, daughter of lyndon and lady bird johnson, and the retired major general of the united states army, the silver star, bronze star, and purple heart recipient. [applause] >> the archive of this library contains thousands of letters to president. many of which concern the vietnam war.
these reflect the dramatically contrasting views of the war held by americans, including our troops. dear mr. president, here is a picture of a little via menus -- a little girl and myself. they live in a village about eight miles southeast of denying. their mother was killed by vc. it is our duty to keep her smile, which betrays so much on her face. there are many more who do not have the freedom to smile, which she has. it's our duty as americans to bring happiness to those who may otherwise never be as free of care as she. to be able to pose with her and have her still look so happy gives the idea of the good we are doing here. this is worth fighting for. this is worth dying for. i know the weight you must carry on your shoulders, serve, and i pray that god will help you.
i hope this letter and picture will bring you a blessing. she says the marines are number one. ,incerely yours, first corporal u.s. marine corps. dear sir, i hope this letter finds the president in the best of health. before i begin, allow me to introduce myself. i am pst nichols, united states marine in vietnam, this is the topic of my letter. like most of the servicemen fighting here, i don't fully understand this war. training, long talks, and finally a weapon and told we have a war to fight , so that the people of vietnam can have a non-communist government. we are fighting this war for the vietnamese people. why should my friends die for what they don't believe in?
been here seven months, and will be here until my 13 is completed, if all goes well, but never will be able to understand why are these americans, and maybe myself, must i for people who really don't seem to give a damn. most of us are hoping to see our love ones, and this seems most important to most of us. if you were to ask a question, what are we fighting for, honest men would tell you -- to get through these 13 months to get back home. i hope you can understand our feelings and answer questions in this letter. thank you, sir, for your time. the time you've taken to read this letter. yours truly, pfc. charles the goals, united states marine corps. lettersoing to read two from my husband, who also was a marine in vietnam. we got married in december in washington, and he left in march. on our daughter's
six-month birthday. this is may 31, 1968. my darling, linda, today i was a very lucky man. about 11:00 this morning, i was back at the bunker, battalion cp, and walking towards the command bunker when i heard the familiar sound of incoming mortars. even before the first round hit, i yelled incoming. and dived for the nearest whole. sheltered the first round, landed about 20 meters away. within 10 seconds, the marines died into the very same hole on top of me, which was only big enough for two people to begin with. rounds continue to land all around us the next minute or so. then there was a pause of about 30 seconds, and one last round landed right on the opposite edge of the foxhole. fortunately, all the shrapnel went forward in the same direction the round was headed, and none of it came back into the foxhole.
round, which one completely destroyed the two company office structures next to my office and killed a small dog, which was not smart enough to get into a whole when the incoming started. my office structure was only slightly damaged, and the only marine captured from that last round were the two mild concussion suffered by the two men who piled on top of me. and the round landed just six inches shorter, all of us would have been killed. needless to say, we all felt very lucky, even though there were a few others in the general area who did not fare so well. often, trex company provided ofurity for the road sweeps the convoys to the outpost near the cambodian border. this is august 5, 1968. i usually outpost the road all
the way out and then pick up the troops on tanks and then tracks on the way back. otherwise, the round trip take over a day each way. we were a little past the half point, when one of the trucks was blown up by what we later discovered was a command line,ted 35 pound box command detonated means it was set off by a person hiding some distance away with the fuse box instead of a regular pressure relief mechanism. it was immediately engulfed in ignited athe mine least six of the 12 gas tanks. on thene entire platoon vehicle at the time, in addition to a three-man forward air control team and a four-man amtrak crew. the net result was 30 casualties. many from shrapnel, but all from burns. just yesterday, i received a fairly large number of replacement unassigned over half of them to this platoon to make
up for previous losses. now they're back down to almost nothing again. for tomorrow's convoy, i've already made arrangements to borrow a platoon from another company. someone is watching over me personally. because i was on the track right behind the one the enemy decided to blow up three and would have been just as good a target. fortunately, the enemy did not launch a group attack -- a ground attack to go with it. i was very proud of the company again. when the chips are down, they are tremendous. >> this is a letter written to president johnson by a captain of the republic of vietnam army, written from a u.s. training , on america'sa
100 90th birthday, july 4, 1966. fourth of july, 1966. the honorable lyndon b. johnson, president of united states. the white house. i am nowpresident, under training at the u.s. army chemical school and center at fort mcclellan, alabama. youindebted and grateful to for your recent thoughtful made me readch over and over again u.s. history, and its declaration of independence. again, i found your speech is the spirit of liberty which made america strong and free. i'm confident with the generous aid and anguish of your road nation, we shall finally emerge the torilla's in the struggle for freedom and independence.
i have tried to write in english for the first time. i'm am taking the liberty to bring to your attention as a token of my appreciation. i sincerely hope that it may express to you are burning desire to fight for freedom, that it may serve as a self explanation of a humble but grateful people who truthfully show this weakness to a true friend, in order to be helped more effectively. inh my very best wishes respect to you, the leader of the free world, and to your honorable family. may i congratulate you, mr. president, on the occasion of your independence day. thank you.
>> when patrick nugent and i met , the summer of 1965, he was graduating from college, and already, and member of the air national guard. we married a year later, with a dream reception in the white house. our first child was nine months old in april of 1968, when patrick volunteered for vietnam. patrick did not have to go to war. he went because he wanted to serve his country. like many wives of servicemen, i frequently went home to my parents. lying in my bed in the white house, i often heard the lbj, how say hey, hey, many boys did you kill today? i lived in the terror of knowing my husband and brothers in law
might be one of those boys. for my father, it was also very personal. three of our troops in vietnam were family, all felt like it. it was daddy's constant struggle to bring them home safely, and our country to the peace table. 1969, patrick wrote his father-in-law and commander-in-chief a letter. my father shared it with me, because he was so proud of patrick. and grateful to him. his children and i remain so. forever. 12 january. my dear mr. president, chuck and i had a very peaceful and
eventful christmas eve, and christmas day. the highlight of our yuletide season was a telephone call from you, mrs. johnson, lucy, and linda. lynn made a strong effort to converse with his daddy, but the conversation was one-sided, all on his side. someday, i look for him to be president. of at&t, that is. christmas day, chuck and i made three stops to distribute the articles he had gathered. was a smallop village, some 30 miles southwest of denying, where he passed out food and toys to the villagers. we then went to the catholic allanage and handed out sorts of toys to children. our final stop of the day was the naval hospital, where we
visited with the patient's in the orthopedic ward. we also handed out writing materials and fruitcake. 1968 will always be a memorable one for two reasons. number one, it was my first christmas away from my family, and i hope, the last. and to, i was able to help other people appreciate the meaning of christmas. the war activity has increased somewhat since the beginning of the new year. everyone is half expecting some sort of offensive. the hot areas are still located northwest of saigon, along the cambodian border. days ago, my aircraft came under mortar fire, as we were
coming to halt on the runway. realize thatidn't we were being fired upon. my primary concern was to offload the 56 gis i had on board. god, no one was hit. and the aircraft never received scratch. the number of days i have remaining in vietnam is diminishing quite rapidly. it,s the gis referred to i'm getting short. i have 88 writing, days remaining. i received my orders last week, which in effect state i have to report to bergstrom air force base for separation from active duty upon return stateside. this letter will be my last
addressed to you as my commander in chief. i consider it both an honor and a privilege to have served under your command and direction. i didn't want to see you vacate the presidency, since you are the best we have. but at the same time, i respect your decision, and i am extremely proud of you. vietnam know that you have done everything in your power to bring about a peaceful solution to the war. unfortunately, we cannot negotiate with ourselves. nor is it our desire to abandon the hope of a free and democratic south vietnam. johnson are in my
prayers and thoughts today. and every day. love, pat. ps, i enjoyed talking to everyone last night. thank you. >> tonight, it is a tremendous honor for me to speak to, as we come together to honor our vietnam veterans, it particularly those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives by fighting for freedom and democracy in vietnam. year around this time, on april 30, the vietnamese american communities commemorate an honor the fallen soldiers. we also remember and mourn the loss of millions of lives in vietnam, who died seeking freedom. today, on behalf of the vietnamese american community, have to express my deepest
gratitude for the sacrifices made by america during the vietnam war. 58,000 brave american soldiers and their families made the ultimate sacrifice. we should allow vietnamese american communities to survive and migrate to this great country. vietnam was, south a fortress of freedom and democracy, safeguarding against the expansion of communism in indochina. in making their stand against communism, 58,000 americans together with 250,000 south vietnamese lost their lives. the rallying cause was to prevent foreign occupation and of independent integrity. more than 450,000 vietnam soldiers died in the fight for the cause.
today, what can we say was achieved with these great losses? why the communist states around the world have already fought, vietnam still remains a communist state. north vietnam's primary resisting foreign occupation has turned vietnam into a chinese vassal state. vietnam today has neither freedom or democracy. what has transpired in the 41 thosesince the war ended not change the gratitude we have for the brave men and women of the vietnam war, as we honor them today. because wehese facts proudly honor those heroes, we must examine whether sacrifice means to us today, and how much the cause for which they died still remains to be achieved. one day, when vietnam is no
longer under commonest control, and is a land of freedom and democracy, the vietnam war will no longer be a reminder of division, instead, it will be a reminder of the high price that freedom requires in all great countries. on that day, i believe that we will have, finally, truly honored these fallen soldiers, and the souls of those brave men and women, we will be proud of their sacrifice. >> while i hear today -- why am i here today? i'm here today because the young man saved my life, and changed my life.
in four years of combat, there were many soldiers who did this for many of us. the name is larry morford. he was 24 years old when he was killed. 15 days before coming home. this man was in a battalion i commanded in 1969 to 1970. in that area, if you can remember, it was the height of the anti-vietnam war. larry was a fervent christian. few he was one of the very who volunteered in a battalion i had over 90% were draftees. he was one of the very few volunteers. larry why, ifed you are such a christian, are you here? i know you don't believe in
combat as a way to resolve conflict. and i know that you don't believe we should be in vietnam. why are you here? his answer was simple. sir, i could not stay home when others were fighting this war. sir, also, the job that you and i are doing is the job of the beast. in the least beastly of us should be doing it. that was the sergeants message. he lived his sermon. he's the man that has inspired me to create an award every year at west point, the sergeant morford award, that sends west point connects to china also to teach preventive message -- preventive medicine in chinese high school. he, along with a corporal who was killed at age 24, are two soldiers that are remembered in
china. who were trying to make soldiers be role models of what a good citizen should be. mentioned, spellman religious leader the united states, he said it this way. , ii had not been a priest most certainly would have been a soldier. because they are both called to do the same thing. protect the innocent and write the injustice. t the injustice. i listened to market, our host. he has given me a very strict rule. and i must tell you that i left the army and went to medical school and became a missionary in africa. in africa, the rule is very simple. speak as long as you have one leg up. when you can no longer keep that leg up, you must give up the
podium where the audience can spear you. [laughter] so let me ended by saying it's only fitting that my remembrance of sergeant larry morford should be followed by sergeant henry kissinger. because many of you probably don't know that before dr. kissinger became famous, he was a sergeant in the u.s. army. open.ur parachutes [applause]
as chairman of the lbj foundation, it is my privilege to welcome you to this keynote presentation of the vietnam war summit. lyndon johnson would have been very proud of this summit, and would've wanted it to take place. he would particularly have been proud of the valor and commitment of the men and women who serve this country in vietnam is being recognized and honored here. while few people see disagreement in dispute, lyndon johnson never shied away from controversy. library was dedicated, lbj famously proclaimed it's all here. the story of our time, with the bark off. there is no record of mistake or an unpleasantness or criticism that is not included in the files here. and papers in this library certainly testify to the
remarkable of compliments of lbj's legacy. his monumental successes in civil rights were chronicled in the summit programs held in this library just two years ago. but this library does not ignore lbj's english, the tragedy of the vietnam war. his greatest disappointment was the failure to achieve peace in the war in vietnam that he inherited and pursued. president johnson always wanted this stage to be the form for the great issues of the day. that includes reflections and revisiting of events of an earlier time, and to learn lessons to apply to the current time. so that is why i can say with certainty that president johnson would welcome the discussions of this summit, including criticisms of decisions and actions that were taken 50 years ago. tomorrow president johnson's own words, the aspirations of this
summit is to revisit the entire , with the barkm off. there should be no record of a mistake or an unpleasantness or criticism that is not included in this forum. my pleasure to introduce lbj foundation chairman emeritus, tom johnson, who will present the program tonight. [applause] mr. johnson: thank you, larry. it is my honor and my privilege now to introduce my friend, dr. henry kissinger. and i have known each other since 1967. when he was a relatively young professor at harvard university. and i was a very old ranking member of president johnson's white house staff.
in july, 1967, dr. kissinger was a top secret channel for president johnson, through french intermediaries, with north vietnamese prime minister and the aging ho chi minh. through dr. kissinger, president johnson offered a bombing halt, a faces station of bombing would discussionsuctive between the united states and hanoi. president johnson even proposed a direct meeting between dr. kissinger and hanoi's representatives. measure,good-faith president johnson unilaterally sought to end the bombing in the .icinity the north vietnamese response was entirely negative. and i quote. we can either receive mr. kissinger, nor comment on the american views as transmitted
through this channel. in a very highly classified meeting in the cabinet room on october 18, 1967, president johnson, secretary of state and rest, secretary defense robert kissinger tod dr. make one more attempt. response,vietnamese and i quote, there's no reason for us to talk again. we soon learned that hanoi was planning a massive all-out assault on vietnam, a sledgehammer blow designed it to shatter the north be a mini's -- the north vietnamese army.
theravance it was much more -- the advance was much more than we anticipated. president johnson in virtually all of us around him were shocked. the north vietnamese in the viet 36 capitals and five of the six largest cities. , butands were killed united states forces prevailed, battle,in every single including a massive battle. despite the best efforts, the parish channel coupled was codenamed philadelphia, was killed as well. in my opinion, no two men so wanted an honorable peace in vietnam as did dr. kissinger and president johnson.
obj died before a peace treaty was negotiated. however, dr. kissinger and president nixon did advise the president at the ranch, just a few days before his death, that what they thought would be an honorable peace agreement, was about to be signed. unfortunately, the peace agreement dr. kissinger negotiated was violet by hanoi and completely disregarded within months of its signing. people,american especially the antiwar activists, and we know that there are many in this room , and antiwarat era activists everywhere, especially on american campuses, and the american congress, and the american press had had all of the war that it could take. united states troops did not lose the war. on everyerally w
engagement. after eight long years, most americans have lost the will to fight. the price of become unacceptably high. minh neverho chi seem to lose their will to continue the war, until they had .eunited north and south i know there are men women in this auditorium tonight who had disagreed, and continue to disagree with henry kissinger. yet i will assure you that he , aslbj also wanted peace much as they did. an honorable peace that would stop the war and permit the people of south vietnam to remain free from communism, from repression, and from totalitarian rule. how do i know? i know because i was there.
i know because i took the notes of their conversations. i read the transcripts of their telephone calls. and their meetings. sometimes without dr. kissinger knowing that i was on the line. i served as a confidential link between dr. kissinger and former president johnson, until president johnson died. they both wanted an honorable peace. for his efforts, dr. kissinger won a nobel prize. and after, you see a brief presentation, a video of dr. kissinger after he negotiated that peace treaty, we will bring them forward to introduce into you. thank you. [applause] >> the united states is seeking peace that heals.
we have had many armistice is in indochina. ce that willa last. therefore, it is our firm intention, in our relationship to the democratic republic of hostilityo move from to normalization. normalization to conciliation. and cooperation. believe that under conditions of peace, we can contribute throughout indochina to a realization of the humane aspirations of all the peoples of indochina. spirit,ill, in that
perform our traditional role of helping people realize these aspirations in peace. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the former secretary of state, dr. henry kissinger. [applause] >> dr. kissinger, welcome. it's a privilege to have you on the stage. one of the things i think most people don't realize is that you are not only the national security advisor and secretary of state to president and and secretary of state to president ford, but also a part-time
consultant to president kennedy and president johnson, as tom johnson just alluded to. person, iany living think you saw all the principal commanders in chief around vietnam. can you talk about each of those men and what characterized their position on the war? dr. kissinger: first of all, let me say when honor it is for me to be here. and to participate in a needed to which is heal wounds of the debates about vietnam. i want to congratulate the , andry for organizing this for providing the opportunity. i like to say also that it is sort of symbolic that secretary kerry is coming here tomorrow night.
he was walking around with placards outside the white house , when i served there. [laughter] dr. kissinger: and the point i want to make is that we have become good friends in the interval. became to my 90th birthday party and made a toast in which he pointed out what his actions had been then, and that it was a pity that we didn't have an , rather thano talk confront each other in that time. in that spirit, he and i have worked together when he was chairman of the foreign relations committee, and i greatly respect his efforts now,
it's very meaningful to this conference would end with his speech by this distinguished leader of america now. question.swer your ,n the kennedy administration vietnam was at first a relatively peripheral issue. concern about indochina in the kennedy administration was the future of laos. because they, in turn, have received the advice from president eisenhower in the transition that the future of laos might determine the future of vietnam. then, as the administration went
a document that the chinese produced, who was -- the successor to mao, sing the whole world is going to be characterized by the struggle of the countryside against the cities. in the kennedy administration tended to interpret what was going on in indochina as part of that process. had only a fewwe thousand advisors. but the number was increased to about 50,000. in the kennedy administration. centralas not yet a obsession of american foreign-policy. johnson inherited a
situation in which the government of vietnam had been overthrown, the north vietnamese had infiltrated the regular divisions, not just guerrilla forces. observe -- lyndon johnson thought he was carrying the spirit of the policy that had been started by president kennedy, when he the intrigue of forces. and then gradually, as the administration went on, the president who all his life and as concerned primarily with domestic policy was engulfed in a division of the country that, in a way, has
lasted to this day in its perception of foreign-policy. say, he was anguished person. because he wanted peace. peace weretions of that you made a compromise. and that is the one thing that the north via minis --vietnamese were never prepared to do. i became involved, because the normal attempt to achieve negotiations had all been blocked. i was at that time a professor of harvard with no standing in
the hierarchy in washington. i attended a scientific conference in europe, and at that conference, there were two individuals who talked to me. because they knew i had been in vietnam for a few weeks. earlier that year. at the invitation of the ambassador. people have two ,een the host of ho chi minh when ho chi minh lived in paris for a year. to negotiate peace with the french. vietnam ando go to call on his acquaintance on behalf of peace for the united states. mcnamaraup secretary to tell him about this. secretary mcnamara discuss the
matter with president johnson. johnsoningly, president entrusted a professor at harvard, which was not the constituency that most favored , with being an intermediary to two frenchmen that no one had ever heard of before. they were sent off with a message from president johnson, to ho chi minh. the circumstances under which you would prepared to make peace. and they were relieved -- they were received by ho chi minh. and they came back with a reply which, after six years of
negotiations, in various administration's, we learned, was a typical north vietnamese vague reply that basically rejected the proposal, but made it sound as if maybe there was something. so they brought back that reply. i won't go through all the details. with anothert back message. happened that i ever saw a vietnamese negotiated. visited these frenchmen, and they went to the vietnamese. after a while, we realized that they were stalling. i mention this only to show the dedication of president johnson.
achieve an honorable negotiated peace from the very beginning. president nexen have the problem of how he inherited the war. 500 pluse already troops in vietnam. he had the same issue as president johnson -- how you end this war? withdraw these troops without leaving to a collapse of the whole structure in indochina? and as some of our allies in the rest of south asia were telling us, the collapse of the whole structure.
you can ask me questions about individual decisions. they were taken, and president ford was president in the very last phase. of the war. end, whensay the very it was obvious that we were talking only about the evacuation of the last batch of civilians that were stuck at the airport in saigon, i called him we have to transmit the evacuation of saigon. if you read that phone conversation between him and me, he realized that we had to leave. but he wanted to squeeze out
another 12 hours to see whether we can rescue a few more people. so all the presidents were haunted in their way. dedicated towere finding a peaceful solution. each of them have the dilemma of how do you relate american honor to the ending of the war? that was the dilemma. there was nobody who wanted more , there was nobody who wanted to escalate the war. they all wanted peace. but the question was, under what conditions can you do that without turning over the millions who had relied on the word of previous presidents but committed themselves? mr. updegrove: let me go back to
john f. kennedy. there is widespread speculation that had he not been assassinated, president kennedy would have reversed course and withdrawn troops from vietnam, despite any evidence to that end. is there anything you saw from president kennedy that would suggest that over time, he would have withdrawn our support for the war in vietnam? i have never seen the slightest evidence of this. that hessible to say might would have done this. but all the moves of the kennedy administration while kennedy was alive were in the direction of increasing our commitments. and not diminishing it. belief that ite -- as simple a problem
simpler problem that it turned out to be. i've never seen as piece of paper that would indicate this, and all of the chief advisers of were takenennedy who over by president johnson when he became president were unanimous in both presidencies. it, until things got very difficult. and then, divisions appeared. but i have never seen them -- i know of no evidence. -- mr.singer: lyndon updegrove: lyndon johnson was a domestic policy sage. he knew how to get deals done, he knew instantly what to do. there are many who think that he was out of his depth in terms of foreign policy.
what is your view of johnson as a foreign-policy president? president johnson with the war from the first day in office. judge -- so you can't really judge the foreign-policy tendencies of a up,ident who was swallowed in a way, by the war. question, johnson was a master in knowing the nuances of domestic policy. and he did not know the foreign leaders as well as he did the domestic constituencies. and so it didn't come as
naturally to him as it did with domestic policy. but on the foreign-policy issues , other than the war in vietnam, relationship good with our allies. enemies, he was very eager to come to some agreement with the soviet union, but everything was so overlaid by the war in vietnam. johnson wasesident a formidable individual. ways, it was a personal tragedy that he spent so much of his life to achieve that office, in order to be compelled to do the things that had not been his major focus.
but i thought he was a strong felt great respect and affection. mr. updegrove: it is long been nixon'sthat richard campaign tampered with the peace process by sending an emissary to the south the minis -- south vietnamese. what is your view on that? i have noger: personal knowledge if whether that contact actually took lace. -- took place in the way it has been alleged. but assuming the story is , i do noty correct believe that whatever nixon did thatny of the consequences
have been alleged. you have to remember, this aspect of our relationship with vietnameseese -- the always in a nearly desperate position. is aneeded our help essential component. so when the peace process was going on, they had a tendency to agree to provisions we put forward on the theory that the north vietnamese would obvious that take them. in 1968, we experienced what nixon then experienced four
years later, that when the point came actually to undertake negotiations, they would have to assume responsibility for the outcome. then come the south vietnamese leaders felt it necessary to demonstrate to their own people that they hadn't just been forced by the united states to a this, and so they started that i amut something sure president johnson in his day -- and i know, president x and thought had already been settled. wasof the key issues actually to sit down at the then, and that of course
reduce the necessity for the south vietnamese to sit down at the same table with the people who have been fighting to overthrow them. vietnameseuth communist side. as ahen that issue arose consequence of the negotiations, the president doug in and started a debate about the way the negotiations would even start. we faced exactly the same thing in a different way for years later. with the north vietnamese, without the south vietnamese had agreed to each of the terms when we had discussed them. but then when they were actually
put forward, we went through six weeks of controversy about nuances. that would have happened whether nixon wrote his note or not. secondly, some delay between the announcement in the sitting down was, in my opinion, inevitable. but there's one other thing to remember. it's often alleged that peace could have been made if somehow they had all sat at the same table. it was absolutely no chance of this whatsoever. 3, two daysovember after these announcements were made the vietnamese
changes that they never changed for the rest of the johnson administration and the rest of the next administration, which were united states had to withdraw totally, and former noted by government communists before any negotiation could take place, about anything else. so the johnson administration time was oft that the position of the north vietnamese had to withdraw before any withdrawal of american troops could even take place. conditions were maintained for the rest of the johnson administration. and they were the principal obstacle to the failure of the
negotiations in the next administration, until the in theese were defeated sequel to the tet offensive, where johnson mentioned, because the one thing that the next administration would not concede, it said that we would overthrow and allied governments that had supported the united states in reliance on promises made by a other presidents. and as soon as the north vietnamese agreed that the existing government could stay, which was at the very end of the nixon administration, a settlement was achieved. i mention it only because america should not torture itself on the view that it could have had a settlement earlier,
if their president had been more willing. they could not have had settlements except for just , which no one would have supported. halderman,ve: bob president nixon's chief of staff, said in a 1978 television interview that nixon had no intention of quickly pulling out of vietnam. he aimed to explore the rivalry between china and the soviet union to improve relations. vietnam was an expedient where america's bona fide intentions and motives were being acted out. nixon believed that america had to negotiate from strength to prove its willingness to fight, vietnam became that place. how do you respond to that?
is that characterize, and view, nixon's position on the war? dr. kissinger: it characterizes part annexes position on the war. bys can be interpreted professional critics of nixon to mean that he fought so that he could do some other things. that was not what he thought. he thought that if america is by abandoning its commitments in vietnam, he could not do the bigger things that make theed in order to war in vietnam fit into a global perspective. and so in the sense that he said this is not only about vietnam, it's about trying to create a world order in which the amounts
can no longer occur, in that sense, it is correct. in yourgrove: you say book, "ending the vietnam war," that the dominoes theory was real. the domino effect would have played out. what would have been the consequences of not waging a fight in vietnam? look, the problem of any foreign policy is that you have to make a commitment on the basis of assessment. you cannot prove true when you make them. they depend on a judgment, and you can always come up with a counterfactual argument. person who has a great , and ice on our thinking believe also some extent, on president johnson's thinking was
the prime minister from singapore. one of the great men i have met. he inherited a sand bar with a per capita income of $60. and turned it in 20 years to a significant country with a per withoutncome of $55,000 any natural resources, based on the dedication and quality of its population. he was convinced, and so were many others, that if the amount time that at the president kennedy and johnson made vacancies, that the whole engulfed, would be and that the same thing within
,alf an in indonesia, malaysia and he maintained that opinion until his death. and he was not a cold war in the abstract, he was a judge of what it took to keep his little country security. do you agree? dr. kissinger: i agree with that. i think that the presidents who made the major decisions had a reason for making them. book,degrove: in his 2015 the last of the presidents men, bob woodward writes of january 1972 memo that you wrote to president's updating him on the military situation in laos. president nixon wrote a handwritten note on that same k, meaning read
kissinger, we have had 10 years of total control in the air in laos and vietnam. the result equals village. there is something wrong with the strategy or the air force. and yet, that before, that before coming in a cbs interview with dan rather, residence and set up the bombing, the results of been very, very effective. i think their effectiveness will be demonstrated. publicly, president nixon as saying the bombing is effective, privately to you he is saying that they have done zilch. dr. kissinger: he wasn't saying curses of modern activism is -- modern archive is ism is collected and treated as if it were a legal document.
these presidents, on 18 hours a day. they are under constant pressure. they write a note to their advisors and frustration that it's still going on. of next and had a way exaggerating his comments. that tell you here woodward called me up with this. what to do do when he received it? i said i did nothing. he couldn't believe it. nothing? i do because i have worked with president nixon for 10 years. or eight years. and when you got a message like this, i have a tendency after a
whether wait to see they would be a follow-up. and if you think about it, this -- onbe the normal way the worst assessment of the air campaign, you cannot possibly say that it achieves nothing. you can say it may not have achieved everything that he wanted, and that you have to break it down into the biggest components were. nixoni think probably might have slightly exaggerated what he said publicly. and he surely exaggerated his frustration in a handwritten night.probably late at
i think one ought to analyze these documents that are floating around from that point of view. context int was the which the comment was made? mr. updegrove: nixon is a very enigmatic person. you write often that he would say one thing and mean another. you had to judge when he was saying -- dr. kissinger: he didn't mean another. i had a very clear idea of what he wanted. you have to understand it, you advisor,rvive security you have only one constituent, and that the president of the united states. be absolutely
straight with him. thing isost important security advisor can do, and must do, is to tell the president the options he has. sometimes he has to save the president from ill considered first moves. ,nd if you abuse that, utility [indiscernible] and nixon, it's not generally known, hated personal confrontations. and so, therefore, in face-to-face confrontations, it was like it was possible that he expressed himself ambiguously.
but, if you in any written excerpts, you can absolutely rely on what he was saying. if you look at his record, he knew he was a very strong president. and sticking to his basic convictions. and he took in or mostly difficult decisions, and there was no ambiguity about them. but it was better to discuss writing, thenin as a face-to-face conversation. and one will find in going through the archives, which are most of thee, that key decisions when i was security advisor were based on memoranda, and not on conversations. the conversations played a very
important role in creating the the, and establishing general context. but when a precise decision was needed, it was best to do it in writing. which i think is a good way anyway, in relations with these presidents. tom johnsone: mentioned your commitment to the peace process, and the fact that you, in 1973, along with your north vietnamese counterpart, won the nobel peace prize. there are many who alleged you are a war criminal due to the systematic carpet bombing of laos and cambodia. why was that bombing necessary to our strategy in winning the war? well, my now, and in my 90's.
i've heard this. criminalhe word war should be thrown around in domestic debates. it's a shameful reflection on the people who use it. let us look -- what was the situation? first, there was no carpet bombing. that is absolute nonsense. the situation was as follows. administration, the north vietnamese moved four divisions into the border areas the vietnam and cambodia. on cambodian soil. an established base areas from which they launched attacks into vietnam, and the divisions were
to there in opposition cambodian government. government told them that if we bombed those areas and didn't kill any cambodians, they would close their eyes to it. decidedadministration not to do this, because we were already under pressure, domestically. that donther reasons johnson may know better than i do. then, when nixon came in, before heave already
assumed office sent a message to the north vietnamese that he was eager to resume negotiations. in the third week of the nexen presidency, they started an week,ive in which every up to 500 americans were killed. and many of these attacks, more than half of these attacks came that werereas occupied by those four divisions inside cambodian territory. and after we had suffered 1500 casualties, nearly as many as we suffered in 10 years of war in , nixon ordered an
attack on the base areas within five miles of the vietnamese border, which were essentially unpopulated. so when the phrase carpet think, is used, it is, i probably much less than what the obama administration has done in similar base areas in pakistan, is sanctified, and i believe what was done in cambodia was justified. . when we eventually wiped out the base areas, the casualties went down by 80%.
and so those were the decisions are in and i would bet that sooner or later, any presidents would have had to do it. because this is one that if you fight and permit base areas from units arekilling are in an then you absolutely hopeless position. advisor, iity strongly favored it. but i had just come in. i wass not matter, certainly strongly supportive of it. it was correct. interest the american in the civilian casualties from this bombing along the five mill
was justified. we have to ask ourselves another thing. the argument against doing it was that cambodia was a neutral country. country that has four divisions on its soil is not actually a neutral country. cambodia told of the johnson administration that he would in a way, welcome this , when we actually did it , there were press inquiries, and he told them in a press conference, i don't know what goes on in the part of my country in which no cambodians
live, and which is occupied by the vietnamese. killed,, iodians will protest. he never protested. towards the end of his life, robert mcnamara stood on the stage after publishing a book and expressed regret over the war, and how it was waged. he said the war was futile, and that his conduct was wrong, terribly wrong. have you any regrets on any of the actions you took in vietnam? dr. kissinger: no. you always make tactical mistakes. i believe that the american president, and those of us who
top -- it's cheap me, after hundreds are dead after was decisions. what is thee: biggest lesson we can draw from the war? dr. kissinger: the biggest not just from the war in vietnam it. the dilemma of american foreign-policy in general is we two greatbehind oceans. the lucky part of the country has lived in the center part of the country, where the consciousness of foreign dangers inherently could not develop in the same way it had to in asia and europe, where peoples are
being pressed together. therefore, americans have a tendency to think that peace is the normal condition among people, among countries. and when there is war, or when is sort instability, it of an accident. , would you can remedy by one set of actions. to a which you can go back condition of great stability. but most deep international conflicts are caused by circumstances which have a long time to develop. we have been involved in five wars since world war ii. which we, in effect, lost. withded each of these wars
a wide public consensus. it was an 80% support for everyone of these initial actions. time, theafter some people say we have to end it. you need an extra case and strategy. well, the best extrication strategy is just to get out. but you can also call that defeat. so, if you enter a war, you should not do it for objectives that you can sustain. and if you cannot describe objectives that you can sustain, you shouldn't enter it. secondly, you have to distinguish -- you, as a country, between those things
you will do only if you have doies, and those you must because your national security requires it. regardless of whether you have allies or not. so, you have to make that distinction. thise have to learn that applies to almost all the ministrations. not to get into these conflicts unless you can describe and aim the you are willing to sustain. unless you are willing in the extreme to sustain it alone, or it,now when you have to end those are lessons in how to learn also from vietnam.
we also have to learn to moderate our domestic debate. because in the course of the as aam war, what started reasonable debate about whether we were engaged in the process that we could master was transformed into an attack on the moral quality of american leadership. teachers -- one teachers the people that is basically patriotic for 20 years, that they are criminals can get a then you political debate becomes more and more violent. and we suffer from it in some of our current political debates. that is one lesson we should
draw from the vietnam war. it also means we should moderate the argument, but make them deeper. mr. updegrove: based on that view, how would you assess the war in iraq? dr. kissinger: the war in iraq? , i want to be clear, i -- i had in mind different kind of war. i thought we would withdraw after saddam. more of a bush one type of war. we failed to make in iraq, and maybe in syria, that we failed
this analysis, which goes back to my original point. countries as if they were one unit. is then we see a ruler that oppressive, and we say let's get rid of this ruler. and the people of iraq with people of syria have a democratic government. and can restore stability. iraqhat has happened in and syria was at the end of world war i, the european oftors organized a group religions, ethnic entities.
, the had a was syria majority of sunnis. in a minority of she is. which in syria, recalled à la whites. and in iraq, it was the opposite. they had a minority of sunnis, and a majority of she is. in each case, the american president said let's get rid of the top guy, and we will have stability. guygetting rid of the top produces a conflict among the various minority groups, who are then fighting for preeminence. thato we have to learn when we get in to nationbuilding , in such a war, we have to
engage in nationbuilding. and so, i think we did not understand the complexities of nationbuilding as a general proposition. that's how i would assess the war in iraq, we got into something deeper then we assessed at the beginning. mr. updegrove: dr. kissinger has graciously excepted to take a few questions from the audience. i will ask you another question, as you would like to ask questions, i asked that you two up on either side of the aisle. i asked that you ensure that your question is in fact a question in a statement, and possiblebe as brief as in asking that question. it's impossible to ignore the election as it
plays out. in a 2014 interview with scott simon of national public radio that you think hillary clinton would make a good president, but you intended to support the republican nominee. i'm not going to get into the -- [laughter] into the -- [laughter] [applause] sayupdegrove: is it fair to that 2014 was a long time ago. are you inclined to support whoever the republican party nominates? [laughter] have not made i an announcement. mr. updegrove: fair enough. kindissinger: if you were could send it.i
i wanted to give the audience a chance. [applause] mr. updegrove: i must say to his credit he called me several weeks ago and said, i want to take questions from the audience. i will take any questions they offer. i asked that you ask the question briefly and in a civil matter. -- manner. when the court: was signed in laos in 1962, they counted on the vietnamese to honor the neutralization in laos which did not happen and they did not acknowledge that that accord was broken. had an expectation of the moving troops out of laos and that did not happen as expected
by the negotiators. dr. kissinger: you are quite right. audience member: how do we -- , atkissinger: you can say least until recently, the north recordese controlled the for breaking agreements. [laughter] dr. kissinger: the 1962 , if yout on laos generalize it now, the president laos wasnced that like vietnam, important to the united states. they wanted to keep laos from falling to the north the enemies
-- the emmys -- vietnamese. recommend to the incoming administration, that they should make an issue of laos and it was implied that they would favor the usa, some american troops to achieve this. laos is a complex country in order to achieve this objective. waskennedy administration not willing to put in forces, , as a result there was a neutralization agreement and that was broken by the north the vietnamese almost
immediately. and it took laos into a supply phase and most of the roots -- r outes went through laos. nixon2, when the nexen -- administration made a trip there, we had made a habit of violating the agreements. we were faced with near certainty that the congress would vote an end to the war, no matter what action would be taken. that the we believed provisions of the vietnam agreement, if we could enforce them, would also protect the other two countries. we thought that the south
vietnam ease forces could withstand all attacks and we them ifve enforced there was an all-out attack. thatwatergate destroyed possibility. legislatedngress against any attempt. what might not know have happened, but you are right . by the time these agreements were made in 1972, the american point disintegrated, to a
and it goes back to a point i nendearlier -- if we and -- thatars, we must make sure part of the responsibility of the administration is sustaining the domestic side. and opponents must understand, if they achieve objectives by undermining government, then of course, no strategy can sustain. mr. updegrove: yes? theence member: i am with the emmys americans. ietnameseemies -- ve americans, it is widely agreed that you wanted to take over the -- islands in 1974.
even the south china sea situation and into pacific ocean, what advice would you give president obama and secretary kerry? i am not sure i understood the question. it was a situation where we that -- 1974 mr. updegrove: can you restate the question? audience member: it was understood that the u.s. and the security advisor had arranged so that china could take over the thatol island in 1974, so we would not lose that area to russia.
today, what would use it just us do on behalf of the national security of the u.s. and given all the attacking that china is doing on the u.s. there, and you think that you would side with , in all that time, was responsible for the 50,000 deaths of american soldiers? benefitinger: for the nothe two or three who may know what these islands are -- [laughter] the parasolr: islands is a group of violence
-- group of islands in the south china sea, located between china and the anon. -- vietnam. depending on which point of land you measure the distance, they or either closer to vietnam china, so that leads to this issue. the chinese claimed these islands because hundreds of anglergo, a chinese through a line at the pacific and he said everything on that side belongs to china. and they had already been claimed. the vietnamese also claimed these islands. and the american position, with respect to the islands, has been
consistently that we do not take a position of the sovereignty of these islands. of1974, in the midst east, ie, in the middle can assure you that these islands were not for most on our minds. but, there is no agreement that was ever signed in between, that gave china a right to occupy these islands. nor have the chinese ever and so ihat there was there was no specific
negotiation. [indiscernible] mr. updegrove: thank you. mr. updegrove: yes? audience member: mr. kissinger, i was a south the enemy soldier spenttnamese soldier who sweden tied to the agreement of 1973. sent troops to help our nation, our country, to defeat the north the anon -- vie tnamese. and you did nothing. then it fell to her know i -- hanoi. i think that you should ask in the question what we learn from the war that we would never be
free and and i like that we can honor, thank you. dr. kissinger: i have great sympathy for these questions from vievietnamese. they had a right to think that we had promised support through a number of administrations, including the one in which i served. when vietnam was collapsing, it was impossible to convince the countries to send more funds. we are talking about 1975 will.
when it was made, the agreement in 1973, we appealed to all of them and none of them were willing to act. it was one of the saddest moments of my life and all of us there that day of the evacuation of saigon, it was one of the saddest moments of my life and of all of us who had there and seen the dedication of freeing the vietnamese, of the people who served there. had writtenh letters. i have sympathy for you and i
hope no american leader of his time gets a similar question. was theamental failure division in our country. without that, we could have managed it. mr. updegrove: yes? [indiscernible] mr. updegrove: is it working? ok. audience member: i was an infantry in vietnam. after lbj refused to run again, after what a contact -- walter cronkite, there was peace in honor, yet it cost tens of thousands of casualties. would it have been better to skip the honor and dodge
casualties, getting out earlier? dr. kissinger: what is the question? mr. updegrove: given the fact peace in honor took such a toll, would it have been better to get out earlier? audience member: the invasion of cambodia, the extended time of u.s. soldiers, many sustained casualties, perhaps we should have withdrawn. mr. updegrove: thank you. if you look at debate,ican political there was no one. at the democratic party at that time, you will in 1969 andbody
1970 recommended unilateral withdrawal. the position of the johnson administration was that the hadies -- vietnamese troops to withdraw first and the six months after that the american withdrawal would happen. unilateral withdrawal of american forces in the middle of a war, declaring that we cannot stand the consequences of this war, i do not know anybody who recommended it at that time. three years later, we were --king about infantrymen
[indiscernible] , of course if you whata war, you cannot say it achieves in any event, was not overheast asia was and it probably made a to theuting factor opening to china. ending.as a bitter audience member: i do not blame you or any administration. perhaps the fault is not in the ourselves.in all of mr. updegrove: last question on the right. audience member: it is a
pleasure to hear you speak mr. kissinger. i may not agree with you always but you are an interesting individual. the war on drugs was issued under nixon and the long-term of it, we have more people in prison than china and many of them are not violent. you think the war on drugs was worth it and it do you think it should be continued into the 21st century, or do you think we should look at it as a failure? or was it a victory? what do you think of that, the war on drugs and its effects during the last 40 years? mr. updegrove: a domestic policy matter, the war on drugs. audience member: it was under nixon. i don't think any statement i can make on the war
of drugs -- mr. updegrove: fair enough. [applause] dr. kissinger: i want to make one other point. my observations are directed as an american, for the american audience. i have great sympathy for the vietnamese who are in this audience. and of course, their perspective has to be, have to be different. , but not because of any action the administration .dmits i was involved in it is a historic tragedy that america found itself so divided and could not solve its domestic debates, so that it could come out of the war with a result
on awas more compatible bipartisan basis. that is the lesson we should learn. mr. updegrove: you have made your mark on history, what will history say about henry kissinger? [laughter] dr. kissinger: i have no obsession about this. i have the good fortune of being able to come to the united most, many of the people with whom i grew up, were killed in germany. so i have always been deeply grateful to this country and i the what it represents to
kids in the world. i have been lucky in being able concerns as my profession. involved in not what i am doing in order to get history written about me. there is an extensive record -- it will bele judged. i must say, the material that is produced now in the internet age , i am not sure whether you can say history will come to an agreement. anyway, that is not my concern.
i tried to do the best i could cost -- thought i did. [applause] [applause] mr. updegrove: we are not only grateful to you for being our honored guest tonight, but for serving your country as, in world war ii, we have many veterans out there. i would ask that you stand and be recognized by the audience, please. [applause] mr. updegrove: thank you for
your service, dr. center. -- dr. kissinger. thank you all. [applause] ♪ >> on american history tv on c-span3. >> therefore this committee has undertaken an investigation. its purpose is not to impair the fbi in counterespionage functions, but rather to evaluate domestic intelligence according to the standards of the constitution and statutes of our land. >> over 40 years ago, a committee chaired by frank church, a democrat, was convened
to investigate the intelligence activities of the cia, fbi, and nsa. this is the 40th anniversary of that committee's final report. we will look at portions of the 1975 televised appearance. that will be tonight at 10:00 , questioning about the illegal storage of weapons. >> i cannot explain why that, to the -- why that quantity was developed, except that we were engaged with the army and we did develop this weapon, you might say, as a possible -- for possible use. >> and at 6:00. >> in 1860, the u.s. was 70 years old, not old enough to have wisdom. family had been living in virginia for 225 years. i do not think that he
relinquished the decision he made that evening. his primary duty was to his family. his family had been in virginia for over two centuries, the old dominion was his birthright. >> talking about general robert e. lee and his ties to virginia as well as his military campaigns in the state. and sunday morning on road to the white house, rewind, a private decision chronicles the presidential race from the first primaries in new hampshire and a surprise withdrawal after the assassination of robert f kennedy. a result of that, because one's ability and foreign policy and is the head of eight, the head of the armed forces in the world and very much leading them in the free world, is to think responsibly about what one can achieve and to try to defy -- define one's
policies. historian looks at the cold war and focuses on eisenhower as a military man and president. for the complete weekend schedule, go to www.c-span.org. daughters of the american revolution was founded in 1890. their national headquarters are located in washington dc. date theysit to the are museum to learn about their 125th anniversary exhibit, remembering the revolution, 1776-1890. in this second of a two-part program, we begin with the 1824 visit to america by general lafayette. washe marquis day lafayette 19 years old when he came to
fight in the revolution. he was a french aristocrat and i think, when i talk to students about this, when i say he was 19 years old and we think about 19-year-olds today. what were you like? were you going to a revolution across the sea? probably not. he was interesting and his support and influence with the french government helped the revolutionaries and their cause. so, when he came back in the 1820's, invited back by president monroe, for the purpose of remembering the revolution. monroe saw, of course people are starting to die off, the revolutionaries are leaving us, but lafayette was still a living connection to the revolution. so he came back in 1824 and it wasan amazing tour of what
then the united states in an era when there was not trains, there were not automobiles, so this is horses and carriages that he crisscrossed the then united states and the fact he had so many places in both from new york city to charleston, to everywhere in between, i think is remarkable. so, when he comes to the united states, this is another reason for celebration. and again, people neither -- there were spontaneous outpourings of interest and admiration for the revolutionary war veteran. and we were discussing when we were developing this exhibition,
was this, was this an instruction. did people get instructions on lafayette is coming, you need to do this, you need to have a , the presidentll did not send out letters to the governors, saying you need to do something. the word was sent out and it was uraged of of -- enco course, but this outpouring of sentiment and people coming in wanting to see him was very much an unplanned and spontaneous kind of celebration. one of my favorite items relating to lafayette and his visit in the united states are these slippers. these were worn to a ball that was held in new york city.
they are very fragile, you can even see that from the picture, they are linen and soak with a silk with ae -- leather sole purpose -- full. -- sole. who wore the slippers, her name was angelica james. another wonderful connection. this is not just a story, but that ms. james is a connected to these slippers. >> you can view all american history programs online at www.c-span.org. next on history bookshelf, discusseslow unger
his book, "the last founding father: james monroe and a nation's call to greatness." he argues that president monroe is one of the least researched presidents. he describes president monroe's life through his two terms as the fifth president of the united states. this program was recorded at inders in new york city 2009. it is about 50 minutes. [applause] mr. unger: thank you very much. i am honored to be here and i want to thank my publisher for making this evening possible. my thanks to c-span television and borders bookstore, a landmark here at 57 and park avenue in new york city. i am particularly honored by the presence of several renowned authors, one of them alice fleming,