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tv   Conversation with Henry Kissinger  CSPAN  May 1, 2016 10:30am-12:31pm EDT

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>> you are watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. this past tuesday, former secretary of state henry kissinger defended his role in the vietnam role to a gathering of policymakers, vietnamese, veterans and war protesters. some 40 years after the fall of withdrawalamerica's from vietnam, he called the 1970 five evacuation one of the saddest moments of his life.
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kissinger sat down with lbj presidential library director mark updegrove. on the first of a three-day conference in texas. then took questions from the audience. severalhear first from introductory speakers, including president johnson's two daughters. the conversation with kissinger starts in about 30 minutes. this program is two hours. >> please welcome, the archivist of the united states, daughter of lyndon and lady bird johnson, the honorable hubert bola. miss luci baines johnson, daughter of lyndon and lady bird johnson. and dr. bernard let ski. the retired major general of the united states army, the silver star, bronze star, and purple heart recipient.
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[applause] >> the archive of this library contains thousands of letters to our 36th president. many of which concern the vietnam war. there are two letters during the height of the -- president johnson's tenure in office which reflect the dramatically contrasting views of the war held by americans, including our troops. dear mr. president, here is a vietnamesea little girl and myself. in a village about eight miles southeast of -- their mother was killed by the vc. because of us, she is able to
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smile. it is our duty to keep her smile, which portrays so much in 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, sir, and i pray god will help you. i hope this letter and picture will bring you a blessing. she says the marines are number one. sincerely yours, first corporal, lee vernon burnett 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. pfcf c nichols -- i am
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nichols, united states marine in vietnam. like most of the servicemen fighting here, i don't fully understand this war. we are given 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. i would like to know why. why should my oddities and other people -- my friends and other people's sons die for what they don't believe in? i have 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 -- must die for people who really don't seem to give a dam. 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
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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 nichols. >> i'm going to read two letters from my husband, who also was a marine in vietnam. we got married in december in washington, and he left in march. he came home 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.
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just as the first round landed about 20 meters away. within 10 seconds, the marines into the 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. as it was the one round, which completely destroyed the two company office structures next to my office and killed a small dog, which was not smart enough theet into a hole when firing 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.
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had the round landed just six inches shorter, all of us would've 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. , chuck's company is provided security for the road sweeps of the convoys to the outpost near the cambodian border. this is in august fifth, 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 -- would 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 detonated 35 pound box line, command detonated means it was set off by a person hiding some distance away with the fuse box instead of a regular pressure
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release mechanism. it was immediately engulfed in flames as the mine ignited at least six of the 12 gas tanks. i had one entire platoon on the vehicle at the time, in addition to a three-man forward air control team and a four-man crew. the net result was 30 casualties. many from shrapnel, but all from burns. just yesterday, i received a fairly large number of replacements, and had assigned 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. and would have been just as good of 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
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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 base in alabama on america's 190th birthday. fourth of july, 1966. the honorable lyndon b. johnson, president of united states. the white house. dear mr. president, i am now under training at the u.s. army chemical school and center at fort mcclellan, alabama. i'm indebted and grateful to you
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for your recent thoughtful speeches, which made me read 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 encouragement of your nation, we shall finally emerge victorious in the struggle for freedom and independence. -- osed i am taking the liberty to bring to your attention as a token of my appreciation. i sincerely hope that it may express to you our burning desire to fight for freedom that it may serve as a self explanation of a humble, but
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grateful people, who truthfully show his weakness to a true friend and noted to be helped more effectively. with my very best wishes in 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 a 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
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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 picketers say hey, hey, lbj, how 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 -- all so 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.
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in january of 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.
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of at&t, that is. christmas day, chuck and i made three stops to distribute the articles he had gathered. our first stop was a small village, some 30 miles southwest , where he passed out food and toys to the villagers. we then went to the catholic orphanage and handed out all sorts of toys to children. our final stop of the day was the naval hospital, where we visited with the patients in the orthopedic ward. we also handed out writing materials and fruitcake. christmas, 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.
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and two, 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. hot areas are still located northwest of saigon, along the cambodian border. 10 days ago, my aircraft came under mortar fire as we were coming to a halt on the runway. as usual, i did not realize that we were being fired upon. my primary concern was to offload the gis i had on board. 56 thank god, no one was hit. and the aircraft never received a scratch.
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the number of days i have -- i haven vietnam remaining in vietnam is diminishing quite rapidly. or as the gis referred to it, i'm getting short. as of this writing, i have 88 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.
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our men in 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. you and mrs. 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 you, as we come together to honor our
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vietnam veterans, in particularly those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives by fighting for freedom and democracy in vietnam. each year around this time on the vietnamese american april 30, communities commemorate and 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 community -- american community, i would like to express my deepest gratitude's 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. 50 years ago, south vietnam was
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-- stood as 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. north vietnam's rallying cause was to prevent foreign occupation and issue an independent integrity. 450,000 north vietnamese 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, -- fallen, vietnam still remains a communist state. north vietnam's primary objective of resisting foreign occupation has turned vietnam into a chinese vassal state. vietnam today has neither freedom nor democracy.
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what has transpired in the 41 years since the war ended those -- does not change the gratitude we have for the brave men and women of the vietnam war, as we honor them today. i mention these facts because we proudly honor those -- to properly honor those heroes, we must examine what their sacrifice means to us today and how much because for which they died still remains to be achieved. one day, when vietnam is no longer under communist control and is a land of freedom and democracy, the vietnam war will no longer be a reminder of division. instead, it will be the -- it will be a reminder of the high price that freedom requires in all countries. on that day, i believe that we will have finally, truly honored these fallen soldiers and the souls of those brave men and proud of their
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sacrifice. >> why am i here today? i'm here today because the young -- a 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
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remember, it was the height of the anti-vietnam war. larry was a fervent christian. yet he was one of the very few who volunteered in a battalion i had over 90% were draftees. he was one of the very few volunteers. why, ifi asked larry, you are such a christian, are you here? i know you don't believe in combat as the 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. and the least beastly of us
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should be doing it. morford --rgeant's sergeant morford's 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 cadets to china to teach preventative 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. as cardinal spellman mentioned, a religious leader in the united states, he said it this way. if i had not been a priest, i most certainly would have been a soldier. because they are both called to do the same thing.
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protect the innocent and right the injustice. , our host.to mark he has given me a very strict rule. left must tell you that i the army and went to medical school and became a missionary in africa. in africa, the rule is very simple. you can only 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 -- or the audience can spear you. so let me end it 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.
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may your parachutes open. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please
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welcome, mr. larry temple, chairman of the lyndon baines johnson foundation. [applause] mr. temple: good evening. 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 that the valor and commitment of the men and women who serve this country in vietnam is being recognized and honored here.
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while few people see -- seek this agreement and dispute, lyndon johnson -- when this 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. the exhibits and papers in this library certainly testify to the remarkable accomplishments 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 anguish, 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
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this stage to be the form for -- for him 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 story of vietnam, with the bark off. there should be no record of a mistake or an unpleasantness or criticism that is not included in this forum. now, it is my pleasure to introduce lbj foundation chairman emeritus, tom johnson, who will present the program tonight. [applause]
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mr. johnson: thank you, larry. it is my honor and my privilege now to introduce my friend, dr. henry kissinger. dr. 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 -- low 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 , and the aging ho chi minh. through dr. kissinger, president johnson offered a bombing halt, -- cessation of
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bombing would lead to productive discussions between the united states and hanoi. president johnson even proposed a direct meeting between dr. kissinger and hanoi's representatives. and as a good-faith measure, president johnson unilaterally halted bombing in the vicinity of hanoi. the north vietnamese response was entirely negative. and i quote. we can neither received mr. kissing her, nor -- 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 , secretary of defense robert mcnamara asked dr. kissinger to make one more attempt. the north vietnamese response,
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and i quote, there's no reason for us to talk again. what we soon learned was that hanoi was planning a massive, all-out assault throughout vietnam. a sledgehammer blow designed to shatter the north vietnamese trying to shadow the north and army. date, it wasgency than the ciasive could've anticipated. president johnson in virtually all of us around him were shocked. the north vietnamese in the viet cong attacked 36 capitals and five of the six largest cities. thousands were killed, but united states forces prevailed, and won in every single battle,
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including a massive battle. despite the best efforts, the kissinger 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.
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unfortunately, the peace agreement dr. kissinger negotiated was violet by hanoi and completely disregarded within months of its signing. but the american people, especially the antiwar activists, and we know that there are many in this room tonight of that era, and antiwar 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. they literally won every engagement. after eight long years, most americans have lost the will to fight. the price of become unacceptably high. and hanoi, ho chi minh never seem to lose their will to continue the war, until they had reunited north and south.
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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 and lbj also wanted peace, as 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
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that peace treaty, we will bring them forward to introduce into you. thank you. [applause] >> the united states is seeking a peace that heals. we have had many armistice is in indochina. we want a peace that will last. therefore, it is our firm intention, in our relationship to the democratic republic of vietnam, to move from hostility to normalization. and for normalization to conciliation. and cooperation. and we believe that under conditions of peace, we can
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contribute throughout indochina to a realization of the humane aspirations of all the peoples of indochina. and we will, in that spirit, 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.
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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. more than any living person, i think you saw all the principal commanders in chief around vietnam. can you talk about each of those men and what characterized their
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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 conference which is needed to heal wounds of the debates about vietnam. i want to congratulate the library for organizing this, and 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.
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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 opportunity to talk, rather than 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. now, to answer your question. in the kennedy administration, vietnam was at first a relatively peripheral issue. the dominant concern about indochina in the kennedy administration was the future of
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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 on, there was a document that the chinese produced, who was these -- 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. in those days, we had only a few thousand advisors. but the number was increased to about 50,000.
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in the kennedy administration. but it was not yet a central obsession of american foreign-policy. then, lyndon 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. if i could observe -- lyndon johnson thought he was carrying out the spirit of the policy that had been started by president kennedy, when he ordered the intrigue of forces. and then gradually, as the administration went on, the
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president who all his life and been known 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. and i must say, he was anguished person. because he wanted peace. with his notions of peace were
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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. one of these two people have
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been the host of ho chi minh, when ho chi minh lived in paris for a year. to negotiate peace with the french. he offered to go to vietnam and call on his acquaintance on behalf of peace for the united states. i called up secretary mcnamara to tell him about this. secretary mcnamara discuss the matter with president johnson. and amazingly, president johnson entrusted a professor at harvard, which was not the constituency that most favored him, 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.
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then outlined 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. but i was sent back with another message. none of this happened that i ever saw a vietnamese negotiated. i just visited these frenchmen, and they went to the vietnamese.
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after a while, we realized that they were stalling. i mention this only to show the dedication of president johnson. to achieve an honorable negotiated peace from the very beginning. president nexen have the problem of how he inherited the war. there were already 500 plus troops in vietnam. he had the same issue as president johnson -- how you end this war? and have you 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.
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of the war. i want to say the very end, when 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 and said 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 wanted to squeeze out another 12 hours to see whether we can
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rescue a few more people. so all the presidents were haunted in their way. each of them were dedicated to 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
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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
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have withdrawn our support for the war in vietnam? dr. kissinger: i have never seen the slightest evidence of this. it is possible to say that he 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. all based on the belief that it was as simple a problem -- a simpler problem that it turned out to be. i've never seen as piece of paper that would indicate this,
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and all of the chief advisers of president kennedy who were taken over by president johnson when he became president were unanimous in both presidencies. in supporting it, until things got very difficult. and then, divisions appeared. but i have never seen them -- i know of no evidence. mr. 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
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was out of his depth in terms of foreign policy. what is your view of johnson as a foreign-policy president? dr. kissinger: president johnson was saddled with the war from the first day in office. see can't really judge -- so you
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can't really judge the foreign-policy tendencies of a president who was swallowed up, in a way, by the war. without any 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
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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, he had a very good relationship with our allies. and our enemies, he was very eager to come to some agreement with the soviet union, but everything was so overlaid by the war in vietnam. i thought president johnson was a formidable individual. of, and some 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 figure, and i felt great respect and affection.
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mr. updegrove: it is long been alleged that richard nixon's campaign tampered with the peace process by sending an emissary to the south the minis -- south vietnamese. what is your view on that?
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dr. kissinger: i have no personal knowledge if whether that contact actually took lace. -- took place in the way it has been alleged. but assuming the story is essentially correct, i do not believe that whatever nixon did had any of the consequences that
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have been alleged. you have to remember, this aspect of our relationship with the vietnamese -- the vietnamese allies were always in a nearly desperate position. they needed our help is an 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
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forced by the united states to do this, and so they started a debate about something that i am sure president johnson in his day -- and i know, president x and thought had already been settled. one of the key issues was actually to sit down at the table, and that of course then reduce the necessity for the
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south vietnamese to sit down at the same table with the people who have been fighting to overthrow them. from the south vietnamese communist side. so, when that issue arose as a 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
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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. because on november 3, two days after these announcements were made, the vietnamese made
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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 coalition government noted by communists before any negotiation could take place, about anything else. so the johnson administration officials, at that time was of the position of the north vietnamese had to withdraw before any withdrawal of american troops could even take place. those conditions were maintained for the rest of the johnson administration. and they were the principal obstacle to the failure of the
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negotiations in the next administration, until the vietnamese were defeated in the 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
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nixon administration, a settlement was achieved. you cannot prove true when you make them. they depend on a judgment, and you can always come up with a counterfactual argument. a person who has a great influence on our thinking, and i 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. -- $600. and turned it in 20 years to a significant country with a per capita income of $55,000 without any natural resources, based on
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the dedication and quality of its population. he was convinced, and so were many others, that if the amount collapsed, at the time that president kennedy and johnson made vacancies, that the whole south asia would be engulfed, and that the same thing within half 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. mr. updegrove: do you agree? dr. kissinger: i agree with
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that. i think that the presidents who made the major decisions had a reason for making them. mr. updegrove: in his 2015 book, 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 memo, which read k, meaning 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.
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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 -- one of the curses of modern activism is -- modern archiveism is collected and treated as if it were a legal document. here are 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. and next and had a way of exaggerating his comments. i can tell you here that woodward called me up with this. he said what to do do when he received it? i said i did nothing. he couldn't believe it.
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why would i do nothing? 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 while to wait to see whether they would be a follow-up. and if you think about it, this would be the normal way -- on the worst assessment of the air campaign, you cannot possibly say that it achieves nothing.
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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. , and i think probably nixon might have slightly exaggerated what he said publicly. and he surely exaggerated his frustration in a handwritten notes, probably late at night. i think one ought to analyze these documents that are floating around from that point of view. i mean, what was the context in 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.
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you have to understand it, you cannot survive security advisor, you have only one constituent, and that the president of the united states. and you must be absolutely straight with him. and the most important thing is 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. and if you abuse that, utility, [indiscernible] and nixon, it's not generally known, hated personal confrontations. and so, therefore, in
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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
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difficult decisions, and there was no ambiguity about them. but it was better to discuss them with him in writing, then as a face-to-face conversation. and one will find in going through the archives, which are now available, that most of the 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 mood, and establishing the general context. but when a precise decision was needed, it was best to do it in writing. which i think is a good way
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anyway, in relations with these presidents. mr. updegrove: tom johnson 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? dr. kissinger: well, my now, and in my 90's. i've heard this. i think the word war criminal 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
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bombing. that is absolute nonsense. the situation was as follows. in the johnson 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 put there in opposition to the cambodian government. the cambodian government told them that if we bombed those areas and didn't kill any cambodians, they would close their eyes to it. the lbj administration decided not to do this, because we were already under pressure, domestically.
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and for other reasons that don johnson may know better than i do. but then, when nixon came in, they can have already before he 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 offensive in which every week, up to 500 americans were killed. and many of these attacks, more than half of these attacks came from the areas that were occupied by those four divisions
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inside cambodian territory. and after we had suffered 1500 casualties, nearly as many as we suffered in 10 years of war in afghanistan, nixon ordered an attack on the base areas within five miles of the vietnamese border, which were essentially unpopulated. so when the phrase carpet
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bombing is used, it is, i think, probably much less than what the obama administration has done in similar base areas in pakistan, which i think 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.
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because this is one that if you fight and permit base areas from which the killing units are sustained, then you are in an absolutely hopeless position. i was security advisor, i strongly favored it. but i had just come in. it does not matter, i was certainly strongly supportive of it. it was correct. it was in the american interest in the civilian casualties from this bombing along the five mill street was justified. we have to ask ourselves another thing.
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the argument against doing it was that cambodia was a neutral country. but a country that has four divisions on its soil is not actually a neutral country. and the leader of cambodia told the johnson administration that he would in a way, welcome this bombing, 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
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country in which no cambodians live, and which is occupied by the vietnamese. if any cambodians killed,, i will protest. he never protested. mr. updegrove: 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
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mistakes. i believe that the american president, and those of us who worked with him, were acting on their best judgment. at the time. and i think that mistakes were made, in the cause of discussion the vietnam war, one should discuss how one can learn from these. i'm proud of the service, and i must say, bob mcnamara was a really good friend of mine. i have huge regard for him. but one should not tell -- it's cheap to me cap -- it's cheap to me, after hundreds are dead after was decisions. mr. updegrove: what is the biggest lesson we can draw from the war? dr. kissinger: the biggest lesson is not just from the war
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in vietnam. the dilemma of american foreign-policy in general is we have left behind two great 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 there is instability, it is sort of an accident. sort of unusual, would you can
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remedy by one set of actions. after which you can go back to a 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. we ended each of these wars with
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a wide public consensus. it was an 80% support for everyone of these initial actions. but then, after some time, the people say we have to end it. 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
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allies, and those you must do because your national security requires it. regardless of whether you have allies or not. so, you have to make that distinction. and we have to learn that this applies to almost all the ministrations. not to get into these conflicts unless you can describe and aim the you are willing to sustain.
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unless you are willing in the extreme to sustain it alone, or to know when you have to end it, 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 vietnam war, what started as a 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. and when one teachers -- one teachers the people that is basically patriotic for 20 years, that they are criminals and fools, then you can get a
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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? well, i want to be clear, i supported -- i had in mind
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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 to make this analysis, which goes back to my original point. we look at these countries as if they were one unit. and then we see a ruler that is 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. but what has happened in iraq and syria was at the end of world war i, the european
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victors organized a group of tribes, religions, ethnic entities. one of them was syria, the had a majority of sunnis. in a minority of she is. which in syria, recalled a la whites. and in iraq, it was the opposite. they had a minority of sunnis, and a majority of she is.
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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 that you be as brief as possible in asking that question. dr. kissinger, it's impossible to ignore the election as it plays out. you said 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. dr. kissinger: i'm not going to get into the -- [laughter]
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mr. updegrove: is it fair to say that 2014 was a long time ago? are you still inclined to [laughter] dr. kissinger: i have not made an announcement. mr. updegrove: fair enough. dr. kissinger: if you were kind enough to say, i could send it. 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 manner.
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>> 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. you 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 -- dr. kissinger: you can say, at least until recently, the north vietnamese controlled the record for breaking agreements. [laughter] dr. kissinger: the 1962 agreement on laos, if you generalize it now, the president was convinced that laos was like
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vietnam, important to the united states. they wanted to keep laos from falling to the north the enemies -- the emmys -- vietnamese. and they did 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.
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the kennedy administration was not willing to put in forces, but, as a result there was a neutralization agreement and that was broken by the north the emmys -- bievietnamese almost immediately. and it took laos into a supply phase and most of the roots -- r outes went through laos. in in 1972, when the nexen -- nixon administration made a trip there, we had made a habit of violating the agreements. we were faced with near certainty that the congress
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would vote an end to the war, no matter what action would be taken. secondly, we believed that the 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 would have enforced them if there was an all-out attack. then watergate destroyed that possibility. and then congress legislated against any attempt. so, we will not know what might have happened, but you are right by the time these agreements
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were made in 1972, the american -- had disintegrated, to a point and it goes back to a point i made earlier -- if we and -- neend the wars, we must make sure that 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
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course, no strategy can sustain. mr. updegrove: yes? audience member: i am with the vietnamese americans. it is widely agreed that you wanted to take over the -- islands in 1974. on whose behalf to do do so? south chinarrent sea situation and into pacific ocean, what advice would you give president obama and secretary kerry? dr. kissinger: i am not sure i understood the question. it was a situation where we
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china could74 that 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 parasol island in 1974, so that we would not lose that area to russia. today, what would use it just us -- which use adjust 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 mao, in all that time, was responsible for the 50,000 deaths of american soldiers?
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dr. kissinger: for the benefit of the two or three who may not know what these islands are -- [laughter] dr. kissinger: the parasol islands is a group of violence -- group of islands in the south china sea, located between china and vietnam. depending on which point of land you measure the distance, they are either closer to vietnam or china, so that leads to this issue. the chinese claimed these
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islands because hundreds of years ago, a chinese angler through a line at the pacific and he said everything on that side belongs to china. so, 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. in 1974, in the midst of watergate, in the middle east, i 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
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these islands. nor have the chinese ever .laimed that i think you are not well informed. there was no specific negotiation. mr. updegrove: yes? was a southber: i vietnamese soldier, and spent 10
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years in sweden, tied to the assured my- you people that you would send defeatto help our nation the north vietnamese if they invaded vietnam, but you did nothing. the result is that vietnam cell fell.l i suspect that you should answer the question. what we learned from the vietnam war is that we never betray our allies that depend on them. thank you very much. greatssinger: i have sympathy for these questions from vietnamese. they had a right to think that throughromised support
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, number of administrations including the one under which i served. it was impossible to convince them to pass any additional funds. .alking about 1975 it was 35 other nations that signed on to the agreement when it was made in 1973. we appealed to all of them, and none of them was willing to act. it was one of the saddest , and the dayslife
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of the evacuation of saigon was one of the saddest moments of my who had of all of us seen the dedication of vietnamese, the dedication of ,hose people who had served little of which you learn in the that the children read -- i hope no other american has similaris time questions. the fundamental failure was the division in our country. without that, we could have managed.
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audience member: after lbj refused to run again, after walter cronkite, there was peace with honor. there were tens of thousands of casualties. would it have been better to given theonor casualties. mr. updegrove: thank you. would it have been better to withdraw altogether? audience member: the invasion of cambodia, the extended time of u.s. soldiers, many sustained casualties, perhaps we should have withdrawn.
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dr. kissinger: if you look at the american political debate, there was no one. if you look at the democratic party at that time, you will find that nobody in 1969 and 190 recommended unilateral withdrawal. the position of the johnson administration was that the enemies -- vietnamese troops had to withdraw first and the six months after that the american withdrawal would happen. so, a unilateral withdrawal of american forces in the middle of
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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 talking about infantrymen -- [indiscernible] in retrospect, of course if you lose a war, you cannot say what it achieves in any event, was that southeast asia was not over and it probably made a contributing
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factor to the opening to china. but it was a bitter ending. audience member: i do not blame you or any administration. perhaps the fault is not in the stars, but in all of ourselves. 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
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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. dr. kissinger: 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.
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i am sorry, but not because of any action the administration admits 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 that was more compatible on a 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]
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dr. kissinger: i have no obsession about this. i have the good fortune of being able to come to the united states when 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 know what it represents to the kids in the world. i have been lucky in being able to execute my concerns as my profession. and so, i am not involved in what i am doing in order to get history written about me. there is an extensive record that some people -- it will be judged.
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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 and i thought i did. [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]
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thank you for your service, dr. kissinger. thank you all. >> i am a history buff.
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i do enjoy seeing the fabric of our country and seeing how things work and how they are made. , i love american artifacts. >> with american history tv, it gives you that perspective. fan.m a c-span independent media is the oxygen of a democracy. it is essential, holding those in power accountable. we are not there to serve some kind of corporate agenda. when we cover war and peace, beer not brought to you by the weapons manufacturers. >> tonight, journalist amy
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goodman host of "democracy now" talks about the books that she authored, "democracy now" which looks back at some of the stories and people that the show covered. >> the idea of democracy now starting 20 years ago really has not changed. bring in the voices of people from the grassroots around the world. they very much represent the majority of people. people deeply concerned about war and peace, the growing inequality in this country, climate change, the state of the the minority, not even a silent majority, but a silenced majority. "u q andt on c-span's
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a." thehe daughters of revolution have their the whiters near house. in this program, we begin with the 1824 visit to erica by general lafayette. >> he was 19 years old when he came to america to fight in the revolution. he was a french aristocrat. i think when i talked to students about this, when i say he was 19, and we think about 19-year-olds today, and what were you like you were 19? are you going into a revolution across the sea?
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probably not. he was an interesting individual, of course. his support and influence with thefrench government helped revolutionary cause. when he came back in the 1820's, and he was invited back by president monroe for the purpose of remembering the revolution. people wereht that dying off and revolutionaries were leaving us. lafayette was still a living connection to the revolution. ancame back in 1824 and did amazing tour of what was then the united states, in an era when there were not trains, they were not automobiles. carriagesrses and that is crossed the then united
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states. the fact that he had so many places from new york state down to charleston, and everywhere in between, i think is remarkable. when he comes to the united states, this is another reason for celebration. are spontaneous outpourings of interest, admiration for the revolutionary war veteran. we were discussing, when we were developing this exhibition, was this an instruction? did people get instructions on lafayette coming, you need to do this. there was not that. the government, the president
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did not send out letters saying, you need to do something. word was sent out, and it was outpouring but this of feeling and sentiment, and people coming in wanting to see lafayette was very much unplanned. one of my favorite items relating to lafayette and his --it here are these flippers slippers. they were warned to a ball in new york city. they are very fragile. you can see that from the picture. k.il nk they are linen and
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probably one just to dance in, and nothing else. -- worewho were these these flippers. her name was jennifer jane. it is not just the story, but miss jane is connected to these flippers. >> you can view all american attory programs online c-span.org. >> tonight on "the communicators" the television council on the tv rating system. j joined with the reporter from thomson reuters. >> there is no series on broadcast television today that is rated appropriate for anything older than children.
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the explicit rating. we have learned that the tv networks themselves rate the shows and the tv advertisers rely on the ratings, just like parents do. there is a conflict of interest ratingms of reading -- content accurately. incapable of doing what it was intended. communicators" tonight on c-span two. history,tures in chapman university professor jennifer keane looks at myths i.ut americans in world war this class is

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