tv Lessons Learned from the Vietnam War CSPAN June 2, 2016 2:00am-3:10am EDT
gone ♪ ♪ they've gone for young men everyone ♪ ♪ when will they ever learn ♪ when will they ever learn ♪ and where have all the young men gone ♪ >> let me hear you now. ♪ where have all the young men gone ♪ >> long time. ♪ long time passing ♪ where have all the young men gone ♪ >> long time ago. ♪ long time ago ♪ where have all the young men gone ♪ ♪ they've gone for soldiers, everyone ♪ ♪ when will they ever learn
♪ when will they ever learn >> and very solemnly and prayerfully, for all those who were injured and killed and wounded and maimed. where have all the soldiers gone. many not to the graveyards but to lives of great, great despair and difficulty. where have all the soldiers gonegon gone, with solemnity. ♪ where have all the soldiers gone ♪ ♪ long time passing ♪ where have all the soldiers gone ♪ ♪ long time ago ♪ where have all the soldiers gone ♪
♪ gone to graveyards, everyone ♪ when will they ever learn ♪ when will they ever learn ♪ where have all the graveyards gone ♪ ♪ long time passing >> let me hear you. ♪ where have all the graveyards gone ♪ >> long time ago. ♪ long time ago >> where have all the graveyards. ♪ where have all the graveyards gone ♪ gone to flowers, every one ♪ when will they ever learn ♪ when will they ever learn
>> when will we ever learn. and we sing -- ♪ when will we ever learn ♪ when will we ever learn >> and then we sing where have all the flowers gone and the irony and the pain of the endless cycle. when will we ever learn? we do know that when we can love each other and say we're sorry and we forgive each other we're taking the right step. i'm so sorry for anything that i did that brought the war or any war unjust war. where have all the flowers gone, together softly. ♪ where have all the flowers
gone ♪ ♪ long time passing ♪ where have all the flowers gone ♪ >> long time ago. ♪ long time ago >> where have all the flowers gone. ♪ where have all the flowers gone ♪ ♪ young girls have picked them every one ♪ ♪ when will they ever learn ♪ when will they ever learn >> when will we ever learn. last time. ♪ when will we ever learn ♪ when will we ever learn
the church committee's final report on federal intelligence activities. the senate select committee to study governmental operations held hearings on intelligence activities by the cia, fbi, irs and nsa. that's at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span 3. american history tv on c-span 3. saturday night at 10:00 eastern on "real america." >> more than 110,000 cubans flee cuba. they come the 140 kilometers from the port of mural to key west, florida in nearly 2,000 boats. why did they come? why are there so many? >> during the spring through fall of 1980 approximately 125,000 cuban refugees arrived in florida from the port of mariel, cuba. hear interviews from these new arrivals to america and find out why they left.
sunday morning at 10:00 on road to the white house rewind, the 1992 democratic and republican conventions. bill clinton accepts his party's presidential nomination in new york city. >> in the name of the hard-working americans who make up our forgotten middle class, i proudly accept your nomination for president of the united states. [ applause ] >> and incumbent president george h.w. bush accepts his party's nomination in houston. >> and i am proud to receive, and i'm honored to accept your nomination for president of the united states. >> at 4:45 architectural historian barry lewis on the creation sxefgs of new york city's greenwich village. >> when the elop opened on 6th avenue it gave us visually what we understood. east was washington square west of 6th avenue was the lower west side. nobody ever crossed that line. the people from western 6th
avenue might cross the line to work as a servant in washington square. but believe me, the people in washington square never went on the other side of 6th avenue. >> and at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency -- >> every time i look at washington it's unanimous. unanimously commander in chief. unanimously president of the constitutional convention. unanimously president of the united states. unanimously re-elected president of the united states. unanimously appointed as the lieutenant general and commander in chief of all the armies raised or to be raised for the service in the united states. what a record. >> george washington scholar peter enriquez explores that even though washington was officially retired he continued to meet with political figures from the new capital and was often called upon to craft policy. for the complete american history tv weekend schedule go to c-span.org. the independent women's forum holds its annual polts
summit in washington, d.c. topics include the economy, political leadership, women voters, the future of the supreme court, and college campus culture. that's live at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span 2. thursday a discussion on combating al qaeda and isis. the group gafta hosts a discussion with a political adviser to syrian president bashar al assad via skype. we're live from the national press club at 8:30 a.m. eastern here on c-span 3. >> i think today we in effect sort of catch up to the 20th century. we've been the invisible half of the congress the past seven years. we've watched our house colleagues with interest. at least i have with interest. and the tv coverage of members of our colleagues in the house. >> today is the day the u.s. senate comes out of the
communications dark ages. we create another historic moment in the relationship between congress and technological advancements in communications through radio and television. >> 50 years ago our executive branch began appearing on televisi television. today marks the first time when our legislative branch in its entirety will appear on that medium of communication through which most americans get their information about what our government and our country does. >> they're televising our senate chamber proceedings, also represents a wise and warranted policy. broadcast media coverage recognizes the basic right and need of the citizens of our nation to know the business of their government. >> thursday c-span marks the 30th anniversary of our live gavel to gavel senate floor coverage on c-span 2. our special coverage features keep moments from the senate floor from the past 30 years.
>> i would show to you the body of evidence from this question. do you trust william jefferson clinton? >> we have just witnessed something that has never before happened in senate history. the change of power during a session of congress. >> what the american people still don't understand in this bill is there's three areas in this bill that in the next five years will put the government in charge of everybody's health care. >> plus an interview with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. >> and i'm sure i've made a number of mistakes in my political career, but voting against having c-span televise the senate was one of them. >> and remarks by senate historian emeritus donald richie and parliamentarian emeritus robert freeman. watch with 30 years of the u.s. senate on television beginning thursday on c-span expect to see more of our 30 years of coverage on c-span 2, go to c-span.org.
in 1995, two decades after the fall of saigon, the united states normalized diplomatic relations with vietnam. and president obama recently spent three days visiting the country. next on "american history tv," vietnamese ambassador to the united states pham quang vihn talks about the history of diplomatic relations between the u.s. and vietnam and how the relationship has changed since the end of the war. this 20-minute program is part of a three-day conference at the lbj library in austin, texas titled "the vietnam war summit." >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome lyndon b. johnson centennial chair in national policy at the lbj school of public affairs, admiral bobby r. inman.
[ applause ] >> thank you. in july of 1967 i arrived in hawaii from a tour in sweden to be head of current intelligence for the pacific fleet. once a quarter i would go in country. most often saigon da nang. and then in may of '69 i went out to be the 7th fleet intelligence officer. for the following 27 months i was in country in the combat zone every month. and by the end of that time i had grown pretty pessimistic about how this event was going to play out. when the agreement was signed for the withdrawal i was not serving in the intelligence world. and then when saigon fell in '75 i was the director of naval intelligence. at that point i was very
pessimistic about what our relationships with that part of the world were going to be over the ensuing years. and never on the rare occasions when i was optimist ic did i conceive a vietnam that would become a significant trading partner and that we would in fact have a substantial number of common interests. so i was pleased with the opportunity to address and particularly to introduce to you the current vietnamese ambassador to the united states. pham quuchlt uang vihn started college the year that saigon fell. graduated in 1980. went down to australia to brush up his english. came back and much of his career subsequent to that has been focusing on international
organizations. he's done two tours in the vietnam embassy representing to the united nations. he is the highest-ranking career diplomat that's still a very young man. so it's a great honor for me to introduce to you ambassador pham quang vihn. [ applause ] >> i thank you very much. and i feel privileged to be invited to this event. i thank you for the invitation, hospitality, and arrangements. especially from the lbj presidential library and the lbj foundation. earlier today i had a chance to talk with mark updegrove, director of the presidential
library, larry tambel, chairman, vice chairman, executive director of the lbj foundation. i did take a brief tour of the library and had a working lunch with the chamber of commerce here in austin. and i'm so much honored to meet and talk briefly with presideth luci baines johnson, it seems i have already had history from two decades ago to this event. i've been briefed on the subject of this summit and its panels which should reflect a wide range of perspectives and experiences including those from the veterans of their war experience as well as turmoil that followed. the anti-war, or give peace a chance movements, the media and the youth. i knew since the end of the war
there have been numerous discussion on this war including those between vietnam and america. all this add to the depth of our studies and reflections. in this panel i've been invited to share with you on the theme america and vietnam in the 21st centu century, a new beginning. i share the belief that this panel will give us a chance to discuss how far our countries have come since the end of the war and what we can do more to further this constructive and comprehensive partnership of our two countries. i wanted to share with you a little bit of history. vietnam and the u.s. has a long history of contacts. nearly 230 years ago thomas jefferson, one of the drafters of the u.s. declaration of
independence, and would later become the third u.s. president, had been trying to get the right seed from vietnam to grow in his home town in the state of virginia propp and he wrote at that point in time "this dry rice from vietnam has the reputation of being the whitest to the eye, best flavor to the taste, and more productive." and more than 100 years ago, back in 1911, 1912, president ho chi minh came to boston, the cradle of american revolution, of independence, to find ways for the liberation of his country, vietnam. at that point in time under the french rule. and as early as 1941 during world war ii the vietnamese people stood -- and extended
struggle by the national patriotism and by the promises made by the allies at yalta, san francisco, and potsdam conferences. and in september 1945 vietnam got independence from the french colonial and the new vietnam declaration of independence included the ideals of jefferson, and i quote. all men are created equal. the creator has given us certain inviolable rights. the right to life, the right to be free, the right to achieve happiness. between 1945 and 1946 president ho chi minh wrote several letters to president truman to seek full cooperation with the u.s. however, the relationship was missed 70 years ago.
-- it was painful for everyone. for us vietnam we were forced to defend our national independence and freedom with untold sufferings. and the painful legacies of war persisted until today. during the war 3 million dead, 4 million injured and handicapped, 4.8 million exposed to dioxin and the agent orange. hundreds of thousands -- president clinton called it a horrible and painful war and secretary kerry called it most profound failure of diplomatic spirit insight and political vision. but we are happy to have a new chapter, a chapter from foes to friends. in 1995 president clinton announced the normalization of diplomatic relations with vietnam. and as we look back today we thank all those who have played a part in ending the war and thank the american people from
all walks of life who had voiced opposition to the war and supported the vietnamese people. in this regard we pay tribute to all those who have helped and to the personalities such as martin luther king. we also thank those on both sides who have been working hard for the normalization and promotion of relations between our two countries. on our part from the policy of set aside the past and look to the future and from the humanitarian spirit vietnam has been and continue to do? cooperating fully and effectively with the american side on the war legacy, especially on the m.i.a. issue. and we will continue to be working together for a new future about to -- of our relations. president clinton, when he announced the normalization of diplomatic relations with vietnam, on july 11, 1995 made a
special note of those who have helped make this difficult decision happen that includes senators john mccain, john kerry, chuck croft, and representative peterson among others. and we have many others, americans and vietnamese, who were working hard to help in the efforts of healing and reconciliation, especially the veterans from both sides. as our relationship grew since 2013, the two countries have established a comprehensive partnership. our aligning while arranging yashz of cooperation on such efforts of two countries. general secretary min fu chong on his visit in july last year has observed 20 years ago few
people could imagine how vietnam and the u.s. could overcome the pains of the war and build a relationship, of positive and regards development that we have today. and now when you hear the word vietnam it is no longer a conflict but a country. and i wish to -- a country of dynamic development and active integration. we have worked hard to overcome the consequences of the war. and undertook three decades of innovation and reform to build our country in all areas. as a result, today we have reduced the level of of poverty from 50% three decades ago to now und your 5% and achieved an average growth rate of 6% to 7% for many years. vietnam has been -- coffee,
textile, and other agriculture product and seafoods. we'll continue to strengthen further economic development. we also expect that the income per capita will be raised to 3,200 to 3,500 u.s. dollars in the next five years. and we have a dynamic and industrial population with more than 50% under 30 years of age. 50% access to the internet. 38% using social media and 42% have mobile subscriptions. peace, friendship and cooperation by mutual respect
and benefit. and we have now had diplomatic relations with more than 190 countries in the world and have been active members of many regional and international organizations including the united nations, the wto, apeck and asean. and we have been in many arrangements such as the tpp and the fta. you will find vietnam a reliable partner and a good place for visitors. now, on u.s. and vietnam relations i think we have foundations for stronger partnership. last year, 2015, we commemorated 20 years of our diplomatic relatio relations. the general secretary and
president obama met at the oval office and issued a statement on partnership. on these two decades we recognize the astounding achievements recorded so far in many areas of our cooperation including particular economic and trade relations, cooperation in addressing the war legacy issues. as there was in science and technology, education, health care, environment, climate change, security and defense and in issues of mutual concern. we have been able to talk also on issue of defenses such as human rights. and this year, 2016, president obama will be soon visiting vietnam. also his first visit to vietnam. next month in may. the two sides are making efforts
of preparations to ensure the visit a success. which will further deepen and strengthen our two countries' relations. today vietnam and the u.s. have solid foundations for stronger partnership. as we look to the future of our relations and build a comprehensive partnership. and i wish to highlight the following key areas. political ties. we agree to continue to deepen relationship on the basis of mutual respect and benefit. including the respect of each other political system. and sovereignty. and to advance further cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral levels for the benefit of both peoples contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity in asia as well as the world. in this regard we will increase as a priority exchange at high levels and expand consultations
to build trust and cooperation in all areas. trade and investment cooperation has always been a key pillar in our relationship. for the past two decades our trade volume has increased. 90 times. and i think secretary kerry last night mentioned these figures. from half a billion u.s. dollars to now over 45 billion u.s. dollars. u.s. ranks number 7 among the largest investor in vietnam with about 11 billion u.s. dollars. but more can still be done and potentials remain to be tapped especially in the context of the tpp. we believe the tpp high quality and balance agreement will help enhance economic growth and expansion for all participating countries and give -- to the asiawide regional cooperation as
a member of tpp vietnam is committed to the tpp and its implementation. we also request that the u.s. recognize vietnam as a market economy and do away with technical barriers in our trade relations. on defense and security we will continue our bilateral cooperation in these areas as -- statement on defense relations that was adopted june last year, 2015, and the defense cooperation m.o.u. of 2011. including in the areas of maritime security, search and rescue, disaster relief and peace keeping. we will further our cooperation as a priority -- and we expect the u.s. to give more assistance to vietnam in terms of both funding and technology in the
clearance of -- dioxin medication including new projects such as the vietnam p airport. vietnam calls on the u.s. to totally lift the arms embargo on vietnam and believe that this element or barrier of the past should be removed to reflect our first normalization of relations starting to decay in our comprehensive partnership. we have a lot of other areas such as education, science and technology, people to people exchan exchange. we can further advance our cooperation in these areas. vietnam appreciates the u.s. continual assistance to vietnam in all these areas. including in the area of innovation and startup.
since the achievements of the 1, 2, 3 agreement we are looking to further promote cooperation in the area of civil nuclear energy. vietnam expect that the u.s. will further assistance in dealing with climate change and sea level rise in the mekong delta as well. vietnam has now more than 19,000 students studying at universities in the u.s. ranking first among the southeast asian nations. and number 8 across the world. we welcome the establishment of the fulbright university in vietnam and other university partnerships to further accelerate our education cooperation. today every year more than 500,000 american visits vietnam each year, and we will continue to encourage greater numbers of tourists, students, and business visitors to both countries vietnam always recognize the vietnamese overseas including
those in the u.s. as part of the vietnamese nation and facilitate that ties with the homeland and appreciate their role as relationship with host countries between vietnam and home countries. in the statement of 2015 the two countries recognize the success of the vietnamese community in the u.s. and their many contributions both to the development of the u.s. and vietnam. and to vietnam-u.s. relations. on region sxl global issues we continue to increase our cooperation on sustainable development and addressing global issues of mutual concern including natural disaster, water security, pandemics and wildlife trafficking, et cetera. the two countries are also expanding cooperation on global
security and on the lower mekong initiative. we commend the recent successful convening of the asean u.s. summit which highlighted the asean u.s. strategic partnership and asean's central role in the regional cooperation and architecture in east asia. we will work together with other asean countries for the follow-up of outcomes including the initiative to support the asean community and asean -- we support peace, maritime security, and freedom of navigation in the south china sea. we express concern over the recent developments in the area. all countries concerned must abide by international law, especially the united nation's convention on the law of the sea. resort to peaceful resolution of
this -- refrain from actions that raise tension, and implement fully the declaration of parties in the south china sea and work for the early conclusion of a code of conduct in this area. in conclusion i think vietnam and the u.s. are important partners two decades of normalization of relations. the two countries have made a big stride at starting progress in their relationship. this is beyond expectations. and our partnership today has ranged from bilateral to multilateral cooperation. i believe that the two countries have solid foundations to strengthen our comprehensive partnership. especially in the context of the coming visit to vietnam by president obama. i'm honored to be here. and thank you very much.
[ applause ] thursday american history tv on c-span 3 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the church committee's final report on federal intelligence activities. the senate select committee to study governmental operations held hearings on intelligence activities by the cia, fbi, irs, and nsa. that's at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span 3. >> american history tv on c-span 3. saturday night at 10:00 eastern on "real america" -- >> more than 110,000 cubans flee cuba. they come the 140 kilometers from the port of mariel to key west, florida in nearly 2,000
boats. why did they come? why are there so many? >> during the spring through fall of 1980 approximately 125,000 cuban refugees arrived in florida from the port of mariel, cuba. hear interviews from these new arrivals to america and find out why they left. sunday morning at 10:00 on "road to the white house rewind," the 1992 democratic and republican conventions. bill clinton accepts his party's presidential nomination in new york city. >> in the name of the hard-working americans who make up our forgotten middle class, i proudly accept your nomination for president of the united stat states. >> reporter: and incumbent president george h.w. bush semz his party's nomination in houston. >> and i am proud to sxeef i'm honored to accept your nomination for president of the united states. >> at 4:45 architectural historian barry lewis on the creation and evolution of new york city's greenwich village.
>> when the el opened on 6th avenue it basically visually gave us what we already understood. east of 6th avenue was washington square. west of 6th avenue was the lower west side. nobody ever crossed that line. now, the people from west of 6th avenue might cross the line to work as a servant in washington square. but believe me, the people in washington square never went on the other side of 6th avenue. >> and at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency -- >> every time i look at washington it's unanimous. unanimously commander in chief. unanimously president of the constitutional convention. unanimously president of the united states. unanimously re-elected president of the united states. unanimously appointed as the lieutenant general and commander in chief of all the armies raised or to be raised forts service in the united states. what a record. >> george washington scholar peter enriquez explores that even though washington was officially retired he continued to meet with political figures from the new capital and was
often called upon to craft policy. for the complete american history tv weekend schedule go to c-span.org. thursday a discussion on combating al qaeda and isis. the group gafta hosts a discussion with a political adviser to syrian president bashar al assad via skype. we're live national press club at 8 30rk9s a.m. eastern here on c-span 3. thursday world bank group president jim young kim on investments into preventing future pandemics. we'll join his remark at the center for strategic and international studies live at 11:00 a.m. eastern on c-span 3. >> i think today we in effect sort of catch up with the 20th century. we've been the invisible half of the congress the past seven years.
we've watched our house colleagues with interest. at least i have with interest. and the tv coverage of members of our colleagues in the house. >> today as the snaut comes out of the communications dark ages, we create another historic moment he in the relationship between congress and technological advancements in communications through radio and television. >> 50 years ago our executive branch began appearing on television. today marks the first time when our legislative branch in its entirety will appear on that medium of communication through which most americans get their information about what our government and our country does. >> televising senate chamber proceedings also represents a wise and warranted policy. broadcast media coverage recognizes the basic right and need of the citizens of our nation to know the business of
their government. >> thursday c-span marks the 30th anniversary of our live gavel to gavel senate floor coverage on c-span 2. our special programming features key moments from the senate floor from the past 30 years. >> i would show to you the body of evidence from this question, do you trust william jefferson clinton. >> and we have just witnessed something that has never before happened in all of senate history. the change of power during a session of congress. >> what the american people still don't understand in this bill is there's three areas in this bill that in the next five years will put the government in charge of everybody's health care. >> plus an interview with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. >> and i'm sure i've made a number of mistakes in my political career, but voting against having c-span televise the senate was one of them. >> reporter: and remarks by senate historian emeritus donald richie and senate
parliamentarian emeritus robert froeman. watch 30 years of the u.s. senate on television beginning thursday on c-span. and to see more of our coverage on c-span 2 go to c-span.org. vietnam sxrernveterans and senators bob kerrey and charles robb join retired admiral william mcraven in a discussion about the changes in america's foreign and military policies after the vietnam war. the panel entitled "lessons learned" was moderated by mark laurens, a history professor at the university of texas at austin and is part of a three-day conference in austin, texas that organizers called the vietnam war sum milt. we'll first hear two archival phone conversations from president johnson in 1964 and president nixon in 1972 discussing war strategies for vietnam. this program is about an hour.
>> ielt tell you the more i stayed away last night thinking about this thing the more i think about it the more i don't know what in the hell -- it looks like we're getting into another korea. it just worrieshe hell out of me. i don't see what we can ever hope to get out of there with once we're committed. i believe the chinese communists coming into it, i don't think we can fight them 10,000 miles away from home and ever get anywhere in that area. i don't think it's worth fighting for. and i don't think we can get out. and it's just the biggest damn mess -- >> it is an awful mess. >> and we've just got to think about -- i look at this sergeant of mine this morning, got little kids over there, and he's getting out things and bringing me in my night reading and all that kind of stuff, sxwrift thought about ordering those kids in there and what in the hell i'm ordering him out there for. what is laos worth to me? what is it worth to this country? >> we have -- >> we've got a treaty, but hell, everybody else got a treaty out
there and they're not doing anything about it. now, of course, if you start running the communists, they may just chase you right into your own kitchen. >> that's the truth. and that is what the rest of the -- that half of the world is going to think if this thing comes apart on us. that's the dilemma. that's exactly the dilemma. >> there are several possibilities. one, there is the possibility, and it's only a possibility, that the north vietnamese decide to talk again, i mean to negotiate again. that takes care of itself. that's basically like going to moscow after may 8th. >> exactly. >> but mainly they talk in spite of -- you hit them and they said all right, we'll talk. because we hit them they talked. they'll be totally right. >> that's right. >> they may not -- if they
don't, then you go to the -- another option. that is we then come up with a new plan on the p.o.w. side. i think the american people would bomb for a generation to get the p.o.w.s back. no question about that. wouldn't you agree? >> you're 3-1. >> when i put that on, particularly after i say it, we are offering, we'll get out. we'll withdraw our forces. we'll stop the bombing. you must return p.o.w.s. and all they will do is assist the south vietnamese to the extent you receive assistance from your allies. period. please welcome dr. william inbowden, executive director of the william p. clements center
for national security at the university of texas at austin. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. it's my honor to introduce our final panel of the vietnam war symposium. this one is titled "lessoned learned: the lessons of american foreign and military policy and our role on the world stage." the mission of the clement center is to apply the insights of history to current national security challenges. and so it's fitting that our final panel of this summit explore how the legacies of vietnam continue to loom over our nation's foreign and defense policy today. to explore this question we're going to hear from three leaders who are singularly equipped to address this question. each of our panelists is a warrior who has experienced the searing intensity of combat. each is also a statesman who has shaped our nation's national security policy at the highest levels of government. they are bob kerrey, who served as a navy s.e.a.l. in vietnam
for which he received the congress the medal of honor, our nation's highest medal of honor for his uncommon valor in combat. he went on to become governor of his home state of nebraska for one term before serving two terms in the u.s. senate where he was the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee. he was then president of the new school in new york city before becoming managing director of allen & company. bill mcraven is currently our chancellor of the university of texas system here and a retired navy four-star admiral. prior to becoming chancellor he was the commander of u.s. special operations command where he led a force of 69,000 men and women and was responsible for conducting counterterrorism operations worldwide including the operation that killed osama bin laden. he's advised presidents george w. bush and barack obama and many other u.s. leaders on defense and foreign policy issues and received many awards for his service. chuck robb is a marine veteran of vietnam and was awarded the bronze star for his service in combat. he later served as lieutenant governor of virginia, governor of virginia and a united states
senator where he was the only senator stoefsh simultaneously on the senate's three national security committees. armed services, foreign relations and intelligence. finally our moderator mark lawrence. associate's professor of history history at u. te and the director of graduate study for the clement center. his books include "assuminghe burden: europe and the american commitment to war in vietnam" and "the vietnam war: a concise history." and he's one of our nation's leading scholars of the vietnam war. please join us in welcoming our panelists. [ applause ] >> well, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for coming to this climactic session of
this fascinating three days. our topic of course is lessons learned. a number of panels so far over the last three days. how could they not have touched on the lessons of the war? but here we have a chance to isolate this issue with three people who are particularly well qualified to speak about it. i have -- i am a historian of the vietnam war. i have become interested in the ways in which americans try to come to terms with the legacies of the war and learn lessons of the war. but when i approach the subject of course i use official memos and reports and speeches. and the kind of thing frankly that one can find on the tenth floor of this wonderful reposito repository. here we have a chance, a bonanza for a historian like myself to sit down with people who have truly lived the american attempt to come to terms with the
lessons and legacies of the vietnam war. this is personally a very exciting opportunity for me and i think a wonderful opportunity for all of us to bring this event to a conclusion. i thought the place to begin is with our two vietnam veterans. and to pose to them the question of what were your ideas as you set out for vietnam back in the 1960s about the political and military challenges that u.s. forces face there. and then how did your thinking change by the time you departed vietnam and came back to the united states? should we start with bob? >> i apologize, on the flight in here because i never know what i'm going to say, i wrote an answer to your question and annoyed my fellow passengers by practicing it. i'm not certain we've learned any lessons from the vietnam war. and soon all the participants,
those who advocated for and organized it, those who fought in it and those who protested or resisted participation will all be dead. this conference as well as ken burns's documentary will become part of a large and still growing historical record. very few of our elected leaders today and fewer still going forward will understand that history. and truth be told, american executive or legislative branch officials rarely provide historical context of any historical context of any kind when answering foreign policy or national security questions. that's because voters equate weakness with explanation. voters in particular do not like to be told that their ideological conclusions are built upon the sands of ignorance. so we -- [ applause ] well, thank you for applauding, but i did it myself for 16
years. [ laughter ] so we're treated and become addicted to the satisfying pleasure of foreign policy and national security reduced to bumper stickers, applause lines, sound bites and tweetble answers. donald trump gave us plenty of these yesterday in our nation's capital. in my case, i knew nothing about the history, culture, economy of indochina in 1969. from my own amateur reading of history since and listening to wiser people than me, i do see it as a tragic event that happened at the end of 500-year-old story. you can be rest ashurd i'm not going to tell that 500-year-old story here this afternoon. it includes the growth and the reluctant withdrawal of european pires, the conflicts between labor and capital, and the evil
corruption of a bad economic idea in the first place. the first and second world war, the peace agreements that followed, the 50-year conflict between the soviet union and the west, the terrible and too often forgotten proxy wars between the two sides. the bloody awful tactics chosen by the united states to attempt to defeat north vietnam and its insurgent force. the arrival of 1.5 million vietnamese boat people who become american citizens and the rise of an independent vietnam. understanding this history is less important to me than working to try to build peace between the united states and vietnam. a project that began for me in the early '90s as the soviet union was collapsing and the cold war was ending. my part of this work began in 1990 when secretary of state jim
baker approved the opening of a prosthetic clinic in hanoi. the man behind this idea wanted to build better limbs for american veteran amputees like myself and wanted to do the same for vietnamese veterans. when i visited the clinic, i spoke with a man who had fought with the north veietnamese army. about the same time, under the leadership of the first president bush, under secretary of state successfully led a very complicated and difficult effort to reach a peace agreement to end the fighting in cambodia. equally important was the p.o.w. m.i.a commission which concluded there were no live americans being held as prisoners at this
particular point in time. these two efforts allowed the first president bush to negotiate with the government of vietnam to produce a road map of normalization of relations between our two countries. president clinton completed that part of the project by signing legislation that ended it, authorized the opening of the u.s. embassy in vietnam, and set the stage for a bilateral trade agreement. we went back to vietnam in the sight of our worst foreign policy mistake with our heads held high, not with our heads hanging down. all these things were extremely controversial. the black p.o. ochlp.o.w. flag often. contained in that legislation was provision that established a graduate school of education to
the state department's fullbright program. it's enabled more than 1,000 vietnamese to finish masters and graduate programs. today with the support of barack obama, secretary kerry, senator mccain and many other people, we're building an undergraduate school. the university's first president is a woman who grew up in hanoi. she remembers the war. she remembers the christmas bombing. she remembers the terrible destruction. yet, she does not hate us. we try our best to continue to deserve these titles. making peace is hard. in some way, it's harder than making war. in part this is true because our memories of war tend to harden as we age. for our personal happiness, we should resist this tendency.
in order to avoid the mistakes that caused so much suffering, we can still make good foreign policy and national security decisions if we are completely ignorant of that history. plenty of experience of violence in the bitterness of these dramas. here's part of the poem. human beings suffer. they torture one another. they get hurt and they get hard. no poem, play, or song with fully right a wrong inflicted and endured. history says don't hope on this side of the grave. but then once in a lifetime, the long fore tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope, history rise. it is what we are trying to do today in vietnam. [ applause
[ applause ] that's it. i'm done. >> we may still try to get you to talk about your experience in vietnam. we'll come back to you. thank you for that, though. chuck, would you -- >> i've known bob for a long time. we have been co-conspirators on a variety of different projects. i came to the service in vietnam a little differently than many of our fellow veterans. i had wanted, after a very positive experience in marine officers basic school, had wanted to get into some opportunity to see if i was as good as they thought i was. but they kept giving me better assignments than i could ever ask for. my first assignment was the executive officer on the u.s.s. north hampton.
it was a highly classified national emergency command post afloat. we had president kennedy at sea with us for two days with all the joint chiefs of staff, the chairman and ranking members of the relevant committees and what have you. i think it was 81 men of war starring with the carriers and cruisers. this is my first assignment. i never asked for anything like that. i go down to report to the second marine division. i end up being the only aide to the commanding general and spent three years traveling the various places where we had responsibilities and i thought, finally -- because vietnam is starting to come on the radar screen. i'm thinking, well, i know they're going to send me over there now. and they send me up to marine barracks washington, which is the utmost in ceremonial posts.
all of those activities are focused right there. and i had an additional duty as a white house military social aide. i was also in charge of the white house color guard. everything was going well. and i also continued to reup my request to at this point no longer just west back duty, but i wanted to go specifically to vietnam. i knew that, but then i -- by chance ended up marrying the commander in chief's daughter. [ laughter ] the good thing about that particular happenings was that i didn't have anymore problem with getting to vietnam. and when i got there, i was fortunate enough, when i reported in and sent to the first marine division to report to the commanding general and he was somebody i knew from previous service and the had
played golf with five years before, whatever it had been. i thought, this is a good sign. and then i went down -- i was ordered to report to the 7th marine rental men. who would be there but the man who actually recruited me into the marine corps. i went down to the battalion. third battalion 7th marines which is the ultimate assignment. but it took me, let's see, eight, nine years in the marine corps. a lot of people say, you could have gotten out. you didn't need to go to vietnam. serious people made that recommendation. i said, you don't understand. i need to go. too many of my brother service people, marines, all services have gone -- a number of them haven't come back. if i were to leave before i had actually tested my mettle in
that particular circumstance, i could never live with myself. it's a very different situation if you're drafted or against the policy. in all truths, i was reasonably comfortable with the general policy at that particular time. i had read about some things, but had no firsthand experience. bottom line, i went as a very aggressive volunteer. i was phenomenonally supportive of the domino theory if you will. but for that action, the indoe china, the asean nations might be very different than they wer today. i'll wait until we get to other questions, but that's how i entered it. so i was happy to be there. sharp contrast with many of my
fellow vets, but i was not dragged there. i got there on my own volition. >> did your thinking about the challenges that the united states faced in vietnam change dramatically -- >> from my position, no. but as a result over a period of time -- we were -- we were really fighting two wars. the united states was fighting a war against communism, not to include any other rationalea an the vietnamese were fighting to preserve their country. they could absorb losses of ten to one and keep on doing that forever and they were never going to change. so most of the changes that took place back here. i was there in '98 and '97 when
most of that change was taking place. that had more of an impact on the reversal. and once our fellow citizens turned very much against the war and the media, who had been very supportive as had fellow citizens, and congress. so you've got those three key elements that have to have your back. if your citizens don't have your back, if your congress doesn't have your back, you just have a very slim chance of succeeding. but if you're actually fighting different wars, it's hard to sort it all out. >> bill, your military career began in 1977. >> right. >> two years after the fall of saigon. four years after the american -- the withdrawal of the final american troops from vietnam. can you talk about what the mood was like within the military at
that very interesting moment in the history of the u.s. armed forces and how the lessons of vietnam were being discussed in that -- in that period. >> thanks, mark. first, let me begin by saying what an honor it is to be on the stage with these two great warriors and public serservants. i have followed both their careers for most of my carecareer. thank you very much for everything you've done for us. [ applause ] as i said, i came in 1977. i graduated from rotc at the university of texas and immediately went into basic s.e.a.l. training. and all of my instructors were vietnam veterans. really for about the next ten years or so in the military, the vietnam generation continued to kind of train and mentor those of us that were new.
i can tell you from kind of a military standpoint, tactically, operationally and strategically, everything that kind of shaped the way i grew up for the next -- actually, probably the next 20 years was result of vietnam. going through basic shield training as senator kerrey well knows, the shoot, moving and communicate. they were drills we learned from vietnam. how to communicate. how to use the brown water fleet. all these sort of things tactically was what prove us in the '70s and mid-'80s. again, even as s.e.a.l.s, you have to have air support and what we refer to as combined arms. every successive generation understood the value of combined arms in a way that came out of
vietnam. and really strategically, if you go back and look at that period of time from '75 until 9/11, you will see that the administration certainly as you look at something like the up conversation of panama, even degrgrenad grenada, but certainly desert shield and desert storm. i've got to believe that that was a valuable lesson that came out of vietnam. even when you look at the powell doctrine. i guarantee you it came as a result of general powell's engagement in vietnam. while a lot of things may have gone wrong in the war, i think you can almost attribute that time from '75 until 9/11, the really extended period of peace with the exception of some of the smaller conflicts was a result of the lessons that we had learned from vietnam. >> bill, i appreciate your --
getting us to think about the long flow of time between 1975 and 9/11. i'd like to ask you gentlemen a couple of questions about specific points in that history in the two or three decades after the end of the vietnam war. it seems to me that the way the story conventionally gets told at least, in the immediate aftermath of the war, these were the years of the heavy vietnam syndrome. in other words, americans were principally learning the lesson that the united states needed to be very careful about using its force overseas or tight con stra -- constraints. and then a really interesting moment in this story of american attempts to come to terms with the war comes in august of 1980 with the ronald reagan campaign. if you'll forgive me, i'll just read you these famous lines.
my question to you of course is going to be for your thoughts about how you not necessarily receive these specific lines, but what you felt at the time, this suddenly resuhr gent idea that the united states should think differently about its experience in vietnam and recover its ability to act boldly internationally. so ronald reagan famously said in august 1980, it is time we recognize that ours was in truth a noble cause. there is a lesson for all of us in vietnam. if we are forced to fight, we must have the means and determination to prevail or we will not have what's needed to secure the peace. let us tell those who fought in the war, we will never let them fight and die in a war our government is afraid to let them win. what was your sentiment at the
time when these words were spoken? >> i didn't notice it myself. i had been in business, i was dealing with inflation at the time. i wasn't paying much attention to what either ronald reagan or jimmy carter were saying in 1980. i don't think it's wrong. i think it's a lot easier to say it than to do it. i think we started this -- with this effort with good intent. south vietnam was a troubled, difficult democracy, but it was a democracy. we valued freedom and we took them as an ally. and there was enough. you know, stalin had died in '53. the soviet union was continuing to support insurgencies all over the world. if you look at eas