tv 1968 - America in Turmoil The Cold War CSPAN August 14, 2018 8:03pm-9:39pm EDT
as 1968 came to a close, the apollo 8 mission took three astronauts into orbit for the first time. the life christmas eve podcast -- broadcast from genesis was watched worldwide. our guest is elizabeth cobbs, historian and documentary film maker. also mark kramer, program director of harvard university's project on cold war studies. december 21, 1968, the shortest day of the year. perhaps one of the longest in the flow of history. >> we are still go at this time. t -15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, nine . we have ignition sequence start. the engines are on. 4-3-2-1-0. we have lift off.
that would send them to the moon. as the worldwatch, people were overtaken by a new awareness. and awareness that they were perhaps witnessing an overture to the ultimate destiny of man. >> global confirms ignition. -- lowell confirms ignition. >> onboard the spacecraft, the men of apollo 8 watched the readouts. the number snowballing. toward a velocity that would allow the spacecraft to escape earth's gravity. that film from december 1968 as we conclude our nine part series. joining us in the studio is mark kramer, the project director for the cold war studies program at harvard university . thank you for being with us. also elizabeth cobbs, she is a professor at texas a&m university and a senior at the
hoover institution. >> i want to talk about the intersection of what was happening in 1968. we have the escalation of the vietnam war, the political turmoil with lyndon johnson announcing he would not take another term and the heightened tensions with the cold war as well as the soviet expansion into czechoslovakia. >> it was a year where it seems like all of these seem to come together at once. north korea became more opportunistic, trying to launch a situation where they might be able to open up the southern front, taking advantage of the vietnam war. been czechoslovakia. it seemed like everything might change for the better. than the cold war came in and slammed it all down. >> explain what happened with the soviets moving into czechoslovakia.
why was that a significant milestone in 1968? >> czechoslovakia had been important because it helped to start the cold war. when czechoslovakia seemed to start a program of reform, lifting censorship and creating an open government, the soviets came in and shut it down. what happened after that, brezhnev announced the brezhnev doctrine. by the end of 1968, all this wonderful flowering of possibilities for greater dialogue and greater freedom have been decisively cut off. brezhnev said we will intervene anytime a communist government is threatened. >> mark kramer, what was the domino theory? >> that was the idea developed
after world war ii. if one country fell to communism, others may as well. is ethically china. the concern was if south vietnam was overtaken by the communists in the north than laos and cambodia would follow. that notion was inspired in part by what happened in eastern europe right after world war ii when various governments, mostly in central and eastern europe fell to communism. in that case it was through direct soviet occupation. the concern in east asia was that it might come about through indigenous guerrillas that would take over. >> who was funding the government at the time of -- the government to north korea? >> the north vietnamese was armed by the soviet union and china.
they were bitterly at odds at that point they'll. they were competing with each other for greater influence in north vietnam. that work out well for the north vietnamese because they can play them off against each other and get more weaponry. >> who was funding north korea during this time? explain what was happening and how that is relevant to today. >> in north korea, playing both sides against the middle, they had patrons in the soviet union and china. at the same time they were always doing their own thing. for example he sees to the uss pueblo. the pueblo was on a spy mission. it was in what we consider nash -- international waters. beyond the 12 mile limit. in january 1968, the north koreans ceased this naval ship.
it was lightly armed and ill- prepared. they were unable to fight off the submarine chasers that one after the ship. the interesting thing is neither the chinese nor the soviet were aware this would happen. this really, like today was something instigated by the north koreans. they sought as a possible opportunity to start another war or to liberate the south. >> politically you mentioned brezhnev. we have pictures of him in the 70s and 80s. where was he politically in the soviet union in 1968? >> he had been a rising star for a long time. is in the process of consolidating his own power.
when he orders the invasion into czechoslovakia. is taking the reins of power. >> take us back to what you think president johnson was thinking as he sent more troops to vietnam and was looking at the broader picture of where the soviet union was. >> the major buildup of u.s. forces occurred before 1968. starting in 1965. at the height, forces reached about 525,000. that is an astounding number. it was a military victory for u.s. forces but a political disaster. the vietnamese communist had far
greater strength and staying power than the u.s. government had been leading on. particularly the secretary of defense mcnamara. it was the turning point in the war. until that time there had been majority support diminishing but still majority support in the united states for the war. public support from then on never was the majority again. increasingly it turned against the war. johnson was consumed by that. it led to his decision in march not to seek reelection. this was from july 1968. president johnson traveling to hawaii and meeting with the south vietnamese president. on july 18, president johnson arrived in honolulu for
a series of meetings with the south vietnam prez that. -- south vietnam president. >> in all of our meetings over the past 2.5 years, you have stressed your country's policy of reconciliation and peace. since we met last december, formal talks have begun in paris . we devoutly hope that they are the first step on the difficult path to peace. and honorable peace under which the people of your country will determine their own future. mr. president, i pledge to help
your people defeat aggression, stands firm against all obstacles and against any deception. we want to to take back to your countrymen, our hope and our conviction that their courage and faith will be rewarded with a just peace with full freedom. president johnson with the south vietnamese president in july 1968. mark kramer let's set the stage for where the country without. we have the assassination of robert kennedy, vice president humphrey was about to be nominated the following month as the democratic candidate. the republicans nominated richard nixon. lyndon johnson was trying to bring a peaceful end to the war in vietnam.
where was he politically, where was the military, where was the defense department and all of this? >> johnson was shaken not only by the assassination of robert kennedy but the assassination of martin luther king. it was accompanied by civil violence that began in the mid- 60s and escalated in 1967 and 1968 including in washington, dc. that meant that johnson wanted to focus on domestic priorities. that was always his major interest. he was consumed from early on by the war in vietnam. that is why in the final year in office, he wanted to focus on whatever priorities he could do well bringing a peaceful and the war. hubert humphrey was initially not the favorite candidate but
was put forth by johnson after a while as someone who could continue the programs and stand a reasonable chance against richard nixon. johnson did not like robert kennedy. he was uneasy and saddened by the assassination. >> at the same time, while this was happening, the apollo program continue to grow with research being done in florida and texas and cape canaveral and the johnson space center. apollo 8 launched in december 1968 . >> the curious thing about the cold war, it always brought out the worst and best america. part of that was a peaceful competition with the soviet union about space. it began in 1955 when the united states announced they
would put a satellite up. the soviets heard that and immediately got going. they launched the first satellite which was sputnik. the joke was when sputnik went over the world it would go beep, beep, beep until it got over washington and then it would go ha, ha, ha. the soviets had not only beaten us to the first satellite, they had beaten us to the first man in space and again they were beating us in 1968. in september they had the first lunar orbit. they had put up to turtles and mealworms. at that moment the united states decided it would have to change the mission of apollo 8 which was to orbit the earth . instead they decided to put men orbiting the moon. that is what apollo 8's mission was. >> as we look back, america in turmoil. three key players, corpsmen,
levels -- level -- foreman -- >> they were looking at this kind of orbit of the united states. there were the first human beings in that part of space. it is this remarkable thing that on christmas eve, a message to everyone. that is that thing with the cold war and the combination of who we want to be and who we are forced to be by these terrible circumstances. than the message on christmas eve, they said goodwill to everyone. we are dividing our phone lines differently. for those of you that are 50 and older, call 202 dash -- what does 1968 mean to you?
>> i was a small boy at that time. the major thing i remember about it was the pitcher for the detroit tigers 131 games. i do remember the kennedy assassination and certainly martin luther king's assassination vaguely because my parents were at that. in retrospect as a scholar i have written extensively about 1968, particularly the invasion of czechoslovakia. is the combination of things that we have been discussing. the combination of the vietnam war, the unrest in the united states and the apparent promise of major change in the communist world brought to a crushing and. the pueblo incident with the north koreans. the kind of despair that was there at the end of the year despite apollo 8 and the
upbeat message that it conveyed. there was a real sense that american society was not holding together very well. >> elizabeth, thoughts from your perspective. why was 1968 such a consequential year? >> it was a year of moral crisis. all of the things have been building since 1945. it all comes home. cold war was a profound disjuncture from the rest of history that preceded it. this idea of taking responsibility for every major crisis around the world. as i said, civil rights and discrimination in america was always with the despair of our friends. we have been working on all of these things. i think that 1968 was the combination of that, plus, it was true around the world. there were major riots in
mexico city, paris comp rock springs. -- it was a point in world history that caught us all. >> why was pso elusive or president johnson that year? -- why was peace so elusive for president johnson that year? >> before long it went against the war. kennedy tried to pick up the mantle. martin luther king came out against the war. he earlier avoided that because he knew it would antagonize johnson. even though they had an uneasy relationship, they had worked together quite productively on civil rights issues. the search for peace, ultimately caused it to allude johnson.
the north vietnamese were not interested in peace. they wanted to win on the battlefield. they were confident they could do it. the chinese were encouraging them to do it. the soviet union was a different matter. they began to raise the question of peace overtures with the north vietnamese. they were not interested in listening. >> we should point out the talks taking place in paris, from 1968 and the johnson white house. on march 31, president johnson ordered a bombing halt in all areas of north vietnam except for the immediate panhandle. that is an area through which massive numbers of infiltrators and their supplies of four continued -- of war continued. as a result of this decision, the much awaited truce talks with hanoi began.
as a result of the decision, the much awaited truce talks began in paris on may 13. during september the chief negotiator reported that after four months and a total of 21 formal session, there still have been no substantive discussions. the north vietnamese negotiators clung to their long- held demand that all bombing must stop before they would discuss anything else. the president, in close counsel with his top military advisers repeatedly asked for assurances that hanoi would reciprocate with some form of military de- escalation should the bombing be completely stopped. no such assurance was forthcoming. that again from the johnson white house. elizabeth cobbs, simultaneously you had richard nixon who had his own plan to get out of
vietnam, or did he? ? he always promised we would get out of vietnam. the evidence is there that nixon made an effort to really foretell johnson's peace effort in october 1968 as part of his campaign. many feel this was worse than what he did and watergate. he wanted to put a monkey wrench in the effort because of the concern that johnson was getting close. we will never know. mark is completely right. the north vietnamese were determined. it is easy to play those things in black and white. if johnson's program had been able to reseed without the south vietnamese being told do not compromise, because you will get a better deal, who knows? something else may have happened. it is a terrible tragedy, both
for the united states and for vietnam. >> the war would not formally come to an end for another seven years. >> in 1968, america in turmoil. joining us here as we wrap up our nine part series, mark kramer from harvard university and elizabeth cobbs from the hoover institution and texas a&m university. ford is joining us from virginia. >> happy mother's day. i graduated high school in 1968 at the age of 17. i asked my father if he would sign me up to join the core. he told me in colorful language . i turned 18 in july and i signed up to join. i failed the
physical. the army took me. the guys that did serve in the cold war, if you had short hair you were shunned. i had a friend come to the airport in california and someone asked him, how many babies did you kill? >> i did not kill us all. -- i did not kill one soul. >> from your standpoint, why was that sentiment so prevalent in the late 1960s and early 1970s. >> i do not know. if you had a short haircut, good luck trying to get a date. it was difficult in those years. i do not know why.
a small percentage served in the armed forces. most people were in college or something. i have one friend, with the tip of the spear, he was first-out calvary. in 45 days he was in 27 firefights. he was only 19 years old. think about it. >> rough times. there was that moment when who you were as an american was something people were questioning. it was a moral crisis. some people looked in the mirror and said i do not like what i see when i see america
today. that it became a test. was your hair long, did you have a beard? at one point, in the history of the peace corps, a volunteer had a beard and the p store -- peace corps made him shave it because he looked like fidel castro. we have become attuned to the fashions that seemed to speak volumes about who we are identifying with. they were terrible times. for the young men who served, some of them, endured incredible circumstances. >> we will go to georgia next. she is from gainesville florida. -- we will go to george next. from gainesville, florida. i am a two tour vietnam veteran, 71 years old. i grew up in gainesville lord -- gainesville, florida.
we lost 41 soldiers from the county during the vietnam war. my question is, i took a trip back to vietnam in 1998. we flew into hanoi, vietnam. i was going there to revisit some of the areas that i served. what struck me was the way the vietnamese people were eager to engage me in conversation. the young people wanted my email address. it is amazing, the reception that i got. no one talked about the war. then a few months ago, we had a u.s. navy carrier denying for
the first time in 50 years. here's my question to dr. kramer, as veterans, we were young and happened to be the age to be drafted. we just happened to be the soldiers at that time. i believe we did accomplish something in a sense that the last domino, maybe it fell but laos, cambodia, malaysia, they did not. the question is, do you see that we who served did have some change in the ending of the cold war? >> thank you for your service to the country george. i certainly appreciate it. the outcome of the war cannot just be judged by what happened
in april 1975 with the fall of saigon. it is a larger context. what would have happened if the south had fallen much sooner? at a time when neighboring countries could potentially have fallen as well. the war achieved a good deal. there is no question that the south was much more pluralistic than the totalitarian north. they did advance, largely because of u.s. influence. overall, for whatever reason, you can point to domestic backlash or other things. you do have to look at vietnam as a failure for the united states, even if it could have
worked out more successfully. there is no question, i agree with you, there were important things achieved. among other things, it deterred other forces from contemplating launching that type of assault. ultimately a failure but certain successes along the way. >> a key element of the war was the nuclear stock pile. let me put on the screen what we were facing in 1968. we had more than 29,000 warheads. soviet union had just over 9000. great britain had 317, france, 36 and china 35. than in the early 1970s, you can see the decline in nuclear stock pile.
it is still significant for the u.s. and russia. can you explain? >> the nuclear arms race had been going on since 1949 when the soviet dropped their first bomb. what was odd is this was part of the project known as mutual assured destruction. if you could get enough bombs then everyone is afraid to pull the trigger. it created a stability. it was mad. from the beginning there have been talks about how to create a situation where you can begin to draw back down. one of the big accomplishments of the period was the signing of the nuclear -- treaty. the effort to bring back this kind of escalation that had been going on for such a long
time. it was not always the big countries that were leaving. it was ireland that put forward the first proposal to the assembly in 1961. everyone was really affected. that is something we began to get a bit of a hold on in 1968. >> you wrote in the washington post, the five myths of the cold war. who was our enemy at this period? >> they were numerous enemies. the united states saw the soviet union as the chief enemy. there were smaller ones like north vietnam. than what became communist vietnam. north korea and the people's republic of china. in the 1960s, the prc had replaced the soviet union for a while as being seen as the most
hostile. ultimately until the late 80s, the soviet union was the overriding enemy for the united states from 1945 until the end of the cold war. the next callers from michigan. ron, go ahead. >> in 1968 i was 19 years old. after i saw walter cronkite i was against the war. i turned down my deferment and volunteered to go to vietnam. i had to work against the war. i had to have a gun and bombs to work against it. while i was in transit to my station, i learned that my
father, uncle [null] helped my father survived the war. i had a debt to pay to the vietnamese people for helping my father stay alive. i got every antiwar paper, i got the black panther party papers. a past them out to gis. the biggest peace march was held . that is where i did most of my organizing. i reported incidents. a year later there was a fracking --. the spreading of the word through antiwar papers. that's what stopped the war. that is where they said i had to get this army out of vietnam. we were going to take over the military. that was my goal. i was just a working-class kid from chicago. i did not want to fight with
the cops. i wanted to work against the war. we succeeded. we stopped the war and the draft. the gis and people in the street, god bless them. kent state happened while i was in vietnam. i was outraged. i don't want to tell you what i would've done if nixon came in my sights. you had to be there. nobody refused the paper. i had them sign petitions. >> we can sense your emotion. it has been 50 years. >> it does not stop. i have two sons. they did not go into the military. i have instilled in them the same notion. he loves his country and i love my country. we do not want to see it
destroyed back then or now. >> there is a big difference. the military is an honorable profession. your sons should be proud if they do serve. there is a big difference between now and the time you were there in 1968 in that -- it had been against the grain of u.s. philosophy during most of the existence of the united states. the shift in constriction after the second world war was a big change and it was always an uneasiness about it. in 1968 when the young men were being -- it helped to spur the domestic opposition. it was a major factor in the growing unrest on u.s. campuses.
it gave the sense that american society was coming apart with civil unrest and violence in the streets. the movement among some veterans as well as serving soldiers in vietnam against the war. all of that came together. that is why the united states over the last 45 years has had an all volunteer force. that makes it very different. >> the culmination of the cold war, the vietnam war, the political turmoil in the u.s. and the race for space. that is our focus as we conclude our nine part series on 1968, american turmoil. we also have a twitter poll. nearly 26,000 of you have weighed in. the question is, did the u.s. when the space race? you can join them by following us on twitter. how would you answer that?
>> i think we won. kennedy made a speech thing where you're going into space not because it is easy because it is hard. this is a challenge we intend to win. in a sense the u.s. did. that is the whole point of the cold war. it is not like it was just a challenge of who gets to be king of the hill, it is what is the world going to be like? will the world be an association of peaceful state or not? we got a man on the moon and the soviets did not. we also shared a space station with them. both countries always had a more secure world where people did not have to send their children out to be slaughtered to protect the sovereignty of the nation. that is something both countries were striving for. ultimately we got together on
it. >> this mission from apollo 8 set the groundwork for neil armstrong to be the first man to walk on the moon. >> inc. of the difference. january 1967, apollo 1 had exploded. think of the bravery of the men who knew that can happen to them. then we had someone in orbit than three men on the moon. >> did the united states win the space race? that is our twitter question. we hope you will add to the 26,000 people that have weighed in. now bob in georgia. >> having been born in the late 1950s, i remember growing up and my childhood seemed to be traumatic. my father consumed information.
news, magazines and radio. the information was thrown into our household. all of the turmoil of the time seared into my mind. i was about five years old when president kennedy was killed. then toward the latter part of the decade, the trauma. i served under reagan during the cold war. it is hard to explain to veterans and current men in uniform how the country was locked in this battle for control of the globe. i know you do not want to get into current politics, that is why it boggles my mind how the current commander-in-chief enjoys his support of the military, many of which are old enough to remember the cold war. this gentleman was part of the kgb during that time. during my
time in office, there would have been talk amongst us of a firing squad. >> thank you for your service bob. the major thing i would say is times have changed. there are things that are feasible now that would have been inconceivable during the time of the cold war. it came to a crashing end with the invasion of czechoslovakia. the war in vietnam had taken an unfortunate turn. the north koreans had seized the uss pueblo. the cold war was vividly underway at that point. nowadays there are major problems with countries like
iran, north korea, russia, china. there is a different order compared to 1968 and during other years of the cold war. >> the caller brought up what it was like on the home front. we have the escalation of the cold war and the concerns of vietnam. this is from the defense department from that era taking a look at how children should prepare for the possibility of a nuclear attack. at the request of the office of civil and defense mobilization, the united states army chemical corps has developed a mask for civilian use. this mask protects the wearer against biological and chemical attacks by purifying the air inhaled. filter pads absorb toxic gases
and screen out radioactive dust and particles carried in the air. particles which are called microbial organisms. the mask is comfortable, features good visibility and peace of breathing. >> that from the defense department. also advising students to hide under their desk. >> it is an apocalyptic sense. it is hard to convey to people today. because of nuclear weapons. i remember growing up thinking, world war i, world war ii. this could be three. many people had the feeling that what happened. what is so different today and we lose sight of is a war between nations has declined every decade since the 1940s. the attempt to create a more harmonious environment has
worked. that cholera saying his dad was a news man. he lived the 24 hour news cycle at that time that we all live today. sometimes that gives us the impression that things are more apocalyptic than they actually are. not to diminish present-day dangers but that is why history is so important to understand what has happened. we actually cooperate with the soviets in space. elements of progress need to be appreciated and recognized. elizabeth cobbs is a professor of history at texas a&m university. she is the author of seven books. also mark kramer is the program director at harvard's project on the cold war. david is next from los angeles. >> good morning.
i would like to tie in with the assassinations as well as the cold war and the military- industrial complex. as far as the cold war is concerned, you mentioned the marshall plan. here in the united states, we were at our peak of apartheid. the only difference with south africa and the united states is mandela was assassinated. there was someone who said the united states has an amnesia in the way we do history. was america's -- >> let me take issue with that. the united states has been a
deeply racist society, not only with a lengthy history but also racial segregation and institutionalized racism. i think lyndon johnson decided not to run for reelection. he deserves immense credit for his role in getting past the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965. i would agree, until that time, the united states had kind of an apartheid system. it came to an end at that point. i think you should not underestimate the role that johnson played.
there may have been no other president but could have done that. he had the credibility as a southerner and a hugely positive relationship with the key figures in the u.s. >> i agree the height of segregation was terrible. the critical difference between the u.s. and south africa is the united states had an original way of looking at itself. even though it was thomas jefferson that wrote those words, those words established a direction that was hard for the country to resist. not only at the beginning of the country but the 13th, 14th and 15th. than the loss of johnson with of course the groundswell.
martin luther king was able to bring it to fruition. the ways that people acted were vicious and violent and cruel but the law was our guiding star. thank goodness people like johnson helped us get there. >> different countries and different time periods and different players. under the category of learning from the lessons of history, with the soviet union and chinese government supporting north vietnam, are there lessons to what we are seeing in north korea today with russia and china? >> absolutely. there is always a thing where the united states plays the bad cop. countries like china get to play the good cop. it is very important for us to put the onus on other countries. they are the ones that have a border with them.
the chinese are fearful that if things go belly up in north korea, they are going to have all of the north koreans to take care of. whatever can be done to push those countries to call their bluff because otherwise the u.s. is left carrying the burden. >> i would agree. the thing that is very different now is basically russia, china and the united states have a lot of overlapping agreements about north korea. that was not the case for north vietnam. the interest particularly for china was starkly at odds with the united states. in this case, it is in some ways an easier issue to try and deal with. there is greater room for negotiation that would be helped by the russians and chinese. if you are interested, this nine part series is available
as a podcast. you can check it out on our website, www.c-span.org or wherever you get your podcast s. vicki is joining us from idaho. >> this period of time that you are talking about, i lived it. i was worn in 1951. a little while ago a lady said war has been on the decline. american soldiers have been dying for my whole life in some place in the world somewhere. all the time. the building of the international socialist system, i feel like i was deceived my whole life. while we were told we have a capitalist country, we do not. we have a centrally planned economy. this international socialist
system that they are building, globalization the collet, -- call it, they plan on ruling the world in fascism. >> i am a supporter of globalization. that may not be to your liking. the united states, in the aftermath of the second world war said about fostering an international economic system that promoted open trade and it was immensely beneficial for the world. it led to huge increases in global income and it was beneficial for the united states. that is way over the past year or so there have been attacks on the system. i regret that.
the system of globalization should not be described as international socialism. it is quite the opposite. it is the spread of capitalists into solutions -- institutions too much of the world. china discarded some of the elements of the socialist economy. it still is a communist dictatorship but has increasingly taken on elements of capitalism. >> i empathize. the tend to overlook the longer-term trend. that trend has been made
positive by globalization. the only way a country could get ahead, they thought they had to take over other countries and absorb resources to become more wealthy. that system, as mark pointed out . they see it works better. the chinese came to this on their own. the united states helton idea that if we could provide a better model for the world and be our best self, others would want to emulate that overtime.
to, you know, -- this might it have been better for the three astronauts that exploded because it just hard to believe that nasa would think that they could keep 15 pounds per square inch of true oxygen in the capsule and i have a problem if there was even a spark and that is what killed those three astronauts. >> you are right about that, just using a quick word to describe it, it was a terrible thing. your -- use of pure oxygen, also they had flammable materials inside the capsule, and all of these mistakes. very very sad event at the time. >> this illustrates the time of the cold war because the cold
war is driving the space race much faster than it probably should have gone because it led to the cutting of corners on some safety concerns so ultimately, then number of accidents was very small, so it worked out okay. but looking back on it you have to be somewhat is concerned and -- to see how it sped up the space race, and led to the carrying out of certain issues, probably before they should have been. i mean, i'm very happy with the way it worked out overall despite the loss of apollo 1 astronauts, but it is illustrative of the way the cold war had both the united states and the soviet union to do some of the things that they would not have done otherwise.
>> ceftin -- stephanie is next in long beach, california. good morning. >> good morning and happy mother's day. i was born in 1950, and i was just graduating high school in 1968. i skipped my prom so that i could go to washington and demonstrate against the war. it was such a year, it was like everything happened so fast, you cannot even recover him one event before the next event happened. and you are constantly thinking what happens next. -- you know, get under your desk, or run home so that you can see your parents one last time. i mean, we -- don't trust anyone over 30, we do not think we were going to get to 30. and it all happened so quickly, and then in all kind of just disappeared so quickly. and i mean, after the 70s when
the war was finally over, it was just a different time and place again. one of the reasons why people were so against the war was that you could get drafted at 18 but you cannot vote, so it was like, these forces were still beyond your control that you would just be buffeted by these things. and then, later i learned that communism, while it was a dirty word in the united states, it was an economic system more than it was a political system. and we were taught to be so frightened of it. and it was just a very hard time, i think, for everyone. and i think it's a very hard time for everyone now. >> thank you. elizabeth cobbs. >> it is meant to be an economic system. but it also really was a political system because it was associated with the totalitarianism. beginning in the soviet union
every country that came under communist rule so that was always a confusing thing about and i completely relate to what you're saying because in many ways we thought well, why should we care about our economic system but there was such brutality, that the way the check -- was crushed, the way that the soviet union rolled over its note -- neighbors after world war ii. so i think what we forget is that as you said sometimes things seem to happen all at once. and i think that for a lot of policymakers, at that time, they have lived through the six weeks or eight weeks in which [null] germany conquered all of western europe, so the idea of a domino, it seems kind of silly to us now, like why would anybody care, but some of those threats were real. and there -- the solutions were not clear and we did make some important mistakes and trying to solve the problem, but it
was a real issue that people were contending with. >> since you brought up in the collars as well, the three astronauts who lost their lives, this is from time magazine in 1967, and those astronauts, grissom, white, and chafee, who died but of course, leading to the apollo 8 mission, and the neil armstrong who successfully landed on the moon in 1969. david joined us next for michigan. >> good morning. concerning this cold war, mister gorbachev sat across the table from george hw bush and the germanies gave the -- their independence. the soviet union was split up. and all bush had to do to promise was stay out of his business. but we americans, the -- of the
world, violated that immediately, with bill clinton. it was, we just can't find our own damn business. >> does he have a point? >> first of all, in the aftermath of the cold war, from the late 80s on, you know, there has been a steady, pretty much study, decline in the number of people killed in conflicts, the number of international conflicts going on, there are still civil wars, but still, it is declining quite markedly. and that certainly leaves americans, despite the tragic number who lost their lives in iraq and afghanistan, it is still a tiny fraction of those who lost their lives in vietnam, so it is true that the united states has had a
propensity over the last 70 odd years of being a kind of global -- there is significant -- for that role, even though there is also a very significant counter sentiment, and it's just -- it is hard for u.s. presidents ultimately, when called on by other countries, or when pushed by domestic forces to refrain from somehow taking a leading role in the world. >> i think madeleine albright said it once, she said you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't, as the united states, because there is an expectation that others have and that we have helped create that we will step in as empire. to try to umpire elvis complete -- conflict all the time and i think what we are lacking, still, is a kind of leadership that will look beyond to the next 70 years. because mark is completely right, we have been doing this
since 1947, but it's always been this odd thing where it's expected, but not legitimate. because it is not legitimate it -- it is not legitimate by american law, and people expect it and demand it, and so it's a candid conundrum that we faced for a while. how do we get others to take more responsibility, without being that partners ourselves because we have created this wonderful structure in world security. we need to appreciate that and sustain that, but one way of sustaining that is by developing good partners in making sure that we are not carrying this burden that has been ricocheting for more than -- >> as the -- chronicles is 5 1/2 years in the white house, we are going to see president dwight eisenhower, he left in january 1961, did he have
influence in american policy in the 1960s as a former president? >> eisenhower? >> yes and no, i think that eisenhower -- some of our viewers have indicated this, sort of the industrial complex, he when he left office, it was to warn again the creation of the complex, so i think those words echo chow this period of time, and it is seen as credible wide -- and i respected >> certainly president kennedy consulted with eisenhower during the missile crisis. on the other hand, you know, kennedy had run against the then vice president, richard nixon, and was largely critical of the eisenhower administration, including unfounded allegations of a missile gap. so it was not, you know, i wouldn't say a very warm relationship between kennedy and eisenhower, and that continued under johnson.
it was always going to be consultations, when important issues came up, including about the -- but eisenhower remained a more revered figure in american society, and not so much as an influential medical figure. >> this makes reference to czechoslovakia have just returned from the czech republic. >> i have. i was there a year and a half ago and i found myself -- i kept wanting to say to go slovakia which is no longer, and that is part of what is happening in this period of time, with a number of countries is just multiplying, so i was in the czech republic recently. >> out soviet troops -- how were soviet troops -- >> -- was a terrible thing, since you have been hungry in 1956, so you know, again, people kind of hunkered down and survived. and that's, you know, that was the case in eastern europe, up there 1989.
>> but there was a big difference, in 1956, hungarian revolutionaries used violence against soviet forces who came in, there were about 750s soviet troops killed, there were about 2500 hungarians killed, in 1968 there was no violence persistence. checks and slovaks were dismayed and shocked to find that soviet and eastern european forces had come into crush them, but they also knew that if they try to resist violently, it would be mercilessly, so there were about 100 people killed in the invasion, but there wasn't any thing like the carnage in 1956, so with that background here, from the white house, 1968, the johnson white house, and -- that includes former president dwight eisenhower. >> of the army hospital, former president eisenhower suffered his seventh heart attack. and went on the critical list in august.
but the general had never taken kindly to defeat. and when president and mrs. johnson visited -- at walter reed hospital they found that he had rallied and was in good spirits. as allied commander in world war ii, one of the countries general eisenhower held liberate was czechoslovakia, pushing [null] germany from its boundaries. but just 23 years later, they were again ravaged by the forces of aggression. on august 20, armies of the soviet union, poland, hungary, bulgaria, and east germany invaded czechoslovakia. seizing control of the country in a few hours.
so the embassy lights burned late. even as russian tanks rumbled, soviet ambassador -- called specialist system -- to present moscow's official reason for the invasion. the memorandum, which vets the soviet bloc forces and acted at the request of czech leaders, to safeguard the country against suppressive elements, sounded hollow, indeed. >> from the summer of 1968, and the courtesy of the johnson library in the johnson lighthouse, back to your phone calls as we look back 50 years, 1968, american turmoil, deborah, richmond, virginia, go ahead, please put >> good morning, it is on -- and has always been unusual for me how -- we have done all over the world, and we make it into
something heroic, i never could understand that. america, america bombed the rest of the world. and it decimated -- and it's wrong. >> elizabeth cobbs. >>, denmark, -- deborah, i understand and -- that is a common belief, and there's a lot of evidence for it. but what we tend to not remember or not even really know is the extent to which other countries have asked us for our protection. when you look at what has happened and you say gosh, why did they all just kick us out, we have bases all around the world, why do we still have those bases? we have those bases because those countries actually want us there. most of the places where
american soldiers server broad are south korea, you know, they are in japan, they are in britain, they are in germany, etc., italy. and of the united states was an empire, they could ask us to leave and the crazy thing is, america is not an empire because we would leave, in fact, france kicked us out in 1966, i think it was, 67. and the united states left. the same is true of the philippines. because we live here, we are very aware of our own motivations but if you travel abroad, and you work abroad, which -- they are also critical of us, nobody likes to be dependent on somebody else. so it's both critical and at the same time, desired. >> mark kramer, a key player that seems to come up, what influence did he have an administration? >> he started out as secretary of state, he was one of the few holdover throughout the johnson administration, and the secretary of defense, and others -- but very few included
-- alaska. it was someone who was a very capable figure of -- like johnson, and he had a very close relationship with johnson, and also with -- who became johnson's national security advisor. during this time, in 1968. and that meant that on the one hand, he was certainly committed to the vietnam war, wanted to help johnson in that effort, but was also increasingly conscious, i in, that things are not working out very well there. that done -- did not diminish his support for the war but it did mean he himself -- he had
to look for other issues and he accomplished quite a bit, for example, and policy toward western europe, which as elizabeth mentioned, -- had posed a direct challenge to the united states. and that required a great deal of finesse and diplomacy to try to mend those -- and keep nato from falling apart. ian ross was one of the major figures in trying to work that out, so even though vietnam did not work out well for him, he did have some other significant accomplishments. >> conversely in north vietnam, [null] chi minh, what motivated him, what drove him. >> vietnam have his long history, 2000 years, of worrying about its independence, i mean, been conquered by china for 1000 years, other peers are china came back and to conquer them again. the one thing i think we say, vietnam is a country, not a war. and they were very passionate about reuniting the whole country, so i inc., and of
course, he felt that the way to do that was through a communist system. but that longer-term trend, my gosh, has been there throughout the minis history. so definitely a communist, definitely a feeling that he was on the bank of world revolution. the core sets were also 1968, and about world revolution spreading everywhere, from the plo to the -- to other factions or camino, and other countries, so [null] chi minh set on that. -- and barry, you are next, from new hampshire. >> good morning, happy mother's day and thank you for c-span. a caller mentioned that he the military people had -- in power presently would remember how bad vietnam was and some of our experience is and wanted to avoid war, but i remember, -- so that the army from 1960 to 63, i got my discharge over
there, and i became quite friendly -- and a few days before i was discharged into the cold weather in germany, he said to me, and he was trying to talk me into staying in, and i wish i had, he's dead vietnam isn't much. but it's the only word we have got. so they loved it, and i use the term lifer, not -- because 12 years later they went back in and they finished out my 20 years, so i love the army. but sometimes people forget that eisenhower would have retired as a lieutenant colonel had it not been for world war ii. and everyone in the military, when they say, you know, like the air force says peace is our profession, but secretly, they want a chance for advancement and is understandable, so you know, and we now have what washington advises us to avoid
which is a standard military. and we have created a military -- both on the enlisted side and the officers died. and i don't think it bodes well for the country in many ways. i recall that, you know, it was -- he was beneficial to see, the rednecks who claim they will never integrate ole miss, and -- >> i'm going to jump in because our -- i know our guests want to weigh in. >> i think that you are absolutely right. we have the largest neutral nation for the first years of its existence and i made it fairly conscious and very deliberate decision that was debated in congress, openly, and -- in 1947, as to whether or not to take on this bigger role, kind of the military part of this, and the financial part of
helping to promote world peace, and it was really to our advantage, to the advantage of everybody that happened. that's what has happened since is this sort of logic has remained more or less unquestioned, and no system works forever, it's always good to plan for camino, what comes next, and i think you're right, we have this industrial complex , that is problematic for the united states, and that has led us down roads that are not always good roads to be going down. so i think that that is -- you make a very, very important point. >> one of the major achievements for president johnson was the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. what was that? >> it had been under discussion for several years. initially, mostly, between the united states and the soviet union, but increasingly, as elizabeth mentioned earlier, much smaller countries, ireland, and india, while india
is not small, but still, -- in terms of weapons capability. >> right, less consequential and the global scene, and they had been pushing this for a long time, so the treaty, though, was ultimately a way of trying to deal with the german question, short of an outright settlement of the second world war because that did not resolve the status, it was not really resolved until 1990, but there were important agreements achieved in the early 70s, but one major step toward all of that was the nonproliferation treaty and that is why it was crucial for both united states and the soviet union to ensure that west germany would be a part of it, and the germans were -- they were hesitant about it. but ultimately, certainly,
agreed to sign on, and the nonproliferation treaty was an attempt to retain the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons, the spread from -- to other countries, and the treaty is not ultimately what them to that spread but it certainly had provided an international political framework that makes it easier for countries to do that. and at the time, there were already five nuclear powers, nowadays pending on how you count, if you still want to count the country like south africa, even though -- there has been very little spread of nuclear weapons, since that time, and the nonproliferation treaty has set the framework for that, even if ultimately, it is larger concert heã security concerns that have retained that the rat. >> and from that ceremony 50 years ago, the signing ceremony for the nuclear
nonproliferation treaty. >> on the morning of july 1, and parallel ceremonies in washington, london, and moscow, repented of the 57 nations -- toward the most significant and meaningful documents of the 20th century. the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. claire mack -- clear mac -- anyone country, but is in fact a product of all nations, which >> this treaty is not the work of any one country, but is in fact the product of all nations, which shared our concerns over the danger of nuclear proliferation. agreement has not been easy. for a basic security, for technological and economic interest of nations are deeply
involved. yes our collective and resistive determination has been crowned with success. today, we are here to add another stone, which one day we all pray will ensure lasting peace to mankindãmankind, who competes in -- >> from july 1968. elizabeth cobbs. >> i think that, you know, we just saw lbj in that clip and i think mark was so right to point out that because of what happened to vietnam, we tend to remember lbj and that way, but he was a person who did so many other things, as well, advanced civilization that no president has done, so these are major accomplishments that have changed our world. >> charlie is joining us, good morning, go ahead, please. >> good morning. in the late 1970s, i was assigned to the second army calvary and our mission was
guard the border between east, west germany, and czechoslovakia. and a couple of hundred feet into czechoslovakia, there was an apple tree. and i was there, picking apples, i was walking back to our lines, i heard movement behind me, it was an eight-man check army patrol, and all they did was they smiled and they waived. in the morning, we would give them hot coffee, they would give us hot soup. we got along very well with the soldiers of the check army. >> one of the results of the invasion of czechoslovakia was at the czechoslovak army, which has been a very capable one up until that time, was not allowed to resist and that led to a widespread demoralization in the army and subsequently, there was a major -- in the
army as well, because they, too, had been affected by the reformist sentiment of the spring, and so all of those people were removed and the army, over the next 20 years or so, was pretty ineffective. and these are some of the images from that. in 1968. are they still visible today? in the czech republic? >> i think the czech republic looks completely different today. it is a beautiful, pastoral place with music on every street corner. but, you know, if you talk to people of a certain age, i mean, they will remind you, you know, how terrible it was. and i think, there is such a different feeling in western
europe from eastern europe in terms of how they saw the u.s. role in the cold war. i mean, we like western europeans, they tend to be very self-critical of our role and eastern europeans have a very different attitude, they were, you know, they felt less behind and they also felt that the united states was one of the few countries which continuously was at least expressing a desire, you know, for them to become free. >> another key player is chinese leader mao. >> china had been plunged by mao into a cultural evolutionã a revolution in 1966 and that was a very harsh time for china. there had been millions who died in starvation and famines caused by his policies in the late 50s and early in the 60s. but what happened in the cultural revolution, and some ways, was even more dramatic, even though there were fewer people who died, there were still vast numbers and it was in the most grisly way, often through ritual torture, and through humiliation of people, campuses were occupied by people who were then professors , which would affect -- out
into the open and they would be degraded and often beaten violently and sometimes killed, so it was an extremely violent and chaotic event in china, and mao was very much at the center of that. malcolm at this time, was aging, he was already, by this point in his late 70s, and he has seen the look on the cultural revolution as a way to rejuvenate the evolutionary spirit that he had instituted in china when he came to power with the communists in 1949. >> mark kramer, -- elizabeth cobbs, this building behind us, did 1968 change congress? >> you know, a lot came to washington dc itself. and so, i mean, i think that what you had was this extraordinary turmoil within the capital, and of course, president nixon was elected in 1968. it was just a terribly
tumultuous time. >> similarly, in the case of washington, dc, violence on the streets, there were protests against the vietnam war, but also, protest, you know, that were sparked here in the aftermath of martin luther king's assassination. there was, you know, for people who lived during those events, they often remember it as one of the callers mentioned, this rapid chain of events, and you have seen that one thing would ease and then suddenly, a new crisis would develop. >> the great difference is that we are sitting here talking about it. i happens to be in china two weeks ago, and there, the great leap forward famine is described as a time with china which is trying to repay russia back for its help to china and so that is where all the food went. or i was talking with someone else who said you know, we
never saw that picture of the young men standing in from the tank in the square. this question about whether communist is an economical political system is complicated by the fact that really, what you still have and so many of those countries, and a place like china, is a system that is so authoritarian that you can't have the protests that we had here that were traumatic in washington, dc, in 1968, but we came back for them and we did not mow down our people. you know, to stop their protest. >> will go to richard joining us from missouri. good morning. >> good morning. i'm 80 years old, so i know about the cold war. in 1960, i was drafted so i joined the national guard. nobody wanted to be in the guard, so -- so anyway, in 66, i got out, everybody wants to be in the guards, being drafted. so i was happy to be in
construction, so we went into building ammunition boxes for vietnam war and built many of them. and also, 1968, i had chuck drivers going to memphis, one of our -- that was trying times. but the thing about johnson, i don't like him, but anybody over 65 are to like him because we had our medicare again. i will let you go. >> thank you. the form policy approach in the domestic policy by the johnson white house, i mean, -- >> i member when i first walked
into the library and i came in as a person who remember the vietnam war and i had protest against it myself. and so, i had this idea, oh, johnson, how many kids did you kill today? as one of our viewers were saying earlier, and yet, the fact was, once you are walking there, we start to realize everything else that this man did. the barrel he was overcome in a way, when it came to foreign policy. we forget, there were five vietnam war presidents. they were really engaged in vietnam, eisenhower, kennedy, john n, nixon, and so this cold war logic, the sense that we had that all caused it to maintain this, you know, push back against the spread of communism, really trapped people and what is so interesting and fascinating about johnson, i'm so glad this you are mentioned this, is that he brought us medicare. he created a social security system that allowed people to have a living support, so very complex. >> the year began with -- and escalated with political violence and assassinations and it ended with this photograph, in december 2019 88. as we view planet earth from
space. and i want to share with you, as we conclude this program, the words of -- they were all aboard the apollo 8 mission on christmas eve, 1968. >> god created the heaven and the earth. and the earth was with out form and void and darkness from the base of the deep. in the spirit of god, moved up on the base of the waters, and god said, let there be light. and there was light. and god saw the light. and it was good, and god divided the light from the darkness. >> -- it is our inspiring, it makes you realize just what you have back there on earth. the earth from here is -- of space.
>> -- in spite of human fear, give us the faith to trust the goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness. give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding heart. and show us what each one of us can do to set for the coming of the day of universal peace. amen. >> that mission, christmas eve, 1968. mark kramer. >> the program, itself, has begun on a tragic note, by the end of 1968, it was pretty clear that it was going to lead in the near future to the landing of astronauts on the moon, as indeed it did in july 1969. so apollo was a fitting way to try to bring out the contradictions and conflicts of 1968, because itself have is contradictions within it, and so
the major achievements of 1968, the nonproliferation treaty, the -- the saving of nato, through the carmel report, and the subsequent steps taken by secretary of state ross, they were conflicted by the, again, the grim situation with -- in the vietnam war and with north korea. >> elizabeth cobbs, frank broman relaying a lot of telegrams that he had received. the one that stood out the most, he said, from an american citizen, congratulations to the crew of apollo 8. you saved 1968. >> you know, i think that the cold war pushed america to examine itself, and to try to define what it was for, not just what it was against. and apollo 8 was sort of and that's, somebody said -- whose
perspective on our world, it is our earth, and i think the last words was, you know, merry christmas on good earth, the good earth. in the sense that that is what they were trying to say, is that we are all on this little planet together, and we need to work together. >> that concludes our nine parts theories, we want to thank elizabeth cobbs from texas and i'm in the hoover institution and mark kramer from harvard. to you and all the guess who participated in the series, we thank you. sunday night, and afterwards, retired -- on gender bias in the military. she is interviewed by military times reporter, todd south. >> if a marine is not really cater to, or i'm sorry, not really paid attention to to develop her as a quality marine going into boot camp and then how do -- how does that affect the rest of her career? how does it affect your
perception? >> the problem is that because the marine corps does not want to change what happens at that foundational level, because everything is so segregated, so stereotyped, they sort of speed into then, the perception that woman can't because they are women, and they are not respected, and the lack of rest backs between men and women in the marine corps is legendary. it's the stuff that male recruits here and the stockades all the time, you hear male recruits who happen to be slower hold that they are women, that they should be sent to fourth battalion, and so, it becomes normal to say derogatory things about women, so that is sort of the dilemma that when -- the that is the culture that they are then brought into. >> watch afterwards, sunday night at 9 pm eastern on cpsan's twos tv.
these programs are from our cpsan series, 1968. america and turmoil. you can program on spot if i, or watch them any time at cpsan.org. wednesday, a -- american history tv continues the development of the auto industry in the u.s. and how cars changed american life. thursday, martin luther king jr. will show a 50th anniversary commemoration march 3 and friday the world war i centennial ceremony and a look at berries asked of the world from discussions at -- heritage days. this on oral histories, we continue our series on woman in congress with former democratic congresswoman, ava clayton. >> my interest in -- my service, and even my members resistance to it. but finally, there is
acceptance of me and they did. they did. you know, i always knewãmark only because i was a ranking member. i also made a contribution. also, the acceptance of me as an equal and many acceptance of me as their superior. it allowed me to know that i can negotiate with the best of them. >> and the weeks ahead, we'll hear from -- barbara comella, nancy johnson, -- watch oral histories, sunday, at 10 am eastern on american history tv on cpsan three. america first was a term started during the 19/16 president election when richard wilson used the slogan, as well as he kept us out of war.
next, historians talk about how america first thinking impacted u.s. foreign policy in the cold war, between 1945 and 19 88. they talk about international trade policy, the rise of anti- communism, anti-conservative commentators came into prominence. the miller center and charles hill, virginia, hosted this talk. it's an hour and a half. >>, welcome back again, i am delighted you are here, and that the first session, i think, was extremely stimulating and illuminating and i think this session is a natural follow-up of one of the things that we are interested in in this session, is how did america first really revive and in