tv 1968 - America in Turmoil 2018 The Cold War CSPAN December 31, 2018 9:04am-10:37am EST
>> documentary film maker, the vietnam war with ken burns. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> great conversation. we say thanks to doug stanton, author of the odyssey. next, from our series 1968, america in turmoil, we look back to the cold war. the cold war provided the back drop for the offense of 1968 whether in vietnam, during the presidential campaign or in the space race. as 1968 came to a close, the apollo 8 mission sent three astronauts into the moon's orbit for the first time and their live christmas eve broadcast was watched by millions worldwide. you saved 1968 read one telegram
to the crew. our guests are elizabeth cobbs and mark kramer. first, here is a look back at the apollo 8 mission. december 21st, 1968, the shortest day of the year, but insignificance, perhaps one of the longest in the flow of history. >> this is apollo on launch control. we are still go at this time. t-minus 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, nine and we have ignition sequence, the engines are on, four, three, two, one, zero. we have commit. we have liftoff.
liftoff at 7:51 a.m. eastern standard time. we have cleared the tower. >> towers are cleared. 13 seconds. the united states was undertaken the most distant voyage ever attempted by man. for the first time, three americans rode the saturn 5 moon rocket. >> we hear you loud and clear, apollo 8. >> the first stage is very smooth and this one is smoother. >> apollo 8 houston, your
trajectory and guidance are go, over. >> thank you, michael. >> you looking real good. >> frank warmen, jim lovely and bill anders were about to leave their cradle earth and face the infinite frontier. >> apollo 8, houston. >> go ahead. >> you are go for tli, over. >> roger. we're go for tli. >> tli, translunar insertion. this was the commitment, they were ready for the maneuver that would send them to the moon. as the world listened and watched, its people were overtaken by a new awareness, an awareness that they were perhaps witnessing the overture to the ultimate destiny of man.
>> ignition. >> lovell confirms ignition. >> on board the spacecraft and in mission control, the men of apollo 8 watched the readouts, velocity build up in feet per second, the numbers snowballing toward the velocity that would allow the spacecraft to escape earth's gravity. that nasa film from december of 1968 as we conclude our nine part series here on c span and joining us here in our studios in washington, mark kramer. he is the project director of harvard universities and elizabeth cobb she is a professor at texas a & m university and a senior fellow at the hoover institution. i wanted to talk about the intersection of what was happening in 1968. we had the escalation of the vietnam war, the political turmoil with lyndon johnson announcing he will not seek another term in large part because of vietnam and the heightened tensions with the
cold war and the soviet expansion into czechoslovakia. >> bad year. it was a year where it seemed like all of these strands seemed to come together at once. north korea became more, you know, opportunistic, trying to actually launch a kind of situation where they might be able to open up a southern front, taking advantage of the vietnam war and the ted offensive and czechoslovakia, which was this moment where like so much of 1968 where it seemed like everything might change for the better and then the cold war comes in and slams it all down. >> explain what happened with the soviet moving into czechoslovakia and why that was such a significant milestone in 1968? >> well, in a way, czechoslovakia had always been so important because it helped to start the cold war and the united states creates a martial plan.
so then when czechoslovakia seems to start a program of reform lifting censorship, creating a more open government and the soviets come in and shut that down and then what happens right after that is that brezhnev announced brezhnev doctrine. by the ends of 1948 all this wonderful flowering of greater dialogue had been cut off and brezhnev said we will intervene, any time any socialist government is threatened militarily. >> mark, what was the domino theory? >> that was the idea developed after world war ii that if one country fell to communism that others might as well and specifically in the case of indo-china, the concern was that if south vietnam was over taken by the communist in the north
that laos and cambodia would soon fall. that doctrine was or that notion was inspired in part by what had happened in eastern europe right after world war ii when various governments mostly in central and eastern europe fell to communism, but in that case it was through direct soviet occupation. the concern in east asia was that it might come about through indigenous guerillas who would take over. >> who was funding the north korean government at this time? >> the north koreans? -- north vietnamese was both heavily armed by both the soviet union and china. however, they were bitterly at odds at that point, so they were competing with each other for a greater influence in north vietnam and that worked out well for the north vietnamese because they could play them off and get more weaponry.
>> north korea, who was funding north korea at this time and explain what was happening and how that's relevant to what we're seeing today. >> in north core -- korea, they were playing both sides against the middle. they had patrons in the soviet union and in china, but at the same time they were always doing their own thing, so for example, they seized the "uss pueblo". >> what happened there? >> it was on a spy mission in what most people consider international waters beyond the 12 mile limit. what happened in january of 1968 is that the north koreans seized this american naval ship and it was lightly armed, it was ill-prepared and they were unable to fight off the submarine chasers and mig fighters that went after the ship and so -- but the interesting thing about that is that neither the chinese nor the soviets were aware this was
going to happen. so this really like today was something that was instigated by the north koreans and they saw it as possibly an opportunity to start another war to as they would say liberate the south meaning the south of korea itself. >> and politically you mentioned brezhnev who was the leader of the soviet union. we have pictures of him much older in the '70s and earlier '80s when he was dealing with jimmy carter and ronald reagan, but where was he politically in the soviet union in 1968? >> he had been a rising star for a long time with the soviet union and so he's in this process of consolidating his own power and so when he orders, for example, the invasion into czechoslovakia, he's really, you know, taking the reins of power and guiding the soviet union in the direction he wants. >> 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 and where the cold war was heading? how that was a driving force in his vietnam policy? >> the major buildup of u.s. forces occurred just before 1968, starting in 1965, and at the height u.s. forces reached about a 525,000, which is an astounding number in a fairly small country. in 1968 after the ted offensive which was military victory for u.s. forces but was a political disaster because it made clear that the -- the vietnamese communists had far greater strength and staying power than the u.s. government had been letting on, particularly secretary of defense mcnamara. so it was a turning point in the war because 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 majority again and increasingly it turned against the war. so johnson was consumed by that and it led to short order not to seek re-election and begin to de-escalating the war. >> the johnson white house putting together films that highlighted what he was doing. this is from july 1968 as president johnson traveling to hawaii and meeting with the south vietnamese president. >> on july 18th, president johnson arrived in honolulu for a series of meeting with the president of south vietnamese. ♪
>> at all of our meetings over the past two and a half years, you have stressed your country's policy of reconciliation and peace. since we met last december, talks had begun in paris. we devoutly hope that they are the first step on the difficult path to peace, an honorable peace under which the people of your country 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 you to take back to your countrymen our hope and our conviction that their courage and their faith will be rewarded with a just peace with full freedom. >> president johnson with the south vietnam president in 1968. let's set the stage for where the country was at because we had the assassination of robert kennedy, vice president humphrey was about to be nominated as the democratic candidate, the republicans nominating richard nixon and lyndon johnson trying to bring a peaceful end to the war in vietnam. where was he politically? where was his military? where was his defense department in all of this? >> johnson was deeply shaken not only by the assassination in june of robert kennedy but two months earlier the assassination
of martin luther king. he was accompanied by civil violence in the united states that had begun in the mid-60s and escalated in 1967 and '68 including here in washington, d.c. that meant that johnson wanted to focus on domestic priorities and that was always his major interest but he was consumed early on by the war in vietnam and that's why in his final year in office he wanted to focus on whatever priorities he could do while trying to bring a peaceful end to the war. hubert humphrey was seen as initially not the favorite candidate but was certainly after a while put forth by johnson as someone who could continue his programs and it would stand a reasonable chance against richard nixon. johnson did not like robert kennedy. it was no secret and he was uneasy at the same time, was
deeply saddened by kennedy's assassination. >> at the same time, while all of this was happening, the apollo program continues to grow with research being done in florida and texas a cape canaveral and the johnson space center and the apollo 8 launched in december of 1968. >> i think the curious thing about the cold war is that it always brought out the worst and the best in america and part of that was a peaceful competition with the soviet union about space. that actually began in 1955 when the united states announced it was going to put a satellite up. the soviets heard that and immediately got going. they launched the first satellite which was sputnik and the joke in washington and actually in foreign capitals at the time was that when sputnik went over the world it would go beep, beep, beep until it got over washington, it would go ha, ha, ha.
so the space race was apart of this whole thing. they had not only beaten us to the first satellite, they had beaten us to the first man in space and then also, again, they were beating us in 1968. in september, they had the first lunar orbit but they had put up two turtles and some mealworms so the united states at that moment decided, it was going to have to change the mission of apollo 8 which had been to orbit the earth and instead they decided to put men orbiting the moon and so that's what apollo 8's mission was. >> we were looking at incredible pictures from nasa in 1968, 50 years ago as we look back to america in turmoil, three key players, frank borman, jim love vel and williams anders. >> they were supposed to on this pedestrian kind of orbit of the world, here they are the first
human beings to be in that part of space, be out orbiting the moon and so it was this remarkable thing that on christmas eve they beamed back to the world a message to everybody, and that's that thing where the cold war, it's that combination of who we want to be and who we're forced to be by these terrible circumstances and in their message, you know, on christmas eve they said, you know, goodwill to everyone. >> we are dividing our phone lines differently for those of you who are 50 and older. the number to call is 202-748-8001 and for those of >> i was a very small boy and i do remember the kennedy assassination and certainly martin luther king's
assassination vaguely because my parents were upset. but in retrospect as a scholar i have written extensively about the invasion of czechoslovakia and its that combination of things as we've been discussing the combination of the vietnam war, the unrest in the united states, the apparent promise of major change in the communist world brought to a crushing end, the pueblo incident with the north koreans. there still was a real sense that american society was not holding together well. >> from your perspective, why was 1968 such a consequential year in american history.
>> it was in moral crisis. it all comes home. the cold war was a profound disjuncture from all the rest of american history that preceded it, this idea of taking responsibility for every major crisis around the world and then -- and as i said, it pushed us to be our best selves, civil rights, our discrimination in america was always delighted our enemies and was the despair of our friends, so we've been working on all these things and i think that 1968 just was the culmination of that, plus that was true all around the world. we forget there were major riots in mexico city and paris. there were -- the cultural revolution in china. it was a kind of turning point in world history that caught us all. >> why was peace so illusive for president johnson that year?
>> mostly because of the ted offensive and the political affect it had in the united states which was quite poisonous but particularly robert kennedy who tried to pick up that mantle, martin luther king prior to his assassination had come out explicitly against the war which he earlier avoided because he knew it would antagonize johnson and even though they had an uneasy relationship, they had worked together quite productively on civil rights issue. the search for peace, though, what ultimately caused it to allude johnson was the north vietnamese weren't interested in peace. they wanted to win on the battlefield and they were confident they could do it and the chinese were encouraging them to do that.
the soviet union was a different matter. the soviet union began to raise the question of peace overtures with the north vietnamese but they weren't interested in listening to that either. >> we should point out these talks taking place in paris, more from 1968 and the johnson white house. >> on march 31st, president johnson had ordered a bombing halt in all areas of north vietnam except the immediate panhandle above the demilitarized zone, an area through which massive numbers of infiltrators and their supplies of war continue to pour. as a result of this decision, the much awaited truce talks began in paris on may 13th. during september, ambassador, president johnson's chief negotiator at the talks reported that after four months and a total of 21 formal sessions, there still had been no
substantive discussions. the north vietnamese negotiators clung to their long held demand that all bombing must stop before they will discuss anything else. the president in close counsel with his advisers repeatedly asked for assurances that hanoi would reciprocate with some form of military deescalation should the bombing be completely stopped. no such assurance was forthcoming. >> that film again from the johnson white house going back to your early point. elizabeth cobb's simultaneously you had richard nixon who had his own plan to get out of vietnam or did he? >> nixon always promised he
would get out of vietnam and we know now -- the evidence is there and the archival evidence nixon made an effort to halt and to really foil johnson's peace efforts in october of 1968 as apart of his campaign and in many ways some people feel this was worse than anything he did in watergate because, you know, he wanted to put a monkey wrench in the efforts in late october because maybe johnson was getting close, that they could trade this bombing halt for a movement by the north vietnamese. we'll never know. they were absolutely determined, but it's easy to paint those things in black and white and if johnson's program had been able to proceed without the south vietnamese being told, don't compromise, don't compromise because you'll get a better deal under nixon then who knows something else might've happened. it's a terrible tragedy both for the united states and for vietnam. >> and of course the war would not formerly come to an end for another seven years. >> it went on and on. >> "1968: america in turmoil"
and joining us here as we wrap up our nine part series on cspan and c-span3 american tv history, mark kramer from harvard university and elizabeth cobbs from the hoover institution and texas a & m university, stuart is joining us from mechanicsville, virginia. go ahead, please. >> good morning. happy mother's day to all the mothers out there. i was born in -- i graduated high school in 1968 at the age of 17. i asked my father if he would sign me up -- and he told me in colorful language to remove my head from another part of my anatomy. i turned 18 in july and i went down and signed up to join but i failed the physical. i blew a knee playing football that past fall. the army took me but told me to call -- i'll tell you what the cold war, the guys that did serve and came back, if you had
short hair you were shunned. i had one friend come to the airport in california and somebody asked him, said, how many babies did you kill? he said i didn't kill one soul but if you don't get out of my face you will be the first. >> stuart, let me follow up on that point. i'll give our guests a chance to respond as well. from your standpoint why was that sentiment so prevalent in the late 1960s, early 1970s? >> i don't know. i don't know. i really don't. if you had a short hair cut, good luck on trying to get a date. it was -- it was very difficult back in those years. it really was. >> thank you for the call. go ahead, i'm sorry.
>> caller: i don't know why it was, but you know, very small percentage served in the armed forces then, most -- most people were either, you know, in college or something, but, you know, it was -- you know, i have one friend, one friend was with the tip of the spear. he was first at calvary. he was only there in 45 days, he was in 27 fire fights in 45 days. he was only 19 years old. think about it. >> rough times and thank you for the mother's day wishes. i think that there was that moment where who you were as an american was something people were questioning. it was a moral crisis and there were some people who looked in the mirror and said, i don't like what i see when i see america today and it became this test, was your hair long, did you have a beard? there was at one point early in the history the peace corps. where one of the peace corps. volunteers had a beard and they
made him shave it because it looked too much like fidel castro. there's this weird thing that happens when we become very attuned in a way to the fashions that seemed to speak volumes and say things about who we were identifying with and who we don't. they were terrible times and for the young men who served, some of them endured incredible circumstances, terrible, terrible events. >> we'll go to georgia next in gainsville, florida. go ahead, please. >> caller: yes, good morning. i guess i wish everyone a happy mother's day also. i just want to ask dr. kramer, i'm a two tour vietnam vet, 71 years old, i grew up in gainesville, florida, and we lost 41 young soldiers in the vietnam war. but my question as i've come back and read a lot about the vietnam war era is, i took a
trip back to vietnam in 1998 and i was just -- we flew into hanoi and i was going over there mainly just to revisit some of the areas i had served, but what struck me was the way the vietnamese people, the eager of them wanting to engage me in conversation, the young people of wanting to get my email address. it just was amazing the reception i got and no one talked about the vietnam war and then just recently a few months ago, we had a u.s. navy carrier call on denying for the first time in 50 years, here's my question to dr. kramer, i believe in a sense that we as veterans that served over there, we were young, we were just -- we just happened to be the age of being drafted or -- i was in rotc, i think we just happened
to be the soldiers of that time, but i believe we did accomplish something in the sense that that last domino, maybe it fell, but laos, cambodia, malaysia, those countries did not, so my question is, do you see that maybe we who served did have some change in the sense the ending of the cold war? >> thank you, george. >> first of all, thank you for your service to the country, which i certainly appreciate. the outcome of the war can't just be judged by what happened in april of 1975 with the fall of saigon. what would have happened if the south had fallen much sooner to the north vietnamese and had
been overwhelmed at a time when neighboring countries potentially could have fallen as well. the war achieved a good deal. the -- there's no question, for example, that the south which had a corrupt political system but nonetheless was much more pluralistic than the totalitarian north did advance and that was largely because of u.s. pushing the influence of u.s. troops. but still, i think overall, for whatever reason you can point to, domestic backlash or other things, you do have to look at vietnam ultimately as a failure for the united states even if potentially it could have worked out more successful, but there's no question i agree with you that there were important things achieved there. among other things it made it -- deterred other forces from
contemplating launching that type of assault that the viet cong did. ultimately a failure. >> let me put up on the screen and tell our radio audience was the u.s. was facing in 1968. we had more than 29,000 warheads, the soviet union had just over 9,000. great britain had 317, france 36, and china 35. and then beginning of the early 1970s and the new start treaty you can see the decline. can you explain? >> the nuclear arms race, of course, had been going on since 1949 when the soviets expanded -- dropped their first bomb and
the oddity of it was, of course, this was apart of the logic known as mutually assured destruction, if you can get enough bombs then everybody's afraid to pull the trigger and it created stability within the world, but it was mad, mutually assured destruction was m.a.d. there had been talks about how to create a situation where you could begin to draw back down and so one of the big accomplishments of that period was the signing of the nuclear none proliferation treaty in an effort to bring back this kind of escalation that had been going on for such a long time and, by the way, it wasn't always the big countries who were leading in that. it was ireland which put forth the first proposal in 1961.
everyone was affected by that and that's, you know -- that's something that really -- we began to get a little bit of hold on after 1968. >> and you wrote a piece for "the washington post", the five myths of the cold war. who was our enemy during this period? >> it was the soviet bloc but there were numerous enemies. the united states saw soviet union ultimately as its chief enemy but then of course there were smaller ones like north vietnam in what became united vietnam, north korea and certainly the peoples republic of china. in fact, in the 1960s, the prc, the chinese had replaced the soviet union for a while as the lead -- being seen as the most hostile to the united states, but the -- but ultimately until late '80s, the soviet union was
the overriding enemy for the united states from 1945 or at least the late '40s until the end of the cold war. >> our next carl is from michigan, ron, thank you for waiting. >> caller: good morning. in 1968 i was 19 years old. i had a four year apprentice for sheet metal. i said it was against the war. i volunteered to go to vietnam. they wanted to send me to -- but i had to go to vietnam. i had to work against the war. i saw that civil rights workers. i didn't have the courage -- i wanted -- while i was in transit to my station, i read bernard falls auto biography hoe chi men. i not only had to work against war but i had debt to pay to the vietnamese people for helping my father stay alive. i got in every antiwar paper.
i got the black party papers. i passed them out to g.i.s. the biggest peace march was held in july. that's where i did most of my organizing. there was a flagging incident on my base. i reported incidents. a year later in the division there was a fragging a week. the fraying itself was important. the reporting of it and the spreading of the war through anti-g.i. papers that's what stopped the war, that's why i had to get this army out of
vietnam before it destroys itself. we are going to take over the military. that was my goal. i had no affiliations. i was just a working class kid from chicago. i saw the '68 conventions i did not want to fight against the cops. we succeeded. we stopped the war. we stopped the draft. the g.i.s and the people in the streets, god bless them -- kent state happened while i was in vietnam. i was outraged. nixon was coming. i don't want to tell you if nixon came in my sights. it was a time you had to be there. every g.i. i passed the paper out to, nobody refused it. i had them sign petitions. >> ron, i have to jump in because we can sense your emotion in your voice and it's been 50 years. >> caller: it's not stopped. i had two sons. they did not go in the military. i have a 20-year-old son now. he's on a path to brilliance, i'm sorry, to brag. i've instilled in him the same notion. he loves his country. i love my country, you understand? we do not want to see our country destroyed, back then or now. >> let me have mark kramer jump in. >> there's a big difference between -- first of all, i think the military is an honorable profession and your sons should certainly be proud if they do serve in the military. that said, there's a big difference between nowadays and
the time you were there in 1968 in that there was military conscription in the united states which had been against the grain of u.s. philosophy during most of the existence of the united states. so the shift to military conscription after the second world war and particularly after the korean war was a big change and there was always an unease about it in american society. so in 1968 when young men were being conscripted into the united states, it helped to spur the domestic opposition and it was one of the major factors in the growing unrest on u.s. campuses that caused this sense, again, that american society was coming apart with civil unrest, violence in the streets, large-scale protests on u.s. campuses. the movement among some veterans as well as serving soldiers in
vietnam against the war. all of that came together. that's why the united states, over the last more than 45 years now, has had an all volunteer force and that makes it very different today. >> the political turmoil here in the u.s. and the race for space. that's our focus as we conclude our nine part series on "1968: american turmoil." we have a twitter poll. nearly 26,000 of you already have weighed in and the question is, did the u.s. win the space race? we hope you participate. you can join in by following us @c-span history on twitter. how would you answer that? did we win? >> i think we won. kennedy said when he made his speech, saying we're going into space not because its easy but because its hard. he said this is a challenge we intend to win and in a sense the u.s. did, but on the other hand,
that's the whole point of the cold war. it's not like -- it's not like it was just a challenge of, you know, who gets to be king of the hill? it was what is the world going to be like? will the world be an association of peaceful states or not? so, yes, we won. we got a man to the moon and the soviets didn't. but ultimately we shared a space station with them. the larger goal that i think both countries always had of a more secure world, where people don't have to send their children out to be slaughtered to protect the sovereignty of the nation was something that both countries were striving for and i think that ultimately we got together on it. >> and this mission from apollo really set the difference, to be the first man to walk on the moon. >> absolutely. think of the difference.
in january 1967, not long before that just the year before '68, apollo 1 had exploded. the deaths of the three astronauts. so in that time, think of the bravery of the men who did that, who went into the capsules knowing it could happen to them. we had somebody in lunar orbit and the next year we had three men on the moon. >> did the united states win the space race? that is our twitter question. we'll go back to your phone calls. bob in canton, georgia, good morning. >> caller: good morning. having been born in the late '50s, i remember growing up and my child seemed to be traumatic. my father was a -- news, magazines, radio. he consumed information. information was flowing into our household. and all of the turmoil of the time is just seared into my mind beginning with when president
kennedy was killed and toward the latter part of the decade, the trauma, which i don't need to go into all the matters that the country was dealing with. further, i served in uniform under reagan during the cold war. it's hard to explain to veterans and young guys in uniform now how the country was locked in this battle for control of the globe. and i know your guests don't want to get into current politics but that's why it just boggles my mind how the current commander in chief enjoys the support of the military, many of which are old enough to remember the cold war. and, you know, his counseling this gentleman that was part of the kgb during that time, during my time in office, this gentleman -- there would have been talk amongst us of a firing squad. thank you. >> bob, thanks. who would like to take that? >> okay. first of all, bob, thank you for
your service to the country in the 1980s. the major thing i would say is that times have changed now. there are things that are feasible now that would have been inconceivable during the time the cold war was under way. 1968 there was seeming progress, especially in the communist block. it came to a crashing end with the invasion of czechoslovakia. the war in vietnam had taken a very unfortunate turn. the north koreans had seized the uss pueblo and so the cold war was very vividly under way at that point. nowadays there are still major problems with numerous countries, iran, north korea, russia, china, but they're of a different order compared to what was there in 1968 and during other years of the cold war. >> the caller brought up what it
was like here on the home front as we had the escalation of the cold war and the rising concerns of vietnam. this is from the defense this is from the defense department from that era, taking a look at how children especially 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 corp has developed a mask especially for civilian use. this mask protects the wearer against biological and chemical attack by purifying the air inhaled. filter pads in the mask 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 ease of breathing, and permits conversation with others.
>> that's from the defense department and also advising students to hide under their desk. >> right. there was this apocalyptic sense and our caller that was talking about this, i think, was right on the money. and that's what's hard to convey to people today. because of nuclear weapons in the sense that -- i remember growing up thinking, world war i, world war ii, of course there's going to be iii, i can count. i think many people had the feeling that that would happen. what is so different today, though, and i think we so easily lose sight of is that actually war between nations has declined every decade since the 1940s. so the attempt to create a more harmonious world environment, believe it or not, has actually
worked and that caller was saying his dad was a newsman so he was in a sense living the 24-hour news cycle at that time that we all live today and that sometimes i think that gives us this impression that things are much more apocalyptic than they actually are. not to diminish current present-day dangers but that's why history is so important to understand what's happened. as i said, we actually cooperate with the soviets in space now so the elements of progress need to be appreciated and recognized. >> elizabeth cobbs is a senior fellow at the hoover institution, also a professor of history at texas a & m university. and the author of how many books? >> seven. >> and mark kramer who is joining us here in washington is the program director at harvard's project on the cold war. david is next from los angeles. go ahead, please. >> caller: good morning. again, happy mother's day to all the ladies listening in. i would like to chime in with the assassinations as well as this cold war and the military industrial complex. as far as the cold war is concerned in its beginning after you had mentioned the marshal plan, now, here in the united
states we were at our peak of apartheid and the only difference with south africa and the united states was that our mandela was assassinated. you know, there was someone who said that the united states of amnesia and the way in which we do history is like that period was america's apartheid. >> david, thanks for the call. >> let me take issue somewhat with that, david. the united states had been a deeply racist society not only with a lengthy history with slavery but then with 100 years with racial segregation and institutionalized racism in the
united states. i think lyndon johnson who in 1968 decided not to run for re-election, he deserves immense credit for his instrumental role in getting passed the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965, which i would largely agree with you, until that time you could argue the united states had a kind of apartheid system, but it came to an end at least legally at that point. there continued to be problems with racism and continue to be to this day. but i think you shouldn't underestimate the crucial role that lyndon johnson played. there might have been no other president who could have done that because he had the credibility as a southerner and he had the hugely positive relationship with various key figures in the u.s. senate. >> you know, i think the key difference -- and in many ways i
absolutely agree in this height of segregation throughout the 20th century was terrible, but the critical difference between the u.s. and a country like south africa is that the united states had a law, had an original way of looking at itself which was that all men are created equal. even though it was thomas jefferson who wrote those words, an unrepentant slave holder, those words established a direction that was very hard for the country to resist. that's what allowed people not only at the beginning of the country but the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the u.s. constitution and then the laws of lyndon johnson with of course the groundswell that had been created by people like martin luther king was able to bring to fruition. it's kind of this weird thing, yes, the ways that people acted were just as vicious and violent and cruel, but that law is what was like our guiding star.
thank goodness people like johnson and king helped us get there. >> different countries, different time period and different players but under the category of learning from the lessons of history, with the soviet union and the chinese government really propping up and supporting north vietnam, are there lessons to what we're seeing in north korea today with russia and china? >> i think absolutely. there's always this thing where the united states plays the bad cop and so countries like china get to play the good cop. it seems to me very important for us to be putting more of the onus on those other countries because they have the border with them. the chinese, of course, are very fearful that if things go belly up in north korea, they're going to get all these north koreans to take care of. so whatever can be done to push those countries, to sort of call their bluff, because otherwise the united states is really left carrying the burden.
>> also, i would agree. the thing though that's very different now and that works in the u.s. favor is that basically russia, china and the united states have a lot of overlapping agreement about north korea. that wasn't the case with north vietnam. the interest of the soviet union and china, particularly china, were starkly at odds with those of the united states. so in this case it's in some ways an easier issue to try to deal with that there is greater room for negotiation that would be helped by the russians and the chinese. >> by the way, if you're interested, this nine-part series, "america in turmoil, looking back at 1968" is available as a podcast. you can check it out on our website at c-span.org or wherever you get your podcasts. vicki is joining us from twin falls, idaho. go ahead, please. >> caller: hi, yeah. this period of time that you're
talking about, i lived it. i was born in 1951. a little while ago the lady said that war has been on the decline. american soldiers had been dying for my whole life in someplace in the world somewhere all the time. the building of this international socialist system, i feel like i was deceived my whole life because while we're told we have a capitalist country here, we don't. we have a centrally planned economy. and this international socialist system that they're building, globalization they call it, they plan on ruling the world in what you could call tech fascism. >> response from either of you?
>> i'm an ardent supporter of globalization so i might not be to your liking but the united states in the aftermath of the second world war set about fostering an international economic system that promoted open trade, open free trade, and it was immensely beneficial for the world. it led to huge increases in global income. it was certainly beneficial for the united states. that's why i regret that over the last year or so there have been attacks on that system, but still the system of globalization shouldn't be described as international socialism. quite the opposite. it's the spread of capitalist institutions to much of the world. china into integrating itself into the economic system
discarded some elements of its socialist economy. it still is a communist dictatorship but it has increasingly taken on elements of capitalism. so it's the opposite, i think, of what you were describing. >> elizabeth cobbs? >> i would respectfully disagree with that too, although i absolutely empathize with this worry, this concern that for decades upon decades, your whole life american soldiers having -- have been dying in various places. the interesting thing about that is that number has declined, so as bad as it is, that 24-hour news cycle which keeps reminding us of the terrible things that are happening tends to overlook that longer-term trend, and that trend has been made positive by globalization for the reason that before world war ii the idea that a country could get ahead, countries like soviet union or nazi germany thought they had to take over other countries and absorb their resources to become more wealthy.
instead what's happened is we've developed a world system where you can get ahead by trading peaceably with your neighbors, and that's a system, as mark just pointed out, that the vietnamese, the south koreans and also the chinese communists have come to embrace because they see it actually works better. it's not that we won. in fact, we lost in vietnam, and the chinese came to this on their own, largely because the united states always held to the idea that if we could provide a better model to the world, if we could be our best selves, that others would want to emulate that over time and for the most part they have. >> brian, thank you for waiting, pottstown, pennsylvania, you are next. >> caller: i hate to quibble about something but apollo 1 didn't explode. it had an oxygen fire. it might have been better for the three astronauts if it had
exploded because it's just a -- it's hard to believe that nasa would think that they could keep 15 pounds per square inch of pure oxygen in that capsule and not have a problem if there was even a spark, and that's what killed those three astronauts. >> you're absolutely right about that. just using a quick word to describe it, but it was a terrible thing. as you said, the use of pure oxygen. also, they had flammable materials inside the capsule and the door couldn't open from the inside out. so all these mistakes that were then later corrected but were very, very sad event at the time. >> this illustrates the impact of the cold war because the cold war was driving the space race much faster than it probably should have gone because it led to the cutting of corners on some safety concerns. now, ultimately the number of the apollo 1 type accidents was
very small, so it worked out okay but looking back on it you have to be somewhat disconcerted to see how the cold war sped up the space race and led to the carrying out of certain missions probably before they should have been. i mean, i'm very happy with the way it worked out over all despite the loss of the three apollo 1 astronauts but it is illustrative of the way the cold war caused the united states and the soviet union to do things that they wouldn't have otherwise. >> stephanie is next in long beach, california. good morning. >> caller: good morning to everyone. 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 couldn't even recover from one event before the next event happened. and it was like you were constantly thinking what happens next and that nuclear threat that we were raised with since kindergarten, get under your desk or run home so that you can see your parents one last time. they said don't trust anyone over 30. we didn't think we were even going to get to 30. it all happened so quickly and then it all kind of just disappeared so quickly. i mean, after the '70s and 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 couldn't vote. so it was like these forces were
so beyond your control that you were being buffeted by these things. later i learned that communism, while it was a dirty word in the united states, really was an economic system more than a political system. we were taught to be so frightened of it. it was just a very hard time, i think, for everyone. and, i think it's a very hard time for everyone now. >> stephanie, thank you. elizabeth cobbs. >> well, communism was meant to be an economic system but it also really was a political system because it was associated with totalitarianism beginning in the soviet union and every country which came under communist rule. so that was always the kind of confusing thing about it and i completely relate to what you're saying because in many ways we thought why should we care about someone else's economic system, but there was such brutality.
the way that the czech prague spring was crushed, the way the soviet union rolled over its neighbors after world war ii. i think one thing we forget, as you said, sometimes things seem to happen all at once and for a lot of policymakers at that time, they had lived through six weeks or eight weeks in which nazi 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. but then the solutions were not as clear and i think we did make some important mistakes in trying to solve the problem. but there was a real issue that people were contending with. >> since you brought it up, apollo 1, the three astronauts who lost their lives, this is from "time" magazine in 1967, and those astronauts, grissom,
white and chaffee who died and, of course, leading the apollo 8 mission and neil armstrong who successfully landed on the moon in july of 1969. dave is joining us next from michigan. good morning. >> caller: yes, good morning. concerning this cold war, mr. gorbachev sat across the table from george h.w. bush and united the germanys, gave the warsaw pact nations their independence. the soviet union was split up and all bush had to do to promise was to stay out of their business. but we americans, the miss kravitzes of the world, violated that immediately with bill clinton and kosovo. we just can't mind our own damn business. >> mark kramer, does dave have a point? >> first of all, as elizabeth
has pointed out a couple of times, in the aftermath of the cold war from the late '80s on, there's been a steady -- pretty much steady decline in the number of people killed in conflicts, the number of international conflicts going on. there's still civil wars, but still it has declined quite markedly and that does include americans, despite the tragic number who lost their lives in iraq and afghanistan. it still is 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 policeman, there is significant support for that role even though there is also a very significant counter-sentiment.
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 once you're damned if you do and damned if you don't as the united states because there's an expectation that others have and that we've helped create that we will step in, whether it's world policemen, a term i like to use, umpire. the united states is trying to umpire all these conflicts all the time. i think what we're lacking still is a kind of leadership that will look beyond to the next 70 years. mark is completely right, we've been doing this officially really since 1947, but it's always been this odd thing where it's expected but not legitimate. it's not legitimated by international law or american law, and yet people expect it and demand it.
so it's a kind of conundrum that we've faced for a while. how do we get others to take more responsibility without being bad partners ourselves because we've created this wonderful -- helped to create a wonderful structure of world security. we need to appreciate that and sustain that but one way of sustaining that is by developing good partners and making sure that we're not carrying this burden that has us ricochetting from one issue to the next. >> another film in just a moment from the lbj library as the johnson white house chronicled his five and a half years in the white house, we're going to see president dwight eisenhower. he left in january of 1961. did he have influence in american policy in the 1960s as a former president? >> eisenhower, you know, yes and no. i think that eisenhower we so remember and i think some of our viewers have indicated the military industrial complex, when he left office one of the things he did was to warn
against the creation of military industrial complex. so i think those words echo throughout this period of time. he was seen as kind of a wise statesman in that respect. >> certainly president kennedy consulted with eisenhower during the cuban missile crisis. on the other hand kennedy had run against the then vice president under eisenhower, richard nixon, and was harshly critical of the eisenhower administration including unfounded allegations of a missile gaffe. it was i wouldn't say a very warm relationship between kennedy and eisenhower, and that continued under johnson. there were always going to be consultations when important issues came up, including involving vietnam, but eisenhower remained a more revered figure in american society and not so much an influential political figure. >> this excerpt is going to make reference to the czechoslovakia.
you have just returned from the czech republic? >> yes, i have. i was there about a year and a half ago and i found myself stumbling because i kept wanting to say czechoslovakia which it no longer is. that's what happens in this period of time. a number of countries have multiplied. i was just in the czech republic recently. >> how were the soviet troops received in czechoslovakia? >> with shock and dismay. the idea that you don't have control over your own country was a terrible thing. it's been seen in hungary in 1956. again, people kind of hunker down and survive, and that was the case in eastern europe up and through 1989. >> but there was a big difference. in 1956 hungarian revolutionaries used violence against soviet forces who came in. there were about 750 soviet troops killed. there were about 2500 hungarians killed. in 1968 there was no violent resistance.
czechs and slovaks, as elizabeth points out, were dismayed and shocked to find that southeast yet and east european forces had come in to crush the prague spring, but they also new if they tried to resist violently, it would be mercilessly crushed. there were about 100 people killed in the invasion but there wasn't anything like the carnage in 1956. >> with that background here is from the white house 1968, the johnson white house, in this film that includes former president dwight eisenhower. >> at walter reed 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. when president and mrs. johnson visited him 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 helped liberate was czechoslovakia, pushing nazi tyranny from its boundaries. but just 23 years later, the central european republic was again ravaged by the forces of aggression. on august 20th, armies of the soviet union, poland, hungary, bulgaria and east germany invaded czechoslovakia, seizing control of the country in a few hours. soviet embassy lights burned late that hot and muggy evening in washington, even as russian tanks rumbled into prague. soviet ambassador anatoly dobrynin called to present
moscow's official reason for the invasion. the memoranda which said that soviet-blocked forces had acted at the request of czech leaders to safeguard the country against subversive elements sounded hollow indeed. >> from the summer of 1968 in that courtesy of the johnson library and the johnson white house. back to your phone calls as we look back 50 years, 1968, america in turmoil. debra, richmond, virginia, go ahead, please. >> caller: yes, good morning. happy mother's day. it's always been unusual for me to think about all the devastation that we have done all over the world and we make it into something heroic. i never could understand that. america -- the rest of the world didn't bomb america. america bombed the rest of the world. and it doesn't make sense. we try to europeanize everything
and it's wrong. >> elizabeth cobbs. >> you know, debra, i completely understand what you're saying. i know that that's the common belief and there's a lot of evidence for it. but what we tend to not remember and not even really know is the extent to which other countries have asked for our protection. sometimes when you look at what's happened and you say, gosh, why didn't they all just kick us out? we've got bases all over the world. why do we have those bases? we have those bases because those countries actually want us there. most of the places where american soldiers serve abroad or south korea, they're in japan, they're in britain, they're in germany, et cetera, italy, and if the united states was an empire, they could ask us to leave. the crazy thing is america isn't an empire because we would leave. in fact, france kicked us out in 1966 i think it was, '67. what did the united states do?
it left. same was true of the philippines. so because we live here, we're very aware of our own motivations, but if you travel abroad and you work abroad, what you realize is that a lot of those folks want us there. they're also critical of it. 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 continues to come up, dean rusk. who was he and what influence did he have on the administration? >> dean rusk had started out as secretary of state under president kennedy. he was one of the few holdovers who stayed throughout the johnson administration. there were others, secretary of defense mcnamara and others who served under kennedy, but very few of them stayed until the end and that included mcnamara who left. dean rusk was someone who was a very capable figure, southerner like johnson, and he had a very
close relationship with johnson and also with walt rostow, who became johnson's national security adviser during this time in 1968. that meant that rusk on the one hand was certainly committed to the vietnam war, wanted to help johnson in that effort, but was also increasingly conscious, i think, that things weren't working out very well there. that didn't diminish his support for the war but it did mean that he himself began to look for other issues and he accomplished quite a bit, for example, in policy toward western europe, which as elizabeth mentioned, de gaulle, the president of france, had posed a direct challenge to the united states, and that required a great deal of finesse and diplomacy to try to mend those breaches and to try to keep nato from falling apart.
dean rusk was one of the major figures in trying to work that out. so even though vietnam didn't work out well for him, he did have some other significant accomplishments. >> conversely, in north vietnam, ho chi minh, what motivated him? what drove him? >> well, vietnam had this long history, 2,000 years, of worrying about its independence. it had been conquered by china for a thousand years. other periods where china came back and tried to conquer them again. so one thing -- as they always say, vietnam is a country, not a war. they were really passionate about reuniting that whole country. so i think that -- 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 vietnamese history. so definitely a communist, definitely a feeling that he was
on the vanguard of world revolution. of course that's also what 1968 was about, this feeling that world revolution was spreading everywhere, from the plo to the -- to other factions and other countries. so ho chi minh fed on that. >> elizabeth cobbs from texas a&m. mark kramer from harvard. barry, you're next from center harbor, new hampshire. >> caller: good morning, happy mother's day and thank you to c-span. an earlier caller mentioned that he thought the military people in power presently would remember how bad vietnam was and some of our experiences and want to avoid war. but i remember i was in the army from 1960 to '63, took my discharge over there and became quite friendly, as friendly as an enlisted person could become with an officer, a captain l.l. baird. and a few days before i was
discharged into the cold weather in germany, he said to me -- he was trying to talk me into staying in, and i wish i had. he said, barry, vietnam isn't much but it's the only war we've got. so the lifers love it. i use the term lifer not derice i'vely because 12 years later, i went back in and finished up 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. everyone in the military may say -- the air force like to say peace is our profession, but secretly they yearn for a chance for advancement and it's understandable. and we now have what washington advised us to avoid which is a standing military. we've created a military on the enlisted side and the officer side. i don't think it bodes well for the country in many ways.
i recall that it was -- i think it was beneficial to see the southern boys, the rednecks who claim they'll never integrate ole miss in the morning have to take orders from a black nco from harlem. >> i'm going to jump in because i know our guests want to weigh in and this is something you brought up earlier. >> i think you're absolutely right. the united states was the world's largest neutral nation for the first basically 150 years of its existence and then made a fairly conscious and actually very deliberate decision that was debated in congress openly in 1947 as to whether or not to take on this bigger role between the truman doctrine and the marshall plan, the military part of this and the financial part of helping to promote world peace. it was really to our advantage. it was to the advantage of everybody that that happened. but what has happened since is this sort of logic has remained more or less unquestioned. no system works forever.
it's always good to plan for what comes next. i think you're right, we have this industrial complex that's problematic for the united states. that has led us down roads that are not always good roads to be going down. so i think that that's -- you make a very important point. >> mark kramer, one of the major achievements for president johnson was the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. what was that? >> the nuclear nonproliferation treaty had been under discussion for several years initially mostly between the united states and the soviet union but increasingly as elizabeth mentioned earlier, there were much smaller countries, ireland and india -- well, india is not smaller but still a less -- >> in terms of weapons capability. >> right. less consequential actor in 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 second world war because that wasn't -- the status of germany wasn't really resolved until 1990. there were important agreements achieved in the early '70s but one major step toward all of that was the nonproliferation treaty and that's why it was crucial for both the united states and the soviet union to ensure that west germany would be a part of it. the germans were hesitant about it but ultimately certainly agreed to sign on. so the nonproliferation treaty was an attempt to contain the horizonal proliferation of
nuclear weapons, the spread to other countries. actually, again, the treaty isn't ultimately what has limited that spread, but it has certainly provided an international political framework that makes it easier for countries to do that. at the time the treaty was signed there were already five nuclear powers. nowadays, depending on how you count, if you want to still count a country like south africa even though it gave up its nuclear weapons but there has been very little spread of nuclear weapons since that time. nonproliferation treaty has set the framework for that even if ultimately it's larger security concerns that have contained that spread. >> and from that ceremony 50 years ago, the signing ceremony for the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. >> on the morning of july 1st in parallel ceremonies in washington, london and moscow, representatives of 57 nations affix their signatures to one of the most significant and meaningful documents of the 20th century, the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
♪ >> this treaty is not the work of any one country but is in fact a product of all nations which shared our concerns over the danger of nuclear proliferation. agreement has not been easy. for a basic security, the technological and economic interest of so many nations are deeply involved, yet our collective and persistent determination has today been crowned with success. >> today we are here to add another stone to a day where we
all pray will ensure lasting peace to mankind through complete and general disarmament. >> elizabeth cobbs? >> i would just add that we just saw lbj in that clip and i think mark was so right to point out that because of what happened in vietnam we tend to remember lbj in that way but here was a person who did so many other things as well, advanced civil rights in a way that no president had done since abraham lincoln, advanced nuclear nonproliferation treaty. those are major accomplishments that changed our world. >> charlie is joining us from new york. good morning. go ahead, please. >> caller: good morning. in the late 1970s i was assigned to the second army calvary regiment. our mission was we guarded the border between east/west germany and czechoslovakia. a couple of hundred feet into
czechoslovakia there was an apple tree. i was there picking apples and walking back to our lines. i heard movement behind me. it was an eight-man czech army patrol and all they did was they smiled and they waved. 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 czech army. >> one of the results of the invasion of czechoslovakia was the army, which had been a very capable one up until that time, was not allowed to resist. that led to a widespread demoralization in the army and subsequently there was a major purge in the army as well because it too had been affected by the reformist sentiment of the prague spring, so all of those people were removed and the czech army over the next 20 years or so was pretty ineffective. >> these are some of the images from that period in 1968.
are they still visible today in the czech republic? >> i think the czech republic looks completely different today. it's this beautiful pastural place with music on every street corner. if you talk to people of a certain age they will remind you of how terrible it was. i think there's such a different feeling in western europe from eastern europe in terms of how they saw the u.s. role in the cold war. we, like western europeans, tend to be very self-critical of our role in the cold war, and eastern europeans have a very different attitude. they were -- they felt left behind and also felt that the united states was one of the few countries which continuously was at least expressing a desire for them to become free. >> mark kramer, another key player of course is chinese leader mao. >> china had been plunged by mao into the cultural revolution in 1966 and that was a very harsh
time for china. there had been millions who died of starvation, of famine caused by his policies in the late '50s and early '60s but what happened in the cultural revolution in some ways was even more traumatic for chinese society 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 needlessly -- university campuses for example were occupied by people who were then forced professors which would affect elizabeth and me -- 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.
mao at this time was aging. he was already by this point in his late 70s and he seemed to look on the cultural revolution as a way to rejuvenate that revolutionary spirit that he had instituted in china when he came to power with the communists in 1949. >> elizabeth, this building behind us, the u.s. capitol, did 1968 change congress? >> you know, the riots came to washington, d.c., itself and so i think that what you had was this extraordinary turmoil within the capitol, and of course president nixon was elected in 1968. it was just a terribly tumultuous time. >> from your standpoint? >> similarly in the case of washington, d.c., there's violence on the streets. there were protests against the vietnam war but also protests that were sparked here in the aftermath of martin luther king's assassination.
for people who lived through those events, they often remember, as one of the callers mentioned, this rapid chain of events. it seemed that one thing would ease and then suddenly a new crisis would develop. >> but the great difference is that we're sitting here talking about it. i happened to be in china two weeks ago and there the great leap forward famine is described as a time when china was just trying to repay russia back for its help to china so that's where all the food went. i was talking with someone who said we never saw that picture of the young man standing in front of a tank in tianaman square. so the question whether it's an economic system or political system is complicated by the fact that really what you still have in so many of those countries in a place like china is a system that's so authoritarian that you can't have the protests that we had here that were traumatic in washington, d.c., in 1968, but
we came back from them and we didn't mow down our people to stop their protest. >> we'll go to richard joining us from missouri. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i'm 80 years old so i know about the cold war. in 1960 i was going to be drafted so i joined the national guard. nobody wanted to be in the guard. you had to go to a meeting every monday night. in '66 i got out. at the time everybody wanted to be in the guards to keep from being drafted. i happened to be in the construction business so we went into building ammunition boxes for the vietnam war. i built a million of them.
also, 1968 i had truck drivers going through memphis. where martin luther king was assassinated. that was trying times. the thing about johnson, everybody don't like him but everybody over 65 ought to like him because that's when he signed medicare in. i'll let you go. >> richard, thank you. a real dichotomy between the foreign policy approach and the domestic policy by the johnson white house. >> i remember the first time i walked into the lbj library and i came in as a person who -- i remember the vietnam war. i had protested against it myself. and so i had this idea, oh, johnson, how many kids did you kill today as one of our viewers was saying earlier. and yet, the fact was that once you walk in there and you start to realize everything else that this man did, the barrel he was over in a way when it came to foreign policy, we forget there were five vietnam war presidents. truman got us really engaged in
vietnam, eisenhower, kennedy, johnson, nixon. so this cold war logic, the sense that we had at all costs to maintain this pushback against the spread of communism really trapped people. what's so interesting, fascinating about johnson and i'm so glad this viewer 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 man. >> the year began with the tet offensive and escalated with political violence and assassinations and it ended with this photograph in december of 1968 as we view planet earth from space. i want to share with you as we conclude this program, the words of frank boreman, jim level and william anders. they were on board the apollo 8 mission on christmas eve 1968.
>> god created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. and the spirit of god moved upon the face of the waters and god said, let there be light and there was light. and god saw the light, that it was good, and god divided the light from the darkness. >> up here on the moon, it's awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on earth. the earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space. >> give us, o god, the vision in spite of human failure. 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 hearts. show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace. amen. >> that apollo 8 mission, christmas eve 1968. mark kramer. >> the apollo program itself had 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 it had those contradictions within it. so the major achievements of 1968, the nonproliferation treaty, the saving of nato through the harmel report and the subsequent steps taken by secretary of state rusk were
conflicted by, again, the grim situation with the vietnam war and with north korea. >> elizabeth cobbs, frank borman relaying a lot of telegrams that he had received. but the one that stood out the most he said from an american citizen, congratulations to the crew of apollo 8. you saved 1968. >> yeah. 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. apollo 8 was sort of -- what they said was here's perspective on our world. here is our earth. i think the last words of their phrase was merry christmas to the good earth, the good earth. in a sense that's what they were trying to say, is that we're all on this fragile little planet together and we need to work together. >> that concludes our nine-part
series. we want to thank elizabeth cobbs from texas a&m and the hoover institution and mark kramer from harvard. to you and all of the guests who have participated in this series, we thank you. next on american history tv, from our series "1968 america in turmoil." a look pack at the vietnam war covering the major military, political and diplomatic developments that year. our guests are vietnam veteran and former navy secretary jim webb and author david marinus. we begin with a video on the state of the war in 1967 produced by the u.s. naval photographic center. >> these marines have just returned from a tough battle in the north. they are now on a defensive perimeter. their weapons are cleaned and cared for before thought can be given to personal comfort. a matter of importance in the life of a professional fig