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tv   QA with Mark Bowden  CSPAN  July 31, 2017 10:37am-11:39am EDT

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can build a backpack to , that is information so much more low risk than trying to rob a bank. >> watch the communicators tonight on c-span two. announcer: this week on "q&a," author and national correspondent for the atlantic mark bowden. he discusses his book, "hue 1968: a turning point of the american war in vietnam." brian: mark bowden, hue, what was it? mark: a city in the war, the american vietnam war.
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brian: how did you approach this differently? mark: this is the first time a journalist like me would have access to get to meet participants so i was able to tell the story through both the american soldiers and marines to five and also the vietnam ease viet cong, the north vietnamese army. i think as time is gone by there was a lot of documentation in the archives than hanoi as well as here in bethesda, maryland, at the national archive. there are also the records of the johnson administration at the lbj library. all of william westmoreland's papers are there. the national security staff papers. so 50 years is kind of a good time i think to go back. the record is established. the participants are still
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alive. brian: in the early part of the book you say the battle would be the bloodiest of the war and a turning point not just in that conflict led in american history. why? mark: well up until the tet offensive, which this is part of, general westmoreland had argued that this war was winnable and it was not going to be terribly difficult. in fact, william westmoreland came to washington in november of 1967 and gave a speech at the national press club where he outlined the phases of the war and said we were entering, i believe it was phase three, where we are beginning to withdraw american forces very simple stop so the impression given was that this war was well and hand and the united states was winning.
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the tet offensive i think administered a terrible shock. it was not just hue. hue was the place where the holes that he was taken over. the months attempting win the city back was reminiscent of the kind of battle spot in world war ii or korea and i think the images and reports from that fighting really changed a lot of americans attitude toward the war. i think the antiwar movement really picked up steam after the tet offensive and it was apparent that the american government had been lying to the american people. i interviewed about 40 people. they are listed in the back of the book. i have not counted all of them. i talked to 40 that i focused on that i listed there in the back
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of the book. i think about 40. brian: which one would you pick out of all of the 40 that you remember the most and why? mark: i think the first character you meet in the book was fascinating to me because she was my age, actually maybe two years older than me. it she was just a village girl who had a family that had been fighting for independence for generations. her grandfather, her father had fought, her older sister had joined the viet cong and been killed. she herself had been arrested after her sister was killed and interrogated or waterboarded by the south vietnamese intelligence service. she was a tremendously committed and idealistic young woman who found herself right in the
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middle of this battle, initially spying for the viet cong and then eventually biting. brian: for people who did not live through this, viet cong versus the army, what was the difference? mark: the country was divided. into north vietnam in south did not. the capital, hanoi, had its own army. the north vietnamese army. in south vietnam, a guerrilla army carried the fighting. that was the viet cong. it was a guerrilla force, heavily aided and connected with the north vietnamese army and of course the north vietnamese army was the regular military. brian: let's go back for a moment. where did you meet her? mark: i met her in hue where she works now is a optometrist.
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she rode up on a motor scooter, the primary means of transportation for people in the city. she was extremely candid. she had been wounded in the battle and after the battle was over she continued to serve with the viet cong and they trained her as an optometrist and she went to work there after the war. she has a daughter who is 20 or 21-years-old and very interested in coming to study in the united states. so there was a lot about her that was surprising to me. this was not the image i had in my mind of the viet cong. brian what had she done? : set it up for us in january of 1968. mark: she was part of the 11 village girls who would set up on the sidewalks selling hats and other small items on the
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sidewalk. she was from a village just outside of the city. in the months before the ted offensive, she and these other girls were commissioned to spy on the american outpost in the south and also the various compounds. so she would move around during the day with her wares and she would keep a eye on how many people were coming and going from places and looking of weapons they had. what their schedules work. when the guard changes happen. stuff like that. in the evening, she would go back and report what she had learned to her leader. the army of the republic of vietnam and that was the south vietnamese army.
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brian: what was the atmosphere at that time both in this country and in vietnam? why was hue so significant? mark: the atmosphere was that the war had been going on for the vietnamese almost without interruption since the early 1950's. for the americans which we had heavily invested in three years earlier was a stalemate. the general believe that the viet cong were incapable of any kind of major offensive. but the most that they could do was to attack american outpost around the perimeter. switching the far world areas. the south vietnamese government
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was tremendously unpopular but were on life support with american aid. with half a million american troops in south vietnam had become almost a american colony. north vietnam was battered. the united states had been heavily arming around ho chi minh trail in the capital. they had been hurt by this. iit had slowed their ability to mount offensives. hue was kind of an oasis in that it was the traditional capital. it is a huge fortress that forms the city. the emperors palace. the old site of the emperors reign. and so the city itself was a cultural, intellectual, religious center for vietnam. and it had been bypassed by the war.
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there had not been any real fighting in the city other than when the saigon regime cracked down on buddhist protests a few years earlier, the city had been fairly quiet. brian: how close to the border is hue. mark: hue is in the center. if you look at the city, it is kind of like someone had a belt around its waste and tightened it. hue sits right and that very narrow center. at the time when it was divided, it was near the northern part. my guess would be it was maybe 100 or 150 miles away from the demilitarized zone. brian: how many soldiers were there in january 1958? mark: there was a base in the
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southern part which was home to american military advisers, marines and army officers who were assigned to work with the south vietnamese army units. so actually on the day this battle broke out there were a lot more americans in the compound as usual because it was the beginning of the biggest holiday in vietnam. so a lot of the armed troops i gone home for the holidays. the american advisers had gathered to sort of share a few days with their countrymen and friends in this little compound in southern hue. brian: you dedicate this book to jean robert? who is he? mark: he was at the time the bureau chief for the new york times in vietnam. he plays a role in the story.
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an important one. later in life he became the editor of the philadelphia philadelphia inquirer. he hired me. i knew him as the terrific editor. later he became the editor of the new york times. in his youth, he was a terrific reporter covering the civil rights movement in the south and later as a reporter in vietnam. brian here he is at the national : press club talking about the hue battle. >> i had heard vague reports of trouble in hue. i made my way by helicopter and found the greens were surrounded and held only two blocks of the city.
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the viet cong a north vietnamese forces held onto the rest. each day the marines were reinforced by fresh units. they re-took two or three blocks of the city only to lose most of it again during the night to enemy troops who infiltrated the into houses during the darkness. it took about 10 days for the marines to get 10 blocks or so from their headquarters compound. [end video clip] brian: what did he have to do with you writing this book? mark: i had known them for years but i did not know his reporting of vietnam. i ran into them and new york. gene asked what i was working on. i told him i was working on a book about the battle if you. he said, i was there. i did not know that. i went down to north carolina where he lived for a couple days.
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you told me of his story and how he covered it and how he reported. so it was coincidental and serendipitous that he turned out to be a central player. brian: is gene still alive? mark: he is. he is sort of half north carolinians and have new yorker. brian: who from north vietnam did you sit down with? where did you sit down with them? and who was the most memorable? mark: i think the most memorable was a writer and a professor. he was a prominent buddhist. he was a buddhist student at the time who had been part of the buddhist uprising against the government in saigon.
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he had been chased from the city during a crackdown. he joined up with it north vietnamese forces as a writer and became a propagandist. very very idealistic. he believed strongly in the fight for independence. he felt exiled from his home. hue had been his home. so when the city was taken he was among the first troops who marched into the citadel. the big fortress in hue. he became responsible that she was working then at the political arm of the north vietnamese army.
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his job was to recruit citizens of the city to support the insurrection and to set up a revolutionary government. as well as root out those people who work for the south vietnamese government in any capacity and arrest them for what was then called reeducation but primarily turned out to be execution. brian: who else? mark: a student in hue university. he is not quite started there yet. and, he was involved with smuggling weapons into the city before the attack. and so he lived under cover in the city. i thought it made for a really interesting story. he had published a student-run newspaper for a wild and had been turned i think militant by the sudden presence of american tanks and troops. and so he ended up being one of the principal leaders of the north vietnamese forces as they marched into the city. and he was a commissar. he administered local government. he had responsibility for deciding who would be arrested and punished. brian: november 17, 1967, president johnson made a speech putting it in context. 67 women, obviously right before 1968. here's what president johnson had to say about the war in november of 1967. [begin video clip]
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president johnson: we are making progress. we are pleased with the results we are ending. we are inflicting greater losses that we are taking. it is not all perfect by any means. we get ac minus instead of an a plus. but overall we are making
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progress. i'm satisfied with that progress. our allies are pleased with that progress. every one that i know in that area that knows what is happening inks that it is absolutely essential that uncle sam stay there and keep our word and sustain that and till we can keep a peace. [end video clip] brian: what is your assessment? mark: i think he was in full salesman mode. he could feel the war getting away from him. defense hady of turned against the war. he had been starting saying that president johnson detailed secret memo saying, we cannot win this war.
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it is not going well regardless of what the military commanders are saying, this war is mired. we should start thinking about how to get out. in that clip which i describe in the book, that is a press conference. it was held at the time that president johnson had brought general westmoreland back to the washington, as part of like a two-weeklong public relations campaign to shore up support for the war because i think president johnson felt that the support was he had stepped out from behind the podium. you see him leaning down from the podium. johnson was famous for cornering people. he was a big guy. he uses hands. the closer he got to you, the more adamant he was to convince you of whatever he was trying to sell. so, what i see as a president and full sales mode lecturing the assembled press on why it was important for the united states to stay in vietnam and how well things were actually going.
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brian: a few days later, general westmoreland, we have video, he was talking about the atmosphere again. this is november 1967. the 22nd. again, the tet offensive and hugh was out of this. let's watch general westmoreland. [begin video clip] >> the war is becoming enormously expensive. he has almost fully mobilized his country and made a national effort. in addition to turning his best troops and leadership to the south. as well as supplying them, which has been a major undertaking. he has nothing to show for his investment. he has not one a single significant victory in the south during the last 1.5 years.
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[end video clip] brian: he was obviously talking about ho chi minh. where was he at that time? mark: he was under medical care. he had been going back and forth between there and china. at that point, he was no longer a very significant leader in the communist party in hanoi. he was old, ill, and ultimately sidelined from harder elements in the government. ho chi minh had been campaigning for independence his whole life, towards the end of his life he retained a long perspective. he believed the first task of the revolution was to win over the people of the south and he resisted the idea that the north could win the south militarily. and so he was regarded by the party leaders as someone who is kind of two soft on the war. it is interesting though that while general westmoreland was making that speech, the north vietnamese and the vietcong were
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well into their preparations for the tet offensive and in hue alone, they had amassed 10,000 troops to fight without alerting the south vietnamese government or the military. so general westmoreland was an interesting character because i think he really believe the things he said. but he was clearly out of touch with what was actually happening in the country. brian: back to the woman, she was 18-years-old? mark: yes. brian: where was she on the day that hugh became a battle? mark: she was living in hue because the river squad, which was the group of girls that had been recruited to spy had been placed with families in the city.
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she was living there. she had spent that day spying, doing things that she ordinarily did. she had spent that day spying, doing things that she ordinarily did. and there were supposedly a truce for the tet holiday, which the north vietnamese violated because of the holiday. she was dressed up in high heels, when out to a movie with some friends, and on her way back she was told, you need to get back to your village hotel and led hundreds and hundreds of north vietnamese soldiers swarming into southern hue.
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they did not know their way around the city. she had become a guide for the forces who were infiltrating the city. brian: what would you have seen in january 1968 on the day the north vietnamese and vietcong came in. mark: it was in the nighttime. you would've been awakened by the sound of gunfire, although because it was a holiday there were usually a lot of fireworks something so maybe initially you would've that it was just a lot of celebrating. if you were a millionaire with the sound of gunfire, you would have recognized something big was going on hand if you looked at your window, you would've seen masses of enemy soldiers, north vietnamese and vietcong, marching through the streets of the city and basically taking over every neighborhood in the city. brian: what is "tet"? mark: it is the lunar new year. it is the major holiday of the calendar year.
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the whole city shuts down for about one week. families get together. it is a tradition to cutting down cherry branches and bringing them into the house, similar to christmas trees. the celebration goes on sometimes for days. writing: how many american marines were killed? mark: about 250. most work marines that there was a sizable number of army calvary troopers killed just outside the city. brian: there is a story deck in 1968 where you see some of the destruction. [begin video clip] >> how much support received from the population is impossible to estimate.
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the end was the death of nearly 4000 civilians. many humble houses did not survive. without a move to keep up the rain, hundreds of homeless continue to cross the river in search of refuge on the self bank. it is the last journey for some. for others, like this woman, wounded and perhaps the only survivor of her family, life itself must seem to have come to an end. [end video clip] brian: who expected that to end this northern intrusion of hue? mark: the party leaders for the most part and hanoi and those who believe there propaganda. but this was the departure for the party leader and ho chi minh. ho chi minh had a better sense of the people than the people
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running the party at that time. but the word for what they did with the ted offensive was called a general uprising. the theory was that once the troops of the vietcong moved into the city, the people would rise up and support them in casting out the americans. the propagandists argued this would and the ward that quickly the americans would be forced out and the saigon regime would collapse. i should add that the more hard-headed north vietnamese military officers who had a lot more experience fighting in the field did not share that optimistic estimate. and they told their political superiors, we can take the city but the people will not rise up in support of us.
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they will come back and take the city back but we don't think we can hold it for more than a few days. brian: how me cities in south vietnam were attacked? mark: i do not know the exact number but just about every city and sizable town and village in south vietnam, including saigon was attacked. brian: how many of them were anywhere as close to as bloody as hue? mark: none of them. it was the primary thrust of the offensive. as i said, 10,000 troops were amassed outside of the city to take the city. saigon, which was probably the second biggest clash, they had fairly -- probably hundreds of troops -- but nothing on the order of what they had outside of hue. and the reason for that was the cultural significance of hue, and i think, the fact that it was significant.
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they thought it would be easier to throw the americans out of saigon then it would be in other parts of the city. nine: you use a lot of quotes. michael, who was he and why was he significant? mark: he has he come probably the most famous news reporter from the vietnam war. he wrote a book called "dispatches." he convinced esquire magazine to send him to vietnam to write sort of periodic very unconventional essays about the war. and so he spent a number of years putting himself in the most dangerous places in vietnam and writing, firsthand, about the fighting. he was also a tremendously
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skilled writer. he just wrote memorably. and so, one of the essays that he wrote for esquire which is in the book "dispatches," is called "hell sucks." it was about the battle of hue. it is interesting to me because he is such a gifted writer. he was writing about people and situations that i was studying and writing about. i could read michael, who was not particularly good at nailing down facts the way the old newspaper reporters do. naming names and getting dates for the first time having read his stuff, longer ago, i was ready to pick his accounts in the context of what was happening. i had a deeper understanding of
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who and what he was writing about. brian: was he part of dispatch news service? mark: i'm not sure. i know he had a relationship with esquire but he was not a formal staff member. brian: he is not alive? mark: he died a short time ago. brian: here he is. the reason i wanted to show this is he is talking about war and writing about work from a documentary called "first kill." [begin video clip] >> i am a nice middle-class jewish boy. i am not john wayne, jr. i am not a blood and guts guy. i just had a very strong attraction to war. >> was it satisfying? >> yes. i was satisfied. very few people do these things without what they believe is a good reason. because, you know, it's the guys, you come up and say, "why
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are you here?" and they would say, "i am here to kill gooks," and they knew why they were there and they were not kidding themselves and they liked it. you know, they got into it and they liked it. ♪ [end video clip] brian: what do you think? mark: i think he was speaking very candidly and he was a very brave reporter who put himself in the middle of the action. i am a guy who comes along 50 years later and pieces it all together from interviews and documentation. michael was the right kind of reporter for the war because he put himself right there in the muck with the grunts, and lived with them, and listened to them, and talked to them, and saw the war through their eyes. i think that is probably the most significant achievement you can make as a war correspondent.
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brian: you put a disclaimer in your book about the word "gooks." why? mark: well, because it is a derogatory term. i use it in my book in the context of the way the gi's spoke. i did not want the reader to think this was an acceptable word for a whole class of human beings. nevertheless, it an important part of the whole history of this battle. orion: how did you change your mind on this whole issue by going through the rss, which you say took about five years? mark: as a kid i was supposed to the war. i did not know enough about it to have a strong opinion.
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it was sort of a youth culture bonding thing. you know, the way you grow up and it was hard not to be against the war at the time i grew up. i felt this project a me the opportunity to really find out for myself what i believed about this war. i found out many, many things. i think probably one of the most apprising things to me was, part from weather was a misguided effort from the beginning and the politics of the situation, was how poorly-led militarily these marines and troopers were. the battle of humor shocked me because he saigon military command was so out of touch with what was happening in the streets. they literally got a lot of young americans go. general westmoreland denied the city had been taken. it was a fact but he continued to deny for nearly the whole time the battle was fought. as a consequence, would never concede the sheer number of
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enemy forces that were in the city. so small units of greens and troopers were being ordered to attack positions that were held by overwhelmingly superior enemy forces in entrenched positions. and this idea that i have about what happened is not just coming from me. it is coming from the men who were leading this marines and these troopers into these hopeless rattles who were ordered to do so. many of whom later in her career as retired as generals and memories of the army. but they are still furious about the way they and their men were used in hue. brian: who is jack lawrence? mark: he is a correspondent for cbs news who did a lot of fun-line reporting and vietnam. brian: he interviewed a lieutenant colonel ernest, at the time was he a captain?
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>> he was a lieutenant colonel. host: did he become a general? >> yes. he is the most famous of the marine generals in modern times. largely because of the reputation he made as a officer in vietnam. host: where did you talk to him? >> i spoke to him on the phone, shortly before he died. i made plans to go down and interview him in virginia. he passed away before the date arrived. fortunately, the general had given extensive oral histories to the marine corps museum in quantico. i was able to hear him talk about his experiences in hue and vietnam without getting a chance to interview him myself. brian: in 1968 here is jack lawrence talking to lieutenant colonel. [begin video clip] >> what kind of fighting is it going to be? >> house to house and room to room. >> inch by inch? >> that is what it is. >> did you expect to experience this kind of street fighting in vietnam?
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>> no, this is my first crack at streetfighting. this is the first time marine corps has been streetfighting since seoul. >> what will happen to the civilians? >> we are hoping we do not run into any civilians. if they are -- i am pretty sure the civilians are what we would consider the bad guys. we have certain areas that we have blocked off. we know there are friendly civilians. the others, if there is somebody in there right now, they are charlie, as far as we are concerned. brian: how long did it take the marines to get the city of hue back after that initial battle? mark: 24 days. actually, probably longer than 24 days. they took the north vietnamese, viet cong flag.
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there were still areas of the city that were contested, but for the most part, the battle was over after that. brian: what was the colonel's attitude in oral history and when you talk to him on the phone about this situation in hue? mark: he had a very professional marines attitude. he was given the job of taking the city back. i think he was good at his job. one of the things that struck me was the disparity between cheatham's approach and general westmoreland's. when he was assigned to go into the city to win it back, he started by asking himself what he actually knew about what was facing him. the truth was, he knew next to nothing. the only thing he knew for sure was where he would be fighting. the night before he moved into the city, he track down marine corps manuals describing how to
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conduct operations in an urban environment. he went to school on weapons and tactics he would need to accomplish his goal. anti-use them to create a disastrous effect, whichever adjective you choose and accomplishing his mission. i think for the young marines, who, prior to the arrival were being thrown piecemeal against a far superior force, the arrival of cheatham was like gabriel arriving in his chariot to lead them to victory and save a lot of lives. at the same time, and that clip you heard his attitude toward civilians in that city. this is a city of 140,000 people. the people who lived in the city were trapped by this biting.
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when you hear the general say the people in the area, as far as he is concerned, they are charlie, he is condemning a lot of civilians to a fiery death. the captain was one of cheatham's commanders. he was one of the company commanders who was sent to the city prior to cheatham's arrival. he was one of the then-young company commanders who ran straight into the buzz saw of this enemy force. brian: here he is. a history channel documentary. being interviewed. it is about one minute. by the way, did he become a general? mark: he did. brian: is he still alive? mark: yes he is. [begin video clip] >> meanwhile, he could not help but notice the viet cong flag
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flying in the courtyard concede takeover. something that had called the marines. hugs i called back to cheatham and i said, we have got the building. let's go put up the american flag. but someone warned them it was illegal to run up an american flag. >> i turned my radio up. that was cheatham's problem. let him secure that. >> gunnery sergeant had a flag tucked under his jacket that he had taken. >> this is it, go. >> they ran through and pulled down the viet cong-north vietnamese flag and ran up the stars and stripes. brian: thanks to the history channel for that. how many marines to june talk to?
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that you asked about whether or not we should of been in vietnam in the first place and what was their attitude today? mark: i asked all of them. i had a long interview with them about this battle. and they were, where they came from, how they ended up in the marine corps. at the end of the interview i asked, how do you feel about your service question mark how do you feel about the war? many different opinions about that experience. generally speaking, i would say if i had to summarize, i would say nearly all of them, not all of them, but nearly all of them were very proud of having served their country and having fought bravely and this battle. up by the same token, most are angry about the way the war ended. a sense of being betrayed by their country. either because they were sent to fight a war that they should not of been fighting and could not of been one or because they feel that the clinical leadership and the public of the united states turned on them and betrayed the
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cause. brian: this is january 1968 around that time. robert mcnamara stepped down after seven years as secretary of defense. he had a book that came out in 1995. there is one minute of robert mcnamara, former secretary of defense during the whole vietnam war. >> my report to the president, was only a best one in two chance we could win militarily. he said, you mean to say you do not think we can win militarily? i said, yes. that was my report. this is a terrible dilemma. particularly so, i want to tell you i was in a very small minority. i am not saying i was right.
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other people thought then and many think today that we were winning. some think we were winning. that is baloney. but it is not baloney to say that other people thought i was wrong. in any event, we were not winning. there is only a one of three or one in two chance of winning. is that which is a publicly to the enemy? [end video clip] brian: leaders came back and said we were winning. what is your reaction to that? mark: looking at mcnamara now, i think you should have said publicly what he thought. so much was at stake. he was one of the architects of the war, not just some functionary and the bureaucracy who had decided the war was unwinnable. this was actually one of the people who got us into the war in vietnam. one of the most notable
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authorities on the subject. for him to be telling the president that he did not think we could win the war and at the same time down the public, you know, the company line, oh yeah we are winning and should keep going, i think lives are at stake. he should have gone public with his reservations. instead, frankly, i think he took the job at the world bank, he sort of preservatives status and reputation among the power elite that he had served. he furthered his career at the cost of another as it turned six or seven years of conflict. i think president johnson believed his generals and i think william westmoreland deserves to be remembered in much of the way remember george mccullough and in the civil war being famous as a general for being able to put together a beautiful army but who actually did not want to fight it.
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i think general westmoreland is an example of a whole different kind of command stupidity which is such a strong belief in his own theory of what was happening in the field that he was impervious to facts. even when young officers who were actually charged with fighting this war would come back and tell him, no, sir, this is not what is happening. this is what is happening. he would not accept it. did not believe it. and he is not the first general who accepts only information that supports what he wants to hear. but he is a very, very glaring example of it. brian: did you talk to any enlisted men that were in the hue battle? i know a lot of the enlisted kids did not even know where vietnam was. mark: a lot were teenagers who had volunteered for the marine corps or been drafted. in some instances they had
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enlisted in the navy because they felt it was a good way to avoid going to vietnam and wound up being trained as medics and being assigned with grunts on the front lines. and, most of them were not terribly well-educated or well-informed about what was actually going on in vietnam. it was more of an act of faith in their country. this was an important cause. the government had to fight communism wherever they founded around the world and this was their obligation as an american citizen to go and fight. and once they were immersed in the fighting, although they were
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learning was how to stay alive basically. i do not think their concerns went to far beyond that. brian: how many enlisted men that you talked to were severely wounded and are still living with their once today? mark: most of them. most of them were carried out the battlefield. many of them still are battling the scars from those wounds. and, some of them i think have emotional scars from the experience. i should say that the officers were different. officers like ron christmas and mike downs, john culligan a marine captain. these were college-educated men who were serving out of idealistic commitment. either that or a sense of professionalism. some of them intended to be career officers and so for them, the war was a place to test their skills and prove themselves. and, they were nevertheless i think, every bit as idealistic. one of the things i learned in
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reporting the story, numbers of my generation who marched in the streets, against the war. there was like -- my generation turned on a dime. up until about 1967 or 1968, most people were loyal to the american war effort and believed the government. believed it was really important will stop after the tet offensive that shifted dramatically. a lot of these young men who volunteered to go fight in vietnam out of idealism, patriotism, to come home to a country that regarded the war as immoral and a field cause, it was a bitter pill to swallow. i think these men were betrayed notches by our leaders but by
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their fellow countrymen. writing: joseph campbell, a professor at american university was here. he had a book talking about moments in history. i want to show you this because i suspect you will differ based on what i read in your book. >> supposedly lyndon johnson was watching the cronkite show a net the end of it, johnson supposedly leaned over and snapped off the television set and said something to the effect of -- if i lose it is because conch i lost america. johnson was not at the white house that night, he was in austin-texas. he was attending the 51st birthday party of governor john connally. moreover, johnson, in the aftermath of the cronkite show, is out on the stump publicly saying we should recommit to and the war in vietnam successfully.
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let's bring home a victory. he said this on more than one occasion. if that was such an epiphany for the president, he did not make it very clear. brian: your take on it? mark: i think it is probably true that he never said everyone who watched walter talk i had lost a america for him. i don't know if he was watching the tv when cronkite made that broadcast or not, i am sure he sought at some point. it does not seem to be contradictory to say that johnson himself, the significance of walter cronkite criticizing the war effort and because he was an astute politician, recognized that was a very serious blow to his efforts to rally americans to the cause. it is truly continued to make that effort for a few more weeks but as we know now, he chose not to run for reelection no more than 3-4 weeks after this battle ended. he spent the rest of his term in office attempting to force the north vietnamese to negotiate
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and arrive at some sort of peaceful settlement before he left office. soviet stop inking about trying to win this war and he had devoted his efforts to trying to withdraw american forces honorably. brian: you point out the american military was restricted on how they could treat the citadel in that area. were any americans killed because somebody said, you cannot touch the citadel. you cannot bomb it because of
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its history? >> yes i think so. her power would've been difficult to employ in that city, mostly because of the weather. the visibility was nonexistent from the air. there were restrictions on the use of artillery which probably did expose american troops and vietnamese troops to more enemy fire and more difficulty. that said, the use of heavy artillery and air support which did come into full force by the end of the battle, destroyed most of the city. we heard one estimate but i suspect it was a great deal more. brian: what does it look like today? mark: the southern part of the city, the modern part, has been completely rebuilt. you would never know that a battle had been fought there. a bustling, thriving economy. the northern part of the city, the citadel and south, is also
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thriving but you still see in the citadel, the ruins of the imperial alice, strong visual evidence of the intensity of the battle of 1968. brian: somebody in the audience in chicago when we carried your chat about this book, asked you how somebody in your position can financially to this and your answer was, black hawk down. [laughter] brian: this book has already been bought for a series. tell us about that. how much will you be involved in it? mark: the rate of been purchased by michael mann, a very well-known hollywood producer and director and steve deluca -- mike deluca -- a well-known man, well enough that i miss pronounce his name. a hollywood it is in. they have sold this project to fx as a 10-part miniseries. i guess they have not written it yet.
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i am an executive user, they tell me i'm actually going to have to work which you normally have to do when you are an executive reduce her. so check back with me and i will take what i do. i think i will probably be involved with helping them identify central characters and helping to sort of compressed the sweep of the story into this format. although 10 hours is a very generous amount of time on screen so we should be able to do a pretty good job. brian: who do you suspect will be the principal characters in the series? mark: i am just guessing. i think they will make an effort for there to be prominent vietnamese characters. there is a north vietnamese
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soldier whose name i do not remember off the top of my head but who was tracking down the ho chi minh trail for months. they met future in hanoi who was present, he made this incredible journey down the ho chi minh trail to be in position and was in the thick of the fighting throughout. i suspect he will be a character. i think jim culligan who was a marine advisor to a special unit called the black panthers. jim was one of the real heroes of this battle from the american side and was involved literally from the beginning until the answer so i am certain he will be a character in the story. cheatham i am sure will be there. brian: i went to end this, to thank you first of all for coming but i want to end it reminding the audience that january 31, 1968, detente offensive, the hue battle.
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but here's lyndon johnson. this will be our closer. thank you. [begin video clip] president johnson: -- america's future is being challenged right here at home. with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance. every day, i do not believe i should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office, the presidency of your country. accordingly, i shall not seek
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and i will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. [end video clip] ♪ announcer: for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org. q&a programs are also available as c-span podcasts. ♪
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>> politico is reporting that mitch mcconnell is unleashing the full force of his political machine in an all-out forced to start two far right conservatives who had threatened to make his life miserable in the senate. brooks congressman mo and states of cream justice roy moore are running against luther strange at special election next month. both men are campaigning against senator mcconnell as a despised symbol of the establishment. directed his super pac to spend a billion dollars to boost his favorite candidate, luther strange. washington institute for policy today will be hosting a discussion on lone wolf terrorism. coming up later today, president trump: for the first medal of honor of his the army veteran james mcluhan who risked his life online separate occasions to rescue wounded and disoriented comrades during the
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vietnam war. ands at 3:00 p.m. eastern you can see it live here on c-span. income white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders will be briefing reporters on camera and we will have it live when it starts on c-span. road've been on the meeting winners of this year's student documentary competition. second prize winners were hanged in $1500 for their documentary on environmental justice. winnerse mention receive $250 for their documentary on health care. and then to concord massachusetts to hand the second award.
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of $1500 place prize for their documentary on the wage gap. massachusetts, students from northampton high got an honorable mention prize of $250 for their documentary on sanctuary cities and immigration reform to in ludlow, we received an honorable mention prize of $250 for their documentary on the opioid epidemic. students to all the who took part in our 2017 studentcam documentary competition. 2018 starts in september with the theme the constitution and viewed. we are asking students to choose any provision of the u.s. constitution and create a video illustrating why the revision is important.

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