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tv   1968 - America in Turmoil The Cold War  CSPAN  May 13, 2018 8:30am-10:01am EDT

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race. as 1968 came to a close, the sent threet mission astronaut into the moon's orbit for the first time. live christmas eve broadcast reading from genesis was watched by millions worldwide. you saved 1968, read one telegram to the group. guests are elizabeth cobbs and huber institute fella. mark kramer program director on cold war studies. first here's a look back at the apollo eight mission. film from h
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of apollo eight. film from h >> the shortest day of the year. incision perhaps one of the of history.he flow still going at this time. 13, 12, 11, 10, -- we have ignition sequence. 3, 2, 1, 0.on, 4,
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liftoff. easternat 7:51 a.m. standard time. we have cleared the top. >> we are clear 13 seconds. >> the united states was under taking the most distant voyage by man.empted for the first time, three saturn fivede the moon rocket. static] [garbled radio >> apollo 8?[garbled radio loud and clear,
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apollo 8. the first stage was clear, and this one is smoother. you have your trajectory and guidance to go, over. you're looking real good. narrator: they were about to leave the cradle of earth to face the infinite frontier. 8, houston. >> go ahead, apollo 8. [indiscernible] --rrator: tli this was the commitment. they were ready for the movement that would send them home. as the world listened and
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watched, its people were overtaken by a new awareness, and awareness they perhaps witnessed in the overture to the ultimate destiny of man. >> ignition. >> lowell confirms ignition. and the thrust is ok. board theon spacecraft and at mission wasrol, the men of apollo 8 the readouts. velocity in feet per second, the numbers snowballing, the velocity that would allow the spacecraft to escape earth's gravity. film from nasa december 1968 as we conclude our .ine-part series here on c-span joining us in our studios in washington, mark kramer, project rector for the cold war program at harvard university's and elizabeth cobbs, professor at texas a&m university, also a
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senior fellow at the hoover institution. let's talk about this intersection in the 1916. the escalation of the vietnam war, the political turmoil with lyndon johnson announcing he would not seek another term, in large part because of vietnam, and the heightened tensions with the cold war, and the soviet expansion into check was a voc you. caller: -- into check was a voc slovakia -- caller: bad year. the russians looking at opening thecond firm -- front with tet offensive. and at one point in 1968, it beks like everything might better.
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host: explain that milestone. way, was so, in a significant because czechoslovakia helps create the cold war. when they began a program of lifting censorship am a creating a more open government, the soviets come in and shut that down and what happens after -- theeonid brezhnev president of 1968, all the wonderful flowering of possibilities for greater has been cut off, and brezhnev says we will intervene any time a socialist, communist government is threatened. host: what was the domino theory? caller: that was the --
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that was the idea after world war i that if one country fell to communism, the others would as well. the concern was if south vietnam was overtaken by the communists in the north, that laos and cambodia would soon follow. notionctrine was -- that was inspired in part by what had happen in eastern europe right after world war ii where governments, especially in central and eastern europe had direct soviet occupation. the concern in east asia was it might come out through who might guerillas take over. who was arming the north vietnamese? guest: they were heavily armed
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by china. the soviet union and china were competing for greater influence and not vietnam, worried about the north vietnamese because they could play off -- play them off against each other. host: it's late what was happening and how that is relevant to what we are seeing today. korea, they had again, they could play both sides against the middle. they had patrons in china, but at the same time, they were always doing their own thing. they seized an american ship. host: what happened to their? guest: what happened was the pueblo was on a spy mission in what we would consider international waters. in january of 1968
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was the north americans seized in this navy ship. it was lightly armed. it was unprepared. and they were unable to fight off the fighters that went after the ship. the interesting thing about that is neither the chinese nor the soviets were aware this was going to happen. so this was really something instigated by the north koreans and they saw it as possibly an opportunity to start another war 2 -- as that would say -- as they would say, to liberate the south. politically, you mentioned leonid brezhnev, the leader of the soviet union. we have pictures of him much older in the 1970's and 1980's when he was dealing with jimmy carter and ronald reagan. where was he politically in the soviet union in 1968? been a rising star for a long time within the the process and in of consolidating his own power.
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when he ordered the invasion of czechoslovakia, he was consolidating his him power. host: take us back to what you think president johnson was thinking when he sent more troops back to vietnam and looking at the broader sure of where the soviet union was and where the cold war was headed. the major buildup of u.s. forces occurred before 1968, starting in 1965. at the height, u.s. forces reached 500.5 thousand, which is missed down the number in a fairly small country. the tet offensive, which was a victory for u.s. military forces, but a political disaster because it may clear the vietnamese communist had far greater strength and staying
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power than the u.s. government had been letting on, particularly secretary of defense mcnamara. it was a turning point in the war. until that time there had been majority supports -- diminishing, but still majority support in the united states for the war. public support was never an a majority again and increasingly turned against the war. johnson was consumed by that and was not sure -- and it led to his disaster -- to his decision in march not to seek reelection and thus de-escalated war. in films that highlighted what he was doing, this is from 1968 as president johnson travel to hawaii meeting with the south korean president. [video clip] on july 18, president
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johnson arrived in honolulu for a series of meetings with south korea's president. president johnson: at all of our meetings over the past two and a half years, you have stressed policy ofry's reconciliation and peace. since we met in candor last december, formal talks have begun in paris. we devoutly hope they are the first step on the difficult path peace,e -- an honorable under which the people of your country will determine their own future. , our pledge to
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help your people defeat aggression stands firm. against all obstacles and dissection section. we want you to take back to your country our hope and our conviction that their courage and their faith will be rewarded with a just peace with full freedom. president johnson with these south korean president 1960. mark, let's set the stage for the country was out. we had the assassination of president kennedy. the republicans were 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?
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where was his defense department in all of this? shakenjohnson was deeply not only by the assassination in june of robert kennedy, but two earlier, the assassination of martin luther king. mide was violence in the 60's that escalated in 1967 and 1968, including here in washington, d.c. johnson wanted to focus on , but he wasorities consumed early on by the war in vietnam, and that is why his final year in office he wanted to focus on whatever priorities he could do what time to bring a peaceful and to the war. was hubert humphrey initially not the favored was pute, but certainly
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forward by johnson as someone who could continue his program, could stand a reasonable chance at against richard nixon. like kennedy.t that is no secret. but he was deeply saddened by kennedy's assassination. whileat the same time, all of this was happening, the apollo program continued to grow. apollo eight, we saw that video moments ago, launched in december of 1968. guest: the curious thing about the cold war was it always brought out the worst and the best in america. part of that was a peaceful competition with the soviet union about space. the soviet union announced it was going to put a satellite up.
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the soviets immediately got going. they launch the first satellite, sputnik. and when sputnik would gore the world it would go beep, beep, beep until it got over washington and then it would go ha, ha, ha. to theiets had beaten us first satellite. they had beaten us to the first man in space. they were beating us again in 1968. turtles and some mealworms and the first orbit, so the united states decided it would have to change the mission of apollo eight, and they orbiting thecus on moon, and so that is what apollo eight's mission was. host: we're looking at really from 1968.pictures we look at that, america in turmoil. there are three key players.
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guest: right. i'm sure it must have been thrilling to them because they were supposed to run a much more pedestrian orbit of the united states, and instead, here they , the first human beings to be in that part of space, orbiting the moon. it was this remarkable thing that on christmas eve, they beamed back to the world a thatge to everybody, it's kind of thing where the cold war, it is this combination of who do you want to be and who are you forced to be by terrible circumstance? and the message on christmas eve -- goodwill to everyone. dividing up our phones little differently. for those of you who are 50 and 2022-748-5002.
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guest: i remember the kennedy certainlyion and martin luther king's assassination because my parents were upset. as a scholar, i have written extensively about 1968, particularly the invasion of czechoslovakia, the press spring that preceded it, and it is that combination of things we have been discussing, the combination of the vietnam war, the unrest in the united states, the change in the communist world brought to a crushing end, the pueblo incident with the north koreans. the despair that was there at the end of the year despite apollo eight.
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there was still a real sense of --rican society host: why was 1968 such a consequential year in american history? guest: i think it was a year of moral crisis. everything that had been building since 1940 five cents -- since world war ii -- since 1945 since world war ii was over. the u.s. was taking responsibly for every major crisis around civil rights, discrimination in america always delighted our enemies and despaired our friends. so, we were working on all of these things, and i think 1968 was the combination of that. plus, that was true all over the world. we forget there were major riots
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in mexico city, major riots in paris. the cultural revolution in china. it was a turning point in world history. host: why was peace so elusive for president johnson that your? guest: it was mostly the tet offensive and the political effect in the united states. led to overtt campaigns against the war by leading democratic candidates, eugene mccarthy, particularly kennedy -- robert kennedy who tried to pick up that mansell. mantle.p that even though johnson and kennedy it had an on raise -- uneasy relationship they had worked together quite productively on civil rights issues. the search for peace though -- the north
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vietnamese were not interested. they wanted to win on the battlefield. the soviet union was a different matter. the soviet union began to raise the question of these overtures to the north vietnamese. out thesehould put talks taking place in paris. more from 1968 and the johnson white house. [video clip] on march 31, president johnson had avoided a halt to all bombing programs expect over the dmz, an area where massive numbers continue to fall. as a result of this decision, the much awaited truce talks
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with hanoi began. december, president johnson's chief negotiator at there stillported had been no substantive discussions. the north vietnamese negotiators clung to their long-held demand that all bombing must stop before they would discuss anything else. the president, in close counsel with his top military and foreign affairs advisors for assuranceed of de-escalation should the stop -- be stopped. no such assurance was forthcoming. host: back to your point --mark kramer, but, elizabeth cobbs, you had richard nixon who had his own plan to get out of
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vietnam, and -- but did he? know the evidence is there, archival evidence, that nixon's maiden effort to halt the two really foiled johnson's peace efforts in 1968. in many ways, people think this is worse than anything we did in watergate. he wanted to put the monkeywrench in the efforts and late october because of the concern that maybe johnson was getting close, that they could trade this bombing halt for a movement by the north vietnamese. we will never know. mark is completely right. johnson's program was able to proceed without the south beaten me is being told, don't compromise because you're going to get a better deal under nixon, something else might have happened. it is a terrible tragedy, for vietnam's -- the north
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vietnamese and vietnam. 1968, -- "1968: america in turmoil." joining us here as we wrap up our nine-part series, mark kramer from harvard university from thebeth cobbs hoover institution, and texas a&m university. stewart is joining us from mechanicsville, virginia. good morning. caller: good morning. happy mother's day. i was born in -- i went to high school in a 68 at the age of 17. i asked my father if he would sign me out for the corps. he told me in bold the labels to remove my head from another part
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of my anatomy. i turned 18 in july. i signed up. ,t any rate, the army took me but talking bout the cold war. i will tell you what the cold war was. the guys that did serve, they came back, if you had short hair, you were shunned. i had one friend come to the airport in california, and , howody asked him, said many babies did you kill? he said i did not kill one soul, but if you do not get off my face, you will be the first. host: from your standpoint, why was that sentiment so prevalent in the late 1960's, early 1970's? caller: i don't know. i really don't. if you had a short haircut, good luck on trend to get a date. it was very difficult back in those years. it really was. host: go ahead.
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i'm sorry. caller: i don't know why it was. percentage served in the armed forces. most people in college or something -- but you know, it was -- i have one friend, one was with the tip of the cavalry. was he was only in the theater 44 45 days. he was in 27 firefights. he was only 19 years old. think about it. rough times, and thank you for the mother's day wishes. . think there was that moment there was a moral crisis and some people looked in the mirror and said, i don't like what i see when i see a america today.
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.t became this test did you wear your hair long and did you have a beard? at one point early in history, the peace corps, the peace corps thenteer had a beard and peace corps made him shave it because it looked too much like fidel castro. there is this weird thing that happens where we become very attuned in a way to the fashions that seem to speak volumes and say things about who we are identifying with. so, there were terrible times, and for the young men who served , some of them in toward incredible circumstances. terrible, terrible events. two george, next -- to george next, in gainesville, florida. caller: good morning. a happyish everyone mother's day. i want to ask dr. kramer. i grew up in florida.
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soldiers in the vietnam war. my question, as i have come back and read a lot about the vietnam -- i took a trip back to vietnam in 1998. we flew into hanoi, and i was to reader there mainly books and the area where i served. but what struck me, the eagerness of the the emmys people wanting to engage me in conversation, the young people wanting to get my email address -- it just is amazing the reception i got. and no one talked about the vietnam war. just recently a few months ago we had the u.s. navy carrier
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denying for the first time in 50 years. here is my question for dr. kramer. i believe in a sense, we as veterans, we were young, we just happen to be the age of being rotc.d or serving an i believe we did accomplish something in the sense that that --t domino, maybe it fell laos, cambodia, thailand, malaysia, those countries did not. question, do you see maybe we changeved did have some in the sense of ending the cold war? that is my question, dr. kramer. host: thank you, george. --st: thank you to yours thank you for your service to the country, which i appreciate. the outcome of the war cannot just be judged by what happened
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in april in 1975 with the fall of saigon. what if the south had followed much sooner? and the west vietnamese have been overwhelmed, at a time when ies couldng countr have fallen as well. the war achieved a good deal, there was no question that the south, which had a corrupt political system, was much more pluralistic, did advance and that was largely because of u.s. positions and the influence of u.s. troops. i think overall, for whatever reason you can point to, domestic backlash or other things, you do have to look at vietnam ultimately is a failure for the united states, even if potentially it could have worked
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out more successfully. there's no question, i agree with you that there were important things achieved. things, it made a deterrent for other guerrilla forces for contemplating what the north vietnamese had in vietnam. things, it made a ultimately, a failure, but with certain successes along the way. the key element was the buildup of the nuclear stockpile. you can see that we had more , the sovietwarheads union had just over 9000, great britain had 317, france, 36 and china 35. 1970's, you can see the decline in nuclear stockpile
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but still significant for the u.s. and russia. can you explain? guest: the nuclear arms race have been going on since 1949, when the soviets dropped their first bomb. was adity of it is this part of the logic known as the neutrally assured destruction, if you can get enough bombs and everyone is afraid for the trigger and it created a kind of stability within the world. but it was mad, mutually assured fromuction was mad and so the beginning, they have been talks about how to create a situation where you can begin to drop back down and one of the big accomplishments of that period was the signing of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, then effort to bring back 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
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leading in that, ireland but for the first proposal for the u.n. general assembly back in 1961. everybody was really affected by that. something that we began to get a little bit of a hold on after 1968. host: you wrote a piece called the five myths of the cold war. who was our enemy during this period? guest: there was the soviet bloc, but there were numerous enemies. the united states and the soviet union ultimately, was the chief enemy, but there were smaller ones like north vietnam in what became communist control vietnam , united vietnam, north korea, and certainly the people's republic of china. 1960's, the prc, the chinese had replaced the soviet seen for a while as being
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as the most hostile to the united states. ultimately, until the late 1980's, the soviet union was the overriding enemy from the united lates from 1945 with the 1940's until the in of the cold war and gorbachev. host: the next caller is from michigan, ron, go ahead. they can for waiting period -- .hank you for waiting perio caller: i turned down my deferment and i volunteered to go to vietnam. to thented to send me preparatory school, but i had to go to vietnam, i had to work against the war. workers, i rights had to have a gun and bomb the funds go to work against this government. while it was in transit to my station, i read bernard falls
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autobiography, ho chi minh i learned my father who spent three years in the pacific, alcohol helped my father -- that war. were by identity to the vietnamese -- i had a debt to pay for the vietnamese to help my father's day life. the biggest piece march was held at the beach at july. there was a frightening incident and my base and i reported it, and a year later, there was a fracking a week. the reporting of it of us running of the word through g.i. antiwar papers, that's what stopped the war. is that i had to get this army out of vietnam before destroyers itself. we were going to take over the military, that was my goal area i had no affiliations, just a working-class kid from chicago and i saw that i can 68
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convention on it not want to fight with the cops, i wanted to go to vietnam to work against the war. we succeeded, we stopped the war, we stopped the draft. the gis and the people in the streets, god bless them. kent state happened while i was in vietnam i was outraged. was coming, i don't know what i would've done if nixon came into my sites. you had to be there. every g.i. ipass to paper out to come nobody refused it. i have to jump in, we can sense your motion in her voice and it's been 50 years. caller: it has not stopped. i have two sons and they did not going to the military, i have a 20-year-old son now who was on a path to brilliance, and started bragging, but i've instilled in him the same notion and he loves his country, i love my country. we do not want to see our country destroyed back then or now. host: mark kramer.
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difference,'s a big i think the military is an honorable profession and your sons should certainly be proud of the do serve in the military. that said, there's a big difference between nowadays and the time you were there in 1968 and other was military instruction -- conscription the united states, which had the grain of the u.s. philosophy during most of the existence of the united states. the shift to military conscription after the second world war, and particularly after the korean war was a big change and it was always uneasiness about it in american society. in 1968, when young men were being conscripted into the united states, it helped to spur the domestic opposition and there was one of the major factors in the growing unrest on u.s. campuses and the sense that
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american society was coming apart with civil unrest and violence in the streets, large-scale protests on u.s. campuses. the movement amongst some veterans as well as serving soldiers in vietnam against the war. together andame 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: the culmination of cold war and the vietnam war and the political turmoil here in the u.s. and the raced first-base -- race first-base -- four space -- for space. a twitter poll, did the u.s. win the space race? follow us at c-span history on twitter. did we win? guest: i think we won.
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kennedy said we are going into space now because it's easy, because it's hard. he said this is a challenge that we intend to win. , the u.s. did win. but that's the point of the cold war, it's not like it was just a challenge of who gets to be king of the hill, it was what is the world going to be like? it will be an association of peaceful states are not? on the, we got a man 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. host: this mission from apollo
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eight really set the groundwork for neil armstrong july 1969 to be the first man to walk on the moon. think of the difference -- guest: think of the difference. just a year before, apollo one had exploded, the deaths of those three astronauts. in that time, think of the bravery of the men who did that in one of those capsules, knowing i can happen to them and in short order the next year we had somebody in lunar orbit and the next year we had three men on the moon. did the united states within the space race? that's our twitter question. back to your phone calls, bob in canton, georgia. good morning. caller: having been born in the late 1950's, i just rumor growing up in my childhood seemed to be dramatic. magazine was a news
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and radio, he consumed information on information is flowing into our household and all of the turmoil of the time is just seared into my mind, beginning with i was for five years old when president kennedy was killed and then towards the latter part of the decade, the trauma which i don't read into all of it, all the matters the country was dealing with. uniform i served in under reagan during the cold war and 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 his countenancing this gentleman who was part of the kgb during that time, during my
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time in office, there would have been talk amongst us of the firing squad. thank you. first of all, bob, thank you for your service in the 1980's. the major thing i would say is that times of change and there are things that are feasible now that would have been inconceivable during this time the cold war was underway. progress,as seeming especially in a communist bloc, and came to a crushing and with the invasion of czechoslovakia. the war in vietnam have taken a very unfortunate turn, the north koreans had seized the u.s. is pueblo and the cold war was very vividly underway at that point. nowadays, there are still major problems with numerous countries, iran, north korea,
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russia, china, but there's a different order compared to what was there in 1968 and during other years of the cold war. host: the caller brought up what it was like on the homefront as we have the escalation of the cold war and rising concerns of vietnam, 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. [video clip] ♪ at the request of the office of civil and defense globalization, the united states army chemical corps as developed a mask especially for civilians use. this mask protects the wearer against biological and chemical attacks by purifying the air inhaled. filter pads in the mask of zorro toxicgases -- absorb
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gases and screen out radioactive 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 from the defense department and advising students to hide under their desks. guest: right. there was this apocalyptic sense and our color -- caller was right on the money. it's hard to convey today. i remember growing up thinking world war i, world war ii, of course there's going to be three, i can count. there was many people have the feeling that that would happen. what is so different today though and i think we so easily lose sight of is that war between nations has declined every decade since the 1940's. and so the attempt to create a more harmonious world
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environment, believe it or not, has actually worked in the caller was saying his dad was a news man in the soviet was in a sense living the 24 hour news michael at that time that we all live today. sometimes it gives is this impression that things are much more apocalyptic than they actually are. currentiminish present-day dangers, but that's why history is so important to understand what's happened. we actually cooperate with the soviets in space. those elements of progress need to be appreciated and recognized. is a elizabeth cobbs professor of history at texas a&m university and the author of how many books? guest: seven. host: mark kramer joining us from harvard. david is next from los angeles. caller: good morning and again, happy mother's day to all the ladies listening in. tie mine in with the
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assassinations as well as the cold war and the military-industrial complex. as far as the cold war is concerned, in its beginnings after you mentioned the marshall states,re in the united we were at our peak of apartheid withhe only difference south africa and the united states was our mandela was assassinated. said thatsomeone who amnesia andtates of the way in which we do history, period washat hmerica's is enough -- zenitc into its apartheid. guest: the united states has
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been a deeply racist society, not only with a lengthy history with slavery but with 100 years with racial segregation and institutionalized racism in the united states. johnson, who in 1968 decided not to run for reelection, he deserves immense credit for his instrumental role in getting past the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965, which i would largely agree with you, until that time, you could argue that the united states had a kind of apartheid system. but came to an end at least legally at that point. there continued to be problems with racism and continued to be thatis 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 the other
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credibility as a southerner and he had the usually positive relationship with various key figures in the u.s. guest: the key difference, and in many ways i absolutely agree, and the height of segregation throughout the 20th century was terrible. the critical difference between the u.s. and a country like south africa is that the united originalve a law, and way of looking at itself, which is that all men are created equal and even though was thomas jefferson who wrote those words, an unrepentant slaveholder, that those words established a direction it was very hard ultimately for the country to resist. and that's what i think a lot of people not only at the beginning 13th, 14th,ry, but and 15th amendment to the u.s. constitution and in the laws that lyndon johnson was in a groundswell that had been created by people like martin luther king, was able to bring
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to freshen. yes, the of saying ways that people acted were just as vicious and violent and cruel , but that law is what was like our guiding star, and think of this people like johnson and king helped us together. host: different country, different time period, different players. with the soviet union and the chinese government really cropping up and supporting north vietnam, are the lessons to what we are seeing in north korea today with russia and china? guest: i think absolutely. there's always this thing where the united states plays the bad cop in countries like china get to play the good cop. it seems to be very important for us to be putting more of the onus on those other countries, because they are the ones who have a border with them. the chinese are quite fearful
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that if things go belly up in north korea, they are going to get all those north koreans to take care of. whatever can be done to push those countries to call their bluff, because otherwise the united states is left carrying the burden. , the thinguld agree that is very different now and works in the u.s. favor is that , and the russia, china 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 in the united states. in this case, it's in some ways an easier issue to try to deal with, there is greater room for negotiation it would be helped by the russians and the chinese. host: if you're registered, design part series, american
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turmoil, looking back in 1968 is available as a podcast and you can check it out at c-span.org or wherever you get your podcast. vicky is joining us from twin falls, idaho. period of time, i lived it. i was born in 1951 and a little while ago, the lady said that war has been on the decline. soldiers, american soldiers have been dying for my whole life in some place in the world, somewhere. all the time. and the building of this international socialist system -- i feel like i was deceived my whole life. while we are told we have a capitalist country here, we don't. we have a central planned economy. and this international socialist
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system they are building, globalization, they call it, iny plan on ruling the world what you could call tech fascism. host: response? i'm an ardent supporter of globalization, so it might not be to your liking. states in the aftermath of the second world -- set about fostering 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, and has certainly been beneficial for the united states. overs why i regret that the last year or so, there have been attacks on that system. still, the system of globalization should be described as international
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socialism, quite the opposite. it was the spread of capitalist institutions to much of the world -- china, and integrating itself later on into the international economic system discarded some of the elements of its socialist economy. it still is a communist dictatorship, but it has increasingly taken on elements of capitalism. it's the opposite, i think of what you are describing. host: elizabeth cobbs. guest: i would respectfully disagree. although i absolutely empathize with his worry and concern that decades upon decades, your whole life, american soldiers have been dying in various places in the interesting thing about that is that number has declined. the 24-hour news cycle future mining is all terrible things that are happening tends to overlook the longer-term trend, that trend has been made fortive by globalization,
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the reason that before world war ii, the idea was the other way a country to get ahead, countries like the soviet union or nazi germany thought they had to take over other countries and absorb their resources to become more wealthy. instead what happened is we developed a world system where you can get ahead in trading feasibly with your neighbors and that system that the vietnamese, the south koreans and also the chinese communists have come to embrace because they see in action works better, 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 for the world, if thatuld be our best selves others peaceably would want to emulate out over time. and for the most part, they have. host: brian in pottstown, pennsylvania, you're next. quibble about to
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something, but apollo one didn't explode, it had oxygen fire. it might have been better for the three astronauts it had -- it's hardause to believe that nasa would think they could keep 15 pounds per square inch of pure oxygen in that cap still and not have a problem if there was even a spark, and that's what killed those three astronauts. guest: you are absolutely right about that, excusing a quick word to describe it, but it was a terrible thing. the use of pure oxygen and also they have flammable material's inside the castle and the door couldn't open. they all these mistakes that were later corrected. guest: this illustrates the impact of the cold war, the cold
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war was driving the space race and it led to the cutting of corners and some safety concerns. ultimately, the number of apollo small, so itvery worked out ok, but looking back you may be somewhat disconcerting to see how the cold war fed off of the space race and led to the carrying out of certain missions, probably before they should have been. i'm very happy with the way it worked out overall, despite the loss of the three apollo astronauts, but it is illustrative of the way the cold war caught both the united states and the soviet union to do certain things that were not done otherwise. host: stephanie is next in long beach, california. good morning. caller: good morning, happy
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mother's day. i was born in 1950i graduating high school in 1968. i skipped my prom so it 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 events before the next event happened. it was like you were constantly thinking what happens next? and that nuclear threat that we were raised with since kindergarten, it under your desk or run home so you can see her parents one last time. they said don't trust anyone over 30, we didn't think we were going to get to 30. it all happened so quickly and then it all kind of just disappeared so quickly. the 1970's when the war was finally over, it was
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just a different time and place again. one of the reasons why people were so against the war was you could get drafted and 18 years , so but you couldn't vote was like these forces were so beyond your control. that you would just be buffeted by these things and later i learned that communism while he was a dirty word in the united states really was an economic system more than it was a political system. and 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. host: stephanie, thank you. elizabeth cobbs. best: communism was meant to an economic system, but it also was a political system, because it was associated with totalitarianism beginning of the soviet union and every country which came under communist rule,
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and 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, prague springhe was crushed, the weight of the soviet union rollover its neighbors after world war ii, so i think one thing we forget is that sometimes things seem to happen all at once and i think that 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 seems silly to us now like why would anybody care, but some of those threats were real and 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 concerned about.
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apollo one, the three astronauts who lost their lives, this is from time magazine in 1967. died, laterauts who leading to the apollo eight's mission in the neil armstrong who successfully landed on the moon in july 1969. david joining us next from michigan. good morning. caller: good morning. war, mr.g this cold gorbachev sat across the table unitedorge h.w. bush and the germanies, gave the warsaw pact base in their independence, the soviet union was split up and all bush had to do to promise was to stay out of this business. americans, the miss kravitz's of the world, violated
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that immediately with bill clinton and kosovo. around -- ourmind own damn business. host: does he have a point? guest: in the aftermath of the cold war, from the late 1980's or there has been a steady pretty much steady decline in the number of people killed in conflicts and the number of international conflicts going on but still the decline remarkably. tragic member who lost their lives in iraq and , it still was a tiny fraction of those who lost their lives in vietnam. it is true that the united states has had a propensity for
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the last 70 years of being a kind of global policeman and there is significant support for that role, even though there is also a very significant counter sentiments. it's 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. guest: madeleine albright said you are dammed if you do and you are dammed if you don't. there's a nice vacation that others have and we will step in whether it's world policeman or umpire, united states is trying to umpire always conflict all the time and i think what we are lacking still is a kind of leadership that will look beyond to the next 70 years. mark is completely right, we have been doing this officially
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since 1947, but it's always this odd thing where it's expected, but not legitimate. it's not legitimated by international law, it's not legitimate by american law, and yet people expect it and demand it. so it's a kind of conundrum we faced for a while, how do we get others to take more badonsibility without being partners ourselves, because we have created this wonderful or helps to great a wonderful structure of world security and we need to appreciate that and sustain that. of sustaining that is by developing good partners and making sure we are not carrying this burden that has us ricocheting from one issue to the next. another film in just a moment from the old library as the johnson white house chronicles is 5.5 years in the white house. we are going to see president dwight eisenhower left in january, 1961. did he have influence in american policy in the 1960's as a former president? guest: eisenhower?
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yes and no. eisenhower was so remembered and some of our viewers have indicated this that the military-industrial complex, when he left office, one of the things he did was to warn against the creation of the military-industrial complex. i think those words echoed throughout this time. statementn as a wise -- statesman in that respect. kennedyresident consulted with eisenhower during the cuban missile crisis, but 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 gap. there was not i would say very warm relationship between kennedy and eisenhower, and that continued under johnson. it was always going to be consultations on important issues came up, including about
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vietnam, but eisenhower remained a more revered figure in american society and not so much of an influential political figure. they made reference to czechoslovakia and you just returned from the czech republic. guest: i was there about year and a half ago when i found myself i kept wanting to say czechoslovakia, which it no longer is and is part of what's happened in this time, with a number of countries has multiplied. i was in the czech republic recently. host: how were soviet troops received in czechoslovakia? guest: with shock and dismay. the idea that you don't have control over your own country was a terrible thing. it had been seen in hungary in 1956. again, people kind of hunkered down and survived, and i was the case in eastern europe of them through 1989. guest: in 1956, hungarian
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revolutionaries used violence against soviet forces who came in, there were 750 soviet troops killed, about 2500 hungarians killed in a 1968, there was no violent resistance. checks -- czechs and slow backs shocked, forre they knew they tried to resist violently, it would be mercilessly crushed. they were about 100 people killed in the invasion, but there wasn't anything like the carnage in 1956. host: from the white house in 1968, the johnson white house and the settlement includes former president dwight eisenhower. [video clip] reed, former
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president eisenhower suffered a heart attack and when all the critical list, but the general had never taken kindly to defeat and when president anderson mrs. johnsond visited him, they found 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 out a tyranny from its boundaries. tyranny from its boundaries. but the central european republic was again ravaged by the forces of aggression. on august 20, armies of the soviet union, poland, hungary, bulgaria, east germany invaded czechoslovakia. seizing control of the country in a few hours.
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soviet embassy lights burned late that hot and muggy evening in washington, in as russian tanks reveled in the proud -- -- prague. -- croc the memorandum which said that soviet bloc forces had acted at zech leadersof c sounded hollow indeed. of 1968om the summer and the courtesy of the johnson library and the johnson white house, back to your phone calls as we look back 50 years, 1968, american turmoil. deborah in richmond, virginia. go ahead. caller: good morning, happy mother's day. it's always a bit unusual for me to think about how all the devastation that we have done and making itorld into something heroic. i never could understand that.
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america -- american bombs the rest of the world. , weoesn't make any sense try to european eyes everything in its host: wrong. elizabeth cobbs. guest: i completely understand what you're saying and i know that that is the common belief and there's a lot of evidence for it. but what we tend to not remember or not even really know is the extent to which other countries have asked us for our protection. you look at what's happened and you say why didn't they all just caicos out, we got bases all around the world, we have those bases because those countries want us there. most of the places where american soldiers serve abroad, south korea, japan, britain, if the, etc. i'm italy,
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united states was an empire, they could ask us to leave. and america isn't an empire, because we would leave. in 1956 andd us out the united states same was true the philippines. we are we live here, very aware of our own motivations, but if you travel abroad and you work some abroad, what you realizes a lot of those folks want us there. they are critical of us and only likes to be dependent on somebody else. it's both critical and at the same time, desired. playerark kramer, a key is dean rusk. guest: he started out of secretary of state, under president kennedy was the -- one of the few homeowners -- holdovers who stayed to the johnson a administration. mcnamara and others who served under kennedy, very few of them
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stayed until the end and that included mcnamara, who left. dean rask with someone who was a very capable figure, a southerner, like johnson. and he had a very close relationship with johnson and rusk who became the national security advisor in 1968. meant that rusk on the one hand it certainly committed to the vietnam war, wanted to help johnson in that effort. but also was increasingly conscious 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 again to look for other issues and he accomplished quite a bit and policies with western europe because elizabeth mentioned charles de gaulle and the
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president of france pose a direct challenge to the president of united states and that required a great deal of finesse and diplomacy to try to mend those breaches and to try and keep nato from falling apart. dean rusk was one of the major figures in trying to work that out. even though vietnam did work out well for him, he did have some other significant compliments. host: in north vietnam, ho chi minh, what motivated him? guest: vietnam as his long history, 2000 years of warring about its independence. it's been conquered by china for 1000 years, and when china came back and try to copy -- conquered them again. the amount is a country, not a war. and they were really passionate about reuniting that'll country. and of course, he felt that the way to do that was through a communist system.
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the longer-term trend has been there throughout the emmys history. ,efinitely a communist definitely a feeling that he was on the vanguard of will revolution and that's when i can 68 was about, this feeling that world revolution was spreading everywhere. from the plo to the other factions in other countries, and so ho chi minh sent on that. host: elizabeth cobbs from texas a&m and mark kramer from harvard. they are you are next from new hampshire. caller: happy mother's day and thank you for c-span. an earlier caller mentioned it that the military people are in power presently would remember how bad the amount was in some of our experiences and want to avoid war, but i i served from 1960 to 1963 and took my discharge over there and i became quite
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friendly, with an officer with a captain and a few days before i was discharged into the cold weather in germany, he said to me that she was ready to talk me into staying in, i wish i have found is to vietnam isn't much, but it's the only war we've got. it, and i useed the term lifer not derisively, because i went into the reserves and finish out my 20 years. 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 pieces our profession, but secretly come of the year and for advancement and it's understandable. washington what
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advised us to avoid, which is a standing military. cashee created a military on the military side and the officer side and i don't think it bodes well for the country in -- iways i recall it was think it was beneficial to see the southern boys, the rednecks who claimed they will never integrate ole miss in the morning have to take orders from a black nco from harlem. want i know our guests away in an and is something you brought up earlier. right, the united states was the lower -- the world's largest information for the first 150 years of its existence and then made a fairly conscious and deliver decision that was debated in congress openly in nice and 47 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
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promote world peace and it was really to our vantage, to the vantage of everybody that that happened. what has happened since is this sort of logic has remained more or less unquestioned and no system works forever, it's always good to plan for what comes next. i think you're right, we have this industrial complex that is problematic for the united states. and that has let us down roads that are not always good roads to be going down. i think you make a very important point. one of thekramer, major achievements for president johnson was the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. what was that? guest: the nuclear nonproliferation treaty had been under discussion for several years and initially mostly between the united dates and the soviet union, but increasingly as elizabeth mentioned earlier, there were much smaller countries, ireland and india -- india is not smaller, but still,
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-- host: in terms of weapons capability. guest: a less controversial actor in the global scene. they have been pushing this for a long time. ultimately a way of trying to deal with the german question, short of an outright settlement of the thend world war, because status of germany wasn't really resolved until 1990. there were important agreements achieved in the early 1970's, but one major step towards all of that was the nonproliferation treaty, and that was crucial for the united states and the soviet union to ensure that west germany would be a part of it. aboutrmans were hesitant it, but ultimately, certainly, agreed to sign on. and so the nonproliferation treaty was an attempt to contain
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the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons and the spread from two other countries. ultimatelyis and what has limited that spread, but it has certainly provided in 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 and 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, there has been very little spread of nuclear weapons since that time. nonproliferation treaties set the framework for that, even if ultimately its larger security concerns that have contained that spread. from that ceremony, 50 years ago, signing ceremony for the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
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[video clip] representative of 67 nations affects their signatures were the most significant and meaningful document of the 20th century. the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. this treaty is not the work of anyone country, but is in fact a product of all nations, which shared our concerns over the danger of nuclear proliferation. easy for has not been basic security, technological and economic interests of so many nations are deeply involved. yet our collective and
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persistent determination has today been crowned with success. >> today, we are here to add another stone to the edifice which one day we all pray will ensure lasting peace to mankind through complete and general disarmament. host: from july 1968, elizabeth cobbs? guest: 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 more than no president had done since a republican, advanced nuclear nonproliferation treaties, the major compliment a change our world. host: charlie is joining us from new york. go ahead. caller: good morning. in the late 1970's, i was assigned to the second armored cavalry regiment and our mission
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was regarded the border between east and west germany and czechoslovakia. of hundred feet into czechoslovakia, there was an apple tree and i was there, picking apples, walking back to our lines and i heard movement behind me. man czech army patrol, and they smiled and waved. in the morning, they would give us hot coffee and they would give us hot soup and we got along very well with the -- czrs of the chezh army ech army. guest: the czechoslovakian army which had been very capable of until that time was not allowed to resist and that led to a widespread demoralization in the army and subsequently, there was a major purge in the army as well, because they too had been affected by the reformist
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sentiment of the prerogative -- of the prague spring. those people were removed from the czechoslovakian army was pretty ineffective. host: these are some of the images from 1968. are they still visible today in the czech republic? guest: the czech republic looks complete the different today. it's this beautiful pastoral place with music on every street corner, but if you talk to people of a certain age, they will remind you of how terrible it was. i think there is such a different feeling in western europe from eastern europe in terms of how they saw the u.s.'s role in the cold war. europe youtern attended a very self-critical of our role in the cold war and eastern europeans have a very different attitude. they felt left behind and they also felt that the united states was one of the few countries which continuously was at least expressing a desire for them to
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become free. host: mark kramer, another key player was chinese leader mao. guest: china had been plunged by revolutione cold war in 1966 and i was a very harsh time for china. there have been millions who died in starvation of famines policies in the late 1950's and early 1960's. what happened in the cultural revolution in some ways was even more dramatic for chinese society, even though there were fewer people who died, it was 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 who would then force out which was outage
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of the open they would be degraded and often beaten violently and sometimes killed. 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 70's and he seemedviol. 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. host: dimension 68 change congress -- did it 1968 change process? -- change congress? guest: the rockets came to washington, d.c. itself. united for a very turmoil within the capital and of course, n wasdent nexen -- nixor elected. it was a tumultuous time. host: from your standpoint?
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guest: in the case of washington, d.c., that was violence on the streets and there were protests against the vietnam war and 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 it as one of the callers mentioned, there was a rapid change of events and it seemed like one thing would ease and then suddenly a new crisis would develop. guest: the great difference is we are sitting here talking about it. i happened to be in china two weeks ago and there the great lake forward famine is described as a time when china was just trying to repay russia back for its help to china and that's where food went. i was talking with someone else who said we never saw that picture of the young man standing in front of the tank in tiananmen square. this question about whether communism is economic or political is complicated by the fact that really what you still
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have in so many of those countries in a place like china is a system that is so authoritarian that you can't have the protests that we had here that were traumatic in washington, d.c. in 1968. but we came back from them and the didn't mow down our people to stop their protests. host: richard joining us from missouri. good morning. caller: good morning. old, so i know about the cold war. 1960, i was going to be drafted so i joined the national guard. nobody wanted to be in the guards. you had to go to the meeting every monday night. out and findt everyone wanted to get into the guards to keep from being drafted. have been to me in the
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construction business and we went into building ammunition oxus for the vietnam war -- ammunition boxes for the vietnam war. also, 1968, i had truck drivers kansas when martin was the king was assassinated. that was fun times. living about johnson, everybody don't like him, but anybody over 65 years old ought to like him, because he's you signed medicare in. the real dichotomy between the foreign-policy approach and the domestic policy by the johnson white house. guest: i remember the first time i walked into the lbj library, and i came in as a person who were members of the vietnam war and i protest -- who remembers the vietnam war and i protested myself.it johnson, how many kids did you kill today. was, what youct
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walk in and you start to realize everything else that this man over whenarrel he was it came to foreign-policy that we forget, there were five vietnam war presidents. truman got us engaged in vietnam, eisenhower, kennedy, johnson, nixon. 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 is so fascinating about johnson, and i'm so glad the viewer mentioned this, is that he brought us medicare. she greeted social security system that allowed people to have living support. very complex man. host: the year began with the tet offensive and as linda with political violence and assassinations -- in the year ended with political violence and assassinations. in december 1968 as we view planet earth from based.
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-- from space. these men were on board the apollo eight mission on christmas eve, 1960. [video clip] >> 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 itsaw the light was good. and god divided the light from the darkness. awe-inspiring and makes you realize just what you have back there on earth. the earth from here is a grand oasis in the great vastness of space.
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have the division which i love in spite of human failure. give us the trust of goodness inside of our ignorance and weakness, give us the knowledge that we will continue to pray with understanding and show us what each one of us can do to that apollo eight mission christmas eve, 1968. the program itself was begun in tragic know. by the end of 1968 it was pretty clear it was going to leave in the near future -- lead to the future of an astronaut landing. apollo was a fitting way to try to bring out the contradictions and conflicts of 1968 because it is itself has its contradictions within it. the major achievemen

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