Skip to main content

tv   Washington Journal Doug Stanton and Lynn Novick  CSPAN  May 12, 2018 12:33am-2:07am EDT

12:33 am
. on c-span and join, the conversation. follow us at aruba c-span. we have resources on our website. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service but america's cable television companies. today, we continue to bring your unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events. in washington dc and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable and satellite provider. up next, our 1968 america in turmoil series with continue. 1968 america in turmoil series we will explore
12:34 am
war onact of the vietnam the homefront and soldiers coming home. by an authorined and filmmaker. this is coming up in a moment. 1969, generations of, a profile in dissent. it talked about the different levels of support for the vietnam war. specifically, the war in vietnam troubles all americans. the gap is greatest between college students and the rest of society. >> since the war began to escalate, explainscal student one reason for the spread of
12:35 am
radicalism, his audience is a colonoscope. vietnamsn't for the war, it would never reach the level it had. the war began as a conflict. parents andf 10 noncollege youth believe in fighting wars for our honor. only one fourth of the college students say the same. almost two thirds of the parents and more than two thirds of noncollege youth say we should fight to contain common-ism. a minority of college students agrees. a majority of the young in college or out say the war in vietnam is imperialism. only a minority of parents believe it is. both generations are aware of the way vietnam has torn america apart. >> i don't think the problems of the american youths will go away until we solve vietnam.
12:36 am
this is one of the greatest of problems on campuses. during world war ii, we believed that hitler's should be defeated. we believed we should have germany, we believe we were fighting for the freedom of america. >> it's a great country. i really believe that. somethingfighting for as it did in world war ii, today in vietnam, i don't see any cause for anybody to die. >> i don't think any of the kids understand what the war is about. i don't understand what the war is about myself. >> you are the head of a family.
12:37 am
you are the head of the community. a the road.ad -- head of the road. i don't think we should be in vietnam because we are not immediately threatened. here, wemmunists came could stop it. >> most of the younger father, leslie i feel. i think the united states should stop playing policeman of the world. >> that hasn't happened since world war ii.
12:38 am
joining us is doug stanton, the author of this book which just came out. guest: it just came out in paperback. host: also join us in new york is the documentary filmmaker. most recently, she worked on the 10 part vietnam war series. thank you for your time as well. let's start in new york. americans feelst the war was winnable? polling shows that by the end of 1967, the country was evenly divided. the country never really wanted to face the fact that the war was not winnable. should we be there? 1968, 50% said no. lose the war, most
12:39 am
people did not want to. there was a conflict about that. the johnson administration had tried to convince the public that the war was going well and it was almost over and we can see light at the end of the tunnel. there was a little bit of an uptick in support. after many years of casualties and no real progress, the public was losing patience. about the troops themselves, by the beginning of 68, did the soldiers feel like the war was winnable? guest: i can speak mostly about echo company. lbj they discovered that had decided not to run for reelection, a number of them felt betrayed. they thought that they were winning in the aftermath of the tet offensive.
12:40 am
day by day, they might be winning, but in the long run they didn't feel that way. host: what does the country look and feel like at this point in 1968? guest: in 1968 itself? you had the uprisings in detroit, you had martin luther king on civil rights. you had the kennedy king'snation and assassination. what was interesting was how little some of this penetrated the consciousness of the soldiers in the field, at least among those i talked with. it was almost like they were living in to america's. that was the day when walter cronkite on cbs news said it seems more certain than ever
12:41 am
that the bloody experience of vietnam is to end in stalemate. is that the turning point in support for the war? guest: i don't think it was a turning point. i think he was reflecting a turn that already happened. the polling shows the country was already divided about the war and it was clear we shouldn't have been there. as the tet offensive unfolded, that lack of progress and we were not surprised, that shocked the country. is not leaving anything. he is reflecting where the country is at that point. news reports of the tet offensive were shocking and the carnage was of a level that we were not used to seeing. the ratings of the news broadcasts refuge. the public was really paying
12:42 am
attention in a way that they had before. cronkite did take a risk greater he said his personal opinion greater it was a neutral reporter before that print he had seen what was happening. he came back and said the war is a stalemate. we're never going to achieve the goal or government has told us we were working toward. would you like to add to that? agree.i completely once interesting is that sense of dislocation between what the guys in the field were feeling. their story and what was , that still america resonates with us today. the american
12:43 am
public lived another. this was march 23, 1968. this was a lot of month after that walter cronkite report. have got to find some alternative to turn this thing around a little bit. we are going to be in trouble and vietnam just murdered me. eventually wants to the next just three weeks. we've lost everything. we didn't know it was going to happen. the press is not with us. around.t to turn
12:44 am
take an approach and that will get away from us. i don't know. if we don't, we're not going to get any support. got 140 people here who say they will not representative -- support us in the house of representatives. i think we would have that for two weeks. we've got to find something to put these people in the whole. we haven't got that on them yet. hannah why doesn't want peace. long way to go. them hamburgeret to eat once in a while. host: your reaction? the sort of all over the
12:45 am
place. i think is really struggling with what to do. leading men who were foreign-policy, who urged him to escalate the war in 64 and 65 said you have to find a negotiated settlement. we are not going to win. that is what tipped him and the place is about to go, which is not run and he's going to step away and say we have to a way to find a negotiated settlement. to code for leaving south vietnam and getting out of there. that doesn't mean surrender, but it doesn't mean winning. it is not want to be the first president to lose the war.
12:46 am
is to the press is line and he's trying to find a way to do a pr thing. it was if the reporters on his side. ii, the press and military were on the same team. the reporters that was their obligation to help win the war. by this time, it's a very different perspective. the reporters by the time walter cronkite makes his comments, obligationit's their to tell people the truth about what actually happening. host: we want to put those figures back up on the screen the poll.is is was it a mistake? you can see the yes his work 46%. by 68 and 58%4%
12:47 am
by 69. support, i'm not seen it on the screen here. 46% say it was a mistake in 1967. year andf 8% the next then another 4% the next year. if you want to look at january of 68 of the reflection point in the war, it's coming straight into our living room as it breaks. ii, this great disconnect that we are beginning to experience. , world war ii had only ended 21 years earlier.
12:48 am
these are the sons of world war ii who have got off the fight. parents who are slower to become in the yes column. this is exactly with the generational schism that we had not had before this moment. are holding their parents accountable in a different way and saying just because you are older you not necessarily wiser. you have to listen to us and we are going to go over there and make the sacrifice and do the killing. we don't think after once been happening that you know what you're doing or putting this on the right path. charge, then
12:49 am
authority figures that we have , maybe they are not doing the right thing. we've never been able to sort that out since then. it's very painful. i think there is heroism on all sides. the young men that doug wrote about our heroes. they serve their country and tried to do the right thing. young people on the campuses back home who felt the war was wrong and tried to stop it were also doing what they thought was the right thing. , howy because of politics our politicians of exploited we feel if we have to choose. i have to move beyond that. early did organized protest begin?
12:50 am
where did it begin? think they begin much earlier than we think. 1965. they began in d.c. and new york. it's interesting about how little that seem to penetrate the consciousness. that was going on. this is really from their experience, they are not paying attention to the protest that is brewing. guest: the first protest were small-scale. we interviewed a guy named bill zimmerman who was active in the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement. he remembers being invited to go to protests in the midwest.
12:51 am
20 people showed up. this was in 1964 and 1965. it was a tiny movement. in the fall of 1965 as we get down to troops in the ground in vietnam, a protest was called for in washington d c. there were 25,000 people there. moment he felt there might be a mass movement. that's not a lot of people to what dr. king would get. it was local, it didn't get a lot of press. timeew organically over and that have to do with changes in the draft and who is getting drafted. more young men and women who had brothers and boyfriends and friends felt this was going to touch them.
12:52 am
the question of what we fighting for became much more real and present. host: we have some the names that came up. on our screen, we have a picture of someone named norman. remind us to norman morrison was. his story i found devastating. he had very strong held beliefs of the past is a -- pacifism. this becameto a major news story around the world. he went to the pentagon and set himself on fire outside robert mcnamara's window.
12:53 am
i don't think he is well remembered as he should be for an extraordinary and insane back active civil disobedience. there are a few other examples. it does speak to the kind of fervor with which some people felt that the war was wrong and had to be stopped. he does represent a tiny minority of the public. lots conversation with our two guests. host: we went to the phone numbers on the screen. we want for separate phone lines . if you live in the eastern and central time zone, (202) 748-8000. if you live at west, it's (202) 784-8001. we have a line for vietnam veterans, (202) 748-8002. ,or vietnam war protesters
12:54 am
(202) 748-8003. we will start getting to your calls. we want to put another name in front of you. his name is tom hayden. early he was one of the founders of the protest movement. michigan, theof students for a democratic said, thes lynn protest movement when it begins be a theitical mass draft, people start to pay attention. as i sitwrote about
12:55 am
here and listen, joined earlier. i wonder what their experience with have been had they been younger. host: go ahead. guest: i was just going to add in the making of our film, we had a chance to speak with that or is for many different phases of the war. generation went in with a great deal of idealism. the people who were drafted or joined later in the war did so in a different context. hard to hold on to your idealism about what the war could be and as it continued after the election of 1968. it's important to not love all veterans together.
12:56 am
there is a lot of variety and new wants in all of these groups. host: we should talk more about students. this is a clip from a fellow about the columbia university student protests in new york. here's a look. >> the strikers were getting community support. they are getting opposition from the faculty and right-wing students. >> they were trying to put food out. >> they stand here with their arms crossed. they are not going to say anything.
12:57 am
host: your reflection? guest: i had a teacher who is part of that protest. i am now good friends with him. this is another america we are looking out, when students took over. the new york leased department had to come and take the university back from the students. this is democracy in action. that's what it looks like. we are talking about veterans and protesting. host: what goes to your mind when you see that video? guest: i had a chance yet to know one of the protesters, a woman who was involved in the takeover.
12:58 am
story. a wonderful did having to rep do with building a gym. it quickly became something about the war. the university was complicit with military contracts. that was a big question for a lot of students, does our college have a role in the war? they begin to see we're getting money from the defense department to do research into certain kinds of bombing. it got out of control. there is a radical movement from the student groups. there was also the tension on , they were right-wing students. they were more conservative. they didn't want this chaos and
12:59 am
unrest. they just want to go to class and they didn't want to rock the boat. conflicts between people who see their role in society in different ways. it was an important moment for anyone who was there. the police came in and people were hurt. people who run these institutions didn't know what to do honestly. this kind of fervor and youthful idealism and chaos and sometimes violent impulses, the people in charge were kind of at sea. happenss to me what when the children of the elite turn against the old order and want to turn upside down. nobody really knows what to do. there was a level of tragedy in all of this, what happened at columbia. host: we have a couple of calls.
1:00 am
we are talking about the homeland here. can you explain something for us? who could avoid the draft and why? medical reasons, psychological reasons, it's interesting. a marriage. i interviewedys for the book remembered being in the high school cafeteria saying i can't believe charlie wants to get married so he can get out of the war. that was really surprising to me. soldiers seene inhering in support the war of home? >> that evolves over time.
1:01 am
guest: several of the soldiers remembered reading about the antiwar movement in the military newspaper. they got time magazine or whatever news media they got on delay and read about protests and felt betrayed. we are here trying to win this war, while not supporting this? that was a prevalent feeling up until 1968 for sure. they weren't getting a lot of information about what was going on outside their area of operations. you can't really understand the big picture, nobody could. they were focused on where they were and surviving. this did not make people feel supported. it caused a schism. it's a bit more nuanced than that.
1:02 am
a soldier speaking to who was in the marines around the dmz in 1968. he was mexican american and his sister back home was protesting the war. she told him about that. at first he wasn't sure what he thought. she wanted him to come home. he could see something in that. lynn is a documentary filmmaker, she worked on the pbs the at him more with ken burns. our guest in washington is the author of this book. tell us about this book. guest: it's about a recon platoon in vietnam. they've survived the tet offensive. i met one of the main characters in afghanistan in 2005 when i was researching another book. said youd out and
1:03 am
think anyone is interested in our story in vietnam? he was still in the army. the book tries to tell that story and be the homecoming they never had. i think this remains are unfinished narrative in america. lynn is exactly right. it's almost as if we need reconciliation in the way we prescribed for other countries. i traveled on a book tour for this. i was shocked at the degree to which vietnam is simmers in the consciousness of so many americans. a woman said i never said the word vietnam. maybe the book is a portal like
1:04 am
the great documentary into that conversation. that's what we need to have right now. separate the war from the soldier and go forward. i agree 100% with what done just said. that's why we wanted to make this film. businessis unfinished and a traumatic experience that we never talked about were really understood. 10hoped that by spending years and talking to people across the political spectrum that we would be able to shed some light on the story. maybe we were expecting too much. you don't have reconciliation until you understand the truth. it's not like there is one simple and clear narrative. we can agree on what happened, some of the facts.
1:05 am
our leaders from the beginning of the war in the 50's never really had confidence we could win it. yet, they kept fighting it. that's an important perspective to start with. we have found it opened up communication, we are beginning to have this conversation we never really had it. there are some great documentaries and books. we have discussed for so long how we feel about the war. was interesting is now this generation approaches 70. they are the de facto previous world war ii generation. and it's important to ask how the war made them feel. there's a lot of unfinished business. if you imagine the conversations
1:06 am
it never happened in america because that energy was spent repressing the experience. then't remember a bit of most important year of my life, we can't go into history without putting that on the end of the sons. host: we have a vietnam veteran on the line. philip, did morning. go ahead. caller: i am an air force veteran. to 1965.from 1961 host: thank you for clarifying. caller: i was on a base during the cuban missile crisis. i remember thinking i was going to die because i thought we would be at war. 65, i startedin at the university.
1:07 am
some civil warin protests, but got involved in antiwar stuff. started, there would be 20 people at a protest. it grew and grew and grew eventually. for ani was expelled antiwar sit in. my brother served in vietnam in the air force. a boomher-in-law was operator out of thailand. he flew the bombers and fighter planes. host: do you have a comment for the guests? caller: i was going to talk about the division of family. father, hevisit my
1:08 am
said i should be shot for treason. day, theo this division in america at that point, we see reflections of that today. host: thank you for calling. the division of family? guest: i had a neighbor that recently passed away. he quit theademy, air force academy because he did not want to go into the service. we can't live like this. i don't know how you get beyond it. i think storytelling can help. this is not a productive way to live come to have these kinds of divisions. host: good morning to you, to nice? -- denice? 68 was a pivotal year for our culture.
1:09 am
i'm the quintessential baby boomer. in high i was a senior school and i started college at michigan state. i became involved in student government and wanted to be, a politician. as i became more aware of the war, i was up at michigan state. the poor guys my age were getting drafted. it didn't seem fair. i got involved in the women's thement to protest inequities for women. in order to organize a protest, i called and asked for help. they sent someone up from the university of michigan. organize ap to help women's protest. i stayed involved with them and went to a convention in texas
1:10 am
where a faction escalated the violence and broke off. they signed a political decision paper. faction wrote an opposition paper that said you don't need a rectal for mom or to know who the -- thermometer assholes are.he what was the reason for the war? to figureing, trying out why we were in vietnam. i did not believe in the domino theory at all. it wasn't worth sacrificing 55,000 guys my age. abouti wanted to ask you
1:11 am
women and minorities when it comes to the protest. how big with the numbers in those areas? guest: i'm probably not an expert on those demographics. movement was led by men and women played a huge role, but did not have leadership roles. woman i spoke to who was at wereolumbia protest, we there to help the guys do with a were doing. -- they were not issue of women to the degree they should've been. they incorporated aspects of the civil rights movement. empathic desk imperfect aspects. -- imperfect aspects of it.
1:12 am
the idealism to protest inspired women and people in the environmental and the gay-rights movement. it gave birth to other kinds of movements that were asking the same questions. where are our obligations to hold our leaders accountable and demand change? what the caller spoke about in terms of the movement is very important. there really was a small minority at this point. up, but people showed the leadership isn't going to be responsive. you had to essentially take up arms and moved toward a very radical and violent revolution.
1:13 am
these were infantile fantasies. there's no way they were going to take over the government of the united states. thatme out of frustration the protested not seem to move the dial. you have teenagers who believed very strongly that something needed to happen. the radical side of the antiwar , they wanted to get media attention. conversation in a way that was destructive. let's hear from bill in north carolina. i was out of high school in 1965. i had no desire to go to college. i had no idea what i wanted to do. drafted, i would get
1:14 am
which i did in 1966. back before id was even 21. i served with the 11th armored, when we don't hear much about. i watched most of the pbs series. i thought it was outstanding. out, this is what my country told me i needed to do, so we must be right. i think the whole thing was a mistake. i've never gone to see the wall. i don't want to see it. when i got out, that's it. that part is done, leave me alone and let me live the rest of my life. i started to go to college. i never felt so out of place in
1:15 am
my life. i was 21 then. i was in classes with 18-year-old kids. it was like a different world between 18 and 21. now i am 71 and retired. hindsight, whole thing was a mistake. host: thank you for sharing your story. guest: it's interesting to hear him talk about not wanting to go to the wall. it's interesting. it's about a monument to a war we talked the least about. we know how to look at the wall, but we don't have the language yet. we are getting there thanks to documentaries like lynn's. interviewsd in my with a lot of veterans, they want to know who is watching. who's watching out for us western mark you are only
1:16 am
-- stay to save alive alive and for your buddies. there is a sense of dislocation to the vietnam experience. no one was offering a moment, nobody really was in charge. there was no order and principle. i read a book about world war ii and they came home under a very similar cloud. their story had been framed early. we knew how the narrative ended. that was the good war. it's interesting how now in later life, we should really think to look to storytelling. i would urge bill to go to the wall. oncoming the of vietnam war. i was there yesterday.
1:17 am
you see people coming out of their own reflection, looking at the name of the dead. host: we want to play you a quick clip from the pbs documentary. we will talk about it. the cops were guys from the neighborhoods. polish guys, irish guys. vietnam,adn't been to they had cousins or brothers who were. >> he had fought with the marines in vietnam. he was now a reporter covering the conflict in american streets. >> all of a sudden, the streets are filled with these kids who
1:18 am
don't look like what college kids are supposed to look like. committingm were vandalism and yelling obscenities. i think a lot of the policeman saw that as abusing the privileges they had an scorning them. host: what can you tell us about the perspective of the police
1:19 am
and the national guard? guest: i think we talk about this a lot today. we want them to be trained in something called de-escalation. if you're putting a ds -- difficult situation, how do you get people to calm down. we saw the complete opposite in chicago and that cap state. they were not given the right training of how to manage a difficult situation. there was an enormous amount of class resentment going on. and it's something we feel very much today. they see these kids protesting as a privilege and they felt they were being unpatriotic. they thought they should just the quiet. i'm generalizing. whosure there were people may not have held those views. they were in a very tough spot.
1:20 am
once important to take away from chicago is there was an investigation. students were being provocative, but the police and the national guard made the situation much worse. television cameras captured it. a soldier was in australia watching on tv. andaw this chaos unfolding people in uniform beating up students with clubs. he realized it was america. his father is a police officer. someone like his dad was beating up someone who looked like him. he felt he was being politicized.
1:21 am
host: let's go to bill in pennsylvania. you are on the air. caller: i want to tell my experience very concisely. in 1968, i graduated from high school. people remember the lottery system that determined whether you got drafted or not. six, therenumber was was very little chance that i would not get drafted. i tried to be a conscientious objector. i wrote a letter to the draft board. imagine could not ever killing someone, especially someone i didn't know. i never really got an answer to that letter. they acknowledged that they received it. developed alege and severe mental illness.
1:22 am
the draft board was no longer interested in me. they sent me a letter. i recovered from that illness i'm glad to say. i participated in the demonstrations, the antiwar demonstrations in washington in 1970 and 1971. there were over one million people there. i remember seeing jane fonda and bob hayden and some of the big protesters. were toohese people radical for me. we were all opposed to the war. mayry chilling moment was 4, 1971 for students were killed that cap state university. i remember that day so clearly. it seemed like this country was
1:23 am
at war with itself. the main comment i wanted to make was when the veterans return to this country, it's a disgrace how they were treated. onsome cases they were spit at the airport. i think these things happen because of what people saw on tv. went, they dido what they believed in. they thought they were doing the right thing. they followed orders. what happened in the war was never their fault. it was the fault of the politicians like next and and johnson and mcnamara. host: thanks for sharing your observation. experience, what do you take from his comments? guest: he seems to have a great deal of empathy for the other side, which is not really the other side.
1:24 am
a couple of people i interviewed , he was sitting in his airline seat of the person next to rank the bell and said would like to be moved. i could hear this. do i look like a killer? i want to stress about everyone had this experience. we have this ongoing debate about how these guys were treated. my friend came home. someone took him out to dinner with he was hitchhiking. they were coming home to a changed america. did you want to add to that? guest: i wanted to jump then about that because it such a critical point about how the veterans felt they were received.
1:25 am
said, no one story fits everyone's experience. there may not have been much literal spitting as you might think, but there was a sense of they came home and no one thanked them because we didn't win the war. it's that unfinished business aspect of the war. world war ii veterans came on to victory parades. the country was celebrating. here, people came home one by one to a country so bitterly divided about what they had done. there was a conflation with not thiswho's responsible but specter of war crimes and whether soldiers had committed them. for us to talk
1:26 am
about. or the next best thing for the public. robert't go in spit on mcnamara or yell at lbj, but here is a soldier in uniform. they became psychic targets. that was very wrong. we need to acknowledge that. we need to move forward. host: let's get back with nancy from north carolina. thank you for waiting. you won my heart. you brought up something very important to me. the babyp on one of boomers, i watched the war. the first war that was ever on television. we watched it every evening. cronkite narrated the
1:27 am
war. my father was a world war ii veteran. .e was home he was pro-vietnam in the beginning. cap --war cap going, -- kept going, he said we have to pull out now. tofather after listening walter cronkite say the war was beyond belief, our senator said we've got to pull out now. agraduated in 1967 out of class of 700 students. , over 700 ofood up us with our parents sitting out there from world war ii and i withpossibly world war
1:28 am
great grandparents, they were shocked when none of us stood up for the national anthem. that was our protest. host: do you want to respond? it's painful for nancy and her generation to feel that they were trying to get a message across to their parents and grandparents and they weren't ready to hear it. her father did it come around. as the earlier caller said, he was in the service and realize the war was a mistake. these things can happen over time. in that moment it must've in very difficult. we spoke to a veteran who is very enthusiastic about joining the marines and fighting for his
1:29 am
country. he had a complete transformation. he joined the veterans against the war. he wanted to send the message to the people making the decisions. i don't think you know that much about what you are doing. that was a very courageous act. by that time, the policy didn't make sense. look at the 1964 gulf of talk and resolution. they are both reasons to go into a country and fight a war. afghanistan,r those subjects are treated very differently. it has to do with the way afghanistan was framed for us. iraq is another question entirely.
1:30 am
when i compare those two it's tragicments, the way the vietnam veterans were treated in the aftermath. than half an more hour left with our guests. pbs 10 partn the series the vietnam war. he is the author of several books, including the odyssey of echo company. good morning, sandra. caller: good morning. sent.three family members they went over and they joined up. one was my husband, two of my brothers.
1:31 am
up goingothers ended to vietnam. to germany and the other state in vietnam. my husband was not part of the war. brother who went to vietnam the lumbertecting yards. he had to be sent out because he had tumors. his or hised where to this day. set 3:00 in the morning. he is never left vietnam. in bay of pigs.
1:32 am
to our family,me we went to church. while in church, we became the focus. my husband was dressed in his uniform. my husband told me it was about what he gone through and everything else. it was terrible. i never heard such things in my life. i was told that. he said it was shot up because they were protecting the lumber yards over in vietnam. he knew it because he drove out
1:33 am
of it himself. i have a son that was in the service as well. host: thank you for calling. let's hear from doug stanton. guest: it was about that and many things, but not just the lumber yards. host: and nathan calling from connecticut, good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for c-span. and thanks to all the moderators on "washington journal" who do a fabulous job. i loved nancy, and just as she her, the filmmaker won heart. bill from pennsylvania won my heart. his story was just wonderful to hear. mohammed ali was punished, and that is why he is a hero to my
1:34 am
generation. werear protesters significant to ending the war because they drove lyndon johnson out of office. he knew he was not going to be reelected so he withdrew. i think that was because of the protesters put so much pressure on him. stanton, whoor mr. i think is a hero, too, when robert mcnamara, who wrote his , in about 15 years ago which he said, that they all unwinnablet was an diduntenable tragedy, how that make you feel? did that indicate your feelings
1:35 am
of doubt as a soldier or do you think he should have taken it to his grave? i saw you nodding your head, did you want to respond? guest: i think a number of soldiers we spoke with in particular, a marine, who gave up a road scholarship to go to vietnam and to lead a platoon in what is was recalling revealed in the pentagon papers, which is mcnamara's memo to johnson in 1965, saying the chances for victory are no better than one in three. we probably will not win. and johnson going along with it and subsequent revelations from mcnamara that they knew the war was not winnable and they kept escalating anyway. they said, i can understand that our leaders make mistakes with good intentions,
1:36 am
with a noble hearts, people make mistakes and policies can be wrong and we understand that. but when you are lying to protect your own ego, that is what he said, and many soldiers went to vietnam, did their duty, and fought, killed, and had their friends die for leaders who lied. he said that makes him mad. that is what i was nodding. i was a membrane that -- i was remembering that soldier and knowing what we had known now, if they had been honest from the beginning, we would be having a different conversation. host: let's go to market grand rapids, -- let's go to mark and grand rapids, michigan. caller: i would just like to thank your guests for one of the most important and brilliant documentaries for anything i have seen. i am originally from a large upstate new york family that got involved in anti-vietnam war and civil rights protests early on.
1:37 am
i was born in 1960, so these people were heroes of mine as i grew up. my question to mr. stanton and is novack, in 2018, where the civil disobedience and where is the outrage over the war in iraq and the war in afghanistan that is going on now much longer than the vietnam conflict? host:. thank you doug stanton? -- thank you. stanton? guest:guest: that is true, the first interview i did, the question was, i was still in afghanistan? 18 years in afghanistan. i have three nephews and a lot of family members in the service now or have been but i am an anomaly among my writer friends. where's the protest? where are the people fighting this war?
1:38 am
we could debate whether or not we should bring the draft or public service pack, but if we did either one of those entitled to our foreign policy, we would see immediate more public engagement to at this very issue he raises. host: i am going to collate a trailer for -- to play a trailer about a group called the catonsville nine, but who were the catonsville nine? guest: i believe these were the drafters who went into the selected service office? they try to destroy it draft records in maryland, and basically, they poured blood or destroyed -- poured blood on draft files so people would not -- the service would not be able to do its job. they were arrested and tried. it was that they miss trial about civil disobedience and how far that can go. i believe it was the berrigan brothers, two prominent peace
1:39 am
activists, who led the protest. the sense ofo there is civil disobedience, nonviolent protest, and many forms that can take. there was a sense of building frustration in the antiwar movement showing up in a big rally that you could do that and get a lot of people to come, but it would not move the dial on the policy. there were different factions and ideas about how to really shake things up and people -- many people thought the war was so wrong. let's not forget, we talk about the 58,000 americans who died and every single name on the wall is a tragedy, and it is important to go there, but there were 3 million vietnamese killed. when we think about the war and the american story, we forget our role in the deaths of the vietnamese, and certainly they also played a part.
1:40 am
americanle died but munitions did a lot of that killing. that is partly what was fuming this sense of the need to stop the war. not just to save american lives and stop our country from disintegrating, but stopping our country and policy from killing vietnamese people who had not done anything to us. host: more of your calls in the moment but here is the trailer for "hit and stay," about two minutes. [video clip] >> i believe we are at times making it increasingly impossible for christians to obey the law of the land and to remain true to christ. >> at the height of the vietnam war, nine catholics and to this holding in kingsville, maryland, the draft board -- catonsville, maryland, a draft board. they brought the files into this parking lot and burn them with the help of homemade napalm. >> they stood around and they were talking amongst themselves,
1:41 am
and they were praying and waiting for the feds to show up, so it was a big story. we are about publicity. we knew this was drama, not just politics. this was political theater. >> i think the catonsville nine opened up the options of what people were willing to do. >> i had no idea. it was a prototype of some theories of action. >> there were over 100 draft toward -- draft board actions in this country. >> we now know they never drafted again. to be thes my thing, first nine in the united states to commit a federal felony. escape. not try to we waited for arrest. we use the trial as educational medium. >> we also put the fbi on trial. >> i do not sympathize with the burning of draft boards. i think that is on american. >> we received threatening people. i remember one comment of the
1:42 am
prosecutor. these people are greater threat to the security of this nation than is organized crime. he said that's open court. >> i think the jury, every one of them was opposed by the time we finished the trial. >> we have chosen to be powerless criminals in the time of criminal power. we have chosen to be branded as these criminals p by workroom criminals by were criminals. host: that was for a documentary made in 2013. we want to hear from doug stanton on what you just saw in the reflections on that catonsville nine. guest: it goes -- it is hard to get civicw he can engagement at that level today to talk about our own policy. i'm not saying that will be the
1:43 am
path to go forward, but it is really interesting because that is the bitter fruit of so many families sending their young men and women off to vietnam. this is so interesting because callingo many people in, and i want to get to those calls, but if we do this about korea, afghanistan or iraq, we here in the calls the sense to be heard. people want to say, simply, this is what happened to me in vietnam and that is a different feeling in this show than we see elsewhere. i am glad to hear from the because we talk so much about the protests that i think until we get to what it just felt like for these guys. i know it is my contention and lynn's, too, that this is perhaps and unhealthy blister in the american soul that needs to be lanced. host: let's hear from more callers. jeff in connecticut.
1:44 am
caller: yes, good morning. host: go ahead, please. caller: yes, i spent two tours of duty in vietnam. i was drafted and i should not have been. they an only son, and all theafted me, and friends in vietnam when i was in mobile construction battalion 141, although i was a navy person, i am still alive and still having problems to this day with my situation. host: what kind of problems? caller: for example, the other day, i was at my town hall and an individual tommy i wasn't -- told me i wasn't honorably discharged.
1:45 am
it said honorable discharge and the guy gave me a hard time. i have prostate cancer. but they do not care. nobody cares. host: story of jeff. here is the story of alvin and that we will get back to our guests. in arizona? caller: yes. host: yes, alvin. caller: well, first of all, i want to thank ken burns. he is doing a fantastic job, not only with vietnam, but i followed him with the civil war, black baseball, etc. -- in mysaid i experience, in 1964, i enlisted in the u.s. army, basically believing that would be sent to vietnam. was sentrvened and i to korea instead of vietnam. every other class was sent to vietnam, and the class in
1:46 am
between was sent someplace else. i served in the seventh infantry division in korea, but i did follow vietnam very closely and i was young. naive. i wanted to serve my country, and that is what i enlisted. i am 85 -- i made it fairly quickly because i was in great shape, exercised, so when i got out, i went to college. at that time, i was falling vietnam and i was in my sophomore year when the offensive occurred. what i did is i started researching how we got into vietnam and our involvement. i think the real untold story of vietnam is the beginning of our involvement in vietnam, which dated back to 1942.
1:47 am
i think that is the real untold story. if people want to understand vietnam, they have to understand the cause and effect of how we got into vietnam. host: thank you. lynn novick, your response? guest: i agree. in our film, which is 10 parts, 18 hours, ken burns and i decided to go to the 19th century with the french involvement in vietnam before we got there. we quickly gets world war ii, and we did get involved in vietnam because we were trying to fight a common company -- the common enemy, which was the japanese. we helped train them, and then as the war ended, the cold war started. the communists were our enemy, and everything flowed from there. our initial involvement had to do it the dynamics of the second world war. one of the tragedies of the
1:48 am
vietnam war is that there was something happening in the world after the second world war, which looking back we understand was the process of decolonization. that these empires, the british, the french, the portuguese, the belgians, they were going to lose their empires and no longer have colonies and subjugate people in the third world and the countries are going to demand self-determination. there was a strong nationalist current and communism, the russians and the chinese supported the movements. we oppose them. that became sort of irreconcilable conflict that got us deeper into printer vietnam. and then it had a momentum of its own. memo,cnamara says in the it has a momentum of its own and it must be stopped. that is true. once you start something, it is harder to stop. the reasons why we got in our important but equally important, the reasons we stayed in.
1:49 am
and you had american leaders who kept it going, even though it was built on a house of cards. host: doug stanton, i want to get your reflection on the caller pryor, who said poorly or, who said he was poorly treated. guest: he said, nobody cared and nobody is really in charge. did, it washings i in the two people i would about, we went back to the beginning of where this all happened and that provided some sense of reconciliation with their younger selves and another did,r mentioned or lynn when you travel the streets, this is the american war in vietnam. it is not called the vietnam war.
1:50 am
host: we had george on the line from florida. things for taking part. what would you like to say or ask? caller: thank you. i would like both of them to comment on walter cronkite. -- it was a military victory, and it was not reported that way, but that is what happened. walter cronkite, that is on tv, and he says what you said, which was 180 degrees opposite to what happened. prognosticating about things that perhaps they do not know everything about. could you just comment on that, please? host: is asked lynn novick to let's ask lynn- novick to take that one. guest: i think the caller is
1:51 am
demonstrating a common understanding. a lot of people feel the way you feel. it is important to take a step to telescope out from the end the, yes, one could argue offensive was a military defeat for the vietcong because they lost so many people, tens of thousands of their soldiers were killed, so on the surface, that could look like a decisive turning point in the war for them, but what we have to keep leadersand what our understood, even though they were not telling the american people at that time were ever, was that north vietnam has a very healthy birth rate. they have no interest in stopping fighting. lickmight go back and their wounds for however long it takes to rebuild, but they will be back and they will not walk away, so it ultimately became a question of how long is this war going to go on because even though we killed a lot of soldiers and combatants in the
1:52 am
offensive, it was not decisive for them, so understanding where they were coming from, that is why the wiseman, the inner circle of the risers that johnson had came to him and said, you have to get out. so walter, cried to not know any of that, and you know, what he was looking at was this is unsustainable for the american people, and also what is at stake. what are we fighting for? what is the cause and risk to our country if we do not win the war? also, the cost problem, do we continue to throw more young men into the fight to justify the lives of those who have already been lost? so there's a lot going on below the surface, and i think walter contrite becomes the fulcrum -- walter contrite the comes the lightning rod or fulcrum in the what you have to take a longer and wider view to appreciate the context. host: doug stanton, i want to show a clip from march 8, 1968,
1:53 am
a phone call between johnson and the secretary of state talking about a meeting with the senate foreign relations committee and talking about the state of the war in vietnam. [video clip] meetingd a three-hour the other night. mansfield, as usual, spaghetti, had nothing to say. he is against the war. i have done everything i can to them saying this is nothing, just spaghetti. fulbright says i am determined that we have got to get out of there and that is my purpose. and anyed to, misled, time a contract is based on fraud, misrepresentation is no contact at all. and that congress does have some responsibility. be consulted.
1:54 am
they say, we have been here three hours, and you play president for a minute and what is it you recommend? he recommends negotiation. i said, i do, too. going? how do you get he just goes off on a tangent and talks about how terrible the warriors, how it is tearing our society to pieces and dividing us and hurting us. i agree to all of that. host: what is the role of congress during this period in containing the war? that cliphink what just showed is that they certainly took an active role and they are coming forward. this is march of 1968. the previous caller said walter cronkite had been 180 degrees off from the tactical achievement of the tests, but
1:55 am
what i want to point out and it goes to the johnson clip, the offensive guys in the event was 180 degrees off of what a headset in the u.s. that summer is that we are close to the light at the end of the tunnel. isis not as it cronkite coming out of the blue with this summation he had after being in his underreporting. and then you have johnson being spoiled on the wheel of a decision between the politicians in congress feeling this aswback from the country they watch it in color on their television screens. host: let's go to michael in california, good morning. caller: good morning. i just want to say that -- to make this quick, my father was with patton in the third army so i felt it was my duty to go to vietnam. when i got there, i was with a
1:56 am
division and general ware died that month, or that the highest-ranking officers. then the president visited us in 1969. then i got out and i was walking through an airport on may 4, felt like ireally because they looked at me -- everybody was looking now, it iste, but turned around. i have great experience with persian gulf, the soldiers said do not celebrate without us, do not celebrate without the vietnam vet, and i was welcomed home 2000 times. .ost: thank you to roger
1:57 am
caller: the vietnam war documentary was excellent, by the way. i turned 18 in 1972. my lottery number was 217 and i was one a. college bill with a lot of vietnam vets, and the head of business partner who was a medic in vietnam and i disagree. everybody wanted to hear their stories, and i don't remember anybody ever talking down to them. everybody seemed to hold them in high esteem. we got a lot of higher and working jersey because my friend was a vietnam that and the doctors wanted to hire him and hear his stories. my father was a platoon sergeant in the philippines -- i mean in world war ii. he came home and never talked about the war, went through hell
1:58 am
, kept his not shut, worked until the day he died at 83 and never asked the government for anything. bill,er got the g.i. medicare, and i think the vietnam vets should just shut up, do their job, and go to work just like my father did, the greatest generation. host: anything from those last callers to respond to? guest: well, i think what we haveguest: seen as there are many versions. we all have our own narratives and they do not always lineup. it is of the country and there a lot of variety of experience. on the one hand, it is true that sometimes, especially if soldiers came home around 1959 -- 19 to see nine and 1970 -- 1969 and 1970's, they were the closest thing to criticize. but there were plenty who came home and went about their lives. the great legacies of the
1:59 am
vietnam generation is that they did not keep quiet in the way, so they demanded better care from the v.a., they called attention to what became known as poster medic stress disorder. at first, it was called post-vietnam syndrome. there was a sense if you had been to combat, something might have happened physically and psychologically and you did not feel right. ournam veterans held government accountable that we have to take care of our soldiers. it is a big uphill climb but that is an important legacy. what has been moving to see, we have had experiences with the generation of soldiers that have fought in more recent wars being grateful to the vietnam generation for opening the way for them to come home to a different kind of welcome, and then wanting to pull the vietnam veterans into that, parades, and
2:00 am
welcome home ceremonies. this intergenerational warrior community is powerful. host: let's get ronald and from this again. -- in from michigan. caller: hi, i was in vietnam in and the reason i am calling is the were crimes that happened -- the war crimes that happened in vietnam. i am very nervous. with lynn, she slipped out the word illusion, and i think that is the proper word because it is an illusion and we should never have been there. if you have history of vietnam, he went to war i,
2:01 am
china for help in the chinese do hislike him because he kept country -- their priorities were party, country, etc.. his was country, party, etc., and they did not like that, so he would act of vietnam, started -- one last thing is pleased, the vietnam vets, please, tell your story to your family. it is lost history, and the other thing is, i am going to do this is to write the vietnam embassy in washington and apologize to them for the war. host: thank you. tell us a story, doug stanton. before thataller
2:02 am
said he came home and the guys wanted to hear his stories about being in vietnam. which is all the difference when you have an audience who was going to be listening. i would urge him to say today to vietnam veterans not to say to them shut up but to listen to their story and move on. we do not have to do anything with the stories. the biggest lesson i learned is we have to acknowledge. you cannot fix the pain but we can listen to become the audience. host: lynn novick, final thoughts? guest: wow. for ken burns, myself and our colleagues who worked on the film, we had the privilege of spending 10 years listening to people tell us their stories in america and vietnam. one thing that was profound for me was i made four trips to vietnam in the course of the project, talking to veterans and civilians there. there is a lot of unfinished business in vietnam. their country is still unreconciled about what happened during the war and to is responsible and whether it was
2:03 am
worth the cost. even though on the winning side, they had the pride of victory, it is enormously painful and difficult. the impulse to listen to each other and be present and tear each other stories, the vietnamese who have seen our film and to have been -- and has been translated to vietnamese and millions have strained it, it is opening the i think that speaks to the on the mental human need to know ourselves and each other before we go anywhere. my life has been changed by the privilege of hearing so many stories on all tied, people who believed in what they were doing, and people carrying baggage about what happened. the more we can share our stories and listen to each other the better we will be. host: the vietnam war with ken burns. thank you for joining us. guest: great conversation.
2:04 am
thank you. host: "1968: america in turmoil" on c-span's washington journal and on american history tv on c-span3. c-span,weekend, on saturday night, the national rifle association leadership forum in dallas.
2:05 am
speakers include texas senators and congressmen richard hudson. sunday, starbucks executive chair howard schultz on the responsibility of global companies. on book tv on c-span2, saturday hn speaksthor sally ko about when hate weekends. on sunday night, former secretary of state condoleezza rice on the future of american diplomacy. on american history tv on hillary saturday night, clinton and linda rob johnson talk about the white house years of betty ford. p.m., hustler magazine is discussed and its impact an editorial cartoonists 30 years later.
2:06 am

16 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on