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PBS presents Burns Novick The Vietnam War
#1
Is anyone watching this right now?

I have the ten disk set, and I am waiting for when I have time to sit down and view it all.

I am getting some pretty bad reports so far on the spin of the series. Specifically about how it started as some kind of noble gesture, the papering over of Kennedy's withdrawal plan and also the Tonkin Gulf incident as some kind of retaliation against the north. I mean how do you retaliate for one bullet? You start a war over it?

Very discouraging if its true. There is so much good info on this today. And it does not appear that this show uses it.
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#2
Jim DiEugenio Wrote:Is anyone watching this right now?

I have the ten disk set, and I am waiting for when I have time to sit down and view it all.

I am getting some pretty bad reports so far on the spin of the series. Specifically about how it started as some kind of noble gesture, the papering over of Kennedy's withdrawal plan and also the Tonkin Gulf incident as some kind of retaliation against the north. I mean how do you retaliate for one bullet? You start a war over it?

Very discouraging if its true. There is so much good info on this today. And it does not appear that this show uses it.

I have been watching the series and if anyone is expecting a deep politics angle on how the war started, you won't see it in Burn's and Novick's series.
Did not get the impression that they said it started as a noble gesture. They mentioned the domino theory, the fear of the spread of communism. They did not show a president being bullied by war-hawks to start the war and one person even said go in all the way or get out.

To be fair to Ken Burns, to whom I admit I am a big fan, he would not be the best person to look to, to get into the real reasons for this war because his financial backers would not allow it. The other problem is that much has been written about how the US got into that war and a 10 part series could probably be made about this topic alone. Burns and Novick are going to focus on the whole war, its impact at home and this does not leave much time to really get into the details of how the war really started and the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

One thing I like about the series is that they did not name Oswald as Kennedy's assassin. They avoided the topic all together. Better that than the usual lone-nut lies that are usually told. I recommend this series to anyone who really enjoys history and has an interest in the war itself, and not just its connection to Kennedy's assassination.
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#3
Jim what a TREMENDOUS JUDO OPPORTUNITY this is for your excellent articles eg The Second Biggest Lie Ever Told , the Bill Bradley ones etc which feature the historiography discussion of all 7 historians writing on 1960-65 period Vietnam US diplomacy.

What I mean by this is, topic has National Spotlight. aka circulation-possibility. FOR MORE GENERAL READERS RIGHT NOW IS A rare access ramp. bc of topicality of such a Nationally hyped Koch and Bank of America funded series on Vietnam...


In the past THIS is what I have done to try to get more views on some of your articles...e.g. How CBS aided the JFK Cover Up at Consortium and many at former CTKA and Kennedys and King

1. Go to search magnifying glass on FB or Twitter.
2. Type in key words e.g. JFK and CIA or JFK PBS ....
3. Write a one sentence connecting thing linking your topic to Initial post
4. Spread to about 10-50 different places at a time..

As the recent stories on Google abject censorship of left of center sights shows, the internet is more moated now then ever before.. If YOU don't give your excellent articles a nudge... they will NEVER reach the number of readers they deserve. We are facing a unique and vastly misunderstood kind of censorship in which the APPEARANCE of freedom is the best friend of Tyranny By Restricted Circulations. I will try to spread articles too but i have had much much much less time. Circulation is the battle. CIA gets that. When will we?
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#4
I will be writing about this series soon.

Hope you can help.
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#5
Here is the first installment on what I plan on being a four parter on this surprisingly disappointing documentary.

How on earth can you talk about America getting into Vietnam in the fifties and not mention the names of:

John Foster Dulles

Allen Dulles

Ed Lansdale

Dean Acheson

Bao Dai?

When you have 18 hours to fill I would have thought that would not be possible. But Burns and Novick did it. And wait till you see what they did to Kennedy.

https://kennedysandking.com/reviews/ken-...r-part-one
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#6
Good piece. The mainstream media chickens out again.

This does raise the question, what are the best books to read about the Vietnam war? I have Valentine's book on the Phoenix program, but no others.
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#7
Excellent job, Jim. The best piece I've seen on the series by far. Keep up the good work.
There's much to expose about this mendacious and often tedious as well as outrageous piece of propaganda.
It constantly makes me think of the comment by Daniel Ellsberg (who is conspicuously not interviewed)
that in Vietnam we weren't on the wrong side, we WERE the wrong side. That kind of clarity is missing
from the series. The biggest problem is the lack of perspective about why we were there.

In 1972 I covered a speech by Henry Kissinger's deputy William Sullivan at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (Sullivan would go
on to become ambassador to Iran). He was asked by someone why we were still in Vietnam. He said
we were there because we wanted to control the oil in the South China Sea. That went out on the AP
wire along with his comment about the resumption of the Paris peace talks. It caused a ruckus. They tried to deny what
he said. I produced my notes. Then they said it was supposed to be off-the-record. I produced a letter on the letterhead of the organization
inviting my newspaper (The Wisconsin State Journal) to cover the event. The only book on Vietnam
that I have read that mentions the oil in the South China Sea as a motive is Noam Chomsky's intemperate hit job on JFK,
which amidst much nonsense makes the intriguing observation that we didn't "lose" the war,
as the conventional wisdom has it, because those who wanted the war and profited from it
made out like bandits.

It seems that one of the ultimate taboos in our modern history is to mention how JFK was
in the process of beginning the withdrawal when Johnson reversed his policies on Nov. 24, 1963.
THE VIETNAM WAR fails to mention any of this (Errol Morris's THE FOG OF WAR does discuss it).
Burns & Novick fail to use the striking telephone conversations between LBJ and Sen. Richard Russell
in which Russell precisely predicts in 1964 that the war will cost 50,000 American lives
and take ten years and will be unwindable, and Johnson admits he knows it's unwinnable
but is powerless to stop it. The people and companies who put him in office (e.g., Halliburton,
Bell Helicopter, General Dynamics) made that part of the deal, to expand the
war for their profit. The human cost did not matter to them. It helped destroy LBJ. You don't
get that in Robert Caro's recent volume either.
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#8
Thanks Joe, that is a really interesting story, especially how the info was later contained.

Anthony, in my opinion these are the best books about the Vietnam War in no priority:

David Kaiser, American Tragedy

Gordon Goldstein, Lessons in Disaster

John Newman, JFK and Vietnam

James Blight, Virtual JFK

Jeff Kimball, Nixon's Vietnam War

Jeff Kimball, The Vietnam War Files

Fred Logevall, Choosing War

The Pentagon Papers

In my opinion, there is not yet any good overall history from the American side that covers the entire war: 1946-1975. That may be simply impossible. And of course, The Pentagon Papers is a very long and dry read. And it only goes up to 1967.

Like Joe, I was surprised in reading the credits for the Burns/Novick pastiche that Dan Ellsberg was not listed. But that tells you something about their aim I think. Also, although I have not gotten that far in the series yet, Jeff Kimball was not listed in the credits. Yet to me, no one has done more important work in elucidating the Nixon years in the Vietnam War than that guy. He actually went out to the Nixon Library and listened to declassified tape after declassified tape. I hope they give him some air time, because no one knows more about what Kissinger and Nixon did in VIetnam than him.
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#9
Anthony:

I have actually read all of the above (the PP in its abridged form, the Gravel Edition).

But if I was advising someone new this is the order and the selections I would make:

John Newman, JFK and Vietnam

Gordon Goldstein, Lessons in Disaster

Jeff Kimball, The Vietnam War Files

That would cover from about 1961-66, 1968-75. And it makes for interesting reading.
Reply
#10
[quote=Joseph McBride]Excellent job, Jim. The best piece I've seen on the series by far. Keep up the good work.
There's much to expose about this mendacious and often tedious as well as outrageous piece of propaganda.
It constantly makes me think of the comment by Daniel Ellsberg (who is conspicuously not interviewed)
that in Vietnam we weren't on the wrong side, we WERE the wrong side. That kind of clarity is missing
from the series. The biggest problem is the lack of perspective about why we were there.

In 1972 I covered a speech by Henry Kissinger's deputy William Sullivan at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (Sullivan would go
on to become ambassador to Iran). He was asked by someone why we were still in Vietnam. He said
we were there because we wanted to control the oil in the South China Sea. That went out on the AP
wire along with news he provided about the resumption of the Paris peace talks. It caused a ruckus. They tried to deny what
he said. I produced my notes. Then they said it was supposed to be off-the-record. I produced a letter on the letterhead of the organization
inviting my newspaper (The Wisconsin State Journal) to cover the event. The only book on Vietnam
that I have read that mentions the oil in the South China Sea as a motive is Noam Chomsky's intemperate hit job on JFK,
which amidst much nonsense makes the intriguing observation that we didn't "lose" the war,
as the conventional wisdom has it, because those who wanted the war and profited from it
made out like bandits.

It seems that one of the ultimate taboos in our modern history is to mention how JFK was
in the process of beginning the withdrawal when Johnson reversed his policies on Nov. 24, 1963.
THE VIETNAM WAR fails to mention any of this (Errol Morris's THE FOG OF WAR does discuss it).
Burns & Novick fail to use the striking telephone conversations between LBJ and Sen. Richard Russell
in which Russell precisely predicts in 1964 that the war will cost 50,000 American lives
and take ten years and will be unwinnable, and Johnson admits he knows it's unwinnable
but is powerless to stop it. The people and companies who put him in office (e.g., Halliburton,
Bell Helicopter, General Dynamics) made that part of the deal, to expand the
war for their profit. The human cost did not matter to them. It helped destroy LBJ. You don't
get that in Robert Caro's recent volume either.
Reply


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