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tv   Lectures in History Tet Offensive to Vietnam Wars End  CSPAN  November 12, 2018 11:29am-1:21pm EST

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>> travel with us to historic sites, museums and archives. each sunday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern on our weekly series "american artifacts." this is american history tv all weekend on c-span3. up next on lectures in history, u.s. army command, college professor richard faulkner teaches a class on the vietnam war, focusing on the tet offensive in 1968 through the u.s. withdrawal in the early 1970s. he describes how military objectives, domestic politics and public opinion changed because of the tet campaign. he also talks about richard nixon's victory in the 1968 presidential election and how this resulted in a gradual removal of u.s. troops and a shift in responsibility to the south vietnam meet government for fighting the war. the class is about an hour and 45 minutes.
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>> ox, heroes. last class we talked about the escalation, how the united states got into the ground war and how both sides started to escalate the conflict. today we're going to focus in on the tet offensive and the u.s. withdrawal today we are going to focus in on the tet offensive, the results, the political results, military results after the tet, and then when you get the new nixon administration, how we tried to extradite ourselves from vietnam. let's start off where we left last time. we now have american ground troops in vietnam. william westmoreland is the what's your problem if you're westmoreland. >> you face two types of threats, the regular and the guerrilla. if you just do guerrillas, the
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nva. >> if you're west more land, you have this hybrid threat. on one hand you have large-scale operations with the nva, north vietnamese army, and viet cong, serving as main force guys and guerrillas and you also have the political structure in the village. what are those guys doing, the political structure? what's their effort focused on? go ahead, matt. >> sir, what they're trying to do is the long-term fight, so they were trying to change the political culture within the villages. they're trying to win tactically, win politically in order to have the regime change and switch over to communist. >> we have subversion in the countryside with the kadth kadri and main forces. when westmoreland takes over this army, what's his assessment of the ground situation?
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what's your assessment? okay, guys. you know how this works, right? go ahead, gary. >> general westmoreland has to make a decision and he has to take care of the conventional forces first to build his troops support. he has to threats. in general he sees a large army in front of him he needs to take care of first. >> go ahead. >> to add to gary's point, he wants to secure the people first so he can address the insurgency. >> matt? >> he was concerned about the conventional forces first because that was the short-term threat that would destroy the country and he blew the communism threat and political could be worked as they went to long. if he didn't secure the country first, then he had no country to work with. >> the adjective he uses is i'm fighting a war where the house is under attack. on one hand, you have the attack of bully boys, on the other hand you have termites. what do we know about the house
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under attack? >> bully boys will kill you a lot faster than termites. >> you leave bully boys with crowbars, they'll tear down the house much faster. you don't worry about the termites? >> you have to eventually -- >> you do one first and then the other, is that what he's unites states government. >> he has to do them the same time because the termite analogy, the termite will slowly take the house down from the foundation. >> this is one of those great myths of vietnam. westmoreland was only focused in on the large-scale operations. don't worry about pacification, don't worry about taking down the viet cong. you're right. he sees, are if i don't deal with the nva and the viet cong guys, this whole thing will collapse. the reason you have american ground forces put in in 1965, because if you don't, you're going to lose. at the same time, though, he
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does not take his eye off pacification. who gets that role? go ahead, dan . >> advisers. advisers already in theater. >> advising who? >> the south vietnamese. >> if we do the main force, we take on, we the united states military take on the bully boys, leave it to the arvn and the local forces to take care of the termites. why does this make sense? >> they know the people inside their villages because they speak a common language, share culture, this he can tell if they're lying, hiding something, all the things we struggled with in iraq of understanding the culture. they're familiar with it, so they can do it better. >> the indigenous forces should be the ones best suited. go ahead. >> the point of the insurgency and guerrilla warfare and also to subvert that government. if you put that government's face on who is going to take care of that, then you're defeating it both militarily and
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the whole point of the guerrilla warfare. >> what is the place last -- >> security. and government's exist primarily more than anything else to provide security. so, if arvn is dealing with the pacification, what are you getting out of this? what do you get out of it? go ahead, russ. >> exactly like brad said. you're putting the vietnam face on -- and strengthening that government to deal with the internal issues, so you're providing internal security and providing the strengthening of the political regime of the south vietnamese. >> okay. go ahead. >> legitimacy was the word i was trying to thing of earlier. the subversion -- the intent is to delegitimize the current government and by the arvn taking that responsibility of it, they get back their legitimacy. >> okay. what's the problem, though? how come this isn't working? go ahead, gary. >> the first part, that's
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initially what was supposed to be doing. now you're saying, don't do what you didn't do before and failed to do. also the people who sign up to be part of arvn, they want to fight the fight. >> why? >> there's glory in war. >> why else does arvn want to take on the main fight? >> it's their current. >> how have we equipped these guys, by the way? go ahead, jesse. >> they don't get the best equipment. we don't really support them. westmoreland keeps things for the new army. >> to some extent. even when we give them equipment and training, what is that designed to do? >> fight large armies. >> so we're sort of stuck here. ironically on one hand we want these guys to take on the pacification. on the other, we're working against ourselves with the type of force that you are creating. >> if i'm the main force operations all the time, who's doing counterinsurgency. when i leave, you can't fight a main force when they know the
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nva has. >> go ahead. >> was that part of westmoreland's consideration for i need to address the conventional forces first because he's resourced to fight that fight? is that part of his thinking, the structure? >> what is the u.s. army going into vietnam created to do? >> conventional fighting. >> yeah. and if you look at what comes out with flexible response, with maxwell taylor and the jfk organization, the army is trying to tailor itself to fight these wars. air mobile divisions, ultimately the first cab division is our idea of creating a force that provides all of the big bang necessary for large, conventional operations. but also the mobility and the firepower to deal with these type of insurgents. so, the army is trying to do stuff, but the army mind set is still, large-scale combat operations. so, how is this working out for them? westmoreland's attempts.
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what's your assessment? go ahead. >> i think it works out pretty well for what he wanted to accomplish. he does limit the nva, push them out of the rural regions. without tet -- tet is looked as a failure -- >> we're not tet yet. >> even before then. before tet he does push them away, gives arvn some breathing room, makes the nva work for it. >> what are your indicators? we'll talk a lot about this. metrics of success and indicators. does westmoreland in '66 and '67 have some indicators that his strategy and approach is working? >> does the vietnamese go away from a traditional war to more guerrilla style war because they knew they could do better acting as an insurgency. they went to a guerrilla warfare mentality to inflict harm,
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escape and come back. >> one of the myths is these large sweeps don't work. in reality they are causing damage to the nva. if you're the nva, what have you figured out about this american force by the end of 1967? what have you figured out? >> attacking you in laos, cambodia and north vietnam. your hands are tied if you're westmoreland. >> westmoreland still has to work within the box of limited war. officially, no laos, no cambodia, no attacks in the north vietnam from the dmz. why does that matter? go ahead, brian. >> command chart, that's where all the military is retreating to, sanctuary for the military where they can plan next attacks. >> what else have you figured out about the american forces? go ahead, russ. >> you can't beat them toe to toe. conventional, unconventional, the u.s. and overwhelming firepower is going to beat you every day. >> we have an unquestioned firepower superiority, unquestioned mobility to some
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extent superiority. if you stand toe to toe against the americans, yeah, you ka hurt them. at the end of the day, you're going to use that term and you'll get shwacked. let's talk about something here. how important is it for you to understand how you're doing in war? at any given point in time. go ahead. >> that's going to assess your further actions. when we talk about operational approach and we talk about doing branch plans, different things come from that. we need to know where we're actually at both within the success or 235i8 you'failure of company to see how we'll influence the end result of that campaign. >> keep going. >> to add to that, it also affects how at the operational level how we're meeting the objectives at the strategic level. >> at any time should the boss be that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, be that the president of the united states, be that even your
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battalion brigade commander, should they be able to come to you and say, how are we doing? shouldn't you be able to give them an answer? >> yes. >> one would hope, right? because if you are doing poorly, what do you do? >> you have to change something. it's not working and you have to fix it and do something different. >> so, i change my tactics, i change my doctrine, i change my organization. that's that challenge and response dynamic we talked about since the beginning of the class. what happens if you're doing well? >> i think one of the key things is you have to know what the measures of success for either -- for success or failure are. they have to be actually visible and quantifiable. you have to know what those measures are for good or bad. >> don't you know that in vietnam? >> no. >> what do you mean no? >> you think you know, but -- >> you could also get a false sense of confidence as well. it might seem like it's working but you don't know if what you're doing is actually making -- >> what is westmoreland's approach. >> search and destroy. >> body count.
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attrition, attrition, attrition. what does he base that on? >> korea. >> we go back to matthew ridgeway in korea. i know what the boss wants, make the chinese say uncle, stop at the 38th parallel. and the only way to do that is? kill the chinese in an exponentially greater amount than they can keep feeding into a fight. westmoreland, a veteran of korea. if we can hit the enemy and keep bleeding the enemy, what's going to happen? >> they'll eventually give up. >> okay. they'll eventually give up because? >> the cost is not worth the reward. they don't value it as much anymore. >> there's a political thing that the north says, it's not worth it. what's the military think? >> can i kill them faster before they can replenish themselves? eventually there's a point if i kill them fast enough they won't -- >> what's your metric for knowing this? >> body count. >> body count. >> that's what you got for me, body count?
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is that what you have for me, body count? the way i know i'm achieving my in-state retreating the north vietnamese to the point they don't want to fight the war or unable to fight the war, that crossover point positive, your metric is body count? i'm just asking. >> we didn't say it was good. >> oh, okay. well, if you don't go with that metric, what else do you have? that's the $64 question, right? >> they thought -- we talked about last time, he didn't eeb know who he was playing against. he thought he was playing against highwo chi minh but he wasn't. rival intelligence about their industrial base, about how they're being supplied by their backers, those things could also be an indicator. if the soviet union has the surge weapons to them, then maybe you're destroying their weapons faster than they can replenish, but they didn't have that intelligence, or they ignored it. >> if you're going to use
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metrics of i'm going to bleed the enemy to the point they say uncle, what do i have to know before i go in? >> where they're at. >> how much dudes and dudettes did they start with and? how many do i kill, how many more dudes and dudettes can they feed into the battle. easy. >> but the body counts were always wrong because you didn't see half the people that were claimed to be killed and they would send up arbitrary numbers and inflated. so, you're lying to yourself in the metrics you're providing. >> okay. >> you're also running a political campaign at the same time to convince more people to join so you have to be realistic about how many more people -- >> why else is it important to be able to tell people, this is how we're doing? who wants to know this information? >> the american people. >> oh, those guys. so, i've got to convince the political masters that we are making progress, but in these limited wars, we also now have a big responsibility to convince
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the folks back home. that we're making progress and the -- we're doing a lot more damage, we're achieving the political in state and hurting the other guys. i want you to think about this here. this is just a little model i thought up about how to look at war and these questions. i like continuums, right? so, one hand you've got, one, woo, peace treaty on the back of the battleship "missouri." on the other end you've got "lost." on one end you are losing, on the other end you're winning and probably, perhaps, most of the time, you're in the middle. you're in stalemate. what does stalemate mean? what does it mean? >> it means negotiated peace at that point, so you have to know what your enemy political end state and what their wants are and what your projected best case outcomes are. that way you can negotiate at the table and use military action to get there.
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>> but what does that have to do with stalemate? you're right, but what does that have to do with stalemate? >> you're want going to win because they won't allow it either through military action or guerrilla warfare so you're stuck in the middle. you need to find out what's the best case, in this case, to resolve the conflict and leave or escalate along the spectrum of conflict, which we were unwilling to. >> because what happens if you escalate too much? >> the chinese and russians get involved and no one wants to -- >> and then what happens? >> total war. >> that's the fear. keep going. >> to build on what matt said, if neither side has to thinks they can win to have a stalemate. so, if either side thinks they can win, they're going to keep fighting and not get to the total war aspect because they don't have to, they don't think they have to. if they can't and they think they're both going to keep retreating themselves and the cost is no longer worth winning or trying to win because they can't, they stop and they negotiate peace. >> i don't think that's true in vietnam. we wanted a stalemate.
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we wanted the north to say, we'll stay over this line and leave the south to set themselves up so we can start evacuating our troops. >> that's winning from us. that's not a stalemate. that's winning. >> but it is a stalemate. it's a stalemate. >> it's a physical stalemate but it's us winning. that's what we wanted. >> does that help to get us to our end state if we're at a stalemate? >> it does, yes. we wanted a stalemate to win. >> that's the objective. >> really? >> sir, i would say the enemy probably wanted a stalemate more than us. if we leave as the backers of the south vietnamese, then going back home that allows the north vietnamese to come down like they did, come back through and clear the country and make it communist. they win. >> so, if we look at stalemate, can stalemate benefit one side more than the other? >> yes. >> the stalemate, you got to look at the way of the culture of how they deal with stalemate as well. like we talked about earlier. necessity have the long game in
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mind. we want a quick -- a quick, decisive victory. that's how the west won wars. however, with the long game in mind, that stalemate could lead to potential victory and we're seeing that in different places like afghanistan where they say, you have the watches, we got the time. it's no different. >> we go back to mao with protracted war theory. you have this already established in their thinking that stalemate can actually help you out. keep going, james. >> i may be caught up in your model, but i think using the model, winning would be achieving your end state and i'm -- i think a lot of people are talking like they're precluding the opportunity or the chance for a win-win situation where both sides can achieve their end state. that would be a negotiated peace in this case. >> but that -- >> a stalemate would be contrary to that would be neither side is able to achieve their end state. >> but doesn't that lead you, then, quicker to negotiation? >> no, it leads to escalating more towards total war. >> how can stalemate benefit the north more than south vietnam and the u.s.?
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go ahead, brother. >> to go along with what brent said, the time and what they're willing to dedicate to it, stalemates cost different resources for each side. so, to maintain a stalemate for us, it's a lot more time, money, efforts, et cetera. to maintain that stalemate from the north's point of view, it's not nearly as much. >> or is it? not nearly as much as what? >> they don't have to put in as much in order to maintain the stalemate while it's costing us all that. >> is the north not putting in more than we are? >> they're willing to put in more, so the u.s. is not willing to put in as much. a long stalemate will cause the u.s. population to not want to be there anymore because we don't want to be there. we have no interest in being there. the north is all in. they're more towards the total war spectrum. they're willing to give more and to last longer. it's the way they look at warfare. they're okay with the long game where we're not. so, they're willing to give more. we're willing to give less so a stalemate will make them win easier.
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there are different aspects of the stalemate. you can both have a win-win and have a stalemate, but you can also be right dead in the middle where the enemy, in this case the north vietnamese, would rather be trinity and cause us to come out of the war. >> okay. you talked about carl, so you get an extra click, okay? i gave you guys this article by david sizemore. what did he say about stalemate in vietnam? and in afghanistan, but we'll start with vietnam. this sort of goes to what you were saying. okay? >> that may be how we win. as we talked about in the war, i mean, senior politicians start to realize that early, that we may not be able to win unless we're willing to go farther than they want to go. >> okay, and you're not willing oo do that, so you're sort of stuck, right? >> how can you achieve a win and leave?
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>> why else, what is the central strategic decision for the united states when it comes to vietnam, when it comes to the stalemate thing? >> when there's a change in the administration, you only have a couple options. stay where you are or to go more in. so in the intents to fault that, you intend to go sometimes with more, that's the case. >> and we have seen that, right? more and more troops by the time you get to 1968. we have over a half million dudes and dudettes in vietnam. but what's the problem with half a million dudes and dudetttes in vietnam? >> it's expensive. >> it is expensive. what else? >> people want to be here. >> we've got europe and other places. what happens if you need a million dudes and dudettes in vietnam? >> more draft. >> or if not more draft -- all those guys. the reserves and national guard.
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any problem in bringing up the reserves in the national guard? okay, any problem with bringing up the reserves in national guard? it's going to take time. what else? >> more training, resourcing. >> the hurricanes and all the things that happened. >> or the 1960s riots. >> right, civil rights. >> you're also taking people away from their normal jobs that would uphold the infrastructure of work while other people are fighting. >> if all of a sudden the guard or reserve gets called up, who goes? everybody. this affects the civil society as a whole. >> it starts to feel like total war on the american population. it's starting to feel the passion of the trinity is really starting to feel that total war aspect. >> but if you're not going to win, to hell with it, just leave. >> then you lose some things strategically in your fight in the cold war. and your fight on communism and containment. because you're looked at as weak. >> the worst thing you can be is
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a politician in the early '60s. weak on communism, right? so you're sort of stuck. i can't win. and if you listen to the johnson tapes, '66 and '67, there's doubt. there's even some doubt with little willie westmoreland about our ability to actually reach this crossover point. i'm not sure they can win and winning here is making the north vietnamese give up and the vietcong to accept a political solution. at the same time, i can't leave. okay. hey! just for fun, right around thanksgiving of last year, general mickelson, the commander of the american forces in afghanistan, told us what about the war in afghanistan? he didn't say we were losing. what did he say? >> we're in a stalemate. >> okay. >> we're in a stalemate. so three months ago the commander in afghanistan is at
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the willie westmoreland point. he says, currently the war in afghanistan is stalemating. if he's right, who benefits most from that stalemate in afghanistan today? >> the taliban. >> why does the taliban? think of us, the americans? >> yeah, they are okay with just hanging out in the mountains until we're gone. >> just like vietnam. because they are going to start asking the same questions of the administration. why are we still there? what are we accomplishing? >> has the public asked that question? >> yeah, ten years ago. >> 10, 15 years ago. >> we were drafting bombs. so they are like, thank you for your service, great job. you've stepped over far enough in afghanistan, hope that's going well. it is much more invested if you have something to lose. >> oh, great. we'll talk about that more in the next class. oh, great. so, go ahead. >> i was going to say the stalemate in afghanistan is just like the vietnam, is that the
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american people, going back to the western war, the american people don't want to hear the word stalemate on the news. they want it to be over with, too. their sons and daughters are going over there. they don't want to hear stalemate. they want to hear we've won or met what we have tried to accomplish and we are coming home. that's what they want to hear. >> or that we are leaving. that's it. the one thing that the american public won't stand is stalemate. but yet, isn't that what we have stood? aren't we in the process of standing in that now? now, we have -- we have taken the gloves off apparently with our new strategy, right? >> and that was the intent. we're in stalemate now, but i don't have the means to do what you want me to do, the probability, right, of neutrality. with what you set up, i can't win. you need to take the gloves off or do something else to break out of the stalemate. >> how are the taliban doing today, by the way? >> as for peace talks again,
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earlier this week, that's going to show some of their will in terms of how things are going for their support and efforts. >> will the north vietnamese come to peace talks? in 1968. >> and if you read the l.a. times, the president of afghanistan has thrown a new peace offer on the table. sweet amnesty for war crimes and promise of a place within the political administration, put down your weapons and join us. is this a tactic of strength in your idea? or is this a tactic of weakness. we'll get into some squeezy ideas, but that's okay. >> it's a political end state for that country to break up the stalemate that's in place. but we keep focusing on one type of extremist terrorism, but there's numerous in that country. so at what point you say, i'll appease you and bring you into
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the government. but then you have isil-k, everyone else in the country, you have to manage those relationships. >> if you can get the taliban to come into the political tent, can't you more easily deal with isis? >> some people don't want to be at the table. >> but you're giving them legitimacy. now you have legitimately recognized taliban as a governing body in your country. >> yes. >> you are going to lose power eventually to the taliban. >> are you admitting that's the reality on the ground? >> you're still weak for it. >> okay. >> i think the afghan government is coming from a position of power and offering versus begging. and the taliban understand that the government has the backing of the u.s. government and the military. they have been there for 15 years. and we are shown we are there for the long game. so the taliban are like, hmm, maybe it is time to come to the table and start talking. >> okay, james. >> for the afghan government, you also -- you do look like you're in a position of power by offering this peace offering, but you also can gain momentum in your attacks against the
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taliban if you say, well, we offered them peace. they turned it down. now we're going home. >> okay. but do they have limit to how hard they can go, too? >> they do. and they realize the taliban is being outflanked by the different flanks. if they can convince them, hey, you're fighting two sides. fight with us and we'll give you some political power versus none. vietnam, for example, with the readings, they didn't try to legitimize politically anyone. they really didn't start with accords until 1969. they wasted nine years when they could have been building the political problem. it wasn't the national problem, it was the political problem. >> isn't that always going to be the case, or mostly the case in these limited wars. these are at their roots political situations that eventually lead to negotiated peace and this may be a way of trying to pull that out. now, let's get back to vietnam.
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let's say it's new year's day, january 1968. if you're william westmoreland, how are you doing? who is winning? no, no, no, how is he doing? >> fairly good. >> okay. >> you feel like you convinced the north to attack you and give you the big values, a few locations, you think, i'm pulling them in to where i want them to be so i can destroy them. >> this is what william westmoreland was telling the people. the johnson administration pulls westmoreland back on what will be known as the success. so when william westmoreland gets in fruont of the national press club or in front of the daily briefings in saigon, that's what he's telling folks.
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notice anything? say it loud and proud. >> you're transitioning from losing military and political battle in 1965 to 1968. you're winning. so you feel like it is portrayed now in the government but also to the american people. >> good. what else? >> we are talking about the end state. that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we can view the end of what we're trying to accomplish. >> so if you're sitting in peoria, how does that play? if you're sitting in peoria and watching the "nbc nightly news" and william westmoreland gets up and says this, what are you thinking? go ahead. >> it buys you political capital and time. i know it's not the greatest right now, but we're almost done. we almost accomplished what we need to. that buys you more time for resources and tolerance of this war. >> okay. >> only if you're right. >> always with a negative wave. >> seven years later. >> i think it will be the same response to when we found out osama bin laden was killed. everyone thinks, mission accomplished, let's go home. but that's not the case.
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>> how is the other guy? what's the assessment of north vietnam, how they're doing? >> they are obviously taking losses, but they are not giving up any time soon. they don't think they're defeated by any means. >> okay, but what's your assessment? we look at the scale, won, loss, winning, losing, stalemate. where are they? >> they have been losing a lot of battles and need to come up with something else to gain the initiative again. >> when it comes to stalemate, isn't that what you're trying to do? gain the initiative or regain the initiative? the leadership of north vietnam led by, not ho chi minh, you had already gone since 1963 with a more large-scale commitment to ground troops. you have been hit, hit pretty hard, and you know the americans might be bringing more stuff to the table.
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so that's -- there's a time element behind this. what do you think you have going on your side? go ahead, yeah. >> the soviet chinese support. >> so while the americans are getting into saigon, the chinese and russians are falling all over themselves to provide support to the proxy war to the north. what else do you have going on? >> your political networks. at times, you can revert back to the guerilla war, but you have people in place to do what needs to be done. >> keep going, matt. >> so you can read newspapers, you know what is going on back at the home front. you can see the dwindling support for the war, not only congress but the american people. so you know we are losing that leg of the trinity. >> now, at this time, the anti-war movement is still relatively small, relatively isolated, but you know it's there. what else? >> you also have sanctuary in north vietnam, laos, cambodia. you still have a northern and western flank that you can
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regroup, refit, and reattack when you want to. >> so starting in the late fall of 1967, they come up with a new war winning strategy. it's ultimately the tet offensive. what is the goal behind it? what do they think is going to happen? if they get the battle they want, what's going to happen? >> the population rises up and joins their cause to overthrow the americans and the puppets. >> okay, keep going. >> in addition to that, to help collapse the south vietnamese government. >> okay. why do you think they're going to be able to pull this off? because again, you're looking for indicators, right? this just can't be, this is what i feel today. you know, like my daughters -- i shouldn't have said that. i'll pay for that later. this is what i feel today. so -- >> at that point, if the north koreans by attacking the tet offensive -- >> the north vietnamese. >> the north vietnamese. i'm half awake.
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the proves the americans can never hold the initiative. no matter how many people, you're never going to hold this country. by doing a mass military engagement you're showing you may lose the battle -- >> but what are the indicators that people are going to rise up? go ahead. >> you have your intelligence network. your network is telling you things. you have to believe them to a certain extent. you can look at your political cadres and the fact they have survived and they have been successful in assassinating south vietnamese officials. we have been successful for ten years. we can just show them we can be here and have success. >> other indicators, 1966, another one of these vietnamese elections where another general strongman takes over. the president starts to then crack down a little bit or perceived to crack down on the buddhists and so there is an uprising inside of saigon to the point that units are fighting each other in the streets of saigon. now, if i'm watching from the
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outside, what does that tell me? >> time is now. >> okay. 1967, there's another election. he becomes the vice president, and chu, another general, becomes the president. chu is all about chu, okay? so, it's a regime that here, again, here's another strongman, another person perceived to be a puppet of the united states and again there are protests inside of saigon. if we hit in the cities, what do we think is going to happen? people will? with a pocketful of shells. rally round the family with a pocket full of shells. if that happens, what else is going to happen? >> if i hit the -- those strategic centers that would get more news media with the correspondents and that's going
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to get back to the american people that just were told that the war was about to end. >> true, but that is not the primary goal. what is the primary goal of the tet offensive? >> to free the south. >> and by free the south -- >> unite vietnam. >> you will win the freaking war, right? that's the whole. it's not, oh, i'm going to do soft power. that's something that they tack on to after -- after they get their heads caved in. we think we can pull this off, we're going to win. go ahead. >> there's already been readings, it doesn't really come one way or the other but the vietnamese trying to get ahead of westmoreland as well, they wanted him to think they were doing the battle they wanted him to do when they actually weren't. >> wait a minute. if you're going to win the war by really sparking a popular uprising in the major cities, ousting the saigon government, what's your big obstacle? >> the other countries from the
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cities to make -- to conduct it so they can take the american troops outside of the population centers. >> okay. >> i can put my own men inside the population centers. >> oh, so we've got an issue. we've got a challenge. if i'm going to make the cities vulnerable, the major combat organizations of the arvin and the u.s. has to be pulled away. so how do they do that? >> they present that conventional battle that the american and south vietnamese forces were expected, like they start shelling and presenting what their enemy expected so that all forces head towards that. >> okay. so, major conventional attacks in the north along the dmz along the central highlands and even from the cambodian border against some of the saigon garrisons.
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how well does that work? >> pretty good. >> yeah. westmoreland takes the bait, why? >> because it's what he's expecting. >> and? >> he wants to kill more people. >> this is one of those things where you are -- you give the enemy exactly what they want to see, so for the most part, the vietnamese -- the unit and the main force american units have pulled out of the city. so the attack takes place. you time it with tet, a lot of arvin guys are going to be on leave. time it to where you have a lot of people coming in from the countryside so you have a lot vrk i ervietcong cadre. >> what does schwack look like in the tet offensive?
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>> it was certainly surprising for the american forces, but tactically, they still lost it. they didn't get that ground swell from the populous that they were counting on. >> why not? >> i don't know. >> why did the people of the south not rise up? >> well, for one, tactically, a lot of the soldiers were told that they could only do the way the plan was written, they couldn't change anything, they couldn't adapt to whatever was happening. they had to do exactly what they were supposed to do and a lot of the officers within the enemy forces were shot and killed early so most of the other forces below them just stopped, because they weren't sure what else to do and then they were killed too. >> when you come out into the open, guess what? i can see you. and if i can see you, i shoot you. what's the biggest reason that the people don't rise up in places like saigon? >> i think it was because of the -- at that time, they don't
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go to outside world because it was a celebration or something, new era, a new year's day or something. >> do these guys look, you know, appetizing to you? do they look pleasing to you? so, to some extent, while we're seeing what we want to see, the north vietnamese are also seeing what they want to see in the vietcong that when they rise up, come on to the party, and they're doing some horrible stuff. when they pull out, they cover mass graves where they've rounded up over 2,000 people and shot them in the head. the people in the south mostly want to be left alone. your brand, i don't like you. i don't like your brand either. i want to be left alone. you go into this conflict or you commit over 80,000 troops and over 40,000 of them are killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. what happens to the vietcong
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>> they decide we should try that again. they release a memo saying we should try to do this again. >> what's the biggest problem with doing it again if you're the vietcong? there ain't no vietcong, all right? when you come out here, this is a political and military disaster for the vietcong. you have relied upon these covert organizations, those covert guys come down, and those village leaders have been schwacked. by 1969, 70% of the vietcong come from the north. >> you can't get to your end state of unifying the country if all of your forces are from the north and the south just wants to be left alone. >> you lose your political base.
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>> and that issue of people's revolutionary war becomes problematic. for all intents and purposes, the vietcong that had existed prior to 1968 doesn't exist and you're going to have a hard time putting humpty dumpty back together again. now, we seem to have a few problems when it comes to messaging. where is this? anybody know where that picture's taken? the american embassy in saigon. in the spanking new american embassy in saigon. any problem here? >> it's supposed to be a bastion of safety and security. >> what do we say an embassy is? >> u.s. sovereign. >> what have these viet cong snipers been able to do? >> breach it.
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>> they didn't get into the building, though there's debate back and forth, but you are schwacking these guys in the middle of the american embassy in saigon. any problem with that? >> you told people you are winning and now you're winning and there's no problem. >> how about that picture in the far right? >> we say it's there to help liberate or help these people in the south, but the context of this picture, we don't necessarily know what's happening, so we just have a person who's armed or whose arms are bound being shot execution-style on the street when at that point he's really no threat. >> he's the chief of saigon. if you're in peoria, we're going to keep going back to peoria, and you're seeing these images on your television, what are you thinking? >> what the hell is going on. >> we're absolutely losing.
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what is a credibility gap? >> most of our senior leadership. >> what is the problem with the credibility gap? >> if your population stops trusting that you're prosecuting the war according to what you say you're doing, then they'll stop supporting it and then your politicians have to quickly find a new solution, which they do with nixon trying to pull out. >> okay. what have the american people been told? that the end is in sight, light at the end of the tunnel, we're doing okay. we were losing, now we're not. how are we doing? militarily, how are we doing? >> after tet, we're doing well. >> okay. if you are an american commander on the ground, how are you doing? >> feeling pretty good, killing more guys than you're losing your boys.
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>> tet offensive failed. >> how do you know you're doing well? >> body count. >> yeah. there's a lot of dead nva and vietcong guys around. a lot of enemy. and all of a sudden you are feeling, right? you're a commander, you have your fingers out, you start to feel that there's a change in the villages because those guys are done. you know you have had a major tactical victory. and what do you do? what should you do? >> exploit it. keep pressing harder. >> exploit it. press it harder. what's the problem? >> limitations. >> strategic and local objectives have changed now because of perceptions they have and now we can't take or capitalize on that tactical win because we're now constrained a little bit more. >> do you agree? >> we had operational limitations from the beginning because we told them from the outset, we won't go into laos or cambodia.
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>> on that scale, won, lost, in between, where are you militarily? >> pretty much back to stalemate. >> are you? militarily, on the ground, you are closer to winning. you know this. if you seal the deal, to roust out the remains of the nva, to clear out the villages of the viet cong, what do you need? >> to go across the border and pursue. >> don't even need to necessarily do that, right? what do i need? >> more time. >> i need more time and? >> to seal off those populations that are civilian. >> so what do i need to do that? i need more people. so earl wheeler, the army chief of staff, prods westmoreland, doesn't take a lot of prodding, to go back to the president and say, give me 205,000 more troops, and i will seal the deal. i will finally get us to military and political victory. is he right? we don't know, right?
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but is it justification? logical. >> yes. >> he needs a lot of people to -- needs a lot of american soldiers to subdue and secure a massive population spread over the entire south. >> so when westmoreland and wheeler ask for 205,000 more troops for vietnam to seal the deal. what does johnson say? >> it's the worst possible time to ask for more. >> why? >> because he just lost all credibility in this war, so justifying anything more for the war is next to impossible. >> what are the american people going to say? or what do the representatives fear the american people will say? >> we're not going to reelect you if you're good with this. >> keep going. >> beyond that, people aren't going to reelect him and he already tells himself he's not going to run for reelection.
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>> not quite yet but we're getting there. if you are william westmoreland, you've asked for a troop plus-up because in your hands, you know that you've got tactical victory. >> the problem with the american people right now is they've already believed that they've been lied to, so you're telling me again that you're winning and the end is in sight. i have no reason to believe you, and they will absolutely not, at this point, support sending more assets to vietnam. >> how often is has little willy westmoreland asked for more? every year. just a little bit more, it's going to put me over. just a little bit more. when the images don't match the realty, you've got a problem. cynicism, cynics are nothing but idealists gone bad, right? there is a delta between what you've been told and what you experience. the credibility gap is listing there. so even though probably have something that is really a good, strong tactical victory, it doesn't matter. so here we got uncle walty cronkite. what do we know about uncle walt?
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>> everybody believes him, man of the people. >> he's a man of the people. when he starts to see all these images, when he's reading the reports come out, apparently he says, what the hell's going on here? my buddy willy westmoreland told me you're winning. now look what's happening. he is so irritated by this delta between what he's been told and what he sees, he personally goes to vietnam. interview the guys on the ground. get ready. when he returns back from the united states -- or to the united states from vietnam, on the 27th of february, 1968, this is how he closes his newscast. please. >> to say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence the optimists who have been wrong in the past. to suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism.
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to say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory, conclusion. on the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months, we must test the enemy's intentions in case this is, indeed, his last big gasp before negotiations. but it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could. this is walter cronkite, good night. >> uncle cronkite, uncle walt, one of the most reliable and believable news guys telling the american people about this war on february of 1968. go ahead, jerry. >> basically that we lost but we need to gracefully bow out. >> that's what's often portrayed of what cronkite says.
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what's he actually saying? >> it's a stalemate and we could win but he doesn't think that we're going to win. we just need to negotiate and leave quietly, respectfully of the vietnamese people, i think. >> okay. so is he right? was his assessment of the ground reality correct? >> he'd agreed with what the generals also thought, that we've reached the point, tactically, that we could push it operationally and then finally reach that strategic insight if we just had a little bit more. so -- >> but why, then, uncle walt getting to those nuances? >> because it's a hard sell with the american public. >> we're still arguing over how to do counterinsurgency now in professional military so the military that spends their entire lives doing military stuff, conventional war, guerilla war, how to do it, how to prosecute it, trying to communicate that to peoria, iowa, where you don't care about the military other than go
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america, where you were in world war ii and you were a rifleman, is difficult. you can't just say, well, yeah, we're kind of winning, we've got to keep going. i mean, you can't explain a all that stuff in a 30-second sound bite and that's what he has. >> so does the media lose the war? >> media has the ability to greatly influence the decisions that are made by the people, by the politicians, by everybody, and that's not a good thing, necessarily, because they might not understand the greater context either, so they're not the ones fighting the fight. they don't understand everything going on. it's hard for a general officer to articulate what is going on to someone who has no idea of a warfare or the culture or the dynamics that are at play, so for, like, jerry was saying, to explain that to someone in a short amount of time, they don't have the tacit knowledge of what is going on, you can't do anything. if they portray the wrong picture, maybe unknowingly,
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there's huge ramifications. >> you can honestly say cronkite doesn't have all the facts. >> we bring it upon ourselves, too. if westmoreland hasn't gone around the country saying how great the war was going, he wouldn't have had a credibility gap when something happened. so maybe you can't explain all the nuances but don't try to stay stuff that could get you schwacked politically. >> the military owns a lot of this problem. every night in saigon, there are press briefings. the press quickly starts to call them the 5:00 follies because? >> couple different things. this is really the age of mass media and constant news in every household in america, and war is on tv, nightly. >> the first televised war. >> exactly. so, when a general steps up and says, this is what's going on,
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and then the next day, it's totally different because things have changed tactically and operationally, he's got to double back and step back and correct himself and he just can't explain all the nuances of coin to -- i mean, we have a difficult enough time trying to understand it and execute it versus explaining that to the public. >> and if you look at some of the newspaper reporters or the journalists, guys like david halberstam, neil sheehan, these are guys that go to vietnam early and what's interesting is they are that jfk, new frontier, idealist guy that we're doing the right thing where we are. the problem comes with these guys is that what they're being told until the official briefings and what they actually experience in the field doesn't mesh. rhetoric doesn't match reality.
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so the 5:00 follies, you go in starting to believe that, you know, how do you know a pao's lying? his lips are moving, right? that becomes a sort of thing for the 5:00 follys so you sort of build up that mistrust. this seems to validate that. and now you start to snowball. hey, like it or not, the truth will come out. sooner or later, the truth will come out. there's a guy named seymour hersh that in 1969 will come out and say, hey, i don't know if you guys knew this, but in march of 1968, almost 18 months later, a bunch of americans went into this little town and shot a bunch of people. oh. and the military covered that up. the following year, neil sheehan, that guy again, will work with a guy named daniel ellsberg to replace what will become known as the pentagon papers and what do the pentagon papers, when it's splashed across the new york times and later "the washington post," what does it tell the american people? that we have been deliberately
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and systematically lied to from every administration from eisenhower to johnson. why does this matter? and then we're going to take a break. if the public starts to get that perception. >> they have a threat for the american people, you lose that one leg of the trinity. >> the credibility gap just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and when you feel lied to, you're just going to lose all faith. >> what about if you're doing good stuff? >> it doesn't matter anymore. they don't believe you. >> the good stuff that we got to do right now is take a break. before my credibility gap grows. good stuff. good stuff. i do believe -- i didn't disagree. okay. so we see this growing credibility gap. if you're lyndon baines johnson, what do you know? >> he lost -- >> that uncle walty might be right, you've lost middle america. okay.
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here's my good friend, lyndon baines johnson. and in many ways, he's a very tragic figure. if you're johnson, what do you want to be in the history books for? >> winning. >> winning. >> is that really what you want, to be in the history books? >> taking after jfk. anything other than being the guy that took over after jfk got shot. >> what is the great society that's what he wants to go down for. what's the great society? >> anti-poverty campaign. if you're johnson sitting in the white house in 1967, '68, you look around, what's happening in america, what do you see? >> increasing violence. >> civil rights issues, the anti-war movement. you've got -- there are actually some things that appear in the press about poverty in the inner cities but also in places like appalachia. he wants to be the successor to franklin delano roosevelt. the great society is to fix the
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problems of america. medicare, medicaid, food stamps, all that stuff comes out of the great society. what do you not want to be the president of? >> losing wars. >> well, losing the vietnam war, but you really don't want to be part of the vietnam war at all if you can avoid it. in fact, going into vietnam or when we -- he's debating going in with ground troops, he says i feel like a jackass in a texas hailstorm. i can't run, i can't hide, and i can't make it stop. i like this bust. i got it from the johnson presidential library. why i bought this bust is for a reason. in 1965, johnson commissioned these busts, and he would hand them out to visitors. now, what does that tell you about johnson? >> he likes himself. >> he is from texas. >> okay.
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shh. they'll secede. be careful, okay? so you give these things. it says something about the guy's ego, that he's giving these things out as gifts. okay? the reason i bought this is it's from the original stock. i got it a couple years ago. when i opened the box, it smelled like 1966 because they still have hundreds of them stockpiled at the johnson presidential library. what does that tell you? >> not very popular amongst the people. >> yeah. that this war has finally killed him. what he called that bitch of a war on the other side of the world has finally sort of done him in, has broke his spirit. and so you could still get in there and buy one of these original ones from 1966, you know, that johnson would have given out because of his unpopularity. in fact, by march of 1968, 28%
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of the people polled have lost faith in the war and lost faith in the leadership of lyndon baines johnson. johnson realizes this. despite any military success, he's going to start to make some unilateral decisions. he wants to get the north to now come to the negotiating table. first thing he does is say, i'm going to unilaterally stop bombing north of the dmz, so partial stuff. only if we're attacked will we respond. he begins peace talks in paris, and the north and the people's liberation front, the popular liberation front show up. what's the problem? what's the problem? >> they have a policy of fighting while negotiating. >> okay. >> continue to fight, even though they've shown up at peace accords. >> so what are the negotiating points for the north vietnamese? >> unification. >> unified vietnam. >> you leave. >> when do the americans leave
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and? when do you get rid of the two governments so we can run our flag up the flag pole. any problem with those negotiating points? >> they're never going to be agreed upon. >> and for the most part, the north is also not going to shift away from them unless they can see a temporal way of making hay out of it. our old buddy willy westmoreland is kicked upstairs, made the chief of staff of the army and you replace him with abrams. more of that as we go along. finally, on the 31st of march, when he announces the end of bombing, before leaving, he announces to the american people, i shall not seek nor will i accept the nomination for my party to be your president. hey, if you're the north, what do you make of all this? >> we're winning. >> because? >> because the american people do not want the war and they're not going to invest into a war anymore. >> okay. we start to see this changing
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reality inside of the united states. that you sort of had this cold war consensus in the 1940s and the 1950s that, yeah, we've got our problems, but look at the communists. increasingly, that cold war consensus is starting to crack. what are the tensions inside america that this war is helping to exacerbate? >> the party -- the tension is already preexisting so one of the ways to get out of service was college and so not everybody -- those who were wealthy could go to college and avoid the draft and not have a draft number while your less fortunate and more inner city and appalachia places like we talked about, those were the people that were sent to fight in the war so it furthered that divide of the population. >> this is a rich man's war and a poor man's fight and in fact martin luther king will come out against the war saying basically that. we're sending a disproportionate
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amount of young black men off to be killed in vietnam. what are some of the other tensions inside the society? civil rights. what's the tensions there? >> whether to segregate or not segregate. >> so we have these underlying tensions that go back before the civil war, the failure of reconstruction. and people are getting fed up. the african-american population is getting fed up so you get a series of long, hot summers in the united states. major race riots in watts, 1965, race riots in newark, new jersey, race riots in detroit, michigan, and a host of other race riots. 1968 is an election year. and this election year is going to start off bad. the assassination of martin luther king in 1968 will lead to massive riots across american cities.
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who's running in 1968? >> robert kennedy. >> bobby kennedy until he gets shot. here's another one. if the voice comes up from the youth to offer something different, somebody shoots him down. who else is running? richard millhouse nixon. what platform is nixon running on? >> promise to pull out from vietnam and the war. >> okay. he's not talking about pulling out troops yet but he is promising, i'm going to end the war. what else is he promising the american people? if you are living in peoria, turning on your "nightly news," what do you see? >> the absence of law and order and he is promising those things. >> the democrats are running? hubert humphrey. but there's going to be a problem. the democratic national
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convention for that year will be held in chicago, and the students for democratic action, these anti-war groups and a host of other social protest groups are going to gather together in chicago, trying to basically disrupt or shut down the convention as much as they can. the mayor of chicago is richard daley, who does not like to have the machine messed with and so as these protesters increasingly sort of restful start to surge, he calls out his cops. what happens next will be called a police riot. you know what a police riot is? >> they start beating up the civilians, basically. >> yes. here's a night stick upside the hippie heads. in fact, outside of the convention, the news cameras are rolling, the pictures are being taken.
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and so what the american public sees on their tv are young american citizens being whacked in the head by the man and then carried off. but as they're getting whacked in the head, the convention delegates hear the chant. the whole world is watching. the whole world is watching. the whole world is watching. just to sort of see how crazy we have gotten, there's also a third party candidate running in 1968. his name is george wallace. anybody remember george wallace? >> alabama. crazy, crazy right wing, wanted to go back to way worse than what times were. i'll give you law and order at the bayonet. >> so a former governor of alabama. what do you think former governors of alabama are thinking in the 1960s?
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yes? go ahead, kia. >> in the 1960s, someone from alabama is not going to be for integration or even support what the protests are about. they want what they want the way they want it. >> oh, yeah. >> in very old school. >> very old school. in fact, the last place that we see george wallace is standing in the door of the university of alabama in 1963 saying? >> no black people allowed. >> no african-americans allowed. at which time he's carted off by the sheriffs or by the u.s. marshals and people are allowed in. so he is sort of retrograde. let's cut back on this federal government and their issues of segregation. anybody know who his running mate is? his running mate is bombs away curtis le may. oh, that guy. so what can you say about this
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ticket? george wallace and bombs away curtis le may. >> there's going to be law and order everywhere. >> we'll bomb the hippies back to the stone age. wallace is always good for copy. he says, the only four-letter words that the hippies don't use are work and soap. okay? so this is probably the lunatic fringe when it comes to american political parties. in the election, they get 13% of the popular vote. >> wow. >> 10,000 people over 54 delegates, the last third party to get any stinking delegates, okay? who do you think supports him? who would you think would support him? >> the south. >> he gets georgia, alabama, mississippi, louisiana, and arkansas. who else supports him?
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all of a sudden, a bunch of blue-collar guys in the north and in the midwest also look at johnson or, correction, at george wallace as a potential president. >> rust belt. >> what does that tell you? >> there's a huge divide in the nation. >> huge divide in the nation. and the divide is there. this war is starting to cost america. for every -- in 1967, it cost $30,000 per bomber per raid, and from our own estimates, it's costing us $9.60 for every dollar of damage that we're doing to the north vietnamese or the vietcong. now, if you want big social programs and you're fighting a
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big stinking war, is there a problem? >> you need a lot more taxes. >> not enough sweet, sweet ducts. you're going to have to run a deficit. you're going to have to raise taxes. 1967, johnson proposes a 10% increase in taxes. problem? that's my money. lbj, what are you doing with my money? buying all those busts, right? what happens when you have all these competing interests is the government starts spending a lot more than it takes in. 1967, the inflation rate is 3%. by 1969, it's 6% and growing. 1969, we'll go into a slight recession. ultimately, in the 1970s, that will give way to stagflation. what is stagflation? anybody know? what does it sound like? >> you're not shifting either way. >> it's not going up or down. >> you want the economy to be growing, not just plateauing. >> so the unemployment rate is going up, the economy is stagnant, wages are staying the same, inflation is going up.
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what happens if wages are staying the same and inflation is going up? >> poverty goes up. >> cost of living. >> my buying power, how much i can make do with my sweet, sweet ducats, starts to erode and the more that happens, what are the people in peoria thinking? >> we need an administration change. >> for the people. >> we need something. we need somebody to offer some solutions. and that's why you're going for all these different candidates but the nation itself is starting to split. in 1969, that anti-war movement that was relatively small in '66 and '67 is starting to grow. you'll start to get the moratorium marches. moratorium against vietnam marches. that will draw over 700,000 participants. oh, in 1969, there are 205 bombings of rotc buildings. in 1970 and '71, there'll be
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over 2,500 bombings inside the united states. the war is coming home. you see it on the news. you see it in places like this. this is a "life" magazine from june of 1969. and what "life" magazine does is i'm going to show you the pictures of the 242 american service members that were killed in a single week of fighting. why do you do that? >> make it real to everyone. >> does it? >> makes it real and puts a face. that could be whoever is in illinois's son or daughter or nephew. it could be any of those people, so it brings it real and starts to break down that support. >> so if you are richard
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millhouse nixon, what do you know? >> your support's waning. >> okay. >> you have to find a way to exit with, like you said, with honor. >> so easy. how do you do that? keep going. >> if you're richard nixon, you want to bring something new when you get into position. you need to bring new strategies, new ideas, and new things to implement so that you don't end up like lbj as he say. >> so, you've got that looming over your shoulder, if i don't do something, i'm going to end up like lbj, a one-term president, and that would be bad. now, you've sort of hinted to the american people or led the american people to believe during the campaign that you have a secret plan for ending the war. thus, if you're like me, i've got a solution. the problem is -- >> he does not have a solution. >> oh, hell, henry, we don't have a solution. we need to come up with one quick. you know that you have an expiration date.
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you've promised big, but now you've got to find a way out of this mess. economics is driving it. politics is driving it. american society is driving it. you better find a solution. well, that's easy. so what are the problems, though? if you just say, to hell with it? we tried our best, like uncle walt said, we gave it our best shot, but now as a free society, we need to pat ourselves on the back and leave. >> then you're weak on communism if you just pack up and leave and that's still a death sentence at that point. >> does nixon have some advantages here, though? what is his biggest advantage when he comes into office? >> he didn't start the war. but he can end the war. >> okay. what else? go ahead. >> it seems like we're losing the war so whatever he does, it can only get better in his idea. >> well, what are nixon's credentials?
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what are his bona fides when he takes over as the president? he served in the navy in world war ii. he had been a senator. had been eisenhower's vice president. how do you become eisenhower's vice president? in the early 1950s. you were as hard as woodpecker lips when it comes to communism. he has solid gold credentials as a hard core anti-communist. in fact, he had played that red baiting stuff to help get him elected from his first couple of jobs in the federal government. nixon picks him -- correction, eisenhower picks him because of this. he will debate khrushchev toe to toe. the kitchen debates about the merits of free society versus communist society. so here's a dude who is known to be hard core. so what? why does that matter?
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go ahead, brother. >> you can't be hard core against communism but then lose to communism. you lose those bona fides you've worked so hard to build. >> how does it give you -- he's saying you lose your credibility. >> you've already set your heart on communism. you're saying this is not essential to our task to defeating communism. vietnam is not essential. we could win other ways or if he goes with vietnamization, you know, it's not our responsibility to always defend communism. it's up to you to help do it. he has some wiggle room to say that because he's already showed he's done it correctly. >> to a large extent, it's that. have you heard the saying, only nixon could go to china? it's sort of part of this. if you have sterling credentials as being a bad guy, that gives you a little bit more wiggle room to do it, and nixon's going to use that. when he comes into office, read that first one there. i think that's sort of interesting. the madman theory. what do you make of that?
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>> it's kind of what we see in the news right now with north korea and kind of how trump is handling it. he wants north vietnam to think that, you know, will he, will he not, in that way. >> don't show your hand. >> well, is he -- i'm not showing my hand. i'm keeping a little bit of ambivalence. >> little information operations there. really. >> how so? >> like you're saying, you're not showing your hand, but you're planting a hand that this is what i want them to see, when is what i want them to think so go ahead and start beating the drums and spreading the message that, you know, maybe he just will. you don't know. we don't know. we can't control him. >> have you figured out johnson if you're the north? yeah. he showed the hands. i've given up, i'm stopping bombing, i'm trying to get you to negotiate. nixon's saying, that hand may have a blackjack in it. i may schwack you upside the head because i'm nixon.
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so he can go places that johnson perhaps could not go. now, what do all new administrations have? >> a grace period. you have a short grace period to do stuff, to do something without too much judgment. >> oh, yeah. and nixon believes -- go ahead. >> the original question was, what do all new administrations have and we talked about it before, you have a campaign plan that you promised to carry out. so whatever his platform was, it's now his responsibility to carry out. >> oh, yeah. this is johnson's war and you sort of kind of got to end it before it becomes nixon's war. and he believes that the vast silent majority of americans back him, want peace with honor. in fact, after those large moratorium marches where the
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newspapers and the tvs show all these people marching against the war, immediately following that, he gives that speech. hey, i need your support because i think the majority of you guys don't necessarily like what's going on in america. it's interesting that after he gives that speech, the polls say that 68% of the electorate follow him. 68% approval rating. and that's -- think about approval ratings today. it's hard to get americans to get a 68% approval rating that kicking puppies is bad, right? >> three parties too. >> that's right. so he's got this. but guess what? now you better deliver. how important is ending the war in vietnam to the nixon administration? >> the policies that he enacts, the vietnamization policies, the whole plan is we need to get out very quickly and put that
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vietnam face on them. make sure they're okay and then just leave. >> we have the inauguration of richard nixon. the day, inauguration of richard nixon. time. and the very next day, the very next day, once you've woken up from that good night that you had, the very next day after the inauguration, nixon says, i want the state department, i want the department of defense, i want the cia, i want the embassy in saigon, i want all of you major players to give me your assessment. 20 days -- you got 20 days. you come back to me and you tell me your assessment of what's going on, on the ground, what is possible, what's not possible. that tells you how important it is. his first official act. tell me what i got to do with
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vietnam because i don't have a secret plan. so, what do these guys come back and tell him? go ahead, russ. >> well, they all agreed that the south vietnamese government wasn't strong enough to do it on its own, that our -- we couldn't do just major combat operations or guerilla. we had to do both. >> who's we? >> the u.s. and the south vietnamese. >> what do you know what it comes to richard nixon? >> us needed to take a backseat to the south vietnamese and let them handle their business and put that face on it. >> any problem with that? >> it's going to take a whole lot of us to help them out. >> maybe he's not ready to totally take over. they need some of our support.
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they need some of the resources and things like that in order to be successful. >> they would still have to face what westmoreland faced which is conventional forces and the guerillas. >> military realities on the ground have not changed, even though you have schwacked the viet cong and they're in disarray, you still have a lot of very strong forces at play here. what else? >> much like jeremy said earlier, if we took the front stage of defeating the conventional forces, much like we did in iraq, and we tried to put an iraqi face on it like they tried to put a vietnamese face on it, they're not ready to and isis comes in because they can't hold their own. >> the president's got some issues here. nobody is agreeing to the way forward. the d.o.d. puts a nice happy face on things. cia goes, everything's terrible, i'm going to drawn -- drown myself. they agree, if these guys are going to take over the fight,
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they're not ready for it. what ultimately becomes nixon's strategies are these things. what is pacification? >> the public works programs, everything that state department or d.o.d. agencies are building up. >> those are symptoms. those are things you do. those are antidotes for pacification. what is pacification? >> unrest in the populous. >> isolating the populous from the insurgency. >> okay. what is subversion? >> actively trying to overthrow and delegitimize the established government. >> what is pacification? >> trying to counter that. >> pacification is getting rid of those subversive elements while at the same time holding up the capacity of the host nation to gain that legitimacy. now, there's going to be some other things here. diplomatic isolation of vietnam. how do you pull that off? >> how do you get diplomatic
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isolation of north vietnam? >> you can start at the u.n. then you can also say, hey. >> that ship has sailed. >> if you're my ally, you're not going to talk to north vietnam. >> the problem is all those youth movements are also hitting every else in the world so that's a hard thing. who do you really need to isolate north vietnam from? >> russia and the soviets. >> oh, those guys. russia and china. hey, nixon loves foreign policy. but nixon, when he looks at vietnam, goes, you know, at the end of the day, okay, i don't care. you know what i care about? russia and china. okay? i care about the arms race. after the cuban missile crisis, the takeaway from the russians is, we're never going to be humiliated like that again. and start a massive build-up of their conventional and nuclear forces. the chinese still hate our guts. but what do we know about the chinese at this point? by the late '60s. >> them and the russians have a
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schism. >> oh, hell yeah. those guys hate each other's guts too. so nixon sees an opportunity to deal with the big issues of the cold war, existential threat, us all making sweet, sweet love to atomic bombs, dealing with vietnam but also changing the strategic dynamic. so, if i go to china, make sweet with china, recognize china, what's that going to do? >> you're going to build that relationship at least, and so china might not be as willing to provide north korea with things if you can make deals -- >> vietnam. >> vietnam with things if you can make deals with the united states. so i can get something out of the united states out of this relationship, then maybe i will forgive my relationship with north vietnam. >> maybe they can get mao to strong arm the north vietnamese to do some negotiation. >> they might also be willing to help us influence the russians as well. >> they hate russia. >> just as you show up in peking, how does that change the
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relations between the united states and the soviets? >> it's going to agitate russia because they're going to feel like the friend of my enemy is my enemy. >> shortly after nixon goes to china, nixon goes to moscow. now, this hope of those guys squeezing the north doesn't pay off as well as he thinks but it does help to change some of the strategic dynamic. there are going to be troop withdrawals because? >> that's what he ran on. >> that's what the people want. that's what's fueling a lot of the anti-war sentiment. soon after taking office nixon says, november, december draft calls, not going to call them up. and he starts to do reforms of the draft system which helps to equalize it to where it's not a rich man's war and a poor man's fight. you throw your name in there based upon birth date, not the fact that you are or are not in
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college. if your number comes up, you go. that does tend to give him a little bit more breathing space. but we're also going to do peace talks but what's different about the way nixon talks? >> hey, we're trying to talk to you, you won't negotiate, okay, i'll bomb you. i'll bomb you for a series of days and now you'll come back to the peace table. >> that's ultimately what's going to help end the war for us, but before you get there, if you're if north, what have you been accustomed to? sanctuary. sanctuaries. we know that you know that you know that we know that there are going to be places that the americans won't go until they do. so in 1970, we have an incursion into cambodia, because that's not invasion. invasions are bad. we do an incursion into cambodia. why? why, gary? >> couple reasons. you take out their supply lines and the logistics hubs in cambodia but also strategically you're showing the world and
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vietnam that you're able to go there and you can go there. >> there's a new sheriff in town, crazy nixon, no telling what that guy's going to do, he's changing the rules on the ground. there's no more sanctuaries or maybe you're not going to get the sanctuaries. i'm going to hit you militarily because you know the north is rebuilding as rapidly as they can after tet. so i'm going to disrupt your efforts to be able to launch a major campaign as i'm trying to get the hell out of vietnam. any downside to invading cambodia, by the way? >> probably not very fond of you invading their country. >> we've been doing that secret bombing, right? secret bombings are bad, mostly because you can't keep them secret. but you know who knows? the guys on the ground getting bombed. so the cambodians are already a little irritated. here come in the americans and the south vietnamese. hey, what have the american people been told about your efforts in the region?
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what are you doing? >> lying to them again. >> yeah, that you said that you were de-escalating the war, that you started this vietnamization, but there you go into cambodia. the american campuses, which had been relatively quieter with this great silent majority, exploded. some of the biggest ones happen at kent state and also in a place called jackson state in mississippi. the governor of ohio calls out the national guard, confronts the students, and for a host of reasons, being thrown back and forth, all of a sudden the national guard turns around and fires. last summer, i hear the drumming, four dead in ohio. tin soldiers and nixon's coming, we're finally on our own. we forget that at jackson state, which is a historically black college, the police sort of do the same thing and kill two african-americans.
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militarily, it makes sense, but it doesn't play well in peoria. you're going to let the arvn take the lead. cut ho chi minh trail in laos. the congress has said, tricky dick, you said you're getting out, no american ground forces will be used. you can use helicopters but they can't touch the ground. half of the arvn forces that go into laos are killed, wounded, or captured. nixon will proclaim this a victory of vietnamization. on the ground, it doesn't look like that. for the aviators, 107 u.s. helicopters shot down. 600 more damaged. the largest thing that shot the
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helicopters down was .47 millimeter. i figured i'd just tell you that. okay? make your day. so, let us talk about vietnamization. what's the goal? go ahead. >> the goal is a handoff. you guys now take the lead on this war. we will back away. >> okay. what else? that's the end goal. we're going to back up, as you stand up. sound familiar, huh? what else, jared? >> it called for training, a lot of train, like the advisory teams coming back to train the south vietnamese army to be able to take over. >> okay. so if you're looking at arvn, and you're being told by all your advisers in '69, they can't take the fight, they can't do this war that we've already had a hard time doing, dealing with
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the bully boys with crowbars and the termites. what do you have to do to get the south vietnam army -- south vietnamese army in? one is going to be training, training, training. what changes in our training regimen? what did we say about the advisers last time? >> the advisers initially were good because that was the main effort and then as the combat built up, all of our good people were assigned to combat units, of course, similar to what we do now, and everyone that was an adviser was kind of shunned to the side. >> what about now? >> now, since we're drawing down, we have less people need in combat so we can afford to send better people, more experienced leaders that have some combat experience and have worked there and maybe not necessarily want to be there but they're better for the mission set.
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>> we get the right guy in the right place with the right training to try to deal with this situation. what else? >> you also have army special forces, which specializes in foreign internal defense that are by this time now more seasoned who are able to those forces in direct action as well, in addition to your adviser. >> and helping out with the pacification. what else? >> massive arms build-up, so we're providing them airplanes, the cobra, m-16 rifles, tanks, you name it. >> yeah. in a very short amount of time, this becomes one of the largest and best equipped, most modern armies in asia. that's good, right? >> you got to have the training behind it. >> training is going to be an issue. so we haven't addressed some of the deeper problems of the will to fight. both soldiers.
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how many people in a company? 500. and you go check. 200 don't exist. or 50 of them are being paid to the commander not to call them up. that would never happen again, right? you do have this issue. the arvn forces are taking a serious schwacking. we talk about the american losses. we lose sight that the arvn losses are double ours and growing. so this is a hard thing to keep these guys in. overnight, what are we trying to turn the arvn into? us. any problem with that? >> they're not us. >> hey, you know, h-100, we talked about the american or, correction, the western way of war. how long did it take for western society to build in all those systems that allow the western way of war to work? >> from the greeks until now,
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when we're still building it. >> oh, okay. if you go back that way, it's hundreds of years. so we are trying to do what the west did over centuries and months and years. if i give you modern cool toys to fight modern cool war, what else has to go along with it? >> training. >> the training we talked about the doctrine. >> maintenance. >> any problem with that? we talked about the american -- correction, the western way of war. how long did it take for western society to build in all of those systems to allow the western way of war to work? >> from the greeks until now where we are still building it. >> it is hundreds of years. we are trying to do what the west did over centuries in months and years. if i give you modern cool toys to fight modern cool war, what else has to go with it? >> training. >> training we talked about. the doctrine. >> maintenance. >> oh, maintenance. any problem with doing maintenance with this army? >> it costs money and takes a specialized skill. >> who are your soldiers? peasants. what is the most technical thing that they have seen? a water buffalo. you are trying to take the peasantry force you have and drag them into the middle of the 20th century, with the education and all that other stuff that
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has to be there. what is the other way of fighting a western way of war? >> if they want to fight a western way of war, they are not focused back on the town. you give them the opportunity to rebuild those cadres and wet back into the towns. and if you give me the cool toys, i want to use them. i don't want to go back in the town and do that non-sexy stuff. >> absolutely. what is the biggest problem of the western way of war? go back to what parker told you. >> we like a quick, decisive battle, and we're fighting a protracted war. >> how expensive is the war? >> very. >> and how rich is vietnam. >> not rich. >> to fight this type of war requires all the money and education and cash to come back in to keep the damn thing going. how is the american economy going? >> not that good. >> that becomes the issue, right? why are you spending money there when our economy is stinking and you should probably be spending it here. now, i'll tell you what. let's jump through a few things. we will pick up with some of this. but sadly, if you are joe, what do you think of vietnamization? the average american soldier? >> i think it is twofold. it is frustrating because the south vietnamese aren't going to do what you want and not going to listen to you and the same heart or will that you have as an adviser. at the same time, there's some gratification because you know the war is almost over and you might be able to go home.
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>> is that gratification? >> you can be happy or sad depending on your mentality. >> what has richard nixon told the nation when it comes to u.s. forces? >> we are withdrawing. >> just to show you i'm not kidding, you pull down 20,000 troops by the summer of 1969. how is that received at home? >> tricky. hell yeah, tricky. what happens with the withdrawals? >> i'm going to go home soon, but i have to stay and train the south vietnamese so i'm going to stay here longer anyway and if the enemy is still trying to engage us, i'm training and defending and fighting. >> yeah, but up through 1970, the majority of american soldiers are doing what? >> walking in the jungle. >> fighting. >> 1969 is argue my the bloodiest year of the war.
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hamburger hill occurs there. trying to keep the squeeze based on the success you had in tet. so when you go over there, nixon may be sending dudes home, but we're still fighting and dying. all of those pictures you saw in that magazine. what are the american people thinking about the withdrawals? >> shouldn't we go faster? >> it becomes like crack. i like the withdrawal, give me more. >> if you're a mom and you see the troops coming hope, you want your son home now. >> what were they supposed to be based on? >> the condition. >> what condition? >> the vietnamization is them taking their own stance. >> so as they gain capacity and capability, we will peg our withdrawal to that. how does it work out? >> slower than expected. >> i want more. i want more. i want more. it becomes hedged free of the capability space. go ahead. >> and fighting is continuing so
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as you are drawing troops out, there is fighting going on. the enemy isn't waiting for the vietnamization to stand up to keep fighting. >> go ahead, dan. >> everybody telling you it is their war but you are still fighting it. >> if you're telling me it's conditions based, if they're trained, then i can go home, then i'm going to fake reports and stuff and say they're trained and i can go home earlier. >> we are going to talk about in the next lesson, the american foshss -- forces start with vietnamization. why? >> they are still drafted and there for one year and they want to survive. >> what do you know? if you're joe what do you know? >> you have less people to do the same thing. even when we pulled out of iraq, we had less and less people and it's harder and harder and you have more and more risk. as a soldier, you think your country is doing you a wrong
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because they're taking things away from you that you need to win and survive. >> yeah. at the end of the day, john kerry will get up and ask that ugly question. like the guy or hate the guy, it is a valid question if you are joe. who is going to be the one who asks the last joe to die in vietnam when we said we're getting out of here? we'll pick up on that next time. and pacification, we'll pick up on that. abrams is a great concept. what is the great irony of this? that it's working. why is it working? we've been doing this now since earlier in the war. why does it seem to be working? >> you have a central command system where everyone was on the same page. you're all going towards the same goal. what's the biggest reason? >> intelligence. >> oh, that.
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so good buddy abrams and now westmoreland's replacement is getting all the agencies on the same sheet and going in the same direction and what's helping you out is all of those guys a, all those vietcong cadre have just been schwacked. and the military and political is becoming easier. in fact, it is working. what's the problem? >> you're out of time. >> you're out of time. you're out of time. the american people have written this off. get out. and you're acceding to them, we're going to get out. we have to live up to the campaign promise, the election is coming up. people in the street are telling you, you better get out. who knows this? oh, those guys. you can do whatever you want so ironically while pacification is working, the enemy has their own response to you. by 1972, what is the north
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saying about the people's revolutionary war? is that what they're saying? >> they might have to go with main conventional forces because they lost most of their cadre and people rising up didn't work out, so now they have to go in and win. >> so people's revolutionary war, if you within to mao or ho chi minh, is required because? >> you're weak. >> i'm weak, but ultimately -- it's going to take time to indoctrinate the masses. by 1972, the north says -- i've got your people's revolutionary war, right? but it's going to be imposed at the end of tanks. if they are riding tanks, they ain't guerillas. you want to talk about large-scale combat operations,
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1972, 14 north vietnamese divisions descend upon the south and it becomes a damn close-run thing. and only with the massive amount of american air power and the fighting skills of some brave arvin, they're managing to stave this off. by this point, the only thing we want is to get the hell out. ironically, we have to bomb the north vietnamese to make them agree to us giving up. part of the peace agreement though, is a cease-fire freeze. wherever the north vietnamese troops had made it in 1972 is where they stop. any problem? 140,000 getting ready for what? >> saying they are done. once we're gone, you can do whatever you want. >> so from 1972 to 1975, the north vietnamese are building asphalt roads, laying pipelines and they're bringing reinforcements in.
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and when 1975 hits, no more guerrillas, and they quickly overrun the south. in the midst of this, gerald ford tried to live up to a promise that richard nixon made. if you get in a bind, we got your back brother. and when ford goes to the congress and says hey, how about some money to help out our vietnamese brothers, the response from congress is -- we've given enough. that's right. the time is over. and it rapidly ends. now, we'll pick up with that what my good friend david said about the lessons of vietnam and the lessons of iraq and afghanistan. we'll play with this and we'll discuss the state of the u.s. military coming out of vietnam. this is a broken military.
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we'll see how deeply broken this military is and some of the readings. so read -- you're going to have interesting times where they collapse in the armed forces and read those about certain victory. how we are trying to rebuild afterwards, specifically what depew is doing to fundamentally recast the u.s. army. we're going to build it from the ground up. for some fun, i have a couple of underground g.i. newspapers published in the vicinity of ft. lewis, washington. take a look at them. don't read them. look at the pictures. see what headlines makes you go hmm. and enjoy it. it might be eye opening for you how low the military can get. i have e-mailed you the 1970 army war college study on professionalism and sort of scan through that and see what makes
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go hm, and if you haven't done so, read "lying to ourselves." might be some interesting things. any questions for me? [ inaudible ] i e-mailed that to you. if you didn't get it, i will send it again. all right, guys. thank you very much. you did a good job. be free my children. each -- here's a brief look at one of our recent trips. >> this was, for me, my favorite discovery of my book. a colleague turned me on to an artisan who i'd never heard of before. turns out nobody, virtually nobody had heard of him. his work is the smithsonian museum in their archives. i made an appointment to say, could you bring me this work
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that had never been exhibited, 24 water colors. when i saw them, i was astounded. it turns out wilson was a young american artist who went to princeton, went to paris, and studied modern art, came back, and was an art instructor at columbia university when war broke out. he needed to see really truly bad things, you know, that he couldn't be in an isolation bubble, isolation tank. so he became a marine. a marine lieutenant, i think he was. fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the war.
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he got some water color paint, paper, and some water colors and did this amazing set of paintings of his memories of what he had seen during the war, the nightmares he had experienced. there was no other artist that painted the horrors of war with a huge sense of passion about it. so it's what he saw that filtered through his nightmares and memories, his cam rads screaming in agony. that's what these paintings are about. >> travel with us to historic sites, museums, and archives each sunday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern on our weekly series "american artifacts." tonight on the
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communicators, verizon senior vice president and chief network officer nicky palmer on verizon's push to implement 5g. she's interviewed by axios technology reporter david mccabe. >> what's different about 5g? it gives us new currencies on which to develop services. what i mean by that is 5g networks give us massive speed and bandwidth, okay. 20 times the speed on average to 4g networks and about a thousand times the bandwidth. the way we're deploying it, we're calling this ultra wide band. that's because we're using spectrum in the millimeter wave range. there's a lot of it. when you have a lot of spectrum, what that translates to is speed. >> watch the communicators
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tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. up next on lectures in history, a class about southeast asian migration to the u.s. she examines how laws and public opinion have changed over the past five decades and emphasizes the difference between immigrants and refugees. her class is about an hour. today we're going to talk about topic 18, which is a southeast asian refugee migration. if you have been following the news in recent years, i imagine that you, like me, have found it difficult to ignore the topic of refugees. this is an image of a refugee's experience fleeing


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