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tv   Lectures in History Tet Offensive to Vietnam Wars End  CSPAN  November 12, 2018 6:00pm-7:49pm EST

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horrendous. >> [ gunfire ] >> , without to historic sites and museums each sunday p.m. eastern on the weekly series american artifacts. this is american history tv all weekend on c-span -3. >> up next -- u.s. army command and general staff college professor richard falconer teaches a class on the non-more focusing on the tet offensive through u.s. withdrawal in the early 1970s. he describes how military objectives and domestic politics changed because of his campaign. also talks about richard nixon's victory in the presidential election and tell
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this resulted in a gradual removal of u.s. and the shift in responsibility to the south vietnamese government for fighting the war. this class is about one hour 45 minutes. >> okay, heroes. the last class -- this is the second part of our vietnam class. in the last class we talked about the escalation -- how the u.s. into the ground more and how bold i escalated the conflict. today we will focus on the tet offensive and the results and then went you get to the nixon administration how we try to extradite ourselves from him. >> let's start off with left off last time. we now have american ground troops in vietnam. west moreland is the commander on the scene. what is your problem if you are west moreland? >> to both types of -- the
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regular and the others. you can't tell the force -- if you just gorillas they will overvalue with the divisions and if you do just against nba -- nba you have to worry about the vietcong. >> if you are west moreland you now have a hybrid threat. on the one hand you have large hail operations with the north vietnamese army and you also have vietcong serving as gorillas and you also have the political structure and the village. what are they doing? the political structure? >> what is their effort focused on >> that? >> they are trying to -- the long-term fight -- they are trying to change a political culture within the villages. they are trying to win tactically and politically to have the regime change. >> okay, so we have subversion in the countryside the country
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and we also have many forces. when he takes over the war in 1965 what is his assessment of the ground situation >> what is the assessment? do you know how this works? not go ahead. >> he has to make a decision. the first thing he has to do is take care of the conventional forces to build troops prior to going back -- in general he sees a large army in front of him to take care of the first. >> yes. >> to add to his point, he wants to secure the people and then address the insurgency. >>? >> he must be concerned about the conventional forces because this could destroy the country. this is a threat and the political underline could be
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worked as he went along but if he didn't secure the country he has no country to work with. >> so, he is fighting a war for the house is under attack. on the one hand you got the attack of this and on the other hand termites. what do we know about the house under attack? we believe we can do this faster than a term that. if you leave philly boys with crowbars they will tear the house down faster. don't worry about the termites. >> eventually you have to worry about the termites. >> okay. >> so, you do one first and then the other. he said what he is saying?you have to do them at the same time because the termite analogy is that the termites will take the house down from the foundation and the bullies will take it from internally annexed early. >> yes, this is one of those things -- westmoreland was only focused on the large-scale combat operations. don't worry about taking down the vietcong. as you point out, does the that if he doesn't deal with the nva
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and vietcong, it won't matter and the full collapse. the whole reason you have american ground forces in 1955 is because if you don't you are going to move. >> the same time he doesn't take his eye off pacification. who gets that will? >> -- that role? >> the advisors. >> the advisors were trying to address the political -- >> advising him >> the south vietnamese. >> okay. if we do the main force and we, the united states, military, take on the bully boys leave it to the local forces to take care of the termites. why does this make sense? >> they know the people inside their villages. they can tell if they are lying or hiding something. all the things that we struggle with in iraq -- understanding
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the culture. >> they are familiar with this so they can do a better. >> yes, this should be the one best suited. >> yes? >> it is interesting that gorilla warfare also is to subvert the government. if you put the government based on who is going to take care of that, then you are defeating it will tivoli and the whole point of the gorilla warfare. >> yes, and what about security? government exist merrily more than anything to by security. -- if he is dealing with the pacification, what are you getting out of this? what do you get out of it? only had. >> like he said, you are putting the vietnam face on the internal security and providing the strengthening of the political regime of the south vietnamese. >> go ahead. >> legitimacy is the word i was trying to think of. the subversion -- the intent is to leave -- delegitimize the
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current government and i taking this responsibility they get back their legitimacy. >> okay. >> what is the problem, though? why isn't this working? go ahead. >> the thing is, it is what could be happening and all of a sudden you're saying do what you didn't do before. also they want to fight the conventional fight. they want to fight the war. >> there is glory in war. >> it was gory on the battlefield. >> what else does he want to do? >> it is their country. >> how have we equipped these guys, by the way? >> go ahead, jesse. >> we don't really support them. westmoreland keeps everything for the u.s. army. >> to some extent but even when we get the equipment what does the training do? >> -- we are stuck here. ironically on one hand want these guys to take on the pacification and on the other hand we are working against
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ourselves the type of course that you create. >> if i'm the main force operations all the time -- i eventually lead and you can't fight the main force and they know the nva has this. >> go ahead. >> also the consideration for this -- he has resources to fight the fight. is that part of his thinking? >> the u.s. army going to vietnam -- what are they created to do? >> conventional fighting. >> yes. if you look at what comes out with the word response -- would like taylor and the jfk organization -- army is trying to tailor itself fight these type of wars. airmobile division -- ultimately the first division -- our idea of creating a force to provide all the big bang necessary for large conventional operations and also the ability and firepower to deal with
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these type of insurgents. so, the army is trying to do stuff but they might have a large-scale combat operation. >> how is this working out for them >> his attempts -- westmoreland -- what is your assessment? i think it is working out well for what he wants to come was. he limits the nva and pushes them into the rural regions and then after tet -- -- >> we are not tet yet. >> even before than -- he pushes them away and gives arvin reading room and make them work for it. >> who are the agitators? >> we are going to talk a lot about this. what are the indicators? does westmoreland in 66 and 67 have indicators that is strategy and approach is working >> the nva go away from a traditional more to a gorilla style because they know they can do better by performing ask mike an insurgency rather than
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combat. they weren't winning force on force so they went to the gorilla warfare so they could inflict harm and escaping comeback. >> yes, the large sweeps don't work. in reality they are causing damage to the nva. if you are the nva what have you figured out by the end of 1967 what did they figure out? >> your hand are tied if you are westmoreland. >> so, westmoreland still has two work within the box of limited war. officially or laos and no attacks on the north vietnam from the dmz. why does that matter >> the where the militaries are retreating to. they can plan the next attack. >> okay. what else have you figured out
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about these forces? >> go ahead. >> you can't beat them toe to toe. the u.s. power has superior he. >> yes, superiority and unquestionable mobility. toe to toe i guess the american you can hurt them but they at the end of the day you will get whacked. >> let's talk about something. how important is it for you to understand how you are doing in war in any given time? >> that will assess your further actions. we talk about an operational approach, different things come from that. we need to know where we are at within success or failures of the conflict and also in terms of progression to see how we will influence the end result of the campaign. >> okay. >> to add to that, it also
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affects how we are meeting objectives. >> okay, so anytime should the boss -- the joint chief of staff for the president, or even your battalion commander -- should they be able to come to usa how are you doing and you should be able to give them an answer? >> yes. >> one would hope. because, if you are doing poorly what do you do? >> you have to change something. it is not working you have to fix it. >> so, i change my tactic semi doctrine and my organization. that is the challenge but dynamic we talked about. what happens if you are doing well? >> one of the key things is, you have to know what the measures are for success or failure. they have to be visible and quantifiable and you have to know the measures for good or bad. >> do you know that in vietnam? what you mean? you think you know -- -- a false
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sense of confidence. you don't know what you are doing is making a difference. >> what is his approach? >> attrition -- what is the basis on? >> korea. >> we go back to matthew ridgway and korea. i know what the boss wants. make the chinese say uncle. stop at the 38th parallel. the only way to do that is -- killed the chinese in an exponentially greater amount that they can keep beating us. westmoreland -- a veteran of korea. if we can hit the enemy and keep bleeding the enemy, what will happen? >> they will eventually give up. >> they will eventually give up because -- >> the cost is not worth the reward. they don't value it is much. >> so, there is a political thing -- the north says it's not worth it. what is the military say?
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>> can i kill them faster before they can replenish themselves? if i kill them fast enough they won't be able to replenish. >> so, what is your method? >> bodycam. >> that did you got -- bodycam? >> is that what you have -- bodycam? >> the way i know i'm treating the fourth the it -- the north vietnamese to the point that they are unable to fight the war -- the crossover point -- your metric is account? >> i'm just asking. >> -- okay -- you don't go with that metric what else do you? >> that is the big question. >> we are talking about the lifetime -- he didn't know he was played against. he thought he was playing against [ null ] chi minh but he wasn't. he didn't know what the strategy was. so the intelligence -- the industrial base and how they
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are supplied -- those things could be indicators. if they have the search button the maybe you are doing this but they didn't have the intelligence. >> if you are going to use metrics i will believe the enemy to the point that they say uncle -- whatever you got to know? >> how many do they start with? and -- >> how many are at the kill. how many dudes contribute to the battle? easy. >> the body counts are always wrong because you didn't see half the people that claimed to be killed. just sent arbitrary numbers and then -- >> all -- you are lying to yourself and the metrics you provide. >> you are also having a political campaign and you have to be more realistic. >> okay, why is it important to be able to tell people this is how we are doing? >> who want to know this?
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>> the american public. >> oh, those guys. >> the political masters -- we are making progress. in limited wars we now have a big responsibility to convince the folks back home. >> we are making progress. we are doing a lot more damage and achieving the political in- state and hurting the other guy. >> about this. this is just a model i thought of -- how to look at war with these questions. i like continuance. you got one -- a peace treaty on the back of the battleship missouri. on the other hand you got -- lost. on one end you are losing and on the other hand you are winning. publicly, perhaps, most of the time you're in the middle. what is stalemate me? >> what does it mean? >> it means you are unable to
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negotiate peace at that point. you need to know what they want and what your projected best outcomes are. that way you can negotiate at the table and military action to get there. >> what does that have to do with this? >> you want hello -- you're not going to win because they don't allow it through military action or gorilla warfare. you're stuck in the middle. you need to find out the best way to resolve the conflict or escalate along the spectrum of conflict. >> okay. >> what happens if you escalate too much? >> it will get involved and nobody wants to go there. >> then what happens?keep going. >> to build on what he said -- either side had to that they can win to have a stalemate -- if either side things they can win they will be fighting and not get to the war because they
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don't think they have to. but if they can't and they think they're going to treating the cost is no longer worth winning are trying to win because they can't, then they stop and they have two negotiate. >> we were the office yet -- we wanted a stalemate. we wanted the north to say we will stay over this line and set themselves up so we can start evacuating our troops. >> yes. >> it is a stalemate. >> that what you want. >> to set help? >> we are at a stalemate -- >> yes. >> wanted a stalemate. >> they probably wanted a stalemate more than us. if we leave, then going back home this allows the north vietnamese to come down like they did and come after a the country and make it communist. >> and they win.
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>> so, could stalemate benefit one side more than the other? >> >> you got all -- you got to look at the culture. like we said earlier they have the long game and mine. we want a quick decisive victory and that is how we win wars. with the long game in my that stalemate could lead to victory and we are seeing this in different places like afghanistan where you say you have the watches. >> it is no different. >> so, a stalemate can help you out. keep going. >> i think the motto of winning would be achieving your and state. i think a lot of people are talking like they are precluding the opportunity or an opportunity for a win-win situation. that would be a way to negotiate peace. >> but a stalemate will be contrary -- neither side is able to achieve the in-state.
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>> it doesn't that lead you then to further negotiations? >> no, it leads escalation toward total war. >> how can stalemate benefit the north more than south vietnam in the u.s. >> talking about the time and how much they are willing to dedicate -- stalemate cost resources for each of side. to maintain a stalemate for us it is a lot more time, money and effort. to maintain the stalemate from the north it's not nearly as much. >> or is it? not nearly as much is what? >> they don't have to put in as much in order to maintain the stalemate. >> is the north not putting in more? willing to put in more -- the way 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 because we don't want to be there. but, the north is all in -- they are toward the total spectrum
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and they are willing to give more and for it to last longer and that the way they look at warfare. they are okay with the long game where we are not. so, they are willing to give more and we are willing to give less so the stalemate will make them one. there are different aspects of this. >> like jeremy said, you can both have a win-win with a stalemate and that is to were the winning stalemate side but you could also be right in the middle for the enemy in this case the north vietnamese would rather be because it is going to then unbalance this and cause us to come out of the war. >> okay for you get extra credit. i gave you this article. it is by david sizemore. what did he say about stalemate in vietnam? and in afghanistan let's start with vietnam. >> this goes to what you are saying. politicians try to realize this
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really. we may not be able to win if we go further than they want to go. >> okay. and if you are not willing to do that you are stuck, right? how can you achieve a one and then leave? >> without? what is the central strategic dilemma for the u.s. when it comes to vietnam? when it comes to the stalemate? >> he brought up in the article -- when there is a change in the ministration you only have a couple of options. state where you are or go for in. they tend to go more in. >> yes, we've seen this -- more and more troops -- by 1968 we have over one half million in vietnam. what was the problem one half million in vietnam >> it's expensive. >> what else? >> people not here. >> look at europe and other places. so, what happened you need 1 million people in vietnam?
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>> more draft. >> not more draft -- >> oh, those guys -- the reserves and national guard. >> any problem with that? >> yes, the training time. >> the training and resourcing. >> yes. >> taken away people from their jobs to uphold the in for structure while others are away fighting. >> yes, all of a sudden it was or gets called up -- everybody knows it. this starts to affect civil society as a whole. it starts to feel like total war on the american population. they start to feel the passion of the trinity -- the total war aspect. >> but if you are going to win, the with it. just leave. new then you lose something
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strategically in your fight in the cold war and communism because i looked at as week. weak. >> the worst thing for a politician in the early 60s the beat is being week back on communism. >> you are stuck. in 1966 and 1967 there is some doubt about our ability to reach the crossover point. even with westmoreland. i'm not sure that i can win. winning is making the nva give up and the vietcong to accept a political solution. at the same time i can't leave. just for fun, around thanksgiving last year general mickelson the commander in afghanistan told us -- what about the war in afghanistan >> he didn't say we were
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losing. >> what did he say? >> he said it was a stalemate. >> so, three months ago the commander in afghanistan is at the westmoreland -- he said currently the war in afghanistan is stalemated. if he is right, who benefits most >> the taliban -- >> why the taliban? >> they are okay with just hanging out into we are gone. >> the politicians are asking all the same questions -- why are we there? what are we accomplishing? >> afghanistan is going well. much invested we have more.
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>> we are going to talk about that in the next. rebuilding the broken are in. >> so, -- go ahead. >> in afghanistan just like vietnam -- american people -- going back to this -- it's also like the military does the american people don't want to hear the word stalemate on the news. they wanted to be over with because their sons and daughters are going and they want them to come back. they don't want to hear stalemate -- they want to hear that they have done what they are trying to, junior coming home. >>, it's not worth -- we are leaving. >> some said the one thing the american public won't stand is a stalemate. isn't that where we stood? we are in the process of that now. >> now, we have taken off the glove, apparently, with our new strategy. >> that way -- let's say we are in a stalemate now but i don't have the means to -- with what
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you have set up now i can't win so you can take up gloves or do something else change the dynamic that we can have a chance. >> how is the taliban doing today? >> for peace talks -- earlier this week -- that will show some of their will for their support and efforts. >> based on the peace talks -- -- in fact, today is you read the la times the president of afghanistan has a new is offering on the table. amnesty and i promise of a place in the political administration to lay down the weapons and join us. is this a tactic of strength for a tactic of weakness we will get into the's ideas. >> -- into these ideas. >> for the country to break up
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samite in place -- we keep focusing on one type of terrorism. they are numerous in that country. at what point do you say okay, i will appease you and bring into the government and then you have isis and everyone else in the country. you have to manage those relationships. >> that taliban has come into the political tent -- then can you easily deal with isis >> you are giving them legitimacy. you have legitimately recognized them as a governing body. >> that's the reality on the ground. [ indiscernible - low volume ]. >> okay. >> i think the afghan government is coming from a position of power and offering instead of begging. the taliban understand that that the backing of the u.s. government and we have been there 15 years and we are showing them that we are there for the long game.
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taliban essay -- cannot it is time to come to the table and start talking. >> with the afghan government do look like you are in a position of power by offering this peace offering but you also can gain momentum and your tax against the gout -- against the taliban if you say we operate peace and they turned it down and now we are going hard. >> they have limits of how hard they can go? >> they are outflanked in different places. if i can convince them they are fighting to both sides -- you can fight with us and we will give you some political power -- like vietnam for example. one of the key things we looked up -- they didn't try legitimize anyone. they did look at it at all. it didn't really start with records until 1969. they wasted nine years when they could have had a -- it wasn't a problem -- a political problem. >> that will mostly be the case in these limited wars. if they are at the root
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political operations that require political solutions at that ultimately lead in negotiated peace -- this will be away to pull that off. >> now, let's go back to vietnam. let's say it is now new year's day january 1968. if you are william westmoreland, how are you doing ? who is winning? >> [ indiscernible - low volume ]. >> no, how is he doing? he's doing okay. >> he has convinced the north to attack -- you think i'm pulling them into where i want them to be. >> this is what westmoreland is telling the people. the johnson administration pulls westmoreland back on what is known as the success offensive. so, when william westmoreland get the front of the national press club for in front of the
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daily briefings in saigon, that is what he tells votes. notice anything >> you are transitioning from a losing battle in 1965 1968 and winning. the american people. >> what else? new -- there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we can use the end of what we are trying to encompass. >> how does this play in peoria if you are watching the nightly news and westmoreland says this, what are you thinking? >> regarding political time -- you tell everyone i know it's not the greatest but we are almost done. we are almost a publishing what we need to. that buys you time for resources and tolerance of the war. >> okay.
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>> always with a negative way. >> i feel like it will be a similar response to how we felt when we found out osama -- osama bin laden was killed. without we could go home but that was not the case. >> what about the other guy? what is the assessment of north vietnam? how are they doing? >> they are taking losses. they are not giving up. they don't think they are defeated. >> okay, what is your assessment on the scale of wins and laws, where are they? >> they need to have something else to an initiative. >> so when it comes to a stalemate is and that we tried to do -- gaming initiative or regain the initiative? >> the leadership of north vietnam -- led by -- not [ null ] chi minh -- had gone 1963 with a large scale in the mid
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to ground troops. you have been hit hard. you know that the americans may bring more stuff to the table. there is a time element behind this. what do you think you have going for you? >> soviet and chinese support. >> okay, while the americans are getting into saigon the chinese and russians are falling all over themselves to provide support to this proxy war. without that you got going? in the south you have the untapped political network. if you need to revert -- revert back to the gorilla war you still have people in place to do this. >> okay. >> you read the newspapers and you know what's going on back home. can see dwindling support for the war. congress and the american people. they know that we are losing.
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the lake of the trinity. >> yes. at this time the antiwar movement relatively small and isolated but you know it is there. what else >> you also have sanctuary in north vietnam and cambodia. you have a northern and western like you can regroup and we attack when you want. >> so, starting in the late fall of 1967 they come up with a new strategy -- the tet offensive. what is the goal behind this? what do they think will happen? if they get what they want will happen? >> the population rises up and join the cause to overthrow them. >> in addition, to help collapse the south vietnamese government. >> why do you think they will pull this off? >> again, you are looking for indicators. it can't just be what you feel today. like my daughter's.
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>> i shouldn't have said that. i will pay for that later. this is what i feel today. >> at that point the north koreans prove -- sorry the north vietnamese -- if they prove that they never have the initiative -- around, money and how much people you will never hold this country. by doing a mess deter engagement you are showing that you may lose the battle. >> what are your indicators of people will raise up -- rise up >> your intelligence network is telling you things and you have to believe them. you can look at the maps. the bc have been successful assassinating the south vietnamese officials. they have built a large cadre and we can show them that we can be here. >> but what are the other indicators? in 1966 there was an election. there was another general strongman taking over.
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the president started to crack down a little better on the buddhists. there is an uprising inside of saigon. to the point that the units are fighting each other. if i'm watching from else -- from the outside -- what does that tell me? >> it's 1967. there is another election. key becomes the vice president and another general becomes the president. the president is all about -- himself. it is a regime -- another strongman. another person perceived to be a puppet of the u.s. again, there are protests in saigon. if we get in the cities -- what do we think will happen >> people will -- >> rally round with a pocket
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full of shells. >> if that happens, what else will happen? new if we get the strategic centers this will get more news media. this will get back to the american people that were just told the war is about to end. >> true, but that's not the primary goal. what is the primary goal of the tet offensive? >> to freeze them out. >> yes. it's not -- soft power -- they tacked this on after they get in the door. we think we can pull this off and we are going to win. we had. >> one way or the other -- the vietnamese are trying to get ahead of westmoreland. they want him to think he is doing the battle they wanted him to do and he wasn't.
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>> weight -- if you are going to win the war by sparking a popular uprising in the major cities -- houston the saigon government -- ousting the saigon government -- what is your obstacle? new to conduct tactics so they can truth -- take the truth outside the population and put my own money inside the population. >> so, we have a challenge. i am going to make the cities vulnerable the major combat organizations of the arben in the u.s. have to be pulled away. how do they do that? go ahead. >> they present the conventional battle the americans and south vietnamese were expecting -- they started to present but their enemy expected so they had toward that. >>, major conventional attacks to the north -- in the central
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highlands and even from the cambodian border against some of the saigon there wasn't. >> how is that working? >> [ indiscernible - low volume ] >> yes, westmoreland took the bait. >> why? >> that's what they expect. >> and? >> he wants to more people. >> this is one of those things where you give the enemy what they want to see. for the most part the units and the main force american units pulled out. so, the attack takes place. you time it with tet for the holiday. you know a lot of guys will be on leave. you time it with a lot of people coming in from the countryside. you got a lot of the vietcong cadre. the secret cadre that are now coming out of the woodwork. so, how does that work for them?
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>> what does this look like in the tet offensive? >> it was surprising for the american forces but technically they still lost -- they didn't get the groundswell they were counting on. >> why not? >> i don't know. >> why did the people not rise up. >> for one, tactically a lot of the soldiers were told they could only do it the way the plan was written. they couldn't change anything. they couldn't adapt to what was happening and they had to do exactly what they were supposed to do. a lot of the officers in the enemy forces were shot and killed early. most of the other horses below them just stopped. they weren't sure what else to do. >> when you come out into the open, guess what? i can see you -- if i can see you i can shoot you. what is the biggest reason the people don't rise up in places
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like saigon? >> at that time they didn't want to do this. new year's day or something. >> do they look appetizing to you -- pleasing to you? new to some extent -- what we are seeing what we want to see the north vietnamese are seeing what they want to see. and the vietcong. when they rise up -- come on to the party -- and they are doing horrible stuff -- went to pull out to cover the race with a roundup 2000 people and shot them in the back of the head -- they are doing heinous stuff in the people in the south want to be -- left alone. >> i don't like your brand and i want to be left alone.
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you going to this conflict -- you commit over 80,000 troops. 40,000 are killed or wounded or taken prisoner. what happens to the vietcong? >> let me rephrase -- what happens to the vietcong? >> they get hurt but they decided it was a bad idea and we shouldn't try that again. they released a memo saying we should stop trying to do this again. let's revert back. >> what's the big problem with doing it again if you are the vietcong? the people. >> there ain't no vietcong. when you come out here this is a political and military disaster for the vietcong. you have relied upon the covert organizations and these guys come down and the village leaders have been whacked. by 1969 70% of the vietcong come from the north. >> any problem with that
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>> you can't enter the country is all your horses haven't bought into your ideas. your ideology. >> you need a political base. >> yes. the issue of the people's revolutionary war becomes problematic. for all intents and purposes the vietcong that existed prior to 1968 doesn't exist and you will have a hard time putting humpty dumpty back together again. >> now, -- they few problems. -- we have a few problems. where is this? anybody know where this picture was taken? >> at the american embassy in saigon. in the new embassy in saigon. any problem here? >> it was supposed to be safety
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and security. >> what do we say and embassy is? what do these vietcong snipers do? >> they didn't get into the building but you are getting them in the american embassy. any problem with that? >> yes. >> you telling people that you are winning and there is not a problem and now the embassy is attack. how about that picture to the right? >> we say they were aware of their to help them. helping people in south. but the context of the pitcher -- we don't know what is happening. we had a person that was armed being shot execution style in the street and at that point there is no threat. >> who is the chief of saigon?
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not correct. >> and peoria -- see these images on the television what are you thinking >> what the is going on? >> they were losing. where is the credibility >> what is the problem with the credibility gap >> if your population starts -- stops trusting you they will stop supporting it if they stop supporting it the politicians have to write a new solution. they do when nixon tried to pull out. >> what have the american people been told? >> that we are winning. >> the end is in sight. the light at that at the end of the tunnel. we were losing and now we are not. we are doing okay. how are we doing? >> militarily, how are we doing? >> after tet we are doing well.
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>> if you are an american commander on the ground, how are you doing? >> you are feeling pretty good. >> you are losing your boys. >> there is a lot of dead guys around -- a lot of them. all of a sudden you are the commander and you start to feel there is a change in the villages because those guys are done. you know that you have had a major tactical victory. what do you do? what should you do? >> should exploit this and press harder. what is the problem? >> strategic goal -- objectives have changed because of perceptions they had. now we can't capitalize on the tactical one because we are now constrained a little more. >> do you agree?
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we had operational limitations from the building because he said we not go into laos or cambodia or to the north. they can capitalize on that. >> so, on that scale -- where are you militarily >> are you at stalemate? >> militarily on the ground you are close to winning and you know this. but, to seal the deal, to roust them out and clear out the villages of the vietcong, what do you need? >> to get across the border. >> no, you don't even need to do that. what do i need? >> what time. >> to seal off the population centers. >> what do i need? i need more people. so, wheeler, the army chief of staff got in touch with westmoreland and told him to go to the president and say give me 200,000 more troops and i
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will seal the deal. i will finally got us to military and political victory. >> is he right? we don't know. is the justification? is a logical? >> yes. >> you need a lot of people -- american soldiers -- to secure a massive population spread all over the entire south. >> so, when westmoreland and wheeler asked for 205 thousand more troops to seal the deal what does johnson say? >> he just lost all credibility. so, justifying anything more for the war is next to impossible. >> what are the american people going to say? >> what do they fear the american people will say? >> you going --
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>> he will not run again. >> we are getting there. >> if you are westmoreland and you have asked for more troops -- you know that you have a tactical victory. >> the problem is now, they have lead that they have been lied to. you are telling them again that you are winning and the end is in sight and they had no reason to believe you. they will not at this point. they will not support sending more assets. >> how does westmoreland ask for more? >> every year -- just a little more -- >> when the images don't match the reality you have a problem. cynicism are nothing but idealists gone bad. there is a delta between what you have been told him what you experience. the credibility gap is there.
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even though there is something that is a good strong tactical victory it doesn't matter. here we have walter cronkite -- what do we know about uncle walt? >> >> when he returns back to the united states from vietnam, on 27 february in 1968, this is how he closes his newscast.
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>> to say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence that the optimist who have been wrong in the past. to suggest we are on the edge of defeat is that we are in pessimism to --. to say we are mired in stalemate is only satisfactory conclusion. in the off chance that military analyst all right, in the next few months, we was test the enemy's intention in case this is the last big gas before negotiation. but it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out the end would be to negotiate not as victims, but as honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
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>> one of the most reliable and believable news guys is telling the americans about this war. >> basically that we lost and we need to gracefully buy out. >> thus is what it was portrayed, but what if he actually saying? >> he said it is a stalemate and we could win, but doesn't think we could win, and that we need to negotiate a stable and leave quietly being respectful of the vietnamese people. >> so was he right? was the assessment of the ground reality correct? >> he agreed with general westmoreland that we have reached the point tactically where we can push it operationally and reset strategic insight if we had a little bit more. >> why isn't walter getting to those nuances? >> it was a hard sell to the american public. the military would spend their
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entire lives there. how to do it and prosecute and etc. trying to communicate that we you don't care about the military other than kill america or if you win a war to and he was a rifleman, it is difficult. you cannot just say that we are kind of winning and you have to keep going. you cannot explain all of that stuff to somebody in a 32nd soundbite. >> so did the media lose the war? >> the media has the ability to greatly influence the decisions made by the people and the politicians and by everybody. that is not a good thing necessarily because they might not understand the greater context. they are not the ones fighting the fight in don't understand everything going on. is hard to articulate what is actually going on to somebody who doesn't have no idea of the culture and everything that is in play. tried to explain that to
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someone in a short amount of time, they don't have the knowledge to know what is going on, and you cannot basically do anything. they portrayed the wrong picture may be unwillingly or unknowingly, and there is a mutual for huge ramifications. >> you can honestly say that cronkite does not have all of the facts. >> people were going around the country and saying how great the war was going, so he would have had a credibility gap. >> maybe you cannot explain all of the nuances, but try not to say things that can get you swiped politically. >> the military own some of these problems and every night in saigon, they are press briefings. the press starts to call them the 5:00 pm folly because? >> a couple of different things. this is the age of mass media and constant news in every household in america, and war
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is on tv nightly. >> the first televised war. >> so when the general steps up and said this is what is going on and the next day, it is totally different because things have changed tactically and operationally, and has two double back and step back and correct himself, and he cannot explain all of that nuances to the point that we have a difficult enough time to end and execute it versus explaining it to the public. >> if you look at some of the newspaper reporters or journalists, these are guys that go to vietnam early, earlier than the american buildup, and what is interesting is that they are that jfk new frontier idealistic guide that we are doing the right thing where we are. the problem comes with these guys that what they are being told and the official briefings, and what they are
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actually experiencing in the field, it doesn't match. rhetoric doesn't match reality. so the 5:00 p.m. folly, you go in and start to believe how do you know who is lying? that becomes a sort of thing, so you sort of build up that mistrust. this seems to validate that. now you start to snowball. like it or not, sooner or later, the truth will out. there is a guy named seymour hurst that in 1969, will come out and say i don't know if you guys knew this, but in march 1968, almost 18 months later, a bunch of americans went to this town and shot a bunch of people. and the military covered that up . the following year, that guy again would work with another guy to release the pentagon
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papers. when the pentagon papers splashed across the new york times or the washington post, what do they tell the american people? >> that we have been deliberately and systematically lied to by this administration from eisenhower to johnson. so why does this matter? then we are going to take a break. so the public starts to get that perception. >> you have a threat and they are not going to back you again. the credibility gap keeps getting bigger and bigger and when you go back, you are going to lose all faith. >> what about if you are doing good stuff? the good stuff that we have to do right now is take a break. before my credibility gap grows. good stop. yes, i do believe. okay.
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so we see this growing credibility gap. if you are lyndon baines johnson, what do you know? they don't go and they might be right, and you have lost middle america. here is my good friend lyndon baines johnson, and in many ways, he is a very tragic figure. if you are johnson, what you want to be in the history books for? is that really what you want, to be in the history books? >> anything other than being the guy who got shot. >> but what is the great society ? that is what he wants to go down for. okay. if you are johnson, sitting in the white house in 1966, 1967, and i to 68, you look around in america and what do you see? civil rights issues, the antiwar movement, and there is
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access some things that appear in the press about poverty in the inner cities, but in places like appalachia, she wants to be the successor to franklin delano roosevelt, the great society is to fix the problems of america. medicare, medicaid, food stamps, all of that stuff comes out of the great society. what do you not want to be the president of? losing the vietnam war, but you don't want to be part of the vietnam war at all if you can avoid it. going into vietnam, he says that i feel like a [ null ] in a texas hailstorm. i cannot run and i cannot hide, and i cannot make it stop. i like this bust and i got it from the johnson presidential library. why i bought this bust is for a reason. in 1965, johnson commissioned
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these busts and he would hand them out to visitors. what does that tell you about johnson? so you get these things and it says something about the ego of the guy that he is giving these things out as a gift. the reason i bought this is that it is from the original stocker. i got it a couple of years ago and 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? >> they was not very popular. >> this war has finally killed him, that war on the other side
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of the world, has done him in and broke their spirits. so you can still get in there and buy one of these original once from 1966, that johnson would have given out because of the unpopularity. by march 1968, 28% of the people polled had lost faith in the war and the leadership of lyndon baines johnson. johnson realizes this in spite of any military success, he is going to start to make that unilateral decisions. he wants to get the north to come to the negotiating table. the first thing that he does is that he would unilaterally stop bombing north of the dmz. will only respond if we are attacked. he begins peace talks in paris, and the north and the people's liberation front show up. what is the problem? >> they are fighting while they
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are negotiating. >> so what are the negotiating points for the north vietnamese? when do the americans leave, and when do you get rid of the two government so we can put our flag, like paul. any problems with those points? >> they are never going to be agreed upon. >> 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. westmoreland is kicked upstairs and made cheap of staff of the army. more on that as we go along. finally, on 31 march when he announced at the end of bombing before leaving, he announces to the american people that i will not accept the nomination of my party to be your president.
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if you are in the north, what do you make of all of this? go ahead. >> because the american people do not want the war and they are not going to invest in a war anymore. >> we start to see this changing reality inside of the united states. that you sort of had this cold war consensus, and in the 1940s and 1950s, that we have our problems, but look at the communists. increasingly that cold war consensus is starting to crack. what are the tensions inside of america that this war is helping to exasperate? >> one of the ways obviously to get out of service was college, and so not everybody, those who was wealthy, could go to college and avoid the draft while the less fortunate and more intercity places like we
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talked about, those with the people who was sent to fight in the war. you further that the bout of the population. >> it is a rich man's war and a poor man's fight. market the king will come out against war and saying basically that. he said we are sending a disproportionately amount of young black men to be killed in vietnam. so what are some of the other intentions inside of society? civil rights. what is the intention there? >> whether or not to segregate or not. >> okay, so we had these underlying things that go back before the american civil war, the failure of reconstruction. finally, people are getting fed up. so you get a series of long, hot summers in the united states. major race riots in 1965 in newark, new jersey. a major race right in detroit, michigan, and a host of others.
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1968 is an election year. this election year will start off bad. the assassination of martin luther king in 1968 would lead to massive riots across american cities. who is running in 1968? bobby kennedy until he gets shot, so here is another one. somebody shoots him down. who else is running? richard nixon. so what platform is nixon running on? >> he is going to end the war. >> he is not going to pull out the troops, but he is prompting i am going to end the war. what else is he promising the american people? if you are living in peoria and
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turning on your nightly news, what do you see? >> the absence of law and order. >> the bureaucrat is running, hubert humphrey. that there is going to be a problem. the democratic national convention for that year will be held in chicago. the students for democratic action, these antiwar groups and a host of other social protest groups are going to gather together in chicago trying to basically disrupt or shutdown the convention as much as they can. the mayor of chicago is richard devi. he does not -- richard daley. as he protesters increasingly start to search, he calls out his cops. what happens next will be called the police right. do you know what a police riot is? >> they start beating up
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everybody. >> here is the nightstick upside of the he behead. the spec hippie -- hippie head. the pictures are being taken with the american public see on the tv is young american citizens be in whacked in the head by the man, and then carried all. as they are getting whacked in the head, the convention delegates hear the chant and the whole world is watching, and the whole world is watching. just to sort of see how crazy we have gotten, there is also a third-party candidate running in 1968, and his name is george wallace. anybody remember george wallace? >> he had some crazy ideas and
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wanted to go back way worst than what the times are. >> so a former governor of alabama. what you think the former governor of alabama is thinking in the 1960s? >> in the 1960s, someone from alabama is not going to be for integration or even support what the protest are about. they want what they want the way they want it, and very old- school. >> in fact, the less place that we! last place that we see george wallace standing in the door of alabama in 1963. no african-americans are allowed. he is carted off by the sheriff and by the u.s. marshals, and people are allowed in.
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he is a reprobate and let's cut back on this federal government and their uses of segregation. anybody know who his running mate is? his running mate is curtis lemay. so what can you say about this ticket? >> there is going to be law and order everywhere. >> we will pound the hippies back to the stone age. wallace is always good for coffee and he said the only four letter word that the hippies don't use our work -- are work and so. this is probably the lunatic fringe when it comes to american political parties. they get 13% of the popular vote in the election. over 54 delegates, the last third-party to get any delegates. who do you thinks! thank
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supports him? georgia, alabama, mississippi, louisiana, and arkansas. who else supports? all of a sudden a bunch of blue- collar guys in the north and the midwest, they also look at george wallace as they potential president. what does that tell you? >> there is a huge divide in the nation. >> the divide is they are. this war is starting to bust america. in 1967, it cost $30,000 per bomber parade. -- per rate. it is costing us $9.60 for every dollar of damage we are doing
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to the north vietnamese and vietcong. if you want big social programs, and you are fighting a big war, is there a problem? not enough and you will have to run a deficit and race taxes. in 1967, johnson proposed a 10% increase in taxes. that is my bunny, and lbj, what are you doing with my money? what happens when you have all of these competing interests, and the government starts spending a lot more than they taking? in 1967, the inflation rate is 3% and by 1969, it is 6% and growing. in 1969, we will go into a slight recession. in the 1970s, it will give way to stagnant inflation. what does it sound like?
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>> your economy needs to be growing and not necessarily plateauing. >> the economy is stagnant and wages are staying the same and inflation is going up. what happens if wages are staying the same and inflation is going up? my buying power, what i can do with my money starts to erode and the more that happens, what do the people in peoria start to think? >> we need an administration change and somebody for the people. >> we need somebody to offer some solutions, and that is why you are going for all of these different candidates. but the nation is starting to split and in 1969, the antiwar movement that was small in 1966, it is starting to grow. you will get the moratorium
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marches, and it will draw over 700,000 participants. in 1969, there is 205 bombings. in 1970 and 1971, there would be over 2500 bombings inside of the united states. the war is coming home, and you see it on the news, and you see it in places like this. this is life magazine from june 1969, and what the magazine does is that they are going to show you the pictures of the 242 american servicemembers that was killed in a single we of fighting -- week of fighting. why do you do that? >> to make it real. it puts a face and brings, and that could easily be somebody
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son, daughter, or nephew. it brings it real and starts to break down the support. >> so if you are richard nixon, what do you know? >> your support is waning. >> so how do you do that? >> if you are richard nixon, you want to bring something new when you get into position, and you need to bring new strategies and new ideas to implement so that you don't end up like lbj. >> you half that -- had that over your shoulder and if i don't do something, i will end up like lbj. you have sort of heated that the -- hinted that the american people, that you have a single plan for ending
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the war. if you are like me, i have a solution. the problem is henry, we don't have a solution and we need to come up with one quick. you know you have an expiration date and you promised big, but now you have to find a way out of the mess. economics and politics is driving it and american society is driving it, and you had better find a solution. that is easy. so what are the problems? we tried our best like walter said, and we gave it our best shot, but now is a free society, we need to pat ourselves on the back and leave. >> within a week, it would be communism if you just pack up and leave. >> did nixon have some advantages here though? what is his biggest advantage? >> he didn't start the war, but he can end the war.
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>> what else? >> we are losing the war, so whatever he does can only get better. >> what are nixon's credentials? what does he have when he takes over the president? he served in the navy in world war ii. he had been a senator and had been eisenhower's vice president. how do you become the vice president of eisenhower in the early 1950s? you are hard when it comes to communism. he has solid gold credentials as a hard-core anti-communist. in fact, he had played that to help get him elected from his first couple of jobs in the federal government. eisenhower pics and because of this, and he will debate
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christian f -- the russian leader in moscow. here is a dude that is known to be hard-core. so what? what does it matter? go ahead. >> you cannot be a hard-core against communism, but lose two communism. the spec -- lose two communism. -- to communism. >> it is not our responsibility to in communism. it is up to you to help us do it. he has or to show that he is done it correctly. >> have you heard the saying that only nixon can go to china? if you have started credentials
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as being a bad guy, and that does give you a little bit more wiggle room to do a. nixon what use that, but i think the first one is sort of interesting. the madman theory. what do you make of that? >> kind of what we see in the news right now with north korea and kind of how trump is handling it. he wants the north vietnam do think that we really are not that way. >> don't show your hand. >> so i am not showing my hand and keeping a little bit of ambivalence. >> you are not showing your hand, but planting a hand that i wanted to see and think. so go ahead and start beating the drums and passing the message that maybe he just will. >> have you figured out johnson
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if you are the north? yes. he showed his hand. i am giving up and i am stopping bombing and try to get you to negotiate. nixon said the hand they have a blackjack in it and i may swac you upside the head because i am nixon. so he can go places that johnson perhaps should not go. what do all do -- new administrations half? >> a grace period. they are given a grace period to do something without too much judgment. >> nixon believes, >> the original question was what do all of these new administrations have, and you have a campaign win that you made to the people, so whatever his platform was, it is his responsibility to to the forest to carry it out. >> this is johnson's war and you have to ended before it becomes nixon's war.
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he believes that the silent majority of americans back him. they want peace with honor and after those large moratorium marches where the newspapers and the tv shows, all of these people marching against the war, immediately following that, he gives that speech. i need your support because i think the majority of you guys don't necessarily like what is going on in america. it is interesting that after he gives a speech, the poll porras says that 60% of the -- poll follow him. think about the approval rating today. it is hard to get americans to give a 68 % approval rating for anything. so he has this. but guess what?
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now you had better deliver. how important is it to ending the war in vietnam to the nixon administration? >> his plan was that we need to get out and get out quickly and put that vietnam face on and say that we support them a little ways, and then just leave. >> we have the inauguration of richard nixon that day, and that night, we go to the ball and we drink and have a good time. the very next day, the very next day, what you have woke up from the good night that you have, the next day after the inauguration, nixon says i want the state department and i want the department of defense, and i want the cia, the embassy in saigon, i want all of you major players to give me your assessment. you have 20 days, and you come back to me and tell me your
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assessment of what is going on on the ground and what is possible and what is not possible. that tells you how important it is at this is his first official act. tell me what i have to do with vietnam because i don't have a secret plan? what did these guys come back and tell him? >> they all agreed that the government of the south vietnamese is not strong enough to do it on their own. we could not do this operation and we had to do it both, the u.s. and the south vietnamese. >> what you know if you are richard nixon? >> that us needed to take a backseat to the south vietnamese, and let them handle their business. >> any problem with that? >> it is going to take a lot to
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help them out. >> they are not probably ready to totally take over and they still need some of our support and resources and things like that to be successful. >> they would still have to face what west moreland face, conventional forces. >> the military reality on the ground has not change. you still have a lot a very strong forces in play here. >> if we took the front stage of defeating the conventional forces like we did in iraq, they are not ready to, and the enemy comes in and they cannot hold their own. >> nobody is agreeing to the way for. the dod as usual puts a happy face on and the cia says everything is terrible, and you
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get everything in between, but what they all agree on is that it these guys are going to take over, they are not ready for it. what ultimately becomes a strategy of nixon, there is classification. what is that? >> the public work programs and everything that his department, >> those are symptoms and things that you do. what is pacification? >> isolating the populist from the insurgency. >> what is subversion? >> actually trying to overthrow the established government. >> classification is getting rid of those first developments while at the same time, filling up the capacity of the host
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nation to gain that legitimacy. that will be some other things here as you have diplomatic isolation of vietnam. how do you pull that off? isn't that what we try to do to the taliban? how do you get diplomatic isolation of north vietnam? >> if you are my ally, you will not talk to north vietnam. >> the problem is that all of those youth movements are hitting everywhere else in the world, so that is a hard thing. who do you really need to isolate north vietnam? russia and china. nixon loves foreign policy, but nixon, when he looks at vietnam, he says at the end of the day, i don't care. you know what i care about? russia and china. i care about the arms race and after the cuban missile crisis,
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the take away from the russians is that we will never be affiliated like that again and start a massive buildup of their conventional and nuclear forces. the chinese still hate our guts, so what do we know about the chinese at this point? by the late 1960s? that those guys hate each other's gut too. so nixon sees an opportunity to deal with the big issues of the cold war, and all of us making love to an atomic bomb, and it would change the strategic dynamic. so if i go to china, make sweet with china and recognize china, what is that going to do? >> it is going to build that relationship at least, and china not be as willing to provide north korea, or vietnam with things, if you can make a deal with the united states.
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>> so maybe they can get him to strong-armed the north vietnamese to come to the negotiation table. at that, just as you show up, how does that change the relationship between the united states and soviets? >> they are going to feel like a friend of my enemy is my enemy and now i have an enemy on myself and western flight. >> shortly after nixon goes to china, he goes to moscow. the hope with them guys squeezing the north doesn't pay off as much as he things, but it does change the dynamics. there are going to be troop withdrawals because? that is what the people want. that is what has been feeling a lot of the antiwar sentiments. soon after taking office, nixon says in november and december, we are not going to call up the people by the draft.
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that he starts to do a rough form to the draft system which helps to equalize it. you throw your name in there, but not the fact that you are not in college. if your number comes up, you go. then you get a little bit more breathing space. but we are also going to do peace talks, but what is different about the way that nixon talks? >> we are going to try and talk to you, and i will bomb you and bobby for a series of days, and then you will come back to the peace table. >> that is ultimately what is going to help in the war for us, but before you get there, if you are the north, what have you come accustomed to if you do with the united states? we know that will be placed at the americans will not go until they do. so in 1970, we have an incursion into cambodia. that is not an invasion.
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they are bad. why do we go into cambodia? >> the first, you technically take care the supply lines, but you are showing the world and north vietnam that you are able to go there and you can go there. >> there is a new sheriff in town, and there is no telling what the guy will do and he is changing the rules on the ground. maybe you are not going to get the sanctuary, and i will hit you militarily because you know the north is rebuilding as rapidly as they can. so i am going to disrupt her effort to be able to launch a major campaign as i am trying to get out of vietnam. any downside to invading cambodia? secret bombings are bad mostly because you cannot keep them secret. who knows that the bombing is
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not secret? the guys on the ground getting bombed. the cambodians are little irritated and here come the americans and the south vietnamese and what of the american people been told about your efforts in the region? what are you doing? that you said you was de- escalating the war and you, you go into cambodia. the american campuses which have been relatively quieter explodes. some of the biggest ones happened that kent state and also in a place called jackson state in mississippi. the governor of ohio cause of the national guard, confronts the students and for a host of reasons, all of a sudden the national guard turns around and fires.
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four dead are in ohio, and we are finally on our own. at jackson state, which is a historic like always, the police do the same thing and killed two african-american students. the probably a good idea for some the stuff that nixon is trying to do and terribly it makes a lot of sense, but it doesn't play well in peoria. he cut see trail in liles, and congress said you are getting out, and no american ground forces will be used to. you can use helicopters, but they cannot touch the ground. half of the forces that go in there are killed, wounded, or capture. nixon will proclaim this a victory, but on the ground, it
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doesn't look like that. 107 u.s. helicopters were shot down and 600 more was damaged. the largest thing that shot the helicopters down was a 47 millimeter. it will make your day. let us talk about vietnam militarization. what is the goal? >> the goal is to hand off and you guys take the lead. we will back away. said that is the end goal. we are going to back up as you stand up. sounds familiar doesn't it? what else? >> it called for a lot of training like the advisory teams coming back to train the south vietnamese army to be able to take over. >> so if you are being told by all of your visors in 1969 they
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cannot take the fight, they cannot do this war that we have had a hard time doing, what you have to do to get the south vietnamese army in? what is going to be training, and what changes in our training regiment? what do we say about the advisors less time? >> the advisors was initially good because that was the main effort. as a combat buildup, all of our good people were assigned to a combat unit. everyone knows the advisor was shunned to the side. now that we are drawing down, we can afford to send better people and more experience leaders that have combat experience to work there. they may not necessarily want to be there, but they are better for the mission. >> we get the right guy in the right place with the right
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training to deal with this situation. what else? >> u.s. special forces that by this time a more seasoned and able to train those forces in direct action as well. >> what else? >> we are providing them airplanes, the cobra f-16 rifle . >> in a very short amount of time, this becomes one of the largest and best equipped modern armies in asia. that is good right? so training is going to be an issue. we haven't addressed some of the deeper problems. go soldiers. -- ghosts soldiers. 200 did not exist at 50 are paying the commander not to call them up. you do have this issue, the forces are taking a serious
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meeting. we talk about the american losses, but we lose sight that the other losses are double hours and growing. this is a hard thing to keep the guys in. overnight, what are we trying to turn it into? us.. we talked about the western way of war. how long did it take for western society to build all of those systems that allow the western way of war to work. >> up until now because we are still building it. >> we are trying to do what the west did over centuries in months and years. if i give you modern cool toys, what else has to go along with it? the training that we talked about. maintenance.
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any problem with doing maintenance with this army? >> it costs money and needs a specialized skill. what is the most technologically advanced thing that these guys have seen? a water buffalo. that is just sort of the reality. you are trying to take the forces that you have got and dragged them into the middle of the 20th century. the education system in all of the other stuff has to be there. what is the other big problem with fighting the western way of war? >> you give the north vietnamese opportunity to rebuild and get back into your town. i don't want to go back into town, and all of our best troops are going to go fight. >> what is the biggest problem with the western way of war?
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>> we like a quick and effective battle. >> how expensive it was work? how rich was vietnam? so to fight this type of war that we are arming and equipping, it requires a lot of cash to come back in to keep the thing going. how is the american economy going? that becomes the issue and why are you spending money there when our economy is stinking when you probably should be spending it here? let's jump to a few things. we will pick up with some of this, but sadly, if you are joe, what do you think?
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