Ken Burns on Viet Nam

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Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:37 am

I'm surprised not to find any thread on the first episode, so I guess I'll start one.

I watched the 90-minute broadcast last night, and overall I give it a B-plus or A-minus. It's not pure history in the sense of attempting to report "what happened in the past." Rather, it's presentist history, reporting "how things got this way." That is tipped off by a five-minute sequence (which I found very annoying) of film running backwards, showing bombs and parachutists falling upwards, refugees running backwards, and so forth. I would have understood that this was history and would have discerned the purpose without all the camera tricks.

This first episode focused on the century of French colonial rule, with a few interjections of scenes from the later US involvement. The various diplomatic incidents were handled fairly well, and you get a good sense of the cold-war obsession that led the US to embrace the "domino theory," and which led to the ultimate tragedy.

I found an interesting irony, having just read the first two volumes of De Gaulle's Mémoires de Guerre, that the very thing that fills up all 900 pages—De Gaulle's constant complaints that the British and Americans had turned France into a puppet state, high-handedly appointing French generals to positions and administering what De Gaulle thought of as French possessions (Lebanon and Syria) without consulting or even mentioning the French themselves, while the German puppet government at Vichy collaborated with a foreign occupier and allowed French resources to be used for the benefit of the occupying power—were precisely the things that the Vietnamese objected to in French colonial rule.

I was in middle school when Dien Bien Phu fell to the Vietnamese in 1954, so I missed the backstory on it. The French general Navarre thought he would sucker Giap into an attack on this remote outpost and then destroy him with superior firepower. That was the greatest plan since Custer worked out how to surround all those Indians. Navarre seriously underestimated the amount of firepower that the Chinese and Soviets had supplied to Giap, and Giap sneaked it all into the surrounding jungles. The French asked for support from Britain and America. Britain refused outright; Eisenhower went to Congress to get authorization (remember when presidents used to do that?) and was refused. This battle compares closely to the battle of Borodino in 1812. The French took 8,000 casualties, the Vietnamese over 20,000, and yet the battle marked the end for France in Viet Nam, just as Borodino had done in Russia.

One thing was notably left out: The November 1947 bombing of Haiphong by French bombers using American-supplied planes. The result was 3000 civilians killed, an atrocity equal in number of victims to 9/11, in a country only 5% as large as the US.

I don't know how much more I will watch, but this part was, I thought, adequately done. In particular, sufficient mention was made of the brutality of the Viet Minh from 1946 on, which was one reason the US had allies in South Viet Nam, at least at first.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:17 pm

People scold Truman for supporting France over Ho. We needed a strong France on the continent after the latest round of the eternal European civil war had ended. Ho couldn't promise us anything we needed.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:51 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:People scold Truman for supporting France over Ho. We needed a strong France on the continent after the latest round of the eternal European civil war had ended. Ho couldn't promise us anything we needed.


I keep wondering what it was we needed. Ultimately, I think, what we "needed" was to keep Communist governments out of a lot of countries that had important natural resources. My Marxist fellow students at Princeton kept telling me that the war was not about Communism; it was about retaining markets for American-manufactured goods. After hearing three different politicians of the time enunciate the Domino Theory and noting that every one of them mentioned the important economic value of Laos, Cambodia, Burma, and Indonesia, I'm now inclined to think that there was something to the economic argument after all. If so, the way it turned out is ironic, since we are now a major market for goods manufactured in Asia, exactly the opposite of what my Marxist friends thought we were trying to achieve.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:07 pm

The economy in S.E.A. was unimpressive, so the economic angle is very weak.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:37 pm

Upton: thanks for the review and the reminder to watch.

I have never delved deep into the roots and rationale of the war. just seems to me common sense: don't start wars 7000 miles away unless your own VITAL self interests are involved. No one understands what VITAL means.

It was fairly early in the war though that I came to the surface conclusion that "The West" was treating Communism as a monolithic block as if Vietnam, China, and Russia were all the same thing. A popular expression used by the West at the time (atleast for us troops facing engagement) was "Rather Dead than Red." That never did make sense to me from the start. Personally, I'd rather be communist and Alive, than capitalist and dead. I got a lot of heat for that........ still do.

My own view of the series will be to see what lessons/lies/tricks/BS was used to get and keep that war going are still being used today for todays wars....and for tomorrows wars. We don't learn a frickin thing.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:33 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote: I'm now inclined to think that there was something to the economic argument after all. .
I think we all agree, there was not only one reason and as there were so many players, a multitude of opinions existed.

I do think we have to put our mind sets into the late 1950's. During the war the Germans had an awful time with basic resources like rubber and their 1940's synthetic rubber was not great. Asia was really important for the other countries on basic things. Also the reserves of oil in Sth East Asia were not fully understood and older European nations probably feared a communist aligned trade of potential oil supply with existing communist Russia.

It's funny. China is buying up heavily in Papua Nu guinea at the moment. Although, at face value it is for food security, no one really knows what is up in the highlands. I imagine there's a bit of "we don't know what there, so we must grab it first" going on in Australian government and Indonesian government thinking. Are the West Papuan local insurgents, the Vietnamese of 2017? :D

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Tom Palven » Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:29 am

Vietnam Deja Vu

Eric Margolis comments on the Ken Burns series and says that what's happening in Afghanistan right now is SSDD:
https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/09/eri ... m-deja-vu/
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:58 pm

Almost every overseas war conducted by USA is SSDD. Very depressing...... from every angle.

Such a waste.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Tom Palven » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:59 am

Vietnam-like escalation in Afghanistan?
http://news.antiwar.com/2017/10/03/matt ... mbat-duty/
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:12 pm

Tom Palven wrote:Vietnam-like escalation in Afghanistan?
http://news.antiwar.com/2017/10/03/matt ... mbat-duty/


I fear so. Whom the gods wish to destroy, they cause to invade Afghanistan. It is simply unconscionable to keep sending young people to kill and die in a cause that is already lost. We knew Viet Nam was lost by 1968, but we continued to send more and more soldiers there. They probably killed 100,000 Vietnamese and 30,000 of them died doing it.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:16 pm

Tom Palven wrote:Vietnam Deja Vu

Eric Margolis comments on the Ken Burns series and says that what's happening in Afghanistan right now is SSDD:
https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/09/eri ... m-deja-vu/


Excellent analysis! Thanks much for that post. Margolis has my admiration. I demonstrated against the war that he enlisted for, but I didn't put much on the line, not enough to claim that I made some sacrifice to end the war.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Tom Palven » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:21 am

More evidence of US escalation in Afghanistan:
http://news.antiwar.com/2017/10/04/matt ... ghanistan/

Over 7 million tons of bombs were dropped on Indo-China during the Vietnam War:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_b ... ietnam_War

Green Berets killed in Niger:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-niger ... SKBN1C9310
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Phoenix76 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:15 am

I'm not aware of the Vietnam series you are taking about, but as a Vet, I do have some thoughts.

From the Australian perspective, we, as young gullible soldiers, were very well sold on the domino theory. I can still vividly recall sitting in a paddock at Puckapunyal Army Base in Victoria, Australia, listening to the boffins tell us about the domino theory, and how it had worked in WW11. Of course, it all sounded very feasible to us greenhorns. They had even brought their whiteboards out into the paddock with them.

I'm displaying ignorance here, but I still don't really understand why the Americans got involved. Was it because a war economy augured well for the american home economy? Don't know, but it was often suggested. As I see it, all that Vietnam wanted was to be left alone as one country, working its rice paddies, and the hills folk eking out a life farming. They were not interested in what the West could offer, anymore than they were interested in what the communists could offer. They just wanted to be left alone. But what was going on between America and the South Vietnam Government is anybody's guess.

Of course when we come to Iraq and in particularly Afghanistan, I believe our allied forces are working to protect oil interests for the West. Why the hell else would we get involved in a conflict that has been going on since time began. And a conflict that we can never win. Obviously we learned nothing in Vietnam.

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:30 am

The Islamists once ruled from Mecca to Spain. I think the modern states would be more ambitious.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:02 pm

Phoenix76 wrote:I'm not aware of the Vietnam series you are taking about, but as a Vet, I do have some thoughts.

From the Australian perspective, we, as young gullible soldiers, were very well sold on the domino theory. I can still vividly recall sitting in a paddock at Puckapunyal Army Base in Victoria, Australia, listening to the boffins tell us about the domino theory, and how it had worked in WW11. Of course, it all sounded very feasible to us greenhorns. They had even brought their whiteboards out into the paddock with them.

I'm displaying ignorance here, but I still don't really understand why the Americans got involved. Was it because a war economy augured well for the american home economy? Don't know, but it was often suggested. As I see it, all that Vietnam wanted was to be left alone as one country, working its rice paddies, and the hills folk eking out a life farming. They were not interested in what the West could offer, anymore than they were interested in what the communists could offer. They just wanted to be left alone. But what was going on between America and the South Vietnam Government is anybody's guess.

Of course when we come to Iraq and in particularly Afghanistan, I believe our allied forces are working to protect oil interests for the West. Why the hell else would we get involved in a conflict that has been going on since time began. And a conflict that we can never win. Obviously we learned nothing in Vietnam.


Probably the series will be shown in Australia rather soon. I haven't watched all 12 episodes. But the domino theory was very prominent here also. The trouble started very early on, when the US tried to help France get its empire back after World War II. Among other weaponry, the US provided planes with which French pilots bombed Haiphong in November 1947, killing 3000 people. When the French finally gave up in 1954, the US had just gotten a very bloody nose in Korea, having entered the first war since 1814 that it did not win. Eisenhower very explicitly said that Ho Chi Minh's prestige was so high that he was certain to win the plebiscite on unification, and Ho was a Communist (which itself is a tribute to the racism of Woodrow Wilson, whose retinue kept the man who later became Ho Chi Minh from presenting a petition for Vietnamese Independence at the 1920 peace talks in Paris, thereby causing him to join the Communist Party). Since China had been "lost" in 1949 (who knew we owned the place and even COULD lose it?), Eisehnhower felt we didn't dare "lose" any more to the Communists, so he had Ngo Din Diem dragged out of a monastery to run the country. Diem was a bigoted, Frenchified Catholic (although he was politically opposed to French rule) in a largely Buddhist country, so anybody could have seen this was not going to end well. And it didn't.

I'm currently reading "Hue 1968" by Mark Bowden, the story of the Tet offensive that I remember oh so well. We in the US had been told constantly that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were reeling from the war (and indeed they were---there is no reason to think we were being lied to about that). But that led to a general feeling that they couldn't possibly mount a major offensive all across the country. That, however, is exactly what they did, and delivered a devastating blow to the prestige of our soldiers. It came at enormous cost. They had been expecting a general uprising against the Americans, which the conservative, cautious Vietnamese farmers were not ready to support. The US could probably have mopped them up after that, but the outrage in the US was so overwhelming that Johnson didn't dare escalate the war. It was the equivalent of Dien Bien Phu all over again, or, as I like to think, the battle of Borodino in 1812, which was a military disaster for the Russians, but nevertheless was the turning point in their war against Napoleon.

The treasonous activity of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger that summer, during the Presidential campaign, promising the Thieu government a better deal if it remained intransigent at the peace talks, was covered up for decades, and only now do we realize the full depth of Nixon's degradation. The war could have ended with at least 150,000 people alive who were dead when it actually did end. That was the cost of getting Nixon elected. And even so, he just barely won the election.

On Afghanistan, I've just been listening to the BBC, and the consensus of the experts is that the war there has been stalemated and many in the Taliban are ready to negotiate. (This begins to sound familiar.) But there is a hard core in the Taliban that will settle for nothing but total victory. The notion that a few thousand more soldiers from the US will make any difference is not tenable. If the native defenders are willing to fight and die forever, they WILL eventually win. That's the lesson of 1812 and the lesson of Viet Nam.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Phoenix76 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 5:49 am

Upton said:

I'm currently reading "Hue 1968" by Mark Bowden, the story of the Tet offensive that I remember oh so well


Yes I well remember the time. In May '68, the 1st Australian Task Force (1st ATF), read the whole Australian Army in Vietnam, deployed about 50 miles north of Saigon. We set up FSB Coral, and later FSB Balmoral, in an effort to stop the retreat from Saigon after the TET offensive.

Firstly, we were sent to an area where we could not deploy Artillery, and then the Americans who were supposed to assist us were delayed elsewhere in their own fire fight. Well we moved and found a suitable area, but unfortunately it was now late in the day, so we hunkered done for the night, 12th May, with no perimeter wires, no claymores, only a couple of rifle platoons and each gun had its own machine gun pit out front of the gun.

We had set up facing SW where we expected the retreating forces to come from. During the night we had a couple of contacts to our NE, so we turned 4,5,& 6 in that direction while leaving 1,2 & 3 where they were. At about 0230 in the morning, 13th May, all hell broke lose, and it came from the NE. Two battalions of NV regs has watched us deploy and they were going to have us, come what may.

Well as history tells, they broke our lines, captured No. 6 gun, got to the CP door, killed two of our mates from HQ Bty, and injured I have no idea how many. I even got a nick in the arm. We took back No. 6 before dawn, and repelled the attack using mainly Splintex with some HE. Dust off in the morning was a hell of a mess. I think you could well visualize what I'm saying Upton. We also had two blokes who completely lost it. They were shooting at dead people or anything that moved. They went home, but I have often wondered if all of them went home or just their physical bodies. Oh, one more lovely thing. The M60's we had in the pits were exactly that - "The Pits". One burst and the jambed. A major reason our lines were breached. During the heat of it all, I actually had a gook climbing up over the barrel of my gun (No. 4) armed with an RPG. Luckily I was loaded, and he was dispatched to the father land.

Before the next attack on 16th May, General Westmoreland came for a visit. Well we Aussies are quite up front about things so one of our gunners fronted the General and told him in no uncertain terms that the M60's were the greatest load of {!#%@} we had ever seen. Next day, we were issued with brand new M60's. They were a good gun as proved in our helicopter gunships, but must have been given the dregs.

Anyway, had my little say. And thanks, Upton, for the other info, fills in a few gaps. Cheers

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:58 am

Phoenix76 wrote:Upton said:

I'm currently reading "Hue 1968" by Mark Bowden, the story of the Tet offensive that I remember oh so well


Yes I well remember the time. In May '68, the 1st Australian Task Force (1st ATF), read the whole Australian Army in Vietnam, deployed about 50 miles north of Saigon. We set up FSB Coral, and later FSB Balmoral, in an effort to stop the retreat from Saigon after the TET offensive.

Firstly, we were sent to an area where we could not deploy Artillery, and then the Americans who were supposed to assist us were delayed elsewhere in their own fire fight. Well we moved and found a suitable area, but unfortunately it was now late in the day, so we hunkered done for the night, 12th May, with no perimeter wires, no claymores, only a couple of rifle platoons and each gun had its own machine gun pit out front of the gun.

We had set up facing SW where we expected the retreating forces to come from. During the night we had a couple of contacts to our NE, so we turned 4,5,& 6 in that direction while leaving 1,2 & 3 where they were. At about 0230 in the morning, 13th May, all hell broke lose, and it came from the NE. Two battalions of NV regs has watched us deploy and they were going to have us, come what may.

Well as history tells, they broke our lines, captured No. 6 gun, got to the CP door, killed two of our mates from HQ Bty, and injured I have no idea how many. I even got a nick in the arm. We took back No. 6 before dawn, and repelled the attack using mainly Splintex with some HE. Dust off in the morning was a hell of a mess. I think you could well visualize what I'm saying Upton. We also had two blokes who completely lost it. They were shooting at dead people or anything that moved. They went home, but I have often wondered if all of them went home or just their physical bodies. Oh, one more lovely thing. The M60's we had in the pits were exactly that - "The Pits". One burst and the jambed. A major reason our lines were breached. During the heat of it all, I actually had a gook climbing up over the barrel of my gun (No. 4) armed with an RPG. Luckily I was loaded, and he was dispatched to the father land.

Before the next attack on 16th May, General Westmoreland came for a visit. Well we Aussies are quite up front about things so one of our gunners fronted the General and told him in no uncertain terms that the M60's were the greatest load of {!#%@} we had ever seen. Next day, we were issued with brand new M60's. They were a good gun as proved in our helicopter gunships, but must have been given the dregs.

Anyway, had my little say. And thanks, Upton, for the other info, fills in a few gaps. Cheers


No, thank YOU for the Australian perspective. I always felt terrible that the US dragged a staunch ally into this quagmire. As I recall, Nicole Kidman once portrayed an anti-war activist whose brother was in Viet Nam. In one beautiful scene, she's taking calls on a radio show and quickly realizes that the caller is her brother, at which point she falls apart. Well, she can make me do anything she wants, almost any time (she is, after all, the most beautiful woman who ever lived), but that scene is her greatest, in my opinion.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:12 pm

There are many beauties equaling her in the 20's and 30's. Looks to me though that Nicole is going to be a stunner most of her life....like Jane Fonda. I keep noticing Emma Peele on Game of Thrones...faded glory, but she can at least act while sitting down. Ha, ha..........and I wasn't much to look at from the get go.......but thats what Hollywood is for.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Phoenix76 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:01 am

Upton said:

As I recall, Nicole Kidman once portrayed an anti-war activist whose brother was in Viet Nam. In one beautiful scene, she's taking calls on a radio show and quickly realizes that the caller is her brother, at which point she falls apart. Well, she can make me do anything she wants, almost any time (she is, after all, the most beautiful woman who ever lived), but that scene is her greatest, in my opinion.


Yes, remember the film well. Must admit that I was still feeling the hurt and rejection we suffered when we came back from 'Nam, but looking at it now with older eyes, yes it was an excellent portrayal.

Nicole, IMHO, is an excellent actor, though often under rated. And yes, she is gorgeous. But she puts her whole being into her work, even to a point where she can suffer psychologically, and even physically from her performances. But she is certainly an enigma. That's another story.

And Bobbo, I understand the essence of your post, but just the mention of Jane Fonda angers me. And that goes back to when she was in 'Nam, sucking up to the enemy. Her well published trip to 'Nam showed her as a traitor, not only to America, but to humanity. Even after 50 years, you will not get her to talk about it.

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:26 am

Phoenix: if you are against the Vietnam war.....you can't rationally be against Hanoi Jane. Course..... as noted, being consistent is not one of your base requirements.

She took her rhetoric a bit too far from time to time but what is worse? Some traitorous rhetoric.......or sending young boys to die and kill for a war carried on just so Presidents and Prime Ministers didn't have to admit they were wrong????

My biggest complaint against Jane was sitting in that AA battery. But I forgive her as she is still only an Actress. AN ACTRESS trained to "take direction." I don't know.........but I assume someone told her to "have a seat" so she did.

Phoenix: find the clear difference with all its pros and cons, mistakes, frauds, misstatements, exaggerations ETC between actively campaigning to STOP A WAR.................vs .............. Wanting other people to die to continue it.

Again.......... there is a difference.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:06 pm

Phoenix76 wrote:Upton said:

As I recall, Nicole Kidman once portrayed an anti-war activist whose brother was in Viet Nam. In one beautiful scene, she's taking calls on a radio show and quickly realizes that the caller is her brother, at which point she falls apart. Well, she can make me do anything she wants, almost any time (she is, after all, the most beautiful woman who ever lived), but that scene is her greatest, in my opinion.


Yes, remember the film well. Must admit that I was still feeling the hurt and rejection we suffered when we came back from 'Nam, but looking at it now with older eyes, yes it was an excellent portrayal.

Nicole, IMHO, is an excellent actor, though often under rated. And yes, she is gorgeous. But she puts her whole being into her work, even to a point where she can suffer psychologically, and even physically from her performances. But she is certainly an enigma. That's another story.

And Bobbo, I understand the essence of your post, but just the mention of Jane Fonda angers me. And that goes back to when she was in 'Nam, sucking up to the enemy. Her well published trip to 'Nam showed her as a traitor, not only to America, but to humanity. Even after 50 years, you will not get her to talk about it.



Your reaction to Jane Fonda mirrors exactly the reaction I've had from every single American veteran of that war. In my opinion, Jane Fonda was a not-very-bright, docile sex kitten, much under the thumb of the men in her life (Roger Vadim, Tom Hayden), and both treated her in a way that amounts to spousal abuse. That doesn't change the fact that she had entirely the wrong focus in her anti-war activity, blaming the men who fought instead of the men who sent them to fight. I fully understand why all my contemporaries who fought in that war hate her.

The ballad that always brings me near to tears is "And the band played 'Waltzing Matilda'..." which tells the story of the Australians sent to die at Gallipoli in World War I. The unbearably poignant part of it for me is the description of the homecoming of the maimed soldiers. I must admit, I've never been able to think positively of Churchill since that time. And I think doubly bad of him for depriving the Australians of their navy at the beginning of World War II, just when they needed it most, because HE needed it to defend the British homeland. The Australians had been showing the inexperienced Americans how to fight in the jungle (which our guys did eventually learn). If not for the good fortune that our side won the Battle of the Coral Sea, things might have gone very badly for Australia in that war, as a result of Mr. Churchill's policies.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:46 am

"Your reaction to Jane Fonda mirrors exactly the reaction I've had from every single American veteran of that war." //// Except bobbo.......and his rank ordering of who to get angry at.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Phoenix76 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:36 am

Upton said:

The ballad that always brings me near to tears is "And the band played 'Waltzing Matilda'..." which tells the story of the Australians sent to die at Gallipoli in World War I. The unbearably poignant part of it for me is the description of the homecoming of the maimed soldiers. I must admit, I've never been able to think positively of Churchill since that time. And I think doubly bad of him for depriving the Australians of their navy at the beginning of World War II, just when they needed it most, because HE needed it to defend the British homeland. The Australians had been showing the inexperienced Americans how to fight in the jungle (which our guys did eventually learn). If not for the good fortune that our side won the Battle of the Coral Sea, things might have gone very badly for Australia in that war, as a result of Mr. Churchill's policies.


Yes Upton, it is certainly a tear jerker. It is on my playlists for when I'm driving. "And they turned all their heads away." Don't know what version you have, mine is by Eric Bogle and is far superior to one done by John Williamson. Another on my list is "I was only 19", which is about being called up at age 19 to fight in 'Nam. Absolutely haunting. Again my version is by Redgum rather than the John Williamson effort. Williamson seems to have a thing for doing live recordings, and I reckon it destroys this type of song when you have audiences cheering at the wrong time.

And you are spot on with Churchill. He made some big stuff ups and then was going to sacrifice half of Australia to the Japs.

Well Upton, just hope my kids never have to go through what we went through. My number didn't come up in the ballot, I was a volunteer (and pretty feral), but they did classify me as a National Serviceman. Even gave me a medal saying so. And that's nice, along with my Australian Defence Medal, they help to fill up the space on my jacket. But the one that really means something is my Vietnam Service Medal. I mean, you had to be there to get that one. Also very proud to wear WW1 & WW11 medals representing my and my wife's Father, and our respective Grandfathers and Great Grandfathers. Between us we have quite a family history in the military. Unfortunately, some of them are buried in France and wherever.

One very interesting coincidence in my history. I'm an Artilleryman and my service included the Battle of Coral and Balmoral, the biggest single engagement of the Australian Army in Vietnam. But I found a relative who landed at Gallopoli on April 26, and his 18 pounder was the only gun they were able to deploy. And they knocked out Johnny Turk on the next headland who had been giving us hell. Now, I never knew that until a couple of years ago when I was researching our family trees. Guess if I was that way inclined, one would say "spookey".

Cheers mate

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:42 am

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:The Islamists once ruled from Mecca to Spain. I think the modern states would be more ambitious.


That's the damn problem with history. So many people think the fact that they ONCE ruled over an area gives them a moral right to reconquer it. Bin Laden said this explicitly about Spain, which he called "Andalusia." And the Russians clearly feel that way about the Crimea and large parts of Ukraine.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:35 am

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:The Islamists once ruled from Mecca to Spain. I think the modern states would be more ambitious.


That's the damn problem with history. So many people think the fact that they ONCE ruled over an area gives them a moral right to reconquer it. Bin Laden said this explicitly about Spain, which he called "Andalusia." And the Russians clearly feel that way about the Crimea and large parts of Ukraine.

"The good old days" were the days when it was good for specific people.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:55 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:The Islamists once ruled from Mecca to Spain. I think the modern states would be more ambitious.


That's the damn problem with history. So many people think the fact that they ONCE ruled over an area gives them a moral right to reconquer it. Bin Laden said this explicitly about Spain, which he called "Andalusia." And the Russians clearly feel that way about the Crimea and large parts of Ukraine.

"The good old days" were the days when it was good for specific people.


Well put! One can match Trump's MAGA, for example, with De Gaulle's "à mon sens, la France ne peut être la France sans la grandeur." Well, we know what became of his attempt to retain the Empire after World War II.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:09 pm

Pragmatically, we needed a strong France in Europe more than we needed a former colony freed into the hands of people with uncertain politics. Champagne or "33" beer?
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:19 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:Pragmatically, we needed a strong France in Europe more than we needed a former colony freed into the hands of people with uncertain politics. Champagne or "33" beer?


Yeah, that's no doubt what Truman figured. In retrospect, it was a mistake to discount all those small colonial countries and their desire for independence. Empires never realize when they are over the hill. A good sign of an empire over the hill is that it becomes obsessed with making itself great again. I read quite a bit of French literature, and one novel that sticks in my mind is Zola's La débacle, his account of the 1870 war with Prussia. His French soldiers were sure that they could kick German asses all over Europe ("Nous allons les culbuter..."), just as they did under Napoleon. (They seem to have forgotten that Napoleon's magic ran out disastrously in 1813 in Russia and again in 1815 at Waterloo.) As we know, that didn't work out, and Zola ends with his stalwart French soldier emerging from the wreckage in Paris and starting the recovery. I say this as an admirer of the French. Most of my fellow Americans have a disdainful view of French soldiers, but that is simply wrong-headed. French soldiers have fought bravely and effectively in both World Wars. They were victims of very poor planning during the 1930s. But that's another story.

Question: Why do you list your own handle with a very polite Japanese honorific? No Japanese person would ever refer to himself or herself using "sama" or even "san." A person named, e.g. Yamada, would say simply "Yamada desu." or "Yamada to yonde, kudasai." ("I'm Yamada." or "Please call me Yamada.") I know only a small amount of Japanese. I do know Russian quite well, and I first reflexively filed your handle as a Russian name, in which language it would mean "Godzilla herself." No need to answer this nosy question, of course. I was just curious.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Matthew Ellard » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:56 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote: Well put! One can match Trump's MAGA, for example, with De Gaulle's "à mon sens, la France ne peut être la France sans la grandeur." Well, we know what became of his attempt to retain the Empire after World War II.

It was in French Algeria that the systematic use of "IEDs" came into use. There's a lot that can be learned studying that campaign and "what not to do. ". :D

I read some books by North Vietnamese generals. It was fascinating. They didn't expect the war to end until 1980 and kept building up resources. When the Chinese Red Army attacked Vietnam in 1979, China assumed Vietnam was war weary and on its last legs after General Giap used Vietnam's fast armour in the "Golden Lotus" encirclement of Pol Pot's Cambodia. In fact Vietnam's army was at its peak. China was so humiliated in its defeat it has never undertaken a land campaign since.
:D

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:19 am

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:Pragmatically, we needed a strong France in Europe more than we needed a former colony freed into the hands of people with uncertain politics. Champagne or "33" beer?


Yeah, that's no doubt what Truman figured. In retrospect, it was a mistake to discount all those small colonial countries and their desire for independence. Empires never realize when they are over the hill. A good sign of an empire over the hill is that it becomes obsessed with making itself great again. I read quite a bit of French literature, and one novel that sticks in my mind is Zola's La débacle, his account of the 1870 war with Prussia. His French soldiers were sure that they could kick German asses all over Europe ("Nous allons les culbuter..."), just as they did under Napoleon. (They seem to have forgotten that Napoleon's magic ran out disastrously in 1813 in Russia and again in 1815 at Waterloo.) As we know, that didn't work out, and Zola ends with his stalwart French soldier emerging from the wreckage in Paris and starting the recovery. I say this as an admirer of the French. Most of my fellow Americans have a disdainful view of French soldiers, but that is simply wrong-headed. French soldiers have fought bravely and effectively in both World Wars. They were victims of very poor planning during the 1930s. But that's another story.

Question: Why do you list your own handle with a very polite Japanese honorific? No Japanese person would ever refer to himself or herself using "sama" or even "san." A person named, e.g. Yamada, would say simply "Yamada desu." or "Yamada to yonde, kudasai." ("I'm Yamada." or "Please call me Yamada.") I know only a small amount of Japanese. I do know Russian quite well, and I first reflexively filed your handle as a Russian name, in which language it would mean "Godzilla herself." No need to answer this nosy question, of course. I was just curious.

How polite would you be when addressing a 121.92 meter mutant fire-breathing lizard thingy?
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:52 am

Upton_O_Goode wrote: That's the damn problem with history. So many people think the fact that they ONCE ruled over an area gives them a moral right to reconquer it.


Generically is only a few people who think so while most people just go about breeding more people than the local area can support. It spreads from there.

Darn. What I wanted to post was: "More generically, people even think they have a "right" to be where they are." A few degrees separated from: land occupation has NOTHING to do with rights.

Only ............... POWER.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:46 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Upton_O_Goode wrote: Well put! One can match Trump's MAGA, for example, with De Gaulle's "à mon sens, la France ne peut être la France sans la grandeur." Well, we know what became of his attempt to retain the Empire after World War II.

It was in French Algeria that the systematic use of "IEDs" came into use. There's a lot that can be learned studying that campaign and "what not to do. ". :D

I read some books by North Vietnamese generals. It was fascinating. They didn't expect the war to end until 1980 and kept building up resources. When the Chinese Red Army attacked Vietnam in 1979, China assumed Vietnam was war weary and on its last legs after General Giap used Vietnam's fast armour in the "Golden Lotus" encirclement of Pol Pot's Cambodia. In fact Vietnam's army was at its peak. China was so humiliated in its defeat it has never undertaken a land campaign since.
:D


Thanks, I had forgotten that history. The Doonesbury comic strip at the time had a strip showing what was ostensibly a scene at the UN, with the Chinese ambassador castigating Viet Nam. The moderator was saying, "Will the American ambassador please stop laughing?" The US ambassador said, "I apologize; it's just that the déjà vu is so overwhelming." And the world should remember that it was Viet Nam and not the United States that put an end to the Cambodian genocide. The US still owes war reparations to Viet Nam, and the world owes a general debt. (I'm not forgetting how brutal the Viet Cong were. But they did do a few things right, and they reclaimed their country from imperialist powers.)
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:29 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote: And the world should remember that it was Viet Nam and not the United States that put an end to the Cambodian genocide.
General Giap didn't want any large forces of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge to set up in the jungle and come back again in force, as he needed to keep his armour ready if the USA returned. He divided his mobile armour and forces into four groups, and circumnavigated Cambodia and then drove towards the centre from all four directions, very quickly.

What was interesting was that Vietnam's military was preparing for normal conventional battles against the USA in the late 70's, to disorientate USA tactical predictions, but the USA had already left. It was China that got slapped around by these conventional forces in 1979.

General Giap was a very smart general and we really should have asked him to lecture our armed forces when relations were normalised with Vietnam.
:D

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:32 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote:The US still owes war reparations to Viet Nam, and the world owes a general debt.
I would agree with that point of view. The Vietnamese fought for their independence from France, then the USA and then China and that was their right.

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:38 pm

And they were more murderous than the Westerners, but that part doesn't get much air time.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:47 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:And they were more murderous than the Westerners, but that part doesn't get much air time.
I know that. It was a very bad war. There were no clear solutions. The USA/Aust had plausible concerns that a simple withdrawal would result in a civilian massacre and that is exactly what later happened in Cambodia.

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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:43 am

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:How polite would you be when addressing a 121.92 meter mutant fire-breathing lizard thingy?


:lol:

I was just curious. I recall from some 7 or 8 months ago reading one of your posts that indicated you had been stationed in Japan. Thought there might be an interesting story in the handle.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:48 am

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:How polite would you be when addressing a 121.92 meter mutant fire-breathing lizard thingy?


:lol:

I was just curious. I recall from some 7 or 8 months ago reading one of your posts that indicated you had been stationed in Japan. Thought there might be an interesting story in the handle.

Interesting? Maybe. I was staying with a JN* friend at his house when an earthquake hit. The house collapsed and I was stuck under the rubble for several hours until they dug me out. As I was a foreigner AND US military they insisted on taking me to a hospital for a thorough check-up. I was returned to my ship via ambulance and the CO was there to greet me when I reported aboard. He laughed and said "I guess we have to call you Godzilla from now on?" The captain's "orders" stuck. After that people would greet with "Hey! Godzilla!", probably for a chance to tell the story.
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:52 am

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:And they were more murderous than the Westerners, but that part doesn't get much air time.


As I mentioned above, the brutality of the Viet Minh is not neglected in Burns's documentary. But the story is about the Western involvement there. I doubt if there would ever have been any Communist connection if there had not been the colonialism. Viet Nam would have been a monarchy, but the brutality would have been absent. (Or so I guess. The subjunctive mood in history is a risky thing.)

And, yes, that's not just an interesting story. It's fascinating. Let's hear it for Gojiru!

You might be interested in seeing the Russian movie "Stalingrad" made a couple of years ago. It's told in retrospect by a Russian aid worker at Fukushima after the 2011 tsunami. Beginning and end might interest you. (In the middle, frankly, I found it rather dull. I must be jaded if I can get bored watching the Battle of Stalingrad.)
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Re: Ken Burns on Viet Nam

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:01 pm

"Gojira".
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