Some comments, critiques on PBS “The Vietnam War” ( III)
Maybe K. Burns and L. Novick could learn something, some “truths” and correct some errors , or incorrect implications in their series. This article is from Prof. Nguyen Tien Hưng ( Emeritus-Howard University), in Vietnamese BBC on Sept. 25, 2017. I translated most of it. Dr. Hưng is the author of The Palace File ( Harper& Row, 1986, with J. Schecter), the trilogy in Vietnamese, which any serious researcher should read to understand a number of views of the S. Vietnamese side in the relationships among Vietnam, the US, and Viet cong ; as well as in the war-- with numerous hidden, secretive, very little known facts : Khi Đồng Minh Tháo Chạy ( When The Ally Retreated, 2005), Tâm Tư Tổng Thống Thiệu ( Heart and Mind of President Thieu, 2010), and Khi Đồng Minh Nhảy Vào ( When The Ally Jumped In, 2016)
'The Vietnam War' và khi Hoa Kỳ vào VN
‘The Vietnam War’ and when the US came to VN In 1958, from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, I watched the Vietnam War from the very beginning of Eisenhower’s term to the the time Kennedy sent troops to Vietnam, then escalated rapidly, in the Johnson era. I also watched and appeared in Michael Maclear's The Ten Thousand Day War in 1980. The 26-hour film is longer than that of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. With personal experience and many years of research, especially from the 7,000-page document The Pentagon Papers, which was declassified on June 13, 2011, I wrote about the American period when the US shipped its military men to Vietnam in my Khi Đồng Minh Nhảy Vào (When the Ally Jumped In’= KĐMNV) with nearly 900 pages of original material, published in 2016.
The first five episodes of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s series talk about the same time as When the Ally Jumped In , from the 1940s to the late 1967s. The layout is the same, but the movies series has more dramatic titles. For example, the title for The Styx River (Styx River) is very attractive because Styx is a river in Greek mythology that refers to the boundary between this earth and the afterlife or world of the dead. It also has the meaning of hell. Volume 3 to Volume 5 only show the major battles mostly: An Khe (the first battle), Plei Me, Ia Drang, Pleiku, Binh Gia, 1338, Hill 875. These are the battles which have been shown many times in American films about the Vietnam War. The new release has more tragic, painful stories of American soldiers and their families. Compared to Michael Maclear's, the images in this film are not new. But the film has more attractive visual effect, and very impressive use of color techniques, music, sound, together with many interviews with war veterans and comments from commentators. Within the confines of this article, I will focus more on the first two, since the last three are mostly replayed as mentioned above. On the BBC Vietnamese website, there are reports of the film's presentation in Saigon. At the end of the presentation, director Lynn Novick summarized the film: "We want to know what happened here ... ; describe the reality, reality of war, of death, of sacrifice ... We try not to judge. We try to be honest with the tragedy, tell stories from many angles, and try to show a lot of the Vietnamese experience in the war. "
Comments on Ngo Đinh Diem
Although there is a good and human approach, the film has many shortcomings. The following are examples: The two directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick said they were "not judging" but actually judged in a subtle way. For example, American footage from 1966-1967 was juxtaposed to the fierce French war in the 40-50s. As such, would that imply that the American soldier is similar to a French soldier: cruel, oppressive? And will the US repeat the mistakes of the French colonialists? The film comments on President Ngo Dinh Diem: "He was cruel, did not trust anyone outside his family; nimble, resourceful; knew how to exploit the weakness of the enemies." Then they gave him a nickname: "The Savior with no message." This judgment is in contrast to the 1957 New York Times review, calling Diem "an Asian liberator," or the Life magazine: "Tough Miracle Man of Vietnam" , or Senator Jacob Javits (New York State): "He is one of the heroes of the free world." Congressman Mike Mansfield praised Diem: "The preventive success to contain communism in Vietnam, and thus in Southeast Asia, is due to the determination, courage, purity and integrity of President Diem, who demonstrated his very impressive ability when faced with great difficulties " In 1961, Vice President Johnson went further, calling Diem "the Winston Churchill of Southeast Asia." The film wants to tell stories from “many sides ... a lot of Vietnamese experiences in the war”, but they interviewed very few people from the Republic of Vietnam in the South, where the battles basically happened. The time allotted for these people is also very short, just as a brush off of some sort. Where are the images and stories of the brave soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam? Where are the pictures of their wives and children living in difficult circumstances, lonely in the South’s countryside, waiting forever to see their husbands and fathers?
Left leaning and anti-Republic of S. Vietnam ? On the side of commentators, Neil Sheehan (leftist journalist, who strongly opposed the Republic of Vietnam) is one of the main speakers of the film. No interviews with reviewers such as Mark Moyar, Lewis Sorley.(1) A major flaw: the film exploits the Battle of Ap Bac (1/1963), based on Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie, blaming the ARVN commander and praising Mr. Paul Vann to the sky. Moyar recounts the details of the battle, the terrain, and the sizes of two sides, as well as the progress of the battle, to make a very clear comment about Paul Vann's lies as he provided information to Sheehan [ Khi Đồng Minh Nhảy Vào (KĐMNV) = When The Ally Jumped In, pages 470-472 ]. The film does not mention an important reality in Vietnam in the 1940s, the formation of the National Government of Vietnam. Where is the story of the Japanese Ambassador Yokohama who met Emperor Bao Dai to transfer independence after the French overthrow (March 11, 1945): "Last night, we ended French sovereignty over this country, and I was given the task of giving Vietnam’s independence to the King." It means the granting of independence of the whole territory, including islands that Japan had occupied, such as Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. Emperor Bao Dai declared independence and formed the government of Tran Trong Kim. By the time the Geneva Accord was signed, the government of the nation of Vietnam had been recognized by 35 countries. After Geneva, the government of the Republic of Vietnam continued the function of the Nation of Vietnam (as a national entity- added note to clarify). The Geneva Agreement was signed by China; therefore, that meant China had recognized Hoang Sa, Truong Sa belong to Vietnam. This is an important event for Vietnam in the context of current disputes in our East Sea , or South China Sea. The film also does not mention the first letter of the Vietnamese leader, Emperor Bao Dai to President Truman (August 18, 1945?) Right after Japan gave back the independence to Vietnam, Emperor Bao Dai immediately wrote to President Truman, asking France to respect the principle of equality between peoples and return independence to Vietnam: "Dear President, the colonial regime is no longer suitable for the present historical trend ... France should be willing to accept the trend in order to avoid the catastrophe of war in our country." (KĐMNV, p. 35) . On the same day, he sent a letter to General Charles de Gaulle: "If you come back ... each village will become a resistance group; each one of you will become an enemy."
To the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the film refers to a letter from President Ho Chi Minh (with his signature) to Truman, asking the US to stop France from coming back and support Vietnam's independence. I have a copy of the letter in my Khi Đồng Minh Tháo Chạy=When the Ally Retreated on pages 709-710. There are actually up to 14 letters and notes from Mr. Ho to the White House and the State Department, which requested for independence and relief of famine that were raging across the North. Regarding the letter being quoted, the commentator in the film (Leslie Gelb) said the letter did not reach President Truman (possibly with the implication that Truman would not respond). This is not true, as in the 14 letters and notes contained in the Exhibits in Khi Đồng minh Nhảy Vào (pages 704-721) , there is a document (October 17, 1945) printed by the telex of the White House In Khi Đồng minh Nhảy Vào (When the Ally Jumped In) , I wrote: "Thus, both the Viet Minh and the Nationalists sought help from the United States to stop the French from returning to Vietnam. During that time famine was raging in the central and northern regions, killing between 1.5 and 2 million people.(2) In that case, one can ask a question: If the United States, then, had responded to help both factions of Vietnam to stop the French and help out with the famine relief of 1945, then what could have become of the history of Vietnam ? Would the Vietnam War have still emerged ? The United States could easily open a Consulate in Vietnam to use its surplus rice to save nearly 17% of Vietnam's population in hunger and cold. All Vietnamese people would have applauded the United States, and France could’nt have returned. " The film also does not mention the economic and social achievements that the Republic of Vietnam reaped in the "5 Golden years 1955-1960." During this period, administrators were well-trained for two decades by the National Institute of Administration, just as trainees at the Ecole Nationale D'Administration of France (the birthplace of French leaders), the law schools, the medical schools which produced many lawyers, judges who promoted the rule of law, and the doctors who worked in hospitals replacing French doctors. South Vietnam actually set the first bricks in 1955-1960 for South Korea's model of development under Park Chung Hee.
Why was there the Vietnam War - Why Vietnam War ? The film was named Vietnam War but did not feature images and interviews on "Why was there the Vietnam War - Why Vietnam War?" This is a very important shortcoming. TVs, for example, can not just show and explain the recent devastation of Houston and Florida without showing and explaining the route and speed of Harvey and Irma's red eyes, swirling from the outside ocean. There are only vague remarks suggesting that the Vietnam War escalated step by step following the miscalculation of successive leaders in Washington. The fact is that the five presidents (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon) did calculate very carefully the interests of the United States as clearly evident in (my book), KĐMNV In all there were seven benefits the US wanted to protect in our East Sea , or South China Sea, in which Vietnam has "the most important strategic location" as the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had identified 'The Vietnam War' actually began when President John Kennedy gave order for troops to arrive in Vietnam. The film does not tell the true motivation which brought Mr. Kennedy to that decision. The (“real”) reason for putting troops into action was not to "protect the freedom of the South Vietnamese people" but because of two shocks. First, on the day of his presidency, he declared : We will pay whatever price, shoulder whatever burden to secure the survival and success of freedom. But he suffered two consecutive failures, one in Laos and one in Cuba. "I can not accept the third failure," he said, focusing on Vietnam. Second, in the summer of 1961 he was shocked when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev challenged him at the Vienna summit (3)
Diem refused to let the Americans bring troops in After that (Kennedy’s) decision (to send troops), what happened in Saigon, the Vietnam War movie completely ignored. This is a historic point that needs to be clarified: the United States brought troops against the will of President Ngo Dinh Diem. To reflect truthfulness, it is imperative to show images and interviews on this point. [ but the series does not- added note by me for clarity] Diem only requested—because pushing back communism had the mutual interests of both countries— the United States to take the role of providing material support, or both sides came to a bilateral defense treaty, instead of US bringing in troops. Eventually, the United States had to find two excuses to push for involving troops. I thoroughly examined these and wrote very clearly in the book 'Khi Đồng Minh Nhảy Vào' (KĐMNV) (chapters 15-16): (First) For the training of the South Vietnamese Army: The US Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested, "To persuade Diem, it is best to bring troops in with the reason of training," and bring a combat unit into Vietnam. The job claimed is to help set up two training camps. " (Second) For "flood relief": General Lionel McGarr, commander of the military assistance advisory group MAAG sent a message to the Pentagon: "The heavy flood in the Mekong Delta ... the heaviest since 1937 has shown that we can use flood relief as an excuse to bring troops in to perform humanitarian service. Then we can keep stay the army, if you want." Soon, counselors, soldiers, the CIA, and the American left-leaning journalists were everywhere. In A Death in November, Ellen Hammer recalled that President Diem once complained to French Ambassador Roger Lalouette, "I never asked these soldiers to come here. They do not even have passports. " The film has many shortcomings and flaws. The most significant flaw in the first section was not to mention the responsibility of the United States in the coup and the murder of President Diem. If instead of coup, the US had supported the initiative and accompanied President Diem to find a peaceful solution, would the Vietnam War have occurred or not? Would the half a million people demonstration have occurred ? Not mentioning what happened at Gia Long Palace, the tragedy, the consequences of President Kennedy's decisions, such as bringing troops in, the coup against President Diem, how can director Lynn Novick say that : "We want to know what happened here ... to describe reality ... honestly with tragedy, tell stories from many directions, and find ways to show a lot of Vietnamese experiences in the war? "
Notes (1) Prof. Hung probably missed a couple of very short appearances of ex-Lieutenant Colonel, historian Lewis Sorley. (2) Other sources estimated : the number of deaths was approximately 500000-700,000 (3) Here Prof. Nguyen T Hung points out : the wish to defend the freedom of South Vietnam was only a part of Pres. Kennedy’s intention, the other part was the (hidden) motivation in which Kennedy wanted to show N. Khrushchev that he could meet the latter’s challenge in any ways: Don’t under estimate me ( Kennedy), or the U.S.
This is the second comment and critique on “ The Vietnam War’ series in Vietnamese on BBC Oct. 9, 2017 by Prof. Nguyen Tien Hưng . I also translated almost all of the article
‘The Vietnam War’ và khi Đồng Minh tháo chạy
“The Vietnam War and When The Ally Retreated
* * The fire from the torches of the white group that marched in Charlottesville last August brightened the sky at the University of Virginia (UVA) campus reminds me of many memories of the problem of skin color and demonstration during my seven years there, 1958-1965. Ethnic conflict in the United States had existed before The University of Virginia was a white school; it did not accept black students. And white students had to be male. In order to enter the UVA, the female student had to attend Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, 66 miles from Charlottesville. We came to this city and found the separate restrooms for "White" and "Black." At first, I was also confused, did not know which room I should choose? What had to come , arrived. Five years later, on 10 September 1962, a revolt in Oxford, Mississippi killed two people and injured some. President J F Kennedy had to mobilize 16,000 troops to shut down the revolt and order University of Mississippi to accept a black student to study at the University. The city of Oxford was under military control. How could the scene happen in this country of America, I wondered ? In all of the anti-war protests, including the student demonstrations at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, which is repeated in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's The Vietnam War, there never was a city under military control. Following the Oxford revolt was the great March of Washington on August 28, 1963 led by Pastor Martin Luther Kingand and his message of "I have a dream". The number of the protesters was estimated at 250,000… The next day, a human rights leader was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi. These continuous events made America as insecure as it was in the anti-war protests in the Vietnam War. In 1963, Ken Burns was only ten and Lynn Novick was one; they (much probably) had the slightest idea of the protests. Maybe this is the reason why the series implies that the Vietnam war was the cause of demonstrations which tore America apart. The film does not speak of the truth in which the fear of becoming a soldier had lured a big part of the young protesters to anti-war demonstration to avoid military service ( if war could be ended somehow--added by me for clarity), as I will discuss below. Part II of The Vietnam War speaks of the same time as my Khi Đồng Minh Tháo Chạy ( When The Ally Retreated), which was from the Tet Offensive (1968) until the South collapsed. In this book, I focus on how the United States abandoned South Vietnam. On the other hand, ‘the Vietnam War’, although it does mention historical events, its main focuses are on the demonstrations, casualties, and the plight of American soldiers on the battlefield. The GIs were not supported by a part of Americans at home ; therefore, they became confused about their mission: "What am I fighting for?" Within the confines of this article, I only briefly mention some of the mistakes and omissions of the film.
Honest or biased ? Part II of the film continues to judge, even more heavily than Part I. The film repeats the allegations of leftist factions that the Saigon government was corrupt, President Nguyen Van Thieu acted as a king in a country; the Army of the Republic of Vietnam was not effective; there was problem of dodging military service. The hardest hit is to indirectly give false understanding to the audience that the government of the South was only a puppet of the US. Regarding corruption, I do not comment because in recent years, readers have heard and seen too much about corruption in Washington, or story on the governor of Virginia going to jail. On Thieu being a dictator : Did Ken Burns and Lynn Novick know that Saigon had dozens of parties, dozens of newspapers, which always criticized, and attacked the government ? And antiwar music, student demonstrations spread around rapidly, too. The army was not effective, people eluded military service? After more than 40 years with many researches which probed the problem again, and pointed out the success of South Vietnam Army, the film still repeats the old misinformed cliche Before criticizing, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick should do research (because $ 30 million budget ( is a lot of money) to see if there has been any people in the world who have accepted nearly one third of its men at working age (1.2 million out of 3.9 million) going to military service? ( bold emphasis is mine-LHN) Indeed there were ghost soldiers, but only very small numbers, most of them were willing to enlist. Action speaks louder than words : It was Ambassador Graham Martin who was present in Saigon until the last minute, and who had to rectify Congress (after the United States withdrew all men from spring 1973): "South Vietnam lost only its first province, Phuoc Long, in January 1975 when you cut off aid." Is Government of the South the US puppet ? This accusation was widely criticized. Here I just reiterate the de facto observation : Although the South was very poor after the decade of war with the French (1945-1955), the Republic of Vietnam was dependent on the US aid, but not US leadership. As mentioned in When The Ally Jumped In, President Ngo Dinh Diem asked President Kennedy to withdraw his advisers, and did not want the United States to send troops into the South. When the United States left Laos, he saw the gloomy “gray” horizon and knew that the United States would abandon South Vietnam sooner or later. As a consequence, he wanted to negotiate with the North to find a solution. He opposed the United States and eventually sacrificed his life for the just cause of his country. In the second republic , President Thieu, unanimously opposed President Nixon, rejected the draft of the Paris Accords despite the threat of a coup like one in 1963. Nixon was shamelessly cruel to say “ Cut his head off, if necessary." But Thieu still resisted. Eventually, Nixon had to secretly pledge to secure peace and continue to provide full aid to the South in exchange for Thieu's consent. But the commitment was just a trick to abandon the South (see KĐMTC). The number of 58,200 deaths is due to two reasons: First: America wanted to fight directly (with Vietcong). Although both South Vietnamese presidents - Ngo Dinh Diem and Nguyen Van Thieu - demanded that the United States provide only material support and training to South Vietnamese troops to protect themselves, and then only provide support when S. Vietnam soldiers got attacked. But the Americans did not listen, they kept increasing the number of US troops and took them to the battlefields. As soon as the United States entered South Vietnam, there was disagreement over the tactics of American advisors and the generals of S. Viet nam. At a meeting, a US commander in the South tactlessly blurted out "who pays, commands." Then, as the war escalated, the mission of the United States military was “defined” as fighting, the South Vietnamese military mission was to maintain security in the back. Consequentially, General Westmoreland followed a tactic called "search and destroy." The American soldiers were to find the enemy, wade in the mud, be dropped by helicopter onto remote places, mountainous hills. Battle Hill 937 (also known as Hamburger Hill) in A Shau Valley had 56 fatalities and 480 injuries. Because the US military was active, the South Vietnamese forces were not fully trained until 1969 when the US began to withdraw. At that time, then came the Vietnamization of the war to improve the capabilities of Vietnamese forces and supply them with more fire power and equipment. It should be noted : only at that time, Vietnamese forces were to receive the M-16 assault rifles; before they owned only the M-1 Garand and M-1 Carbine from WWII. Second, the United States implemented conventional warfare to fight guerrilla warfare. This model is based on two main factors: mobility and firepower. Mobility was used to send more helicopters, but helicopters flew low, easy to get hit. Firepower: Many bombs and cannons dropped bombs, causing many casualties to the Vietnamese people and even to American soldiers.
Not telling the whole truth about the 'anti-war protest' Throughout the 1960s, I -- formerly student, later professor – had pretty close relationship with students: among them there were the anti-war ones and the supporting ones. At times, I joined the crowds to watch and listen to them. As a result, I immediately see the shortcomings of the anti-war demonstrations in the series. This anti-war movement occupies a substantial amount of coverage. As mentioned above, riots and skin color conflicts triggered the rally in 1962, three years before the US troops landed in Da Nang (March 1965). As the war broke out, the anti-war movement joined the human rights movement, making the demonstrations more confusing and disturbing. * Protest in Washington on October 21, 1967 (100,000 people); * Disturbance at the Democratic convention in the summer of 1968; * The biggest rally in Washington on November 15, 1969, with the slogan "Moratorium March", is estimated to be between 250,000 and 500,000 people (the film uses 500,000 people). Readers should also note that on April 4, 1970, there was another major rally, but with the slogan "March for Victory," there were up to 50,000 attendees. Through pictures and commentaries, the film gives the audience the notion that such tumultuous demonstrations is because of the Vietnam War only. Actually, there were many movements which intermingled. Many of the protesters also carried different banners. In addition to Luther King's human rights, marches had many other goals, such as: * Fight for increased employment, employment (resulting in Equal Opportunity Employment); * The requirement to provide housing for low income people (as a result, Pres. Johnson established Housing and Urban Development); * Anti-injustice for men and women; * Fight for the rights of gay movement; * Most important was the "Anti-Establishment Movement," with slogans "tearing down the establishment, standing up to the authority group (" standing up to the establishment) " Linking with this movement is a series of demonstrations that made me confused too, such as the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, Malvina Reynolds, Ron Paul, Noam Chomsky, Bernie Sanders, John Lennon, K-Rino, Anti-Flag, Terminator X, Gil-Scott Heron. Very noisy was the hippy movement with the phrase "Make love not war" Although the majority of American youth volunteered, but there were components— small but very noisy— who were afraid of being called into the army, and participated in the protest, just plainly due to their intention to elude military service. They shouted : this war is meaningless, wasteful, the government lie. The evidence showed: when President Richard Nixon terminated the military service on July 1, 1973, replaced it with a voluntary plan, formed the All-volunteer army, the protest movement almost disappeared. ( bold emphasis is mine-LHN) The current war in Afghanistan has lasted for 16 years and has not seen the light at the end of the tunnel, costing up to $ 2.4 trillion. Harvard University estimates that it will likely reach $ 4 trillion to $ 6 trillion, costing much more than the Vietnam war, which roughly estimated at $ 250bn in 1975, now at $ 1.7 trillion in 2017 .(1) The number of servicemen deployed to this battlefield is estimated to have reached 2.5 million (roughly equivalent to the Vietnam war), but in the past 16 years, anti-war demonstrations only occurred in the first two years (2001-2002): for example in Los Angeles (2,500); San Francisco: 10,000 people. The largest in Washington (February 2002) was about 75,000 people. Since then, in the past 12 years, there have been no protests.
No mention of the runaway scenario Part II of the film covers the period from the beginning of 1969 to April 1975: It was the time when the Advisor (then Secretary of State) Henry Kissinger played the major role of the United States in The War in Vietnam. But the film did not interview Mr. Kissinger thoroughly to learn about the scenarios of betrayal and runaway. Almost alone, Kissinger was alone in the dark, manipulating American diplomacy. He once confided to journalist Oriana Fallaci: "The point is, I'm always acting alone. Americans like that very much. Americans like the image of a cowboy leading an immigrant team, alone on a horse, slowly straight into a province, a town, only with a horse ... There may be no gun either ... "(KDMTC, page 66-67). He was a excellent diplomat, but at the same time a fraudulent, deceitful man - I called him ' Henry the Butcher II,' who was responsible for the death of the RVN, while Henry the Butcher I. 'was Henry Cabot Lodge, who had instigated the coup leader and killed Diem. It was very unfortunate that S. Vietnam had these two Henrys in their deals. The film does not say anything - it's very likely that Ken Burns and Lynn Novick did not even know - a very important fact is that Kissinger's four-year secret talk [to the North Vietnamese communists--added note by me] (from early 1969 to late 1972) resulted in nothing. Kissinger finally accepted all the requirements contained in the 10 points of the National Liberation Front (MTGP) , which were demanded in 1969. Kissinger even made more concessions than what demanded: the withdrawal of US forces in 60 days. ( bold emphasis is mine-LHN) The 10 points negotiation of MTGP ( National Liberation Front) did not require this. In those four years, nearly 21,000 American servicemen were killed, which is equal to 36% of the total number of American casualties during the war (58,200). During those four years, there happened many casualties, devastating events, for both South and North. The bombing of B-52 in Hanoi in late 1972 further deepened the hatred from the North. When I asked President Thieu about this incident, he replied: "If Kissinger could bomb Dinh Độc Lập (the Independent Palace), he would not hesitate." Thieu said that if the United States had withdrawn its troops and not had the Paris Accords, it could have been much more beneficial for the South because at least the US Congress might have shown some conscience. It might not have cut off aid suddenly and rapidly, due to the justifying reason: Because, (as such in the Paris Accords) , the South would have had both peace, honor, and that should have been enough. Kissinger was determined to have an agreement to show that he succeeded and retained the credibility of US foreign policy. The truth is the opposite.
Because the film does not shine on Mr. Kissinger's cunning schemes to run away, it facilitates the misunderstanding of the audience about what led to the tragedy in the final part of the movie: the fall of Saigon, the sadness within. In The Palace File (1986), I did refer to Kissinger’s arrangements (Chapters 5 and 9). It is certain that the commentators for The Vietnam War have read this book, since there is a mention of President Thieu complaining about "America has found a new mistress (China) ...", but they did not not cite the source , but only opened with : "Mr. Thieu said to an assistant." And that's all; they did not mention the documents and evidences of betrayal. This is an important shortcoming since The New York Times William Safire remarked on the book : “A Book That Opens Eyes". The New York Times / Book Review also selects it for presidential candidates to read … Ten years after the war, Ambassador Martin came to the conclusion: "We end up simply wiping our hands and running." During a meeting at the US Army Corps Center, in which ex-General Cao Van Vien, the Chief of the General Staff of S. Vietnam military and Lieutenant General Ngo Quang Truong, Commander of Military Region I attended, General William Westmoreland, Chief of US forces in Vietnam summed up the collapse with three words: "We betrayed you! " Conclusion
The merit of the film is to reclaim partially the honor of the American soldiers because they had to fight on a difficult battlefield, accept the casualties, then return to see their devided homeland. They were not welcomed as the troops getting back after World War II. Sometimes they got ridiculed. However, the film lacks honesty and is biased. Burns and Novick only refer to “nửa ly nước vơi” (half empty glass ). I have seen an internet post with the title "Burns and Novick, masters of false balancing”. The film was named THE VIETNAM WAR and did not talk about reason why there was that war, and what had really happened - WHY VIETNAM WAR? WHAT HAPPENED? As I mentioned in the previous article, the reason for the jumping into Vietnam of the five presidents of the United States (Secretary of State Foster Dulles also used the three words "Take the plunge") is to protect US interests, not to protect the freedom of the South. After all, it's a pity that the film is not capable of drawing key lessons for America and its allies - WHAT LESSONS FROM THE WAR ? I have summarized some of the lessons in KĐMNV ( When The Ally Jumped In- Chapter 28) and KĐMTC ( When The Ally Retreat- Chapter 20), for example, 'do not interfere too deeply with the internal politics and military of another country.' We can pose a question: can this lesson help the United States avoid future mistakes as it mistakenly interferes too much with the overthrow of the Mossadeq government in Iran and the dissolution of the Iraqi armed forces, after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, leading the US into swamps in the Middle East today?
Note 1. My calculation : The war cost $173 billion in 1974-75 = $787 billion in 2017.