The Tragic Failure of Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War”

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About the Author
 Christopher Koch in 1965 became the first American reporter to visit North Vietnam.

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CHRISTOPHER KOCH—It’s the lack of accountability, the failure to prosecute those who lied to get us into the war, who encouraged battlefield tactics that resulted in the massacre of women and children, who authorized the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets, who drenched Vietnam in chemical poisons that will cause birth defects and death for generation. In order to maintain this central lie, Burns and Novick must establish a false balance between good and evil on both sides. Every time the United States is shown doing something bad, Burns and Novick show us how the Vietnamese also did bad things.

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Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

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3 thoughts on “The Tragic Failure of Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War”

  1. Oh, it’s just so pitifully depressing and sad—that we can’t get it right yet. That Vietnam still isn’t the object lesson to us that it should be. We fucked up, and as a country we can’t yet admit to our folly and lack of a moral center.

    I served in Vietnam as a Foreign Service Reserve Officer. I worked for the organization that eventually became the Phoenix Program, a fascist-like program of assassinations and dislocations of Vietnamese civilians who might be sympathetic to the notion that Americans had no business in their country.

    And now comes Burns and Novick to smooth over our war crimes and make nice. Will we ever learn?…

  2. Of course, it also treats the Vietnam War as a tragedy. Hey, as they used to say in SDS, “Two, Three, many Vietnams.” The US lost and this probably limited its military actions in the world for a while. Plus it showed the US could be defeated. At an incredibly huge human cost, no doubt. This victory for the courageous Vietnamese people was a gift to humanity.

    As for Eisenhower’s quote, it is silly. The US spent a few hundred billion dollars for the meager natural resources of Vietnam? It was about military power and sending messages to China (after the Korean War stalemate) and the USSR. Indonesia you could make a case for, not Vietnam. After the tragic coup in 1965, Indonesia was clearly not going to be a “domino” for at least a generation.

    I agree with the author that there is a myth that has been created about how soldiers were abused coming back from Vietnam. Agree they weren’t exactly welcomed as heroes. But they were fighting an unpopular and losing war. What was to be expected. I think a lot of them felt shame coming back. I know in the movement, for the most part, soldiers were not blamed for the war.

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