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18 September 2017


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SR Wood

I watched the first part but don't know if I will watch the parts from '65 on. I was in the military during the mid 60's and it will probably bring back to many bad memories and I was not even in Viet Nam. I can't imagine watching and having served as a combatant during that time.


Noticed it was broadcast on the French/German channel Arte yesterday. Missed it. But that's no problem. Will be available for a while. Appreciate your recommendation. Never mind I would I have watched it anyway. ;)

ex-PFC Chuck

I hadn't been planning to watch it however we had a couple of long-time friends over for dinner last evening and they and SWMBO wanted to see it so . . Anyway, I was more impressed than I expected to be with that first episode. Burn's take on the back story leading up to the conflict seemed to map pretty closely to the understanding of it I had based on reading a considerable amount of reading about it over the years. I have no pertinent personal experience of the matter, however.


Pat, I understand that the Vietnam War is at the roots of your problems with with us boomers. Burns: Highly decorated and successful and productive anyway.


On Arte (yesterday) after two installments it was followed by Apocalypse Now Redux, by the way.



It was much more even handed than I had expected. Was it broadcast in the UK and Canada as well? I would not think that this view of the "backstory?" would be popular in France as much of the blame for Vietnam's travail is placed on French colonialism, and as much of a Francophile as I am, I must agree that although the French built a lot of human and physical infrastructure in the country their insistence on re-occupying the country after WW2 was a terrible mistake, compounded by British facilitation of that re-occupation. BTW, not a good idea to think of the pre-US War history on Indochina as "backstory," History is a continuum. At that point before 1947 Britain had not really accepted the end of empire and the French were kindred spirits. It seems clear to me that the US missed a massive opportunity to befriend Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh just after WW2, but Truman and what I call the Borg were then caught up in the business of resisting the spread of what they saw as onrushing world Communism. From that focus came the decision to back the French against the Vietnamese revolutionaries. Europe dominated American thinking and Indochina was small potatoes by comparison and the communist character of the Viet Minh was an obstacle to clear thinking although the communist nature of Yugoslavia had not been a problem for the US. The picture thus far given of American policy decision making is that of a series of mistakes,one leading to another. Someone on SST suggested that a desire to contain China was the motivator for US policy. IMO that is incorrect. It was fear of COMMUNIST expansionism that was the motivation in east Asia, Europe and Latin America. pl



"Apocalypse Now" in any of its versions should be thought of as a modernized interpretation of the Joseph Conrad story "The Heart of Darkness" not as history. pl

William Fitzgerald

I followed the Battle of Dien Bien Phu day by day in the Philadelphia Inquirer, much to my eventual dismay.

I would say that the course, in regard to Indo-China, taken by the makers of American policy from 1945 to Ngo Dinh Diem's consolidation of power in South Viet Nam was clearly wrong. However, given the situation in Europe and the experience and world -outlook of those men, it was inevitable that they chose the path they did.



It will be on BBC Four on the 25 September here in Britain.

His civil war one was very good, that said 'The Old Negro Space Program' is a very funny satire of his style.


I agree.


It was broadcast in Canada.


My wife and I met a lovely French woman about our ages in Hua Hin, Thailand 2 years ago. She had been to Dien Bien Phu where her father had died. She had hurriedly left Vietnam and finished up her vacation in Thailand. She left there because, in her words, she felt hated, it was palpable. Although I have no desire to go back there (I do spend time in Thailand, Indonesia, etc..) I understand returning American GIs are treated well are considered formidable but decent adversaries.

I used to know a lot of Laotian Royal AF guys and NorthEast Thailand police/military and thought I got from them was "wherever the French go, things turn to sh&t & they take everything that isn't nailed down while the Americans were generous". Personally, I have pleasant memories of every French person I've met over the years. On the flip side, nobody hates the Viets more than the Thais. There's tons of history behind Ho Chi Minh and Sakhon Nakhon Thailand


In the past we have been able to afford to give things away with both hands. France was never in a position to do that. I don't think the history of France in Indochina has anything to do with the character of the French people. During the war I asked my counterpart VN SOF officer, (A LTC) who he liked better, us or the French. He quickly said "the French." "You expect too much of us," he said. "You expect us to be just like you, but we are not like you and will not be. The French treated us as children, but as beloved children." He had been a paratroop officer in the 5th Vietnamese Paratroop Battalion in the French colonial army. pl


Hello Sir,

I'll have to give it a look... I haven't sat down to watch a documentary on the subject since The Ten Thousand Day War in my high school years. Any thoughts from the group on how the two compare (at least so far)?

I think that it's only on PBS right now, but that's accessible from Canada as most of us live close enough to the border to get a channel or two. It will also be available via streaming.




Never saw "The Ten Thousand Day War." pl


Colonel, i believe this same anti Communist thinking in US ( which was taken advantage of, by the US' now protected european colonists/allies ) what shaped the 1953 coup in Iran. Iran's ambassador to US Saleh (based on his memoir) at the time was directly told so in DOS. Somehow Brits had convinced US communist were going to take over.


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That is an interesting perspective on "imperialism," what to expect and what not to expect from "colonial subjects." Although, to be fair, plenty of our "colonial subjects" did in fact want to be "just like us," as my own family and countless others can attest to. Still, it is too much to expect that it would apply to everyone, however.

An odd reaction that I had to the VN officer's characterization is that that might explain why Japanese made such lousy imperialists: they expected Koreans to be just like Japanese on matters where their worldviews were radically different, while they treated Koreans as completely different where they would have been very much alike. I do wonder if we are making the same mistake in today's "multiculturalism" infected age.



In my experience most of the 3rd world "partners" did not want to be like us. pl


I'll try and watch this one, as I enjoyed Foote and Burns Civil War a lot. I missed the draft by a mere 6 months, so Viet Nam was what I grew up with - many of my friends older brothers went and several never came back.

I agree that most 3rd world folks don't want to be like us, but they would all like to have the standard of living we have enjoyed for so very long. That, if anything, is what seems to turn others towards emulating anything American. Yet this emulation is declining across the world from where I sit.


My opinion of the French is quite high, especially after visiting an orphanage in Lyon that mainly cared for orphaned Laotian kids, it's an experience I'll always cherish. I can't say I have the same opinion of the Vietnamese.


Recent diplomatic document disclosures indicate that you are correct about the strategic fear, and the particular fear was that loss of Indochina would destabilize the rather fragile French government and lead to internal problems in France that could lead to loss of control of Germany, and thus communist expansion in Europe. The French diplomats pushed this story very hard to anyone that would listen in the US.

The Porkchop Express

I saw it last night as well. Wasn't alive during the conflict, but I felt the same. Was expecting something more ideological and instead was pleasantly surprised. The failure to understand HCM's nationalist side consumed him far more than his adherence to ideological communism was a massive mistake on our part. I'm glad they mentioned his recitation of Jefferson, too.

In other news, the SAA has started crossing the Euphrates.



I visited a creche in Bethlehem run by French nuns for little kids most of whom had been born to Muslims and then abandoned in dumpsters, on the steps of the creche, or on the street.. Their parents typically did not want girls or children with birth defects. There were little classes of two year olds, three year olds, etc. The nuns asked me to sit on the floor and hold them which I was glad to do. Vive la France. The nuns were not seeking adoption for the kids. They wanted them to grow up in their own country. pl



I'm wondering your opinion regarding how the Burns / Novick series compares to "Vietnam: A Television History" from 2004 (PBS "American Experience"?).

Perhaps a worthy subject post when the ten episodes conclude.



Apparently you have not been reading this post. pl

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