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tv   Max Hastings Vietnam  CSPAN  November 20, 2018 4:47am-6:07am EST

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. >> thank you so much. [inaudible conversations] i am so glad you have joined us this evening for the members to support the direct role to make tonight possible and hundreds of similar events
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our thanks and a warm welcome. and those members who are here the first time equally warm greeting with the invitation to explore the wide variety of programs including us russia relations on wednesday and evening lecture on churchill's secret army, china and japan a history of empires november 6. more information is available on our website make sure your device is on silent we are thrilled to welcome our speaker his work has appeared in every british national newspaper in our interviews for this sunday times publishing 26 books including the secret war catastrophe
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europe goes to war and armageddon spending most of his early years as a war correspondent with the london evening standard reporting 11 conflicts including vietnam editor of the daily chief through 1985 and at the evening standard 1996 through 2000. he has received awards for his books and journalism reporter of the year 1982 british press award and editor of the year 1988 the pritzker military library presented with a $100,000 literary award for lifetime achievement to be available for purchase in the lobby so please join me to
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welcome mister hastings. [applause] . >>. >> thank you so much for all of that i feel as an intruder as an englishman with the american tragedy. but this has meant a huge amount in my life so to meet japanese and americans in the course. on the 28th of may, a 20 -year-old michael machine gunner wrote to his folks at home today all we are doing is looking in the mountains i thought i would drop you a line to say everything is fine
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five days later it stopped being fine they received a telegram your son died on the second of june he had wounds to the body's remains will be prepared and encased and shipped to you accompanied by an escort to a national cemetery or funeral home and you will be reimbursed an amount not to exceed $500 for expenses. 16000, 899 telegrams went to homes across the land in 1968 nearly 300 a week. and his compatriots had died
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including north koreans 771 chinese and 2 million vietnamese together with the cambodians and blouse. so in a succession of conflicts exceeded the human cost with afghanistan and syria and iraq. moreover that cultural impact to arouse the dismay of the western people contributing to the downpour. in the way the protest with
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that enthusiasm with capitalism and imperialism and to appear that ugly manifestation older americans lack sympathy for any of those because they saw themselves systematically seized by their own government by the enterprise. by 1975 pictured humiliation the revolutionaries the stairway the fugitives ascended to the rooftop helicopter with those symbolic images.
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for my generation of war correspondence was among the foremost experiences i was one of those who flew out of the us embassy so even before i first saw vietnam at age 22 i was among a group of four journalist at the white house we were addressed by president johnson about commitment to the war and that morning his personality no less formidable some of you might like blondes or women or maybe don't like women at all and then to emphasize his points i'm not here to tell you what kind i'd like that anytime in a nice hotel where we can sit down
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and talk. after making his pitch leaving the room abruptly without taking questions we were preparing to leave when the president said i want to ask do any of you see anything different you have read or heard about me? we were stunned into silence by these vulnerabilities. in those days vietnam represented prodigies of natural beauty and man-made horror. the struggle above all was a disaster of which the american tragedy that i interviewed scores vietnamese of
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anti-communist and read thousands of pages of translated memoirs and documents so let me recount to you the minuscule incident 10000 times one morning 1964 from the south vietnamese airport as they try to go through a ravaged village we saw a young woman sitting silent holding a wicker basket. her eyes were straightahead in a blank stare. asking why she lingered in the midst of a battlefield and she remained silent her eyes give a flash of terror than suddenly he thrust the basket toward me that contents
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contained scarves a necklace and a pair of earrings the soldier now told her to come back holding of the basket her hands trembled so violently she was unable to take it and began to unbutton her blouse the man was deeply embarrassed she thought the rejection of her property was that he wanted her body. what kind of life had she experienced to a soldier who could be her younger brother while tears ran down her face. he persuaded the girl with those carrying fugitives people were calling out but this was a woman who
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recognized the girl stopped as if she is trying to summon up a memory from a past life than cried mother the house is burned down the house is gone so to describe her walking to the water like a person in the trans. this is what was among the people especially women who were in who were victims between 1945 and 75 tiny tragedies where repeated. foreign eyewitnesses over the south vietnamese clients while reaching devastating but a key
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theme that my own book should be shared that committed atrocities bringing misery upon their own people photographs exist of a south vietnamese police chief shooting dead of a screaming child naked from the napalm strike that yet the policy of silence was pursued by all regimes and the pictures of the vietnamese - - vietnamese buried alive me were told the
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photographer recorded in cold blood and buried in mass graves during the 68 tet offensive. but the tourists were so warmly welcomed during those first years of the ho chi minh rule. the american advisor described a typical episode in which a typist was seized and her head was beaten in the younger one stabbed to death with an attack on the us compound. the officer wrote she was 20
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years old very pretty, very much a lady with a matching umbrella with the alabaster skin. you could only guess she disliked these doubles admiring her beauty likewise they described to me that is disemboweled and the wife was less invited and castrated. my point is not to suggest the regime which supported the heroes of the vietnam war either side commanded a monopoly and we should pause
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with those naïve young protesters from the sixties and while they deserve that neither side deserves that afterwards but the french colonized vietnam in the 1880s and then in 1945 almost with that deranged attempt in the face of a nationalist movement led by ho chi minh. so in 1939 to throw support the french suffered soaring losses and defeats to launch
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an operation to lure the enemy into battle on their terms over the next five months suffering catastrophe. with 60000 to handle the 2-ton artillery pieces across the worst country in the world. it ended with the survivors of 12000 men to the raggedy communist party so with that geneva conference what was amazing is the chinese and russians instead of otherwise
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the whole country should be surrounded one - - surrendered to him. but then with that replay and then as we saw on a weight to fall into the hands where elections were held and then unknown to the south vietnamese the word ingratiate himself with and then was in saigon and then to assume power in hanoi. and that ideology is conspicuous and sometimes
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starvation were those were invisible to the world. and london leaves and grasshoppers and beatles and went the 11 -year-old boy's family was found he hugged the pooch he had to leave behind the strangers took away in the morning and i understood they would kill it. but the flesh was beaten and softened before it was killed. in the rich south only to have enough to eat but they persecuted the enemies with
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abysmal incompetence. and then to become rival tyranny he had secured monopoly ownership to be the victor over the french. the parts of his regime were concealed by censorship that then with the vietcong taking the place to have a present hostility with spontaneous activism rather than hanoi or beijing as washington delivered itself. and with 1962 the north vietnamese rather than the aging ho chi minh in 1964 the
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us decided it was going to collapse that they believed was unacceptable to the american people. 1965 with major combat units when half of the troops raging on - - waging a struggle these were supported by 61000 allied troops with 600,000 vietnamese. unleashing an average of 128,000 pounds of munitions costing two.5 billion.
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and then have nothing to do with the devastation but instead the tiny children but the vietnamese would say cigarettes are bad for your health. so they love those ubiquitous leeches. the johnson administration against north vietnam to unite ho chi minh's people rather that was bringing together the british people with industry it made small impact but completely contrary they were reluctant to lavish resources
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to have little control and moscow dispatched that shut down almost 1000 us aircraft and with that full - - b-52 bomber to be contrast with the courage and in hanoi they inquired "the new york times" correspondent how long do americans want to fight? one year? three years? five years? ten years 20 years we shall be glad to accommodate you.
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as for the men doing the fighting for many soldiers vietnam the valley of terror much of that anxiety came from being taken away from friends and family and being totally out of control firefights were brief 75 marines were killed or wounded using weapons and with that thump of a bullet like a fist the way it knocks the air out of you makes you cough with the sound of a gunshot the things that you think about the way your eyes
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focus on a tiny white pebble and you start thinking that the last thing i will ever see. that makes you want to cry. booby-traps. what they call ideas i hated them all. that 16-millimeter may be some fingers but that 1 millimeter around the take both legs and then to vaporize and then with those debates most claimed preference and in one three-month period losing 57
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legs to mines or booby-traps that was observed almost one leg a day. and a veteran nurse in 1966 she has passion and pride in her work and was thinking for instance this man was literally ripped in half and like hamburger meat all of the organs were chopped up. but his mind was still very much alert.
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and the sense with that entire unit because there is absolutely nothing we could do that terror and frustration to say it doesn't look good but that is all we have to offer he had been a teetotaler all his life but then started on screwdrivers and who could blame her? she could never bring herself to watch mash on tv because the memories had a veto could that us involvement have a different outcome? many americans who went to
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vietnam one fine officer 1966 i am convinced of the importance to be here and have great respect and affection for the vietnamese surprisingly well but a long road lies ahead to have maturity and stamina and patience and to stay in the fight as long as necessary and devoting most of the last decade of his life to say we assisted the vietnamese to be in a heavier than air machine to come down as gently as possible i thought there would be more survivors that way.
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with that outpost that was overrun badly wounded soldier that the man died in the air with the conspiracy on the plexiglas thing again and again just another 20 minutes. just another 20 minutes he would make it. this is a guy who he never met in his life but he feels terrible about it because he fought on our side. the anecdote is moving but the american commitment is fatally flawed instead but in the
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hands of the vietcong with the is interrogated as was 10 percent of the conservative vietnamese. the captors but we don't like the chinese either. so those decisions for the escalation because the key players recognize the regime on which they depended. and unsurprisingly the wars that suit their means america's leaders deluded themselves all of those cultural social political
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without overwhelming application of firepower using the flamethrower and with this policy failure on upon avenue america's generals and a wise civilian who spent years in vietnam says there never was a clever way to fight the war. among those to follow five or six times of those civilians that would die as the war continues to drag on we ourselves destroy the objective for which we fight . . .
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twenty-first century all western military interventions however well-intentioned. they enjoyed the propaganda advantage that were invisible to people most of the time. they set a light footprint contrasted with that. 4 million tons. to this day the military commanders fail to understand to
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wage war among the people wearing sunglasses, helmets, body armor but with the appearance to love or recognized as fellow human beings. in both north and south big confiscated personal freedom. from the east and west they presided over the two ~ terry and regime. yet its mandate seemed more credible.
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they could cease to remind us how humiliating it was to be occupied by the americans. the other side have the monopoly and depended upon the soviets and chinese but a few vietnamese encountered and seeing instead the countrymen conspicuous for the lack of possessions amassed by saigon. the men who ruled the south couldn't get up in the morning without asking which side of the bed to get up. 196465 takeover of the south which is what took place legitimized. in my view of the 1975 trial was attributable to much less than
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the military powers and the fact that they were vietnamese they lied about many things but it's true. the key lesson for vietnam for the struggles is that it's very hard to exploit the battlefield successes to build sustainable societies. once described to me the success in 2004 there was nothing to join up to. the correspondent says in south vietnam there never was anything to join up to in the absence it always will be meaningless the
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u.s. might have tried to inflict less damage through its armed forces as a standard for the civilized values. it remained decent. some do, others do not. soldiers are trained to become killers in certain circumstances oblige them to live in the existence. many come to bystanders many they don't know especially when the casualties are high. idiot non- they were often baffled by the rules of engagement. one of them protested. that's what it's going to be. if we can't shoot these people,
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what are we doing here. hungry, suffering from constipation or diarrhea, thirsty, lonely, weary, ignora ignorant. ithey only convey themselves ino the soviets suggest most of us can suppress resistance by for force. an adequately if us from supporting the communists and if thecommunists andthey found anot too few were to deter the peop
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people. it was sufficiently common to show that many robust than those it was a symbolic mistake. in the later stages of the commitment from 1969 to 73 they gave way to conventional clashes and it's possible the u.s. army defeated the communists on the commitment many of the soldiers had already been broken. they still commanded negligible popular support there was still
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nothing to join up to. when they discussed the genera generals, they concluded that around 20 were competent or honest or corrupt and incompetent and so were the saigon troops to propose reintroducing the system. arguably they have to experience the model for the cost of the north vietnamese that achieved before they could reject it. across the u.s. $150 billion much less than iraq two generations later.
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they observe the previous historical experience that it was a good thing then vietnam came along and a lot of people got killed for nothing. the vietnam memorial commemorates the u.s. army and marine corps. the american people's belief for the military invincibility created by the outcome of world war ii matched by the economic success so it seemed only logical to believe that reflected the will of a higher being. the general says they did more to change this country with anything in our recent history iis predicted to suspicion and
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mistrust we've never been able to regain even though the antiwar movement reclaimed the virtues of che guevara. when daniel ellsberg was asked how he could justify his devastating revelation of the papers, he responded to his question and wonder if it occurred to you to ask the other officials involved how they justify themselves not doing what i did and what made them feel they have a right to keep silence about the lies told in crimes committed into the illegalities and deception of the american people. ellsberg made a critical point for the great lesson he carried home from vietnam. tell the truth. i myself argue the mistake made by the political and military
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leaders was listed in light of the people about vietnam but to lie to themselves. the major who commanded the company in 1977 of the disillusionment they thought they were going home with their uniforms and medals and everybody would be happy to see them. they found out that was not true. another veteran among many who still look back the experience was huge. i couldn't confess. the memory of his tormentors to rogers is that of his own platoon.
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i have about ten names the attorney from chicago and minnesota. up at martha's vineyard i thought that's like vietnam. the readers i get so angry with them the people that ran america knew what was happening. we didn't. it may also be possible to extend to some of the big people who made disastrous decisions which they later repented in the huge pentagon office of robert
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mcnamara who played almost as important a role in getting america into vietnam discussing what seem to be 2,000 round this that ought to be enough. then the young official noticed the defense secretary's body was shaking. he was staring with tears down his cheeks with a portrait on the wall of his predecessor whose career had also been destroyed by holding the office of the secretary. counterfactuacounterfactual's af improbablsource toldimprobable g to speculate upon the consequences. they could probably be contained in many other countries into the authoritarian military rule gave way to democracy. absent all vietnamese ingenuity
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could have stopped the economy to prosper. success justifies all. nobody today questioned the legitimacy because it is a democracy with a dynamic economy of south vietnam with no more and no less a credible state. granted the same opportunities, it might have preserved its status, but we shall never know. meanwhile, only the so-called liberation struggle comfort of the prestige anprestige and legt have enabled successors to bring to the fig leaves of the revolution. the conflict continues to define and shortly the second world war
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knows russia. most successes from 1970. in 1993, david rogers returned to vietnam and was taken to the area where his own unit found himself in former viacom. if all they wanted, surely we could have worked this out a long time ago. this is partly because of the overwhelming majority that recognize the virtues of
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democracy and the shortcomings of the alternative. obama received a reception when he visited vietnam in 2015 contrasted a year later. visitors impressed with saigon and the natural beauty of the countryside. they were denied a freedom of speech and the rulers in 21st century conceived to the people some latitude to make money but none to express their political opinions to debate the past and about the so-called credibility gap during the war years but remains institutionalized.
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the name ho chi minh city is falling and eventually vanished when they came from petersburg again. it may be argued that while the united states lost the war almost half a century ago to reverse this outcome. america's armed forces failed and a broad irresistible. a 13-year-old boy wrestling with a friend on a hillside in north
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vietnam after 1975 when they announced saigon had been liberated. he wrote long afterwards in a book entitled the winning side and according to what we've been taught in school this would be the end of two decades of misery and i thought we must quickly set about educating its misguided children yet in 2012 the same boy he observed. many people who reviewed our stunned when they realize and south vietnam he argues the values dominate the country. what was it all about?
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thank you all very much. [applause] i'm very happy not t now to tryo answer some questions but i don't know who would like to ask the first question. the domino theory, dick johnson and the others really believe it or was it just sort of an excuse? because that was the main motivation for going to war. >> there's no doubt. every president, eisenhower and kennedy and johnson reiterated again and again in their private discussions the conviction first of all that if vietnam and the
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other southeast asian countries but also their belief. once you get into these things again and again they said if we give up on south vietnam what will the nations around the world depend on our support with both a derived from it. so they felt obliged to go with it. if kennedy lived what he had stayed, yes. going back to the political imperative. i am impressed by the evidence of the economic adviser who described how kennedy said almost two weeks before there are so many concessions that can
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expect them to elect me and they did believe the domino theory. >> was presented to the movement from publicizing in cambodia. one of the absurdities. it's on the subject of the vietnam and china. it was absolute defiance of the interest of the cambodian people
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again and again they wouldn't do it. this almost indefensible according to all of the agreement they were not meant to be there either. in 1970 i served as an advisor with the south vietnamese army and i was there for one year and worked very much with the local people and the military folks who were part of what i was doing with them on security issues. but by the end of that time we made great strides and i can
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show you and tell you who felt we were effective at least in getting the communist control eliminated to some degree. progress is being made. we can now ride the roads believe it or not. and i think part of this tragedy is by the time we started to make the progress that needed to be made or achieve a more balanced outcome we ran out of time. the administrations and it was impacted greatly on that. progress is made. we could have been going successfully but there was no will to do that.
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it's almost impossible to judge the way the war goes and gets the same as the tet offensive was a military disaster that finished off the viacom. i don't buy into the line they lost the war for the united states. i think one still has the problem that although you are absolutely right they admitted was the worst year of the war
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but they were in a lot of trouble but you've still got this problem. in the acres of the document what we were discussing i don't think that it was in the end of that create military achieveme achievement. i still think it is a difficult problem. how do we, whether it is iraq or afghanistan, how do we convince them you are absolutely right some of the evidence and that
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fantastic book there is still this huge problem they feel belongs to them. >> probably best to come to the microphone, then everybody can hear you. i went to vietnam april 10, 1971 i came back in april of 1975 and i went there as a true believer and i thought it was a just cause. within six months i knew we were here for the wrong reason and we were not going to win the war.
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i had several of these moments. the first i was an interrogator and they rallied for suspected that he'd conduct the viacom so i interrogated him and he admitted to me that he had gone back and we arrested him right on the spot. the police were literally taking them down the stairs and he stopped and came running back and said i want to tell you we love you americans. it's this corrupt government we hate and i will fight to change that.
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i interrogated a lot of viacom and i can remember going on one occasion for the vietnamese female she put her tongue between her teeth like this and spit in the face of the interrogator. i never saw that kind of zeal on the part of the south vietname vietnamese. he is an adviser to the cia had already started. >> you are absolutely right some
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were very good but they worked hard. the natural liberation and the fighters against the united states were nationalists. when you go to vietnam now, you come out of the customs office and if you see across the building, popeye's, louisiana cuisine, starbucks. you talk and ask if they like and they say yes we killed so many. and they say the war is over. when he won. we never saw it as a war of
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natural liberation and there is no way that it would ever end unless they one. we had no stake in there and the idea that we were fighting as a political position was totally false. the war should have ended when the french left and the election held and we stopped it from happening. you seem to keep talking only about the communist part of it and bought the liberation part of it this was a communist movement and on the other hand when i try t tried to say if the evidence is overwhelming i think a lot of historians -- the
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compulsion ideology of patriotism in the same way stalin and russia so i am not fundamentally disagreeing with you because i think. it's extraordinary and i have to say one thing that amazes me is the western end of the gems he's stuff it wasn't until 1969 they were able to put together a diagram of what the leadership looked like and they had no understanding at all we still see this in afghanistan and
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syria. it is awesome to realize how much. the russians and the chinese were supporting ho chi minh. they were giving half a million dollars a year which they were utterly miserable about this.
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to me what is amazing is with all of these huge intelligence operators they don't understand this sort of stuff. i do think it's important to keep emphasizing that was a very unpleasant regime. i think it was a mixture of things. there was a focus that had given extra stimulus by the fact that a lot of kids were poor by the
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notion of being drafted. they did get one big thing right would you say that it's now more like china because they had the free economics when it comes to
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political. you are absolutely right. what is scary is the regime is becoming more oppressive, not less. when the president died the other day the vietnamese were saying we were not even told to the medical treatment nobody told them when he died. the 21st century accounts. it is scary, yes.
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he quite often would say to me most as to hear there are still some of the memoirs available [inaudible] not because i'm trying to silence you.
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what they are doing is getting leases in vietnam, hundred year leases on their land. [inaudible] and then went home and in 1975 it was over in vietnam. they survived more than a month in the killing fields.
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if i bought them in the story it would have been up a wife is always saying i can't write books that would up if i got into cambodia. but again i don't think they should. a lot of bad things were done there.
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it is the policy of silence although where they made the right the totalitarian regime. anybody else. come on up.
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they helped delay in getting people out. so i'm curious if other generational things if you take the learning from macarthur going back to the first world war you get this stubbornness that's built into these generations of men who are leaving the military on both sides and it is a johnson larsen from roosevelt strength that these men are so locked into their egos or they are so programmed and focused that they can't show any weakness at all and it drives them into this match us. is there a legitimacy to this?
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>> in the wake of the achievement nothing was impossible for the united states and they told americans you couldn't defeat this guerrilla army that would have been an almost impossible message. they come out pretty appallingly about the cynicism for the moment mixing took over he never believed it was winnable but he presided over the vietnamese because he was desperate.
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they lost a tough message accustomed to success. everything that's been written that motivated you to wade through those thousands and thousands of pages. this may sound rather weird to you but i thought when i traveled to many parts of the world i thought can i really face this and shall i send some post grad and then i thought i've got to find th because i'me
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age as these people. it is an sends the letter histom its social historcommits sociale the conversations, the power. i live in a middle-class bubble in britain and the people you are meeting when you are having three or four hour conversatio conversations. he said in the late 1950s and 60s that got him drun they got p their wives.
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he's a commissioned officer serving on a base in oklahoma. not to mention that the memes just waited with the contempt it deserved. it was struggling to exist. you have windows an windows andf a lot of people's lives.
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i will tell you one more story at the risk of this guy that i mentioned in a sea of calm. i was on the west coast and i was told still alive. can i face driving and again i find it a pretty rough drive he had seen them up close and spoke vietnamese and he spoke with
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such fair-mindedness and evenhandedness not for a minute plus he sympathizer but he understood this and that was a huge looseleaf folder racing a memoir experienced but you get so carried away by these people. he had medical care is still out there in nevada for the veterans benefits. he was a very remarkable american and he died a few months ago i wish he lived to
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see the book published. thank you very much indeed. [applause]
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who was martin van buren? >> we need to ask that question. he was the eighth president of the united states and forgotten his presidency was four years on. >> he spent a lot of time with hamilton's murderer she was so persistent they planted him in his novel that martin van buren may have been the illegitimate son of aaron burr.
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quincy adam once wrote in his diary. he's always trying to get the southerners and northerners and political alliances together. >> ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the national world war i museum and memorial right here in kansas city missouri where it has been since 1926. it is our honor in particular in this year they cheered as the centennial of the armistice on the western front to welcome you

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