17 November 2010 | sol-kay
From what I know today I was totally wrong about Viet Nam back then: Clark Clifford US Secretary of Defense 1968-69
Hard hitting documentary directed by Peter Davis in how the US got itself involved in the War in Vietnam that ended up tearing the country apart. Made in 1974 before the Vetcong guerrillas and North Vietnamese Army overran the country the film shows the pitfalls that the US chose to overlook in getting itself stuck in the mud swamps and jungles that was the Vietnam War.
There's really no one US President to blame for getting the country into that bloody mess of a war in that we see it was a team effort from Pres. Truman to Pres. Nixon and every other US Chief Executive, Eisenhower Kennedy & Johnson, in between. The French who were involved in the first Vietnam or Indochina War was soundly defeated by Ho Chi Minh's, known as "The Enlighten One", Viet Minh forces in the bloody and drawn out battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. That jungle battle ended the conflict that resulted in the loss, French and Vietnames military and civilians, of over 700,000 lives. During the almost 8 years of of fighting in Indochina War the US was far from neutral in supporting the French with almost 80% of the arms and money for the French to keep the war going.
With the free and UN sponsored elections to unify both north and South Vietnam set to be held in 1956 and Ho Chi Minh being a sure shot of winning them the US under Pres. Eisenhower set up the puppet Diem to be South Vietnam's fist unelected president. This set the stage for the second Vietnam War that was to involved as much as 550,000 US troops and lasting 16 years from 1959 to 1975, the longest war in US history, ending up costing almost 60,000 American lives; Not to mention the some 3 million Vietnamese,from both North & South Vietnam, who perished in it.
Among the many persons who were personally involved in the Vietnam war the one who made the biggest impact on me in the movie was former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford. Clifford in an interview admitted that those Generals and politicians conducting the war had no idea in not only how to win it but who they were fighting against. Everything that they did failed miserably and they ended up stuck in an unwindable war because in their mind by ending it, or withdrawing from the country, would lead to a "Domino Effect" where all of South-East Asia would end up falling into Communists hands. Which to them was worth the enormous loss of life, American & Vietnamese, that this bottomless quagmire of a war was was costing! As it turned out the "Domino Effect" turned out to be pure fiction with no other country in that part of the world turning Communist and Vietnam now a united country being one of the US', next to Communist China, biggest trading partners in Asia!
What the film brings out best is how most of the American public finally realized that they've been had in going along with the bankrupt policies of their leaders who conned them, like in the faked and infamous Tonkin Gulf incident, into supporting the war. Taking to the street in massive anti-war demonstrations with hundreds of returning Vietnam war vet participating in them was what really brought the war to an end. But it took almost 6 years from 1966 to 1973 for it to happen! And it was during that time the majority of the almost 60,000 American and 3 million Vietnamese lives lost in the war were snuffed out.
In the end the Vietnam War turned out to be a war that many from the Truman Eishenhower Kenndey Johnson & Nixon Administrations who whole hearted supported it at first would now, after all the facts are in about it, like to forget!