Anyone watching the Vietnam war documentary by Ken Burns?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by kobalap, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. kobalap, Sep 19, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017

    kobalap macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Anybody else watching the documentary series being aired this week?

    It's been the most comprehensive documentary on the topic I have seen - I think close to 5 hours of material so far and we are only on the third night with several more episodes to go.

    The documentary goes into some considerably detail about the level of corruption within the South Vietnamese government. Based on that, the lack of support from the South Vietnamese people for the corrupt government and the level of commitment of the communist Vietnamese, that conflict seemed like a loser from the get go.

    Sadly, I get the sense that both Iraq and Afghanistan have all the characteristics that made South Vietnam a loser - corrupt government, lack of support from the people, United States doing the heavy lifting.
     
  2. sorcery macrumors regular

    sorcery

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    #2
    Recording the series before I binge watch it.
    Good reason to stay outta these places.
    Corrupt govt, lack of popular support... sounds like everywhere.
     
  3. Gutwrench Contributor

    Gutwrench

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    #3
    I didn't know about it. Thanks.

    I've watched Vietnam in HD on YouTube. That was a very interesting documentary.
     
  4. Zenithal macrumors 604

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    No, but I read about it last week. It looks like I missed the first episode. I'm a small fan of Burns' work, so I was more or less shocked I hadn't heard of a Vietnam special until last week. :confused: I'll have to carve out some time and record them or something. My evening time slots have been taken up by shows and movies I really don't have a say in. :p
     
  5. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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  6. jerwin macrumors 68020

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    I learned that Ngo Dinh Diem was an idiot, and yet there's 15 more hours to go!

    also, I'm finding the (french) transliteration of Vietnamese names to be throughly confusing.

    I found it to be an engaging documentary so far, though having never lived through the period, I can't evaluate its accuracy.

    (I'm using my revision3 AppleTV's PBS channel.)
     
  7. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #7
    You may want to pace yourself. This is an important series but one which is profoundly depressing. My wife and I have only watched two episodes so far, but both times we came away with the same thought: “What a royal ****-up!” :oops:
     
  8. jerwin, Sep 20, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017

    jerwin macrumors 68020

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    #8
    also, it is 18 hours.

    longer than a season of game of thrones.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 20, 2017 ---
    Just wait until the Gulf of Tonkin! And Tet!, and Cambodia!
     
  9. ThisBougieLife macrumors 68000

    ThisBougieLife

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    #9
    I will be watching it. I love Ken Burns' work. I've seen all his major documentaries so far and am looking forward to seeing this one. I have already watched a long documentary on Vietnam, but it wasn't Ken Burns--I know this one will be great :)
     
  10. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

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    #10
    I will watch it as I watch anything by Burns.
    I was talking to a local expert on the Vietnam War (actually had to leave Vietnam as a refugee), and he’s pissed big time with the documentary, especially Diem’s portrayal.


    [QUOTE="jerwin”]
    I learned that Ngo Dinh Diem was an idiot, and yet there's 15 more hours to go!
    [
    /QUOTE]

    Diem was not an idiot; that’s just some propaganda (or your interpretation). I strongly suggest that you read this great book on the subject:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. kobalap thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Can you name a war that wasn't?
     
  12. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    #12
    Whoah, whoah!!! Dude, spoilers!
     
  13. sorcery macrumors regular

    sorcery

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    #13
  14. HEK macrumors 68040

    HEK

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    This should be required viewing in history classes at school. They don’t even mention Vietnam war. We like to do stupid things, forget, and repeat. 16 year and running Afghan debacle. Now if we only can get involved in war on Korean Peninsula. Good for another 10 years at least.

    Ken Burns makes great history documentaries.
     
  15. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    I'm skipping it. I watched it live in living color the first time.
     
  16. MachCrit Suspended

    MachCrit

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    It’s pretty good. So far, we are reminded that it is all due to French colonialism.

    Seriously, it is probably eye opening to people who flaunted trivial solutions, and didn’t have a grasp of the precursors to full American involvement, going back to Eisenhower, JFK, etc.

    Sad story, and I have to keep reminding myself that today’s generation has no clue on the Vietnam era. Massive impact on policy for decades, and lessons learned that seem to have been forgotten.
     
  17. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

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    This. No matter how you look at it, no matter who you think we should point the fingers towards to (JFK, LBJ, RN, Eisenhower, France, etc) if any, the Vietnam war is a treasure of lessons learned. The complexity of that war, and the ever changing context, is truly astounding.
     
  18. kobalap thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Yeah. Except we are repeating all those same mistakes in Afghanistan. And repeated all those same mistakes in Iraq.
     
  19. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

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    Yes and no. Afghanistan is a different beast due to 9/11 (also don’t forget that Article Five was invoked, which radically changed the scenario in respect of an analysis of the war as related to the Vietnam War).

    Iraq... kinda, except the problem was in rebuilding the country and not defeating the government. Not saying that there isn’t to learn from it, just that it’s not a 1:1 comparison.
     
  20. jgelin macrumors 6502a

    jgelin

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    #20
    I have been waiting to be able to binge. I have heard amazing things from all who have watched thus far.
     
  21. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    Interesting thought here.

    I'm going to be heading back home soon and will visit my mother's high school (where she is principal), let alone my school. As the entire school district uses the same reading material, I'm going to test this statement out. I'd be shocked if they didn't mention Vietnam, as I know they did when I was in high school (class of 1992), in both US history and World history.

    Although, I wouldn't be surprised if you learned more World History than the books offered by simply watching Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire:



    :D

    Hopefully, those in office now will watch this, and remember the muck-up we had with this and Korea and not push that envelope any further, but to stick with events in that time frame, the Fortunate Son that is in office now (who complained about Obama not having military experience, yet he has even less than Obama) will be too busy admiring how big his hands are to pay attention to any of the events that this country endured back then.

    In short, Welcome to 1968. Again.

    Always has, and always will. That's why I'm of two minds on this one. We are huge Ken Burns fans, but this one, while important, is equally as depressing, and not one for any kids younger than high school to see. We're on the fence for waiting until the box set comes out to get it.

    BL.
     
  22. MachCrit Suspended

    MachCrit

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    #22
    It's very well done. Only through first two episodes, but I find myself rewinding to catch dates of events. The war began far earlier than most understand.
     
  23. kobalap, Sep 22, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017

    kobalap thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Yes, many things are different. One was in a jungle in the tropics, one is in the desert, one is in the mountains. Two have a lot to do with religious ideology, one is related to political ideology. I am sure experts have more salient points that they can raise.

    Where I see similarities are:
    - In Iraq and in Vietnam, the pretense for violence/escalated involvement. In both cases, there was a lot of wishful thinking on the side of the US government.
    - In all three, the United States is/was propping up corrupt yet impotent national governments.
    - In all three, the United States is/was spending money hand over fist on nation building activities. Most resulting in end products that the locals don't value.
    - In all three, the local population doesn't like the Americans, resent the perceived puppet government installed by the Americans and quite frankly, wish the Americans would just leave.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 22, 2017 ---
    That's an interesting point. I spun up an episode of "Vietnam in HD" just to get a stylistic comparison between the two. I mean, both were sourcing a lot of the same material so I was interested in seeing the difference in presentation.

    One thing that caught my eye was that in "Vietnam in HD", I thought I saw a line that said that American involvement in Vietnam began in 1964. I think in a lot of material I have seen over the years, I was left with the impression that the United States was largely an innocent bystander that got sucked into Vietnam due the communist threat.

    This documentary (and some light reading I was doing on Ho Chi Minh) helped me understand that the United States had opportunities to avert this disaster going as far back as Woodrow Wilson's administration. After that, Ho Chi Minh reached out to Truman in 1945.

    But I suppose it is hard to hold American presidents to account for not seeing the importance of the outreach of a seemingly inconsequential person (Ho Chi Minh) from a seemingly inconsequential country (Vietnam) and what impact their inaction would have decades down the road.

    Beyond that, I knew that the Americans were "supporting" the French during the war with the Viet Minh. I didn't realize that the United States was footing a majority of the bill. That war was from 1946 to 1954?

    So this notion that America's involvement in Vietnam began in 1964 - I can't even think of a way to frame that in a way that makes any sense.
     
  24. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

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    #24
    Not much in that war makes sense, although it’s easy to discuss options decades later and knowing the outcome.
    (As a “funny” anecote to show how surreal things were, I remember reading in one of my kissingerian readings that while preparing for a meeting, the US submitted to NV its conditions to sit at the table, nothing fancy, in eight points. The Vietnamese replied with the very same eight points, which meant agreement, but added a ninth point. Apparently this ninth point was nothing crazy, almost inconsequential, but the US could see no reason for it so they believed that there was some sort of hidden agenda behind it; it stalled down things ... worse, the Vietnamese didn’t want to answer on why there was this ninth point. Finally the US agreed to the ninth point. At the meeting the US delegation finally asked unofficially to Le Duc Tho what was the reason of this strange ninth point. Le Duc Tho answered, “oh none. You had eight points, we had to have one point more than you.”)
     
  25. PracticalMac macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #25
    PBS has been advertising it for 6 months.
    You can watch past episodes on PBS web site.

    If it was not for being in a jungle, it looks like 2017.
     

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