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Vietnam : A Television History
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1.

Interview With Frederick Nolting, 1981 [electronic resource]

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Frederick Nolting was Ambassador to South Vietnam from 1961 -- 1963. Appointed by President Kennedy, he became closely associated with Ngo Dinh Diem. As the United States sought to distance itself from Diem, Nolting was replaced by Henry Cabot Lodge. Mr. Nolting describes the early days of his assignment, including the visit from Vice-President Johnson and the Taylor-Rostow mission. He defends Diem from some of the criticisms that were made of him, and offers opinions of Ngo Dinh Nhu and his wife, Madame Nhu. Mr. Nolting then recalls the debates in the United States regarding Diem, and his own view that the support for Diem should continue.
Online
1983
2.

Interview With George Christian, 1981 [electronic resource]

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George Christian was the White House Press Secretary under President Johnson. Here he discusses the 1968 presidential election, specifically, Johnson's decision not to run, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and the transition to the Nixon administration. He also discusses Johnson's plans for peace in Vietnam, his administration's internal struggles around ending the war, and the Nixon campaign's interference with the peace negotiations.
Online
1983
3.

Interview With Frederick G. Dutton, 1981 [electronic resource]

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Fred Dutton was Special Assistant to US President John F. Kennedy at the time President Kennedy considered committing resources to Vietnam. He characterizes Kennedy as a cautious man, but one who for strategic reasons wanted to stem the spread of communism in Asia. However, Dutton says this was far down Kennedy's list of priorities, well below domestic issues. Dutton is critical of those who would take Vietnam out of the context of all other issues faced by the President, such as the need to appear strong following the Bay of Pigs. He also discusses the thinking behind the President's appointing Averell Harriman to coordinate Southeast Asia policy at the State Department.
Online
1983
4.

Interview With George W. Ball, 1981 [electronic resource]

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George W. Ball served in the State Department under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and later as Ambassador to the United Nations. He describes the early Johnson Administration as a period of "drift" when the US was becoming increasingly involved in Vietnam, a trend Ball opposed in numerous memos and meetings. Ball discusses his role as the voice of dissent within the Johnson administration, arguing that they learn from mistakes previously committed by the French in Vietnam. He recalls Johnson as a sympathetic and intelligent man who wanted to end the war but could not afford to lose it.
Online
1983
5.

Interview With Henry Kissinger, 1982 [electronic resource]

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Henry Kissinger's involvement with Vietnam started before he was Nixon's National Security Advisor. While at Harvard, Kissinger was a consultant on foreign policy to both the White House and State Department and in a 1973 peace agreement, Kissinger helped mediate between Washington and Hanoi. In this interview Kissinger recalls the period before he joined the Nixon White House and how he did not question the United States involvement in Vietnam. In 1965, Kissinger travelled to Vietnam and saw that the war was not winnable in the way it was currently being conducted. Moreover, he had doubts as to whether or not South Vietnam could stand on their own once the United States left. He also describes his impression of Le Duc Tho as someone whose goal was to break the morale and spirit of t [...]
Online
1983
6.

Interview With Henry H. Fowler, 1981 [electronic resource]

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Henry H. Fowler was Secretary of the Treasury under President Johnson from 1965 to 1968. He is asked about the economic consequences of a request to send 206,000 troops to Vietnam in early 1968. He argued at the time that fulfilling such a request would cause significant economic problems. He describes President Johnson as believing bringing peace to Southeast Asia was worth the high fiscal cost--and less expensive than allowing communists to dominate that part of the world. Fowler details the machinations of finding money for the war, both in the Congressional appropriations process and in partnering with other countries on issues such as the price of gold. Fowler describes the tensions the president felt in trying to pay for the war at the same time he wanted to fully fund his Grea [...]
Online
1983
7.

Interview With Henry Cabot Lodge, 1979 [electronic resource]

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Henry Cabot Lodge was a United States Senator from Massachusetts, and Ambassador to South Vietnam from 1963 -1964. He viewed South Vietnam's president Ngo Dinh Diem as an ineffective leader, and tacitly supported the coup that overthrew him. Mr. Lodge discusses the circumstances of his appointment as Ambassador, and his impressions of Vietnam prior to going. He recounts the advice and instruction he received from other advisers, especially regarding Diem, and details his role in the events surrounding the coup. He describes Diem's personality and his own view of the war after the coup.
Online
1983
8.

Interview With Herbert Bluechel, 1981 [electronic resource]

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Herbert Bluechel served in Vietnam in the mid-1940s. He recalls British General Gracey's entry into Saigon and describes a meeting between French General Philippe Leclerc and O.S.S. officer Peter Dewey; Dewey would be the first American casualty in Vietnam, prior to the official start of the war. He recounts the events surrounding Dewey's death in detail. Finally, he discusses the mood of the country and Vietnamese attitudes towards the French, the British, and the Americans.
Online
1983
9.

Interview With Harry McPherson, 1981 [electronic resource]

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Harry McPherson served as Special Counsel to LBJ from 1965 to 1969 and was Johnson's chief speechwriter from 1966 to 1969. McPherson begins the interview by recalling the conflicted mood at the White House following the Tet Offensive. The optimism found in military cables and official information clashed with televised images showing the nation that the war was resulting in massive loss of human life and that a prisoner could be shot at point-blank range. He also talks about the concerns LBJ had that the Vietnam War might escalate into a world war and that the goal was not to destroy North Vietnam but rather to keep them contained and not overthrow the government in South Vietnam. He ends the interview with a personal sketch of President Johnson, a complex and tragic figure.
Online
1983
10.

Interview With James Claude Thomson, 1981 [electronic resource]

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James Claude Thomson served as an East Asia Specialist in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He comments on a lack of expertise on Asia in the US government in the 1950s and 1960s. Thomson helped draft the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, and he recalls the process to get it passed through Congress. He discusses the effects of the Democratic Party's fear of looking soft on Communism on Vietnam, and recalls his dismay at the escalation of the war in 1965.
Online
1983
11.

Interview With John D. Negroponte, 1981 [electronic resource]

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From 1964 to 1968, John Negroponte was Second Secretary in Saigon; from 1968 to 1969, a member of U.S. Delegation to Paris Peace Talks; and from 1970 to 1973, a member of the National Security Council staff. He describes the mood in Paris in 1968 as euphoric, thinking the negotiations for peace with the North Vietnamese would be quick. He discusses President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger's thinking about the negotiations in the context of China and the Soviet Union. He describes the character of Le Duc Tho, who secretly met with Kissinger to help advance the Peace Accords. Negroponte goes into detail about the issue of the withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops from the South. He describes the purpose of the Christmas Bombing of North Vietnam in 1972 and responds to questions about Ni [...]
Online
1983
12.

Interview With John James Flynt, Jr., 1982 [electronic resource]

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John James Flynt, Jr., was a Congressman from Georgia from 1954 to 1979. Flynt talks about his constituency as of 1965 as being largely supportive of the war effort, almost out of tradition for supporting government decisions. He recounts the deference offered by Congress to the president and his cabinet members, particularly in testimony on the conduct and progress of the war. He describes Congress as being "in awe" of the president at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution but that awe fading within the next two years as constituents expressed dissatisfaction. He recounts being critical of the anti-war movement, being of the opinion that it undermined the war effort, including protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Flynt describes his 1971 decision to turn agains [...]
Online
1983
13.

Interview With L. Dean Brown, 1981 [electronic resource]

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L. Dean Brown retired from a 29-year career with the State Department in 1975. Specializing in the Middle East, he had served in Jordan and Cyprus. Two weeks after he retired, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recalled him to organize the evacuation of Saigon. Here Brown describes the logistics of organizing the evacuation, raising Congressional funds, and the decision to evacuate thousands of Vietnamese, in addition to Americans. Brown downplays the panic portrayed by the media, recalling the events of April 1975 as relatively orderly. He describes empty helicopters leaving Vietnam in the early days of the evacuation because Ambassador Martin, optimistic about a political resolution, failed to organize evacuees. Finally, he praises Gerald Ford's leadership skills and his ability to [...]
Online
1983
14.

Interview With Lucien Bodard, 1981 [electronic resource]

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French reporter and writer Lucien Bodard recalls life in Saigon during 1954 and the rise of the Binh Xuyen, the Vietnamese paramilitary crime organization. Bodard also discusses the relationship between the United States and France and their relationships with the culture and people of Vietnam.
Online
1983
15.

Interview With Lloyd M. (Mike) Rives, 1982 [electronic resource]

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Mike Rives was an American diplomat in Cambodia from 1969 - 1970. Mr. Rives describes the difficulty in dealing with Prince Sihanouk, and the atmosphere in Phnom Penh after Lon Nol took over the government. He speaks about the American incursion into Vietnam and his discussions with General Alexander Haig about giving military support to Lon Nol's government.
Online
1983
16.

Interview With Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, 1982 [electronic resource]

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As the sister-in-law of President Diem, Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu was considered the first lady of South Vietnam in the late 1950s through the early 1960s. Here she argues that the Diem government was the only legitimate government in South Vietnam, that they were undermined by the United States and that the United States, therefore, paid a price. She discusses the Buddhist Crisis of 1963 and the results of the Paris Peace Accords. She reflects on Ngo Dinh Nhu and President Diem's characters and her own reputation as the "Dragon Lady" of Vietnam. Finally, she describes the diplomatic efforts of Ngo Dinh Nhu towards North Vietnam and the arrogance of the United States in intervening.
Online
1983
17.

Interview With McGeorge Bundy [electronic resource]

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McGeorge Bundy, brother of William Bundy, served as National Security Advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961 to 1966. Here he discusses the Vietnam war under both Presidents, specifically addressing the Tonkin Gulf Incident, and the attack on Pleiku Airbase while he was in Vietnam. He also recounts events around the 1965 decision to increase American troops in Vietnam, and a 1968 meeting of the "Wise Men" where Johnson called in former administration officials for their advice on troop levels and bombing strategies.
Online
1983
18.

Interview With Maxwell D. (Maxwell Davenport) Taylor, 1979 [electronic resource]

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Maxwell D. (Maxwell Davenport) Taylor, a United States Army General and diplomat, discusses briefly his Korean War experience and how that helped him in Vietnam. Taylor explains that when he first retired in 1959 he never thought the United States would become involved in Vietnam. Taylor recalls the Geneva Agreements in 1954 and that he disagreed with Eisenhower's decision about Dien Bien Phu. Taylor also discusses his impressions of Diem and how Taylor alleges the United States pulled the rug out from Diem, which created chaos that Taylor inherited when he became ambassador. Taylor recalls the Tonkin Gulf and the lessons of Vietnam.
Online
1983
19.

Interview With Melvin R. Laird, 1981 [electronic resource]

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Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1972, and domestic advisor to President Nixon from 1973 to 1974, Melvin Laird is best known for coining the term "Vietnamization." Laird discusses the pressure he felt for troop withdrawal under President Nixon and the idea that it was time for South Vietnam to be handed the tools to defend their country and let the Americans withdraw. Laird also talks about the Cambodian bombing in 1969 and the fact that while he agreed with the act of bombing, he disagreed with the plan to keep it secret. He also talks about his disagreements with Henry Kissinger and the tension he felt while working with him.
Online
1983
20.

Interview With Morton H. Halperin, 1981 [electronic resource]

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Morton Halperin was an American foreign policy expert who served in the Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton administrations. In 1967 he defended the bombing of North Vietnam in order to prove to its people that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam could not protect them. Under Nixon, Halperin was suspected of leaking the Pentagon Papers and his phones were tapped. He describes his reservations about being asked to draw up an option for escalation of the war. Halperin also discusses options for winding down the war that he hoped would result in the return of American prisoners of war. He reflects on intelligence operations in the US against the anti-war movement, describing it as effective but clearly illegal. He argues that the very existence of the South Vietnamese depended upon the belief by [...]
Online
1983