Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Vietnam War Will Have to Wait Awhile Longer

To say that Ken Burns's documentary on The Vietnam War was a lost opportunity is to be kind.

Say what you want about Oliver North, but his critique here is sound;
It’s sad, but I’ve come to accept that the real story of the heroic American GIs in Vietnam may never be told. Like too many others, Ken Burns portrays the young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines of the Vietnam War as pot-smoking, drug-addicted, hippie marauders.

Those with whom I served were anything but. They did not commit the atrocities alleged in the unforgivable lies John Kerry described to a congressional committee so prominently featured by Mr. Burns. The troops my brother and I were blessed to lead were honorable, heroic and tenacious. They were patriotic, proud of their service, and true to their God and our country.

To depict them otherwise, as Ken Burns does, is an egregious disservice to them, the families of the fallen and to history. But his treatment of my fellow Vietnam War veterans is just the start.
Next North shifts his fire rightly to what was done by Burns to Nixon.
Contrary to the film’s portrayal, Nixon had a complicated strategy to achieve “Peace with Honor.” His goal was to train and equip the South Vietnamese military to defend their own country in a process he called “Vietnamization” and thereby – withdraw American troops.

President Nixon succeeded in isolating the North Vietnamese diplomatically and negotiated a peace agreement that preserved the right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own political future. Imperfect as the Saigon government was, by 1973 the South Vietnamese had many well-trained troops and units that fought well and were proud to be our allies. This intricate and sophisticated approach took shape over four wartime years but receives only superficial mention in Mr. Burns’ production.
By the time President Nixon resigned office on August 9, 1974, the Vietnam War was all but won and the South Vietnamese were confident of securing a permanent victory. But in December 1974 – three months after President Nixon departed the White House – a vengeful, Democrat-dominated Congress cut off all aid to South Vietnam.

It was a devastating blow for those to whom President Nixon had promised – not U.S. troops – but steadfast military, economic and diplomatic support. As chronicled in memoirs written afterwards in Hanoi, Moscow and Beijing, the communists celebrated. The ignominious end came with a full-scale North Vietnamese invasion five months later.

Despite the war’s tragic conclusion – and the trauma that continues to afflict our country – there is little in the Burns so-called documentary about the courage, patriotism and dedication of the U.S. troops who fought honorably, bravely, and the despicable way in which we were “welcomed” home.
This sticks.
Though Ken Burns and his collaborators claim otherwise, the real heroes of “The Vietnam War” were not U.S. protestors, but the troops my brother and I led. They fought valiantly for our country and the president who brought us home.

Since meeting President Nixon in the 1980s, I have always remembered how he understood the incredible sacrifice of American blood in the battlefields of Vietnam. He was dedicated to ending the war the right way and committed to sustaining American honor. He kept his promise to bring us home.

Ken Burns failed to keep his promise to tell all sides about the long and difficult war in Vietnam. Mr. Burns, like John Kerry, has committed a grave injustice to those of us who fought there.
So, the Vietnam Era veterans will have to wait longer for a truly fair telling on the national stage.

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