What follows is a two day back and forth exchange between a country lawyer, Pat Vale, and a retired senior grade CIA intelligence officer, Dommie Periello. One watched the entire series, one didn't. Both have been friends of mine for many years.
Sep 27, 2017, at 10:31 PM, Pat Vale, esq:
Episode tonight on Vietnam covered the Cambodia and Laos action 70-72 by ARVN as well as peace talks and the An Loc attack by NVA in March72 that almost destroyed ARVN but for Nixons heavy bombing with B 52s. Also briefly last night US short invasion of Cambodia that brought on Kent State shootings.
Burns did NOT discuss or disclose the Secret War by CIA in Laos or Cambodia. They did discuss the coup that toppled Sihanouk and brought in Lan Nol and the "invite".
I don’t know why he didn’t disclose secret war. He only said we were bombing Laos and Cambodia throughout the war targeting the NVA and vC camps and ho trail.
September 27, 2017 9:39 PM, Pat Vale, esq:
Burns also covered Hanoi Jane and Kerry and medal tossers. He presented both points of view fairly objectively with witnesses and persons who served. Burns didn’t moralize but the stronger lengthier point of view was that the nation had turned against the war overwhelmingly including some returning vets. He covered the hard hat counter protests and violence in Central Park. He clearly showed that the bombing if north vietnam and the devastating losses suffered by the nva who invaded South Vietnam in march 72 and mining of haiphong harbor had brought North Vietnamese to table in Paris.
Sep 28, 2017, at 9:47 AM, Domenic Perriello, former senior CIA case officer:
Yes, but they came to the table with strength while Kissinger went to the table seeking a way out. In retrospect among so many things, militarily we should have bombed the dikes and Vietnam would have collapsed. But ultimately Vietnam was not worth the toll it cost in American lives and treasure. It was the beginning of drastic changes in the US.
Thu, Sep 28, 2017 9:37 am, Pate Vale, esq:
True dat. But.....we have 535 members of Congress who can’t agree on anything. De Gaulle said he couldn't govern a country with 300 kinds of cheese. Point being is in a representative democracy we elect leaders who DECIDE......and they appoint Generals who decide. Trump is doing the right thing by leaving MOST of the decisions to McMaster, Mattis and Kelly......and they in turn are letting troops on the ground tell the story.
Of course if we bury history and turn away....we learn NOTHING. So that isn’t the right response either.
So we make a list of lessons learned...and adapt and apply them as best we can today. And yes, the party in power has a different view of things than the prior administration, sometimes even within their own party....as was the case with 41 vs. Reagan and even 43 vs. 41. 41 opposed taking out Saddam. Strongly. So it goes.
The REMARKABLE thing I noticed last night was the similarity between the situation in Afghanistan as it was in IndoChina. e.g.. 40% of the territory controlled by insurgents. An unloved government in the capital. A foreign power aiding the enemy: Iran and others. A foreign power letting its territory be used to ferry money, arms, supplies like Cambodia: Pakistan. Confusion at home. Growing dissent. Bombing that didn't completely remove the threat. Anguish over body bags and civilian deaths.
On and on.
My point on Burns is not to say Mr. Burns and NPR and all those do good groups cited at the end of the movie as financiers.....were the sole exclusive authority on the war.....or the DECADE it covers at home. But that its another picture and reminder and GIVEN that they are liberals and biased ....I thought they did a remarkable job.....about as fair and objective as I could expect out of them...... they missed some points. They got a few details wrong here and there. But overall a good movie and presented both sides fairly well......and exposed the ERRORS of the Democrats.....
He had HIGH praise for Gen. Creighton Abrams.....cigar chomping no nonsense get it done General.....
He also pointed out Nixon's big error in Cambodia was going on television to ANNOUNCE IT and SHOW ON A MAP WHAT HE WAS DOING. Geez. And which set off the crazies at home.
Very very very poor advice from Haldeman and Co to do that. STUUUUUPID.
So tactical errors all over the place.
I don’t have that "in country" and "combat" angst and frustration. My reaction to Kerry and crowd and the medal throwers was REVULSION. REPULSED. But that feeds my CURRENT views of them. Helps me UNDERSCORE TO THOSE PEOPLE TODAY who confront my views and challenge Trump etc.
Its sorta like this, 'You bastards cost us the war in Vietnam and we wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and 58,000 American lives and 2,000,000 South Vietnamese lives and untold Laotian and Cambodian "good guys." So get out of the M.F. way so WE can get this done and done right.
Remember Watergate all started with Ellsburg. And Ellsburg had been a LOYAL DOD employee at DIA and then he came across the McNamara secret files....and memos to JFK and LBJ. And he was so upset he moved to California and went to work for Rand Corp....and took copies with him. He shared those copies with FOUR United States Senators who had security clearances to see them, including Barry Goldwater. Goldwater refused to go public but was deeply troubled by the duplicity of the Democrats, especially since he was a HUGE victim of LBJ tricks in 1964. So Ellsburg went rogue and gave to Sheeran at NYTimes....then DOD got an injunction then the US Supreme Court ruled First Amendment protected his actions. And so Nixon was furious...the leaks continued and as Pentagon Papers unfolded he went after Ellsburg personally and came up empty...and then ordered DNC broken into to get at McGovern because now Ellsburg was advising McGovern on getting out of Vietnam.....
Nixon broke the law but did so because he wanted to BEAT The NVA and North Vietnam badly....he said so....."bomb the bastards to the stone age." So his heart and mind in right place......though he didn't need to worry about McGovern.....and his ADVISORS gave him poor advice....they should have said, "Mr. President....you have NOTHING to worry about.....relax.....McGovern campaign in tatters, broke, poor VP choice, no mojo, and country behind you (HardHat Counter Protests working wonders!)
9/28/2017 11:13:52 A.M., Domenic Perriello, former senior CIA case officer:
Thanks for keeping me in the loop despite the fact that i have not been watching it.
On Sep 28, 2017, at 9:52 AM, Pgv007 <firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Its an excellent movie. Not perfect. Some errors. But I found it profound and reasonably objective if leaning left a bit.
LBJ completely mismanaged war. Mostly because JCOS and McNamara made strategic and tactical errors as well as policy.
Kennedy errors too.
Burns portrayed it as a cold war battle and mcnamara memos proved it. Kennedy and LBJ both on tape shown to say it was political to them. Couldnt let any country go communist after Truman disasters in China Korea and other places. They decided to put up a fight there but then bungled it badly.
Interesting footage from north vietnamese lamenting their losses and openly saying it wasn’t worth it for them. One man said they lost 2 million "killing our own people over politics and crazy decisions of a madman Le Duan". Wow.
From our view we entered a civil war. A civil war started in 1946 and unresolved in 1954 then bungled again in 62.
No real idea what would have happened if we let it go and didnt intervene. Kennedy wanted to. But felt politically he would be tagged aa soft on communism
So he went after castro to appease the mob and went after Ho to appease southern democrats. He openly said so. On tape.
But a good documentary. Brought back memories for me. Growing up. The whole SDS thing. Seattle had big protests. After invasion of cambodia in 72 the UW faculty and students and leftwingnuts blocked I-5. Yep. Shut down freeway thru town.
9/28/2017 11:54:49 A.M. Domenic Perriello, former senior CIA case officer writes:
Aside from everyone has his viewpoint in the series on Vietnam what are the lessons learned? Especially in light of such things Nixon threatened to bomb hanoi if nv did not live up to the agreement. Then this US threat is sabotaged by American officials etc etc. my point is we for the near future at least can never agree on lessons learned. One lesson should have been lesrned is when engaged in war allow the military to call the shots under the president not the entire administration. during the 8 years of obama they clearly did not learn that lesson in engaging ISIS. As long ads those of us who remember Vietnam are alive we will never agree on what lessons are to be learned
Sep 28, 2017, at 10:41 AM, Pat Vale, esq wrote:
Well that begs the question. Why watch? Its over. It was 50 years ago. Nobody cares. And our kids shrug and roll their eyes, including mine, despite my entreaties.
For me, its because I am perpetually curious and being a lawyer always seeking the truth, always suspicious and cynical and wanting to see if the truth is outed and not covered up by the democrats in this movie. They did not. They exposed the utter cynical corruption of JFK and LBJ and while Nixon got his share of coverage, they spent little time on Watergate and showed his desire to get out of Vietnam as fast as he could.....and his secret method to win the war was bomb the crap out of Hanoi and all NVA wherever they were.....he said it to Kissinger many times.....he wasn't that interested in the VC because they were hard to find in the jungle, they looked like the south vietnamese we were trying to rescue and he felt the trouble makers were the North Vietnamese.....and the head of the snake as he called it. He was right.
Laos and Cambodia got minimal coverage and that is a shame...though Burns showed often and stated often through his interviews and the military plans.....that the Ho Chi Minh trail was the backbone of the war for the communists......and starting in 1964 we bombed the hell out of it....but then he showed the NVA rebuilding the road literally hours after we took it out......a vexing problem.....working like a colony of ants or worker bees....they were armed and supplied by the Chinese and Russians....using Russian heavy equipment and trucks.....on and on.....but LBJ too tepid on the bombing......dancing around Hanoi......it wasn't until Nixon bombed Hanoi and mined Haiphong Harbor that Le Duan and Le Duc Tho came to the table.
Mao on record last night telling Le Duan, "it wont matter in six months after the americans leave.....you can simply take it then."
He was about right.
Nixon apparently told the North Vietnamese in Paris, through Kissinger, that if the NVA violated the agreement he "would bomb Hanoi to the dark ages as punishment." That is what Kissinger said to Le Duc Tho at least. On tape. But the impeachment/removal of Nixon by Kerry and Clinton and the Lilliputians gave Hanoi a huge GO signal...and they took it. Knowing Congress (which they monitored closely with spies in DC) had undercut funding and Ford was an absolute patsy and wussy and would do NOTHING. ZERO.
Kissinger comes off poorly in the movie. On tape numerous times with his duplicitous comments to Nixon.....as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. Way too anxious to get out at any cost.....sold out Van Thieu completely...who was NOT consulted on the Paris terms and was NOT at the table.
Final episode tonight, the post script of our departure after March 29,1973. Btw. LBJ died on the day Kissinger signed the Paris Peace Accords with Le Duc Tho ending the war. How strange.
Thu, Sep 28, 2017 7:09 pm, Pat Vale, esq:
Long 18 hours. Painful. But worthwhile. Some good stuff in very end. Children laughing and greeting Americans. Seeing the countryside without bombs and chaos in its natural beauty. Hated seeing Obama and Clinton there.
Couldnt show film without covering the bitter stuff about deserters and antiwar demonstrations and all those who betrayed their country and our troops. But it was a horrific decade everywhere, here and there.
I doubt I will ever travel there. I ponder those who do especially those who fought there. Burns made clear the turning point in our relationship with Vietnam didnt occur until Le Duan died in 1986. They moved swiftly to normalize.
I recommend the movie to those who seek answers to those troubling years.