tv The Seventies CNN June 27, 2015 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
vietnam is the most divisive, morally abrasive war americans have ever fought anywhere. >> it's time for the great silent majority to stand up and be counted. >> how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? >> we will refuse to do it. you may be in jail, but you won't be dead. >> military pressure will continue until a peace settlement is achieved. >> we can achieve peace with honor. >> the americans are leaving. the vietnamese must stay and face uncertainty. >> in vietnam we've reached the end of the tunnel, and there is no light there. ♪
♪ >> there's no understanding of america in the 1970s without understanding how the decade began in relationship to the war in vietnam. >> normally live casualties for the previously week are released on thursday, but fighting has been so bitter that military sources released the casualties unofficially today. 340 americans and 527 south vietnamese were killed last week. enemy dead were reported to be more than 5,000. >> there was some grumbling
among numbers of young g.i.s taking part in the assaults, questioning whether the objective is worth the bloodshed. . >> out here in this very difficult war, i thinks history will report this may have been one of america's finest hours because we took a difficult task and we succeeded. you're doing your job. i can assure you we're going to try to do ours to see that they didn't fight in vain. thank you very much. >> nixon did not want to be the first president of the united states to lose a war. it was a matter of personal pride with him. his basic goal was to end the war as quickly as possible but on honorable terms with preserving in his view credibility as a world power and as an ally. >> president nixon will dispatch his adviser on foreign affairs, henry kissinger, to paris for the peace talks. >> it is thought that the u.s. is working out strategy. >> nixon's strategy on vietnam
was to negotiate a peace agreement but at the same time to veet na miez the conflict. >> we had to turn the war over to south vietnam or it would be helpless. we couldn't fight their war forever. >> the south vietnamese were taught to think like americans, act like americans fight like americans. >> south vietnam's president thieu, he wanted nothing more than to gradually take over full responsibility for the war. >> president nixon started withdrawing troops almost right away. he had a lot to withdraw. over 500,000 men were there. >> but he did this very slowly. as they supposedly shifted the burden of the fighting to the south vietnamese. it was going so slowly a lot of people were getting killed in the process, and there was no end to it. >> october 15, 1969, vietnam moratorium day. >> surely this is a day unique in our history. never have so many of our people publicly and collectively manifested opposition to this country's involvement in a war.
>> it wasn't hippies. it wasn't radicals and marxists. it was ordinary middle-class americans, 2 million of them, taking the day off from school, from work. it was a genuine democratic explosion of anti-war sentiment. >> one, two, three, four -- >> mr. nixon has told aides that the loss of american popular support or the appearance of it could induce the new leadership in hanoi to press on in the expectation that the united states would quit. >> the october moratorium made richard nixon go to the mountaintop literally. he went to camp david for two weeks to write a speech to answer the anti-war movement. the elites had gotten on the anti-war bandwagon. the press, harvard, the universities, east coast establishment. by 1969, they were all anti-war. >> hell no, we won't go! >> and nixon wanted to rise up and show that there was another
side, his side, the outsiders. the people who didn't go to harvard who revered the flag and supported our soldiers. and he wanted to rally them. >> to you, the great silent majority of my fellow americans, i ask for your support. north vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the united states. only americans can do that. >> the term "silent majority" clicked with middle america because they were never represented on television, and they didn't feel like they were represented in washington and didn't really have a voice. >> president nixon proudly displayed 52,000 telegrams from person whoz supported him. >> it is time for the great silent majority just to stand up and be counted. >> at that point he went to 68% approval. >> it gave him the room he needed to maneuver.
>> good evening, my fellow americans. tonight american and south vietnamese units will attack the headquarters for the entire communist military operation in south vietnam. this is not an invasion of cambodia. >> nixon's conviction is that what you've got to do is cut off the supplies that the north vietnamese are funneling into the south to the viet-kong, and the way to do it is to take out the ho chi minh trail, the route they're using through cambodia. >> you don't quite realize that cambodia is its own country, in fact, a country that always had tenuous relationships with vietnam. and once they destabilize cambodia, you really just have all hell breaking out. >> the cambodian operation will continue during the coming days. american units searching for north vietnamese troops and installations, but what they
will find or how long they will be here no one can say for sure. >> the active, large-scale american and south vietnamese participation in the fighting in cambodia has brought a cry of anger from many college campuses, from kent state university in ohio, the protest turned into a riot with thousands of demonstrators facing national guardsmen and police. >> four students are killed at
kent state. two students are killed at jackson state in mississippi. nixon is sort of overwhelmed. he's bewildered. >> nixon was very upset by the deaths, by the belief that he had caused them. that was a low point of his presidency. >> the events of this past week have polarized not only the opposition to the war but also the opposition to the anti-war movement. hard hat construction workers chased and beat demonstrators in the streets of the financial district. police joined ranks with attacking workers and watched students brutally beaten. >> smoke generated by this latest fuss is tending to obscure the question will demonstrations have effect shaping the president's vietnam policies? the answer here remains no. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. i earn unlimited 2% cash back on
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of 22 south vietnamese. >> william callie commanded the unit that went into my lai, a village that was supposedly harboring viet-kong troops. >> we were ferried in by helicopters. we led on the outskirts of the village. we came across some people in the village as i have in one photograph. you can see in the expressions of their faces before they're about to be shot, especially the small child on the left and the one small boy not realizing what is about to happen. >> in the spasm of violence, hundreds of people are killed, all of them civilians. this unit from the americal division lost it. they said, we just felt like we were killing vermin. they'd pull the trigger by somehow tricking themselves to think that they're not killing a human, they're killing an animal. the captain and lieutenant callie did not do anything to stop them.
they had lost it themselves. it was a complete failure. >> the white house is accutely aware that the my lai scandal could bring about a disastrous withering away public support for the vietnam war and mr. nixon's plans for a staged withdrawal of american forces. >> what happened in the my lai case was not a combat situation. he shot in cold blood old men, women and children and we as a country fail to recognize an act of cold-blooded murder, then we are no better than -- >> why not convict the battalion commander of --. >> why not. >> hold on. hold on. >> secretary of defense, every single one of them that put the man in vietnam should be standing there saying, i am guilty, too. that's how i feel. every one of them. vietnam, 5th cavalry, initiating
new men. ♪ doo-dah ♪ doo-dah ♪ you're going home in a body bag all the doo-dah day ♪ >> the day after the initiate,s, five men came back in body bags. >> by the '70s, the u.s. army in vietnam had been essentially destroyed. every time we tangled with the vietnamese, we were getting killed. and there was no end to it. so you've got what amounted to a state of individual mutiny in the u.s. army. >> senseless. just walking down the road. >> i'm not going to walk down it. i'll walk down the trail. >> no. we're going to move out and they're going to be left behind. or i'm going to take the point. they can follow if they want to. it's that simple. we've got a job to do. we're going to do it.
>> we are just going to refuse to do it. you may be in jail, but you won't be dead. >> you are supposedly withdrawing, right? i figure since we're going home in the long run, why don't we take it easy? don't go out and looking for trouble. maybe just sit down. if think come to us, we fight. but going out looking for trouble for times' sake is just wasting more lives. it's absurd. i don't know. >> the people coming over here are a lot different than they used to be. like world war ii people or the old vietnam people. it's the woodstock generation coming to vietnam. >> the public campaign against the war in vietnam took on a new dimension in washington today. men who have been there began demonstrations armed with speeding the end to the conflict. ♪ bring our brothers home >> business men have protested. students have protested. mothers have protested. everybody has. but the men who fought the war
who know what it's like, who know what we are fighting haven't. and it's the first time in history they're going to do that. >> lieutenant died until i got a medal. i got a silver star, purple heart. it's in the rest of this garbage. it doesn't mean a thing! >> good evening. the war in vietnam has often been camouflaged by misleading statistics of body counts, weapons captured, hamlets pacified. but we are now in the midst of new more revealing statistics, the 2.5 million words of the pentagon papers. these once secret papers tell the agonizing story of the u.s. involvement in vietnam through four administrations of expanding commitment. the pentagon papers have touched off the deepest controversies, centering on whether the presidents and their men deceived the people. >> daniel ellsberg, an official who had served in the defense department, had access to these
materials. he's the one who leaks this to the press. >> i was the lead reporter in the pentagon papers. ellsberg turned against the war, and he copied these papers with the hope that eventually they would be used to embarrass an awful lot of people and which would show that we had made a terrible mistake. fighting this war in vietnam. >> starting with the ellsberg story front page. >> i think kissinger was obsessed with secrecy and so was nixon. my first three articles were published. and the nixon administration then wanted to stop the whole thing.
>> my argument inside was, if you want to make the case against the pentagon papers, get up and charge "the new york times" with publishing national security secrets, gross irresponsibility, and sabotaging the war in vietnam. >> the justice department went to court in new york today and got a temporary order restraining the "times" from publishing the next and last two installments. >> attorneys for "the new york times" claim the protection of the first amendment which embodies the concept of the freedom of the press as sufficient to protect their memorandums. >> the supreme court ruled that "the new york times" may continue to publish the secret pentagon papers. >> i think the lessen is to the people of this country can't afford to let the president run the country by himself even foreign affairs any more than domestic affairs without the help of the congress, without the help of the public. >> if you had to sum up the prevailing mood here on capitol hill, you could do it with two
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all u.s. forces within six months and new south vietnamese elections in exchange for a cease-fire and return of all american prisoners. >> the offer that i shall now present on behalf of the government of the united states and the government of south vietnam, with the full knowledge and approval of president thieu, is both generous and far-reaching. >> the response from north vietnam is, no, you're missing something. you've got to overthrow the government. but we were not going to overthrow an ally as we left. that was the sticking point. >> we were stuck. it was a stalemate. >> this is the scene on the white house lawn as the presidential helicopter waits for president nixon to begin what must be surely one of the most remarkable journeys ever undertaken by an american president, his trip to peking. >> i will undertake what i deeply hope will become a journey for peace. >> is the food as good as people say it is? >> i'm no expert on chinese
food, but i liked it. >> mr. president? >> hello, henry. >> nixon was a great geopolitical thinker, and he liked the idea of linkage, that he could link u.s. soviet policy and produce one tidy bundle. >> nixon thought that the vietnamese were hirlings or pawns of the chinese and soviets. they weren't. they were communists domestically, but they were no one's pawn. they were using the chinese and the russians playing them off each other to get weaponry to fight us to gain their independence. >> the heaviest fighting in a
year broke out in south vietnam today. north vietnamese forces struck at eight bases manned by south vietnamese troops just south of the demilitarized zone. >> the north vietnamese are unnerved by the fact that the americans seem to be making peace with both the soviets and the chinese. they're feeling alienated from their principal allies. they see the offensive as a bold effort to perhaps bring the war to a close or at least perhaps put themselves in a much better position with respect to negotiations. >> the president has decided to keep american troops out of the fight and to keep them coming home on schedule no matter what happens to the south vietnamese. according to top officials here, he will limit u.s. counteraction to massive air strikes against enemy forces and installations in south as well as north vietnam. >> the americans respond in great force, and so you see an absolutely massive aerial bombardment. >> the latest and in some ways the greatest of mr. nixon's gambles in his efforts to end
the war, as he says, with honor and not defeat. >> and now the world is waiting to see how the american minefields will affect the north vietnamese supply system. will they really strangle the enemy's most important supply line? >> the north vietnamese fail in this effort to have a breakthrough as a result of this offensive, and they suffer massive casualties. it helps to advance the negotiations in a way that hadn't been possible before. >> henry kissinger has dropped out of sight again, and nobody is saying where he is. the president's top adviser left the western white house yesterday with his children. there has been speculation he might have gone to paris to renew secret peace talks with north vietnam. >> the north vietnamese position began to change a few weeks before the 1972 election. they knew nixon was unpredictable. so if we get this madman reelected, as it looks like he's going to be, and he doesn't have to worry about reelections ever again, what the hell is he going to do to us from now on?
so on october 8th in paris, the north vietnamese presented a proposal which was the first time after three or four years of endless negotiations dropped their political requirement that we overthrow the saigon government. i remember stepping outside in a break, and kissinger and i were in the garden in paris and we shook hands and we said, we've done it. >> we believe that peace is at hand. there will be a return of all american prisoners within 60 days after the agreement comes into force. >> now with the election just 12 days away, the nixon administration says peace is at hand. it might appear that someone has pulled a rug out from under mcgovern. >> kissinger telling us peace is
at hand was seen as a cynical ploy to win the election. >> the fact is kissinger is telling saigon, this is the best you are going to get. >> thieu was afraid he was being sold out and that once the americans left it would be a short matter of time before his own government fell. >> looked like we had a peace deal. kissinger said peace is at hand publicly. no deal. i have moderate to severe crohn's disease. it's tough, but i've managed.
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massachusetts is the only state going for mcgovern. >> well, president nixon is swept back into the white house. the victory landslide, though it is, seems to be mr. nixon's alone, not his party's. >> i think nixon was resolute. now i am liberated. now i am never going to have to run again. now i am going to be whom i wish to be. >> the united states has resumed full-scale bombing of north vietnam, including the hanoi haiphong area.
the north vietnamese said american planes carried out heavy attacks around those cities tonight and that hanoi's armed forces shot down a large number of planes and captured several pilots. >> first lieutenant to be 52. >> nixon wanted the communists to think he was crazy in the hopes that that would drive them back to the bargaining table. >> a lot of the civilian areas were hit apparently. >> civilian areas must have been hit, and i don't want to say that it was not a very painful thing to have to do. >> when 8,500-pound bombs go off one plane, that's the closest thing to a nuclear weapon. >> the response to the bombing was such an outrage. here is this small, third world country that the united states is bombing back to the stone age. >> the word from the president is military pressure will continue until a peace settlement is reached. >> within days after this
so-called christmas bombing, the north vietnamese came back to us and wanted to reopen the negotiations, made some concessions, and within weeks we had an agreement. so what anyone thinks of the bombing, it produced peace within about a month. >> good evening. the vietnam war ended today, ended officially in this room in paris. >> the treaty basically said that south vietnamese get to keep their government. the north vietnamese get to keep their soldiers in south vietnam. the north vietnamese release the five 00 -- 500 american pows, and everybody promises to stop fighting. >> as far as this administration is concerned, we have done the very best that we can against very great obstacles, and we finally have achieved a peace with honor. i know it gags some of you to write that phrase, but that is true. and most americans realize it is true. >> it is the americans who are celebrating. they are leaving. the vietnamese are not
celebrating. they must stay and face the uncertainty of whatever is going to happen to them next. >> in hanoi, the american military involvement in the vietnam war finally came to an end. for if anything or anyone symbolized the american agony of vietnam, it was the prisoners. >> most were pilots, and many had spent more than six years in prison. now they were on their way home. >> it wasn't really until we rolled down the runway, finally lifted off enemy soil, that we all broke loose and and started hugging and kissing the air force nurses. it was just unbelievable. and it was all euphoria. >> gathered in the den to watch the arrival of the planes from the philippines. there was no word which of the three planes the lieutenant colonel would be on. the first one landed, but it wasn't that one. then came the second plane. someone in the family said that
he won't be on this one either. but he was. >> oh! >> it was him! oh, my god! oh! >> we were greeted by thousands of people. they let out the schools, and everybody was waving flags and calling our names. it was a great, great homecoming. >> we are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances.
>> they were legitimate heroes. they had suffered terribly. and here they were home. and it gave the country something to cheer about after having so little to cheer about. >> mr. nixon said he does not plan to greet returning p.o.w.s because "this is a time when we should not grandstand it, we should not exploit it." >> so many of the soldiers that came home from vietnam in the early '70s couldn't wear their uniforms in public. they were called baby killers to their face. and it really was very disturbing. it distressed us all to think that those comrades in arms had come back to such a negative
reception where we had come back to ticker-tape parades. >> the american language has changed since you went away. it may have changed since you returned. so the conversation of your wives, friends, children may seem strange. >> the "today" show devoted a two-hour episode to explaining ostensibly to the prisoners of war what had happened in america in their absence. they left a country where "the sound of music" was the most popular movie. they returned to one in which "last tango in paris" was the most popular movie which involved unspeakable carnal acts which are illegal in most states. >> whatever you do, don't call a group of women girls. it's no longer considered a compliment by many. >> we came home to quite a different world. like rip van winkle waking up after six years in a prison camp. it was unbelievable that our culture had changed to that point. >> in south vietnam, both the
saigon government and the communists have accused each other of new cease-fire violations motivated by attempts to gain more villages and territory. the nixon administration again expressed confidence that the cease-fire will prove effective before long. >> mr. president, we have been allies in a long and difficult war, and now you can be sure that we stand with yu as we continue to work together to build a lasting peace. >> nixon promised that if the north vietnamese renewed the offensive he would send the b-52s back to hanoi. well, it didn't happen because he was caught up in watergate. my constipation and belly pain
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attention will be shifted away from the daytime problems here at the white house. the guest of honor are 600 americans held prisoner of war at some time or other during the long, agonizing vietnam conflict. >> all of us would like to join in a round of applause for the brave men that took those b-52s in and did the job. >> nixon was overjoyed when the p.o.w.s came home. and they were overjoyed to see him. nixon was a hero to the p.o.w.s. >> because as all of you know, if they hadn't have done it, you wouldn't be here tonight. >> but while he was cheering the p.o.w.s, nixon is thinking, watergate is going to take me down. that night when it was over, he went back to his study and got his daughters down and said, you know, i might have to resign. >> good evening. the congress of the united states in an historic action today made effective a limitation on the powers of the president to make war. the house and then the senate
overturned president nixon's veto of the war powers bill and, despite his opposition, that measure now becomes law. >> is this override the result of watergate, the new developments in watergate? >> i think this has no relationship at all to watergate. this is a prerogative of the congress of the united states that several presidents have tried to take unto themselves, but the people of this country are demanding that we never stumble into a watergate. excuse me. the people of the country are demanding that we never again stumble into another vietnam. >> at 9:04 this evening, richard m. nixon became the first president ever to resign his office. >> and there is the president waving good-bye to applause. >> as we bind up the internal rules of watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of
foreign wars, let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate. >> there was this collective sigh of relief in the country, okay, we have a new president. it's a new day. let's see how things go. >> secretary kissinger, the president has already announced that he will stay in the cabinet. >> sophisticated vietnamese believe they're the ultimate victims of watergate. they think congress cut u.s. aid to settle a score with former president nixon. >> walter cronkite news, march 18, 1975. >> according to pentagon sources, the north vietnamese have penetrated to a point some 25 miles east of the provincial capital of ban me thuit which fell over the weekend. >> the cease-fire which wasn't a cease-fire involved a lot of bloody combat, and for the first 11 months the south vietnamese fought quite well. but by 1975, it became more and more clear that the north vietnamese were building up a formidable logistical system
that portended real danger for the south vietnamese. >> the communists began the first major attack of their offensive. saigon's troops made a stand. it was a vital one. the entire central highlands might be lost, and south vietnam could be cut in two by the north vietnamese and the viet-kong. >> the plan that the north vietnamese conceived would be a two-year plan. what happened was that when attacking the central highlands town of ban my thuit the thieu government lost its composure. >> government troops were secretly ordered by president thieu to pull out of the central provinces. >> the withdrawal became a rout, civilians and soldiers fleeing in panic, leaving behind huge supplies of american-made war materials. >> the north vietnamese never dreamed it would result in such a dramatic decision as to abandon the highlands which had been fought over for 12 years so they reconvened their central military committee and
determined that the iron is hot, and this is the time to strike. >> president thieu said he would not abandon the city, but the people are leaving anyway. the president said he would not abandon the city, and that city is gone. >> the world witnessed the tragedy of the overrunning of cities, and the next thing you know those of us sitting in saigon are watching our map legitimately bleed red. >> a somber henry kissinger outlined in a news conference what he saw as the choices now facing the united states. >> what we face now is whether the united states not just will withdraw its forces, which we achieved, and not just will stop the end of the loss of american life, but whether it will deliberately destroy an
ally by withholding aid from it in its moment of extremity. >> there is a new harris poll out today about how people feel abut continued military aid to vietnam. only 17% favor that and almost three-quarters of those questioned are opposed to further military aid. >> it is a tragedy unbelievable in its ramifications. i must say that i am frustrated by the action of the congress in not responding to some of the requests both for economic and humanitarian and military assistance in south vietnam. >> when you consider how much we've spent in blood and treasure in southeast asia with how little we bought with the money, i should think that now the time has finally come to say no more. when you got married? when you had kids?
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no more. this is the closest the fighting has ever come in saigon since communist offensive in 1968. abc news, saigon. >> now there are reports that the communists have the city in range of artillery range, at least the airport. >> many americans on the ground in south vietnam at that time felt a serious obligation to vietnamese whom they had worked with and knew. >> they were running in panic, not because they were on their heels but the threat that they were coming. >> the city was suddenly choked with people and cars all chasing one american evacuation convoy after the other. >> i'd borrowed a truck with a
bogus embassy license plate on it and stuffed people in the truck and drove them through the gat gate. >> the airport received sporadic rocket fire from communist forces closing in on the city. >> minutes later came the report that all americans are to be evacuated immediately. >> by the 29th at noon, there are about 2500 people in the u.s. embassy who can only be gotten out by helicopter. >> the scene at the u.s. embassy here in saigon is total chaos. >> the embassy gates were closed. we like the frightened vietnamese and their families
had to fight and claw our way out. >> i turned to help if i could. but i couldn't get anyone out. >> 50 at a time they took off for the carriers waiting in the south china sea. >> there was no room so the navy men ordered the pilots to ditch the helicopters in the ocean. >> we were living in a period of what the greeks call huborous. wroefr how are they going to defeat us? >> once it became a reality in seeing the pictures on television of not only a retreat but a disorderly retreat, and that ate within ourselves saying, this is not who we thought we were. >> to see what was in store for the south vietnamese people, to see the visions of our helicopters and people
struggling to get out and the terrible triage and choices that had to be made was clearly one of the lows in my life. >> the communist forces some of them riding in russian-made tanks, some in captured american jeeps, rolled into saigon about 3 1/2 hours after the end of the dramatic american evacuation of u.s. nationals and many south vietnamese. >> there's no way to capture in one evening's broadcast the suffering and the grief of 30 years of a subcontinent at war. there's no way to capture the suffering and grief of our own nation from the most divisive conflict since our own civil war. in vietnam, we've finally reached the end of the tunnel, and there is no light there. what is there perhaps was best said by president ford, a war that is finished. >> the vietnam war produced a million unwritten stories of human misery and human dignity.
in all, the war in the south produced over 11 million refugees. 430,000 civilians died in the war, according to an american estimate, along with 254,000 south vietnamese soldiers. the united states has spent more than $350 billion on vietnam, and it may end up being much higher than that. >> the other loss we also know about, even though we don't talk about it very much, and, when we do, it's as if it were some sort of index or score. 56,000 lives plus about 150,000 seriously wounded, many of whom will never recover. so when some future politician for some reason feels the need to drag this country into a war, he might come out here to arlington and stand maybe right over there somewhere to make his announce and to tell what he has in mind. if he can attract public support, speaking from a place
like this, then his reasons for starting a new war would have to starting a new war would have to be good ones. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> announcer: the following is a cnn special report. this is the way jonestown looked the day it died, november 18, 1978. >> die with a degree of dignity. lay down your life with dignity. >> a self-proclaimed religious paradise in guyana in south america, carved out of the jungle by jim jones, a man who called himself god. >> how very muci'