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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 27, 2011 1:30pm-2:30pm EDT

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and as those products grew in the early 90's they would start to bring up the sales of the other products as people would say this is really great i wonder what some of the other products taste like. so now bourbon is actually growing at a pretty good rate even in this modern economy the bourbon industry is actually expanding. >> mike beach on the social history of bourbon. for more information on this and other interviews from frankfurt kentucky, visit next on book tv marvil and debrowski to look at how the vietnam war matt effective presidential decisions regarding going to the war since 1975. during this event of the national press club, the co-authors are interviewed by journalist ted koppel. it's a little over 50 minutes.
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[applause] >> i'm particularly relieved to hear that marchant and deborah only work on this book during their waking hours. [laughter] i must tell you by way of introduction that i am particularly grateful to have had one of the kalb brothers as a competitor for almost 40 years now in fact it is probably more than 40 years. when i was the chief and hong kong for adc, bernie kalb was the bureau chief with cbs, and then in 1971 when i came back here to the united states as a diplomatic correspondent i was blessed to have margin as a competitor. as many of you in this room know, our friends tended to
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become people who have been our competitors because by definition we don't travel with others from our core network or why your service or newspaper. we only travel with competitors. but i'm especially grateful to have had the kalb brothers as competitors coming and we are going to begin before we get to marvin and depo with just a few words or i must say it was a tactical mistake to put a microphone and bernie kalb's hand. [laughter] once it is there it is going to be difficult to again. but -- [laughter] >> do i have a half-hour? >> no. [laughter] >> would you set the scene by reminding people in the audience who may not be old enough to remember how did we get so intricately involved in vietnam in the first place? >> i must begin by saying this
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is not a very heavy. i've got my dear brother, my niece and my friend ted koppel and the three of them are going to provide an extraordinary insight into the writing of the book into the perception, analysis, and altogether i would like to just add that over the years i've earned a reputation for being absolutely fearless as a reporter, famous for my object to the command absolutely uninfluenced by anybody and i would like to offer a preview of this book and in that spirit i would call that a great review. writing a book about the vietnam after all i need my first visit to vietnam in 1956. you can do the arithmetic. 1956 coming and 1956 marvin in
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1956 could not read, could not write and could not pontificate. [laughter] but i see this book and the page i really encourage you to read is a dedication. [laughter] the dedication is quite marvelous coming and i told marvin that i always buy all the books that are dedicated to me. ironic. desperately ironic. i talked to marvin, my visits were endless. i spent years covering the war in vietnam, a bit for cbs, "the new york times," many years for cbs news and we are lucky tonight to have with us somebody that for the first great but a generation ago about the vietnam standing who wrote the great book called vietnam. [applause] >> what to say.
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marvin, debbie, taking a bite of this story is quite extraordinary. vietnam for many people as drift of the front pages and their emotions. but for people like me, vietnam never lets go. i had this deal with vietnam. viacom doesn't let go of me. i was often as i can. i must have been there about eight times in the last decade. i spend my time mostly in the enemy capital hanoi. how many people have visited hanoi? let me speak with even greater authority. [laughter] henley is my place, saigon, but this is to celebrate their book. i've gone from a meticulously searching for errors. [laughter] that would give me great pleasure that i must say so far
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i've read the book twice. i read the book, i find overdue contribution to the literature of the vietnam. the imam is the 800-pound gorilla that is always in the oval office when the president has to make a decision about the war and peace. diman does not go away. the wounded, the grouping impact of the vietnam on america. we know those years, those of us who were around in those days. and so for marvin to catch up the haunting legacy, the guest at the oval office may have stayed there, may have introduced sanity and the wisdom and prudence to all american decisions to remember what happened in vietnam before we embark on the strange and all
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and karina sutphen terse. thank you. [applause] >> if your brother and me sick nor my questions as successfully as you did it is going to be a long evening. [laughter] you get no second chances here. [laughter] the story is told about winston churchill dinner which he clearly didn't enjoy turning to his hostess and singing about the desert this pudding has no feet. what is the theme of your putting? >> why i think there's a number of schemes, but the main theme really is that the mom doesn't go away. every president has to deal with it. it's there every time they have to make a decision about sending
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troops somewhere. it's in the politics in terms of what happened in different elections about whether someone served or didn't surf or chose to go to vietnam or not. it doesn't go away and that is the theme that carries through the books to reach president we looked at. >> and the vietnam clearly has affected different presidents and one might almost say diametrically opposed fashions. >> sometimes diametrically opposed, but there are two levels. on one level, you have to imagine what are the major influences on all of the presidents at the end of the vietnam war wendi have to say has devotee said they have to send troops to fight. the vietnam coast is there, it's there all the time. however, each president operates in his own environment. each president operates in his own time.
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and each president is operating under the particular problem. so that while the overall ghost is there in any specific president you were going to get a different response. for example. in 1983, 241 american marines murdered in lebanon by a terrorist group known to the president, known to the people around the president, they knew where they were, and yet ronald reagan decided that because the american people had been spooked by vietnam she did not want to put them through another experience like that. and so for him after the killing of the 41 americans he did nothing, and there was remarkable. the was because of the vietnam. on the other side, go to a president like bush i, the iraqi
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is going to kuwait and it is seen as a direct threat to the united states. bush decides to do something and pursuant to the power doctrine which is a direct consequence of the imam war, president george h. w. bush since 500,000 troops to do something that told us later could be done by the other navies but because they wanted to send many overloading of the circuit as it were to make absolutely sure the job is done, you go in to do it fast and you get out. that idea is a different from our experience in vietnam. so a president can do it in different ways but is only shadows by this legacy. and yet, it has come to the
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present day. here we are engaged not only on the ground but in libya where no u.s. interest or significant u.s. interest is involved will have no sense on how we are going to get out again. and the engagement to the degree that there is a free engagement is rather timid is that a function of the viet nam has pursued by president obama and his advisers? >> the situation is interesting because it is going on today for example, and it does go right back to the vietnam, the war powers act, congressional involvement, the arguments between the executive and the congress over who really has been part of sending the troops and fighting, what constitutes fighting, how you really defined and that is some of what was going on in the hill today in
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terms of the house that whether it was okay to send the troops, whether they should be stopped from engaging in particular actions. and that again goes back to the viet nam and the congress wanting more say in what was happening. >> we appear to have come no further in the past 40 years than where we were. the congressional vote albeit as devotee said the vote in the house today was against funding, the military action against libya but it's meaningless. they will continue funding it any way. >> they will continue the funding and what to me is very striking is when the united states got involved in libya, one of the things president obama said right from the beginning he said our involvement is going to be measured in days, not weeks, the four months plus now. why did he say that? because in his mind this is a very smart, well read president.
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she reads history all the time told. now, vietnam is very much on his mind, and he did not want to convey the impression to the american people that we are getting sucked into something that could end up being another vietnam. this was a man who when he was campaigning in 08 he went off to do the obligatory trip where you visit the front and he was going in now with senator jack reid of rhode island and chuck hagel of nebraska, a democrat and republican. it's a 14 hour flight from washington into kuwait, as you know, and for most of that 14 hours according to both senators, what was on this senator's - was viet monatana the lessons of vietnam because
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he was going to afghanistan and iraq and he wanted to learn from these men what was the relevance here. is it possible climate missing something? and he kept on asking them questions about vietnam over and over again and they were both amazed that he sat there and listened. he's a great listener. and the first time when he goes into the first national security council meeting, the first point that he makes to his people is, quote come afghanistan is not vietnam. well, why did he have to say that about the very beginning unless he thinks there's a possibility of getting into another vietnam. bruce at that time is writing and thinking through the president's first strategy paper on afghanistan, and bruce told us goes to vietnam and whites
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every day. he found that to be the case. and yet explained to me for a moment how it is that those ghosts can affect different presidents in such extraordinarily different fashions for a simple. underplays it militarily and ends up with a disaster on his hands. then you have george h. w. bush who as you just said a moment ago in effect over played by sending 500,000 troops into iraq and kuwait. same viet nam, theoretically the same lesson is to be drawn and yet here are two presidents drawing down.
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>> the same lesson to be drawn, but these are different people functioning in different political climates and environments and the same issues in different ways. the idea that a republican would see it one way and a democrat another way in sort of adc. what i find especially interesting is that as the years go by, you would think well, this war ended in 1975. why is it bugging me today, but it is. how you respond to the book is an individual thing depending on the politics of the moment, the challenge that you face. somebody may feel you've got to go in and send many more troops that you need or with obama and libya this would be done in a couple of days, don't worry about it. you go and read the direction but you go there for the
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pressure the memory of the vietnam has produced a curious and a glut may challenge a little bit on this suggestion that is somehow a partisan matter, a democrat, republican. >> that's one of the reasons. >> ronald reagan, a president in recent memory has a memory of being or a reputation of being broad shouldered, tough, not going to take any crap from anyone. it's ronald reagan. and yet as you correctly point out in the wake of the 241 u.s. marines and navy personnel being killed in beirut and when you didn't add is that the intelligence showed them that the irony and said the syrians were directly involved in the creation of what was then a completely new found organization. >> it's in the book. that's right.
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>> she did worse than nothing. he told those marines who were in heaven on at the time, pulled them out to the ships offshore, the ships stayed there for a few days and then off they went and nobody said a word about it because fortunately for president reagan there was another tiny one, successful, grenada that took place at exactly the same time. here is the essence of a republican tough-guy who reacted to vietnam and reacted in the fashion that would have done any liberal democratic pride. >> absolutely. and i have to tell you that when i approached the research on that chapter and was thinking
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about ronald reagan, i approached it with memories that i carried with me even at the time that i was covering, which was that this is a hollywood -- he's an actor, there's no great depth, and i have to tell you that reading his diary and reading the letters that he broke, thousands of letters over a lifetime in politics, if you have any fairness within you, you have to judge him in a totally different way and that is one of the things i learned by the way in researching the chapter. i just had a different sense of him than i had before and that is one of the wonderful things about doing a book of this sort where you can have a buddy like that at my side as you sort of
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discover the whole new world. it's really a most exciting phenomena. >> just finished that off. a different how? >> i'm not saying it's different. i'm saying -- >> you said your appraisal -- >> i appreciated the man in a broadway and i was saying to myself as sort of the vistas opened for me and my understanding of this man it said something about also journalism today that we approach the coverage of somebody perhaps simplistically and we ought to be a bit fair to the presidents that have this enormous responsibility of
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sending people off to die. it's a terrible thing in somebody like ronald reagan, looking at what could have happened in the middle east said no, i'm not going to do it, and vietnam was in his mind and the word was spooked and he didn't want the american people to be spooked yet again because it was ronald reagan, could use both grenada and language in that wonderful shoulder jester that he had and people would say well it's okay because president ronald reagan said so. >> i must say i was struck as i read the book. there was one notable exception. all of the president's, maybe two, most of the president's since ford come out looking a lot better and a lot stronger on the same perspective. the only exceptions are jimmy
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carter and george w.. why? >> i think jimmy carter -- that is a great question. jimmy carter didn't look so great in the end because the last part of the chapter on jimmy carter had to do hostage situation and the failed rescue attempt. actually the first of the chapter she was actually doing fairly well with a lot of difference with the middle east and china and a lot of areas as he was working on. but he was completely undone by the hostage situation and by the outcome of that rescue mission which was a complete disaster. maybe not on the domestic side, but i think there was that last year or so of the presidency.
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>> george w. bush is interesting. he was completely, the 9/11 and the whole war on terrorism kind of overshot chapter as it did the whole presidency. during that whole time during the presidency would and should be the entire presidency but half of the presidency. you do have presidencies going on that were unresolved, and that we're not going well and it wasn't the situation that you would want to say okay here is a very successful outcome as he's leaving office.
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we get into the two chapters on obama where you were still dealing with afghanistan and it is still continuing in the news this week as welcome. >> i will mention it to you before we come out, marvin, in the president's speech to the nation a couple nights ago. i don't have the exact language i'm sure one of you sitting here does, that there was reference to a light in the distance, and i think anyone of us here over the age of 50 or 60 must have thought to him or herself a light off in the distance. i still remember lyndon johnson talking about that night at the end of the tunnel. and how the vietnam was probably
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some vietcong with a flashlight. >> there's a deep sadness that i feel. he knows about the light at the end of the tunnel. that's why he played around the phraseology if not the light of the end of the tunnel that's what he's thinking that is what was in his mind and overpowering he said as it suggests that at the end of the day he really doesn't know how we are going to get out of their. he's playing with different formulas, he is kicking the can down the road. when he started in december of 09. those were 30,000. they didn't get there until the summer, the tail end of the summer of 2010 and they claimed
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to have done quite well. but at this particular point, you can do believe to be sympathetic to the military point of view and say well, if you want to get another two or three seasons of fighting, you could really hurt the other guys. general petraeus when he went out in the summer of 2010 told a number of his people that the most important thing for us right now is to hurt them. to hurt them bad. then they will come to the negotiating table and be able to strike a deal. the only thing wrong with that, have the highest respect for general petraeus that the only thing wrong with that idea is to have a different vision of what's going on. they may have in mind that you can say whatever you like mr. president, we are going to be here long after you leave and
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so koschel hawken ? if there was a central mystery to be taken out of the vietnam, that surely was eight. unless it remains one of the home turf the had nowhere to go pick from and if there is a comparison to the john come and sometimes i worry that we'll virgil m. in there are strategic reasons why we are in afghanistan which multiplied pa hartwick a just focus on that one central issue and maybe debbie can you follow-up on the incomplete answer. [laughter] >> i think there are ana analogs
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between the two definitely come and i think that could if you look at what was going on like my father said in the very first meeting that obama had at the foreign policy -- pnac, a co-author, not my father. [laughter] >> khanna ied your co-father? [laughter] >> in the very first meeting he talked about afghanistan as not vietnam has always been there in their mind as something that is a comparison and yet you can say there is definitely a reasoned the u.s. went into afghanistan that are important and that are different from why the u.s. lending to vietnam and there's a lot of differences, too, but i think that in the and that's true. it's going to be in a lot of people's mind. like the see the president on tv talking about troop levels. that does go back in people's
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mind to vietnam. it's great to keep reverberating when you hear that sort of language going on. and i think what is interesting is just what ever president obama was trying to do with the speech he's going to get criticism from either side anyway. in fact, she is getting criticism from both sides. whatever action he would have decided to take with those levels about how much is really needed, how to deal with the taliban, and end up with criticism from people saying you're pulling the troops out too slowly and on the other side people who are saying yeah, but -- said he had to pick something in the middle course on that, but i do think that the vietnam was in his mind, and it's just not going away. ..
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afghanistan? is that one of the lessons? >> absolutely. that certainly is the lesson and one of the lessons and we haven't touched on another point here which has to be raised within the obama/afghanistan context and that is pakistan because that is where the nuclear weapons are and as you and i have discussed a number of times one of the major reasons we are involved in afghanistan
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to begin with has to do with keeping an eye up close and pakistan's nuclear stockpile and to make sure terrorists don't get their hands on them. that is the underlying message. when obama first came in they came up with the idea of afghanistan and pakistan. that was due kohlberg's idea. you had to see the two of them together. you could not separate the two. what the president is doing right now in his speech is almost toward separation and they can't be separated. >> we almost ready to go to questions? who has the microphone? nobody has the microphone. he had one -- >> here they are. right there. >> we have a microphone. i am always inclined to say that
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i find it difficult to get the first person to ask a question so let's get the first question and go right to the second question. microphones? go ahead. >> i have a question. in 20/20 hindsight was the vietnam war a complete mistake and are we making that mistake in afghanistan? presidents are now learning lessons of a past? >> today is friday. i tend on monday, wednesday and friday to answer that question with a yes. on weekends and tuesdays and thursdays i am not sure. the fact of the matter is i am really not sure. i personally am not sure. i study this the way other people have and i sometimes think there are good reasons why we are there and the nuclear
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stockpile in pakistan may be the most powerful reason why we are there and have to be close to the scene where something dramatic and horrible could take place. on the other hand if you have been involved in a war for ten years you can say to yourself as senator a can did in vietnam, you did the best you could and then you leave. walter cronkite said that in february of 1968 and lyndon johnson said at that point have lost the heartland of america and therefore i can't continue the war anymore. i thought the other day was obama, there was a little bit of that in his speech. it was a little bit of that. what are we doing here. he spoke about it. other people think that. it was there. >> a couple questions up front here and one over there. wherever the microphone is
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closest. >> there's one right there. >> this question may be a little far afield and hopefully you won't yell at me. one of the things about vietnam is how america gets its war coverage. i wonder if you might speak about that. i haven't had a chance to read the book. i only had it in my hand an hour and -- >> other things in that our? >> the roast beef was really good at the table and it kept me occupied. the at non, i was only at the very tail of it. the officers that i met and we came in contact with at the end of the war and as we came through the war were very junior officers and as they have grown up to become the senior officers
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today, where experience with the way the media dealt with them during the vietnam has formed the way they wanted to deal with the media today. all these press pools and all these restrictions and all these new methods of the way media will be handled grow out of what is a frustration, i think, and a feeling that the media ran rampant in vietnam in a way they were not going to let it run rampant in any other conflict and has use our coverage change through gulf war's to currently the way it is handled in afghanistan and handles in iraq, those are offshoots of the vietnam war where you could go wandering off in the jungle if you one did. >> use you as an example because you are an old and dear friend. no speeches.
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just ask a question. >> i want you to talk about that. that is one of the legacies. >> you know better than i. >> this is your book, your moment. >> the coverage of the war because of the pervasiveness of the media is a central concern of any responsible leader. at the beginning of the iraq war, defense secretary rumsfeld and his assistant secretary for public affairs, lori clark, had this idea about inventing group photos with the soldiers. it was an extremely important thing. she was embedded with soldiers in the iraq war. why it was important was because
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we went from a draft to a volunteer army at the end of the vietnam war into everything that followed. when you have a draft you could have demonstrations and you could run into a severe domestic problem. when you have a volunteer army it is only 1% of the american people involved in defending 99% of the people. so there isn't that same level of concern and people, a lot of reporters had no idea what soldiers went through. no idea whatever because they themselves did not serve in the military and unless you are a pentagon correspondent you don't know much about it. there has been an effort on the part of the pentagon to bring the press in. that can be way overdone to a point where the press becomes a prisoner. my brother said in a program
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many years ago that the press was a prisoner of the pentagon and would see only what the pentagon wanted it to see. at the same time there were other reporters, freelance people, unilateral in their goal, going in and doing a terrific job, telling the american people what is going on. the point about the media is a very important one. >> let me add one observation to that. this is very much a child of vietnam and one of the hunting legacies of vietnam. not simply the fact that you now have a volunteer army where you had a draft, an army of draftees during the vietnam. it has been taken one step further. you now have thousands of
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civilian contractors. much of the warfare is now being waged by remote control. by drones. libya is a perfect example. there are no boots on the ground, that famous phrase. if the draft was one reason there was so much political opposition here in the united states back in the 60s, that was largely removed by making a volunteer army. is now being taken to a whole new step which is a wonderful way of concealing military action that the government has taken. >> absolutely. >> up front and then over here. >> question right there.
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>> i have been keeping watch on what is happening with the war. one of the things is you were reporting from vietnam and everyone else was watching vietnam the war was center stage. the war was the headline of the night. now we have weinergate and these guys are dying the same way we did in vietnam. how do you get the focus back on the war? the more people know about the war the sooner they want it over. we should never have gone into iraq while we were in afghanistan. that made afghanistan last longer and longer. >> not sure how to answer that question. you are absolutely right that we
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are more preoccupied today given the nature of the media with trivia than we were back then because there wasn't that much time. you had three networks covering the war. there were the three networks and that was it. now you have three cable networks that are on all the time. they have to fill the time. many more than three. you have to fill that time. 24 hours a day. they are prepared to put on just about anything. >> there's another major reason. two other major reasons. if you heard the president in his speech on afghanistan, what was he talking about? he was talking about money. he was talking about the need to apply the money we had to a domestic agenda. he wasn't talking about the dead
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in iraq or the dead in afghanistan. there are two reasons for that. because in vietnam there were weeks when we had 300 weeks when we had 300 dead and more. they were the sons -- very few doctors in those days -- they were the sons of people all around the country. because it was a draft. that made a huge difference. >> you make a good point about the changes in the media over that period of time because i remember recently watching a year or two ago my father/co-author brought videos from the 60s and 70s with cbs news and i was struck by the amount of very serious discussion of issues that was
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going on. people were allowed to speak longer and got more in depth on issues. it really struck me because at the time i was a child watching this. the amazing change in the focus. >> we have time for two more questions. one from this end. >> you mentioned there was such a remarkable difference in the way different presidents responded which was not necessarily politically -- according to their political parties. is there any suggestion the response of one president was predicated on what happened with the previous president? >> yes. yes. each one learns from the other.
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reagan came up with the whole idea of what became the power doctrine. that was a period of gestation of ten years. he thought about that and then george h. w. bush picked that theme up 100%. when you have got to clinton the lesson he learned from that was not to take it and double and triple it but to take it and drop it like a hot potato. which he did with somalia after black hawk down. to answer your question they do learn from one another and when bush ii came in he was vietnam be damned. he took a very negative view. wasn't going to deal with
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vietnam. and yet when his national security adviser stephen hadley came in, had they told us that he would not take the job until he had gone to see president bush and had told him that he was worried that we are facing another vietnam in iraq and hadley didn't want to have any part of that he told bush if that is what you are thinking of, is that we you see our policy evolve and i say no to the job. this is a very honorable lawyer who never says no to a president but he did. bush assured him that he recognized the danger and said this would not happen so he took the job. it does get picked up. >> where is the microphone over here? >> thank you very much. i want to raise two questions. >> raise the mike closer.
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>> regarding your assertion about the afghan/pakistan relationship and our interest in it. it is central to much of what we actually do in the coming months. first, i would question whether ten years ago the existence of nuclear weapons in pakistan was a consideration of any consequence in our entry into the war against afghanistan. i don't think so. and then again now one of the problems with foreign policy is we conjurer up our own views of what the problem is and how it ought to be solved. i would suggest part of our problem today in afghanistan is that we do not see the fight against the taliban or al qaeda in the same way that the
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afghanis do and i do not believe the afghanis are concerned about pakistan's nuclear weapons. i would like your comments on that. >> i agree with you. a don't think the pakistani nuclear weapons had very much if anything to do with the way in which we responded the way president bush ii responded. that came later. that came later when they were thinking of elaborating on a policy. what we doing there? at the very beginning it was a quick response to a horrific attack on the united states. the second question that the taliban is thinking about pakistani nuclear weapons. i would not be that surprised if sophisticated taliban are thinking in those terms. i don't think the average guy is thinking about it but the average guy in this country isn't thinking about it either.
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it takes extraordinary leadership and intelligent leadership to see the drive of history in determining what you do today. one of the sad parts of viet nam, over and over again was how ignorant our leaders were about what was going on and i ventured to add i am not sure we are all that smart about what is going on in afghanistan. >> any closing thoughts? >> the general closing thought is it has been a real pleasure to work on a book with my father. i really learned a lot from him. [applause] and thanks to my uncle who is really helpful too. [applause] >> that is it. you left out your mother.
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>> my mother, my husband, my son, my stepson. >> you have been a delightful audience and i am afraid we have run out of time. not questions. i have been told for every book you by, mr. and mrs. kalb will entertain another question. ten books, ten questions. thank you all very much. [applause] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. forty-eight hours of nonfiction authors of books every weekend. booktv traveled recently to frankfurt, kentucky to uncover the rich literary culture in that city. up next an interview with doug boyd. he recounts the 400 families
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displaced from their neighborhood in "crawfish bottom". 50 acres of land located near the kentucky river became the site of the capitol plaza in the 1960s. >> crawfish bottom was a neighborhood in north frankfurt, kentucky. initially it was the place nobody wanted to live. it was where 4 people lived -- poor people lived. it was attractive to recently freed slaves in the 1870s. it also was very attractive to the families of prison inmates in penitentiary's. they needed cheap housing because they were incarcerated. a lot of families were incarcerated prisoners. you had freed slaves and a great
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deal of poor immigrant families. this area of frankfort was flooded all the time. and so the housing was often considered dilapidated. a lot of people were calling for the cleanup of this neighborhood in the 1870s and 1880s saying do something about this neighborhood. really, it was a pretty wild place between the 1870s and 30s. it was in the bad part of town and in that period that reputation was well founded. there was a lot of wild activity. the loggers's logging facilities, would flow down from kentucky and get paid for their logs and go crazy for a weekend. a lot of the saloons and prostitution was occurring in
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this neighborhood. that contributed to its reputation. that this neighborhood had. interestingly enough historians got ahold of that. one of the earliest historical references to the neighborhood is in the 1930s, 1940s when historians started to refer to as the cd underbelly of frankfurt. once historians got ahold of it, that version of the neighborhood became entrenched in public memory. despite the fact that the neighborhood in the 1930s-1950s became a close-knit neighborhood was no as a wild part of town. >> what was the demographic of "crawfish bottom"? >> it was known as the black part of town but that percentage, the majority was very white. often times it was very much irish.
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very much for a of immigrant demographic. all of them were poor but it was a working-class neighborhood. we had police officers, folks who worked in the local distillery and the shoe factory. it was a working-class neighborhood. interestingly enough the most recent presidents who lived there in the 1950s interview for the oral history project remember it as an integrated neighborhood before formal integration. time after time people were talking about how they were unified more by their economic situation and the fact that they were for it than the fact that they were divided by the fact they were white and black. that was an interesting perspective i didn't expect when the interviews were being done. >> ultimately what happened to crawfish bottom? >> they have been calling for
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the destruction of the neighborhood since the 1870s. that call was persistent. greater frankfurt felt this was the bad part of town. 1913 they did a major study birdie documented the slums of frankfurt and my pictures are from this photographic documentation of the slums of frankfurt which are amazing but a lot of people were likening slums to disease during that time period. there were a lot of calls for cleaning up the neighborhood. 1950s, when urban renewal swept the nation, was when frankfurt decided crawfish bottom which was referred to as the crop or the bottom was wiped out by urban renewal. it was replaced with a civic center, a hotel, a ymca, state
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government buildings, state power and a plaza of shops where the vision was this was a mall. the pedestrian mall where kids could walk and shop. we are standing on the corner of the grounds of the old state capitol in frankfurt. right across the street from the state capital is where crawfish bottom began. it is interesting that you had the state legislators right across the street and from what was considered the bad part of town. it was considered the neglected part of town. you were a stone's ferro away from where it was happening. it was about 50 acres taken out by urban renewal. there are a lot of questions even the people who live there, couldn't really give a consistent answer as to exactly what streets made up the neighborhood. that is the fun of it, to hear
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them talk about shifting boundaries of this neighborhood and what did you consider to be craw? some said it was the corner of clinton and washington street where some said the rest of it was bottoms. some say the whole thing is craw. some say that crop was the four blocks but beyond that was the bottom. really an interesting exercise in memory, in public perception, public memory of where people live. interestingly enough it was also something they were remembering that no longer existed. these are things -- the person who did the interviews would show them a map of the neighborhood and they would look at that map and sort of say this was craw here, here and here but not like these were buildings and streets they were walking the last 20 years. >> where did the families go
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there were driven out? >> that is the controversy. a lot of promises were made by the city promising public housing, affordable housing options and the city fell short of its promises in terms of saying we are going to provide alternative housing and folks ended up going everywhere. wherever they could afford to live. a lot of the feedback we got in the interviews was saddened by that fact. not so much the loss of the neighborhood as much as the loss of the community where they are saying i am the only african-american in this neighborhood and i couldn't tell you who lives next door to me on the other side. in reality what they were living in when they are in the neighborhood was a situation where they could go to their neighbor and check on their neighbor. their neighbor hadn't been seen that day. they knock on the door and make sure they are okay.
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sort of contrast that with putting people into a, quote, nicer neighborhood but a neighborhood that has complete lack of community. it was disheartening for most of the presidents. that is where the feelings of frustration, feelings of resentment about the process came about. folks who were displaced by urban renewal for the most part pretty much resent the whole process and were frustrated. by losing that sense of community. had this to be delivered on the promise of providing the housing that they were going to provide, that might have been a little different. at least according to the presidents those options weren't there for them. that is where a lot of the frustration began to unfold.
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>> how did you come across this story? >> i had this oral history collection in our collection. i looked at the consecutive store book society and we had a collection of 8,000 interviews. one of these collections was called the crop. it know what it was about. i attended a presentation being given early on by one of my supervisors, jim wallace. he had done these interviews in 1991 as his work on his master's degree at the university of kentucky. he had done these interviews and written some papers and he was giving these old slide show presentations to rotary groups, historra


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