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Fred Branfman on Tom Brokaw’s ‘Boom!’

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Posted on Mar 28, 2008
Boom! cover

By Fred Branfman

(Page 2)

It is also true of course that the war in Indochina included sizable military combat between armies. But one cannot seriously explore the ‘60s while ignoring the single most important factor that produced its social convulsions:

America’s murder of Indochinese civilians caused millions of idealistic young people to protest, at first decorously, and then with mounting fury and deepening despair as their protests were ignored and the killing increased—day by day, month by month, year by year, for more than a decade. “Hey hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” was not merely a slogan chanted by draft dodgers. It was a cry from the heart from millions of decent people—of whom those of draft age were but a small minority—who could not bear that their government was engaged in such wholesale slaughter of innocents, and that it was doing so in their name.

The undeclared and illegal war created massive resistance to the draft as those subject to it, horrified by the killing, objected to being forced to fight a war in which they did not believe and for ends they did not approve.

The war turned children against parents, a massive “inter-generation gap” as idealistic young people felt betrayed by, and then rebelled against, the elders of “the greatest generation,” whom they had grown up believing in; sought to create alternative institutions; and ultimately failed because they were too angry, young, psychologically unaware, inexperienced, confused and undone by the drugs they had partly embraced to kill their pain.

The war ripped a generation apart from within, as many who believed in their elders and government, and either fought in Vietnam and/or joined conservative movements at home, were infuriated that their courage, sacrifice, morality and belief in nation were denigrated by the protesters.

The war tore apart the entire nation as a “Silent Majority” of Americans—men and women much like Brokaw himself—with “other priorities” than actively opposing the war in Vietnam, became furious at being regarded as immoral by people whom they saw as arrogant, self-righteous, filthy, narcissistic, anti-American and violent.

How Brokaw could write an entire book devoted to the ‘60s and ignore what was most toxic about the country’s aggression against Vietnam and the many ways our involvement in Indochina more generally deformed and shaped our political culture—not to mention Vietnam’s—is bewildering, to say the least.

Since Brokaw’s book consists mainly of more than 80 interviews with veterans of the ‘60s, his biases are primarily revealed through his choice of interviewees. Democratic Party activist and businessman Sam Brown is cited twice in the book, but a seminal ‘60s figure like Tom Hayden is ignored. Sen. James Webb’s portrayal of the war as solely a military battle, and of antiwar protesters as cowardly and unpatriotic, receives five or six times as much space as anyone else interviewed. The experiences of brave anti-draft leaders like David Harris, who went to jail out of moral opposition to the war, and courageous people like former volunteer chief Don Luce, who risked his life for years to bring civilian suffering to public attention—including exposing the “tiger cages” and other torture of tens of thousands of political prisoners—are not included.

Veterans like Colin Powell, Bob Kerrey, Wayne Downing and John McCain, who do not mention U.S. murder of civilians, are interviewed at length. The views of equally well-known veterans who bravely exposed and opposed the murder—like John Kerry, Bobby Muller (whose organization won a Nobel Prize for the land mines treaty) and Ron Kovic (author of “Born on the Fourth of July”)—are written out of Brokaw’s history. Les Gelb, a former Department of Defense official who worked on the Pentagon Papers but kept silent, is interviewed. But Daniel Ellsberg, the former government official who bravely copied the papers and leaked them to the press, is not even mentioned, much less interviewed. War opponents like George McGovern, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton are only quoted about the war’s aftermath—not the crimes that led them to oppose it.

Brokaw peppers his book with disparaging comments about the leftist “extremists” who did not play by the rules. Many of his criticisms are justified, particularly the way in which radicals made themselves rather than the war the issue. But it is hardly justifiable to only criticize the extremism while ignoring the far more objectionable—and criminal—behavior by U.S. leaders that produced it.

One wishes that Brokaw had seen fit to interview John Kerry about his charge made nearly 40 years ago that U.S. leaders were war criminals. For it is this issue that goes to the heart of what triggered the upheavals of the ‘60s. If a hero like Kerry had the courage to tell the truth in 1971, jeopardizing his political career and potentially angering millions of Americans and fellow vets, why is Tom Brokaw so afraid to even raise the issue today? It is said that journalism is a rough draft of history. Alas, Brokaw’s disappointing book is neither good reporting nor trustworthy history.

Fred Branfman, the editor of “Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War” (Harper & Row, 1972), exposed the U.S. secret air war in Laos while living there from 1967 to 1971 and went on to develop solar, educational and Information Age initiatives for California Gov. Jerry Brown and national policymakers.


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By Deanna2150, July 9, 2008 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment
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The truth is that Brokaw’s book (along with various other celebrity-authors) was not written for content.  He’s famous, he’s in the media, he can easily get a book deal, and he gets to make some serious $$ walking the public down an abridged version of memory lane, always a popular subject when the present stinks.  It’s good, old-fashioned American opportunism (currently only available to the well-connected elite)  operating here, it’s not about the book!

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By Tom Doff, April 10, 2008 at 9:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Brokaw is hard at work on his next ca-ching! book, ‘BUST’, a treatise on John Ashcroft’s influence on the concept of ‘justice’ and ‘morality’ during the Bush maladministration.
And he does it without mentioning the statue or the drape.

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By Sabagio Mauraeno, April 9, 2008 at 6:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey, Fred.  I just did a first run-through of your review ,  Tom Brokaw and Boom!  It’s disappointing to have as chronicler of our Time, the 60’s,  so articulate and persuasive, but so clueless.  A classic case of a participant observer who didn’t quite get it or have the courage to admit that they might have been wrong.  That says something about the difference between contemporary journalism and historical fiction: it makes a good story, and history IS written by the winners, but such history is fact based, subject to interpretation by The Future.  The Brokaw Boom memoir is mostly distortions.  As if he really wasn’t there at the beginning.  Case in point, his account of the Summer of Love in San Francisco.  A Trivial Blib on our timeline, to be sure. Brokaw was pitching his book on the Today show, and talked about the Summer of Love commencing in 1968.  Strange because it began and ended according to friends who were there and got scared silly at the violence generated, in the Fall of 1967.  A bad slip. I don’t know if it was so in the book.  Maybe the Fact Checkers and Ghost Writers got it wrong or type-o’d.  But Brokaw is what, 68? A child of the 50’s?  I too, grew up then, voted for Nixon against Kennedy(although I don’t think either one served us well. That too, is History.). Come 1967 when the Pittsburgh draft board tried to get me into the army for the 5th time, my conversion to a philosophy of ” practice self-enlightenment, since I ain’t going to get it from the dependable sources of the day”  was complete.  Viet Nam was fought by draftees, poor, or black or combinations of all.  Men with no clout, no family, no funds to keep the out of the military. A travesty.  More so when looking back, when one sees so many men who are in positions of economic or poltical power today, were never put in harms way during the 60’s and 70’s. So Brokaw missed it, hasn’t changed, couldn’t change , wouldn’t change despite his lifelong claim to professional objectivity as a national journalist.  I am always puzzled when men and women who led mean-spirited or compromised lives and were intelligent enough to know what they were doing, wait until on their death beds, or close to it, to appologize, to ask forgiveness, to repent for all their abuses and misdeeds.  It happens so often among our culture’s celebrity that I must conclude that such traits are wired into our personas from the get-go: George Wallace, John Wayne,George Washington,Jefferson(although he remained gutless until the end and didn’t free his slaves)and even Nixon in a circumvential way.  Sad

Sabagio Mauraeno, Somewhere alone in Decatur, Georgia

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By bozhidar bob balkas, April 5, 2008 at 9:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

u . h. echoed my prediction that i made at StopWar.ca more tha 5 yrs ago: US will build permament bases in iraq, most likely in syr.desert away from the 3 new puppet states that may rise out of iraq. the trek continues on to iran, syr, mongolia and works begin on china. thank u

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 4, 2008 at 2:39 am Link to this comment

Human civilization is “in the jeopardy of war”, Ron. Peace is NOT achieved by a .50-caliber machine gun or an H-bomb, duh….....

You vain warriors strut your hour on the stage all sound and fury, and you signify nothing! What is the lot of man, born of woman???

You fools blather on and sit in judgement of others but you never go on the journey within yourselves - to find TRUTH!!!

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By bozhidar bob balkas, April 3, 2008 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

if there were any amers who h. properly evaluated not only the bombings of hiro and naga but also what these events presaged, i’v not seen their comments anywhere.
and even now no amer dares talk ab. this attrocity,  nor what that event implied/implies.
then came aggression against vietnam. it also bode unwell for some people but not for most amers. there was money to b made for arms dealers/manufacturers/shareholders.
events in palestine also portended evils to come. most amers, misevaluated also this atrocity against yet another indigenous people.
has aggression against iraq woke up most amers? no, not much, if any.
most still object to (what they euphemisticlly refer to as “war on iq”) US invasion of iq on mere perceptions and not on apodictic principle that no land h. the right to attack another under no known circumstance.
this aggression also bodes unwell for many more peoples; but, not for most amers. thank u

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By Ron Ranft, April 1, 2008 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a Viet Nam Veteran I knew a few heroes in that war. They met every definition of the word and just because they were Americans that does not deprive them being heroes. They put the lives of their fellow soldiers and the lives of civilians first. In a one case the person lost their life saving a Vietnamese family. So for all your quotes you know nothing of what makes a hero because people like you always lack the courage to put themselves in the jeapordy of war. They blather on and sit in judgement of others but they never go on the journey themselves. I find your psuedo-intellect and your obvious self-defined superiority laughable. You strut your hour on the stage all sound and fury, and you signify nothing!

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By MAR, March 31, 2008 at 9:58 am Link to this comment

I stand corrected in small degree. The Brits themselves banished the slave trade in their colonies early 1800s. Later, they freed those who were slaves There had been slaves,House boys, maids)  before that (brought in small numbers from the West Indies by British officers) but they were freed immediately after 1834 - in principle at least. Free of the bondage of chains, but not of economical nescessity The the only American who arrived did so as freed slaves. So there exist a small population, principally in Nova Scotia of African Canadian background - slave background. These weren’t always treated as fairly as their freedom should suggest, and gathered in a slum called “Africville.”  Being
free is not the same as being treated as others - hopefully that is no longer the case.

The underground railway too freed American slaves mostly to Upper Canada.  Most have, over the years, become fine citizens although it was never totally possible to free themselves from the opprobrium of their years on southern plantations unto modern days.  But most earned jobs on the railways as conductors - mini population existed in Montreal of men who slowly climbed the CPR ladder to jobs acceptable to them. Their children went on to university or whatever business attracted the.

More recent immigrants tend to be more highly educated from former British Colonies, are ones from the very bottom as refugees from war-torn areas -Somalia, HAiti where-ever. But if we import ethnic minorities in large numbers as refugees, we can be creating new imbalance.  b We now have an imbalance of Chinese and other Asians in the Vancouver area. They have brought drugs and violence, some of them.
There was once a small farming community on Salt Spring Island in the Georgia Straits.

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By cyrena, March 30, 2008 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

Excellent critique!!

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By cyrena, March 30, 2008 at 1:27 am Link to this comment

MAR, thanks for the excellent post.

Let me say this in a short summary for now.

It IS A MYSTERY!! And, I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all, but I’m trying.

Only one of my grandparents is actually from Canada. Another set of them was here all along..like before the initial rape and pillage by the Euros.

The others of course came over with the Euros as chattle..part of that Slave trade operation that was all consuming, in so far as the ENTIRE ‘Americas’ were concerned. Millions of African-Slaves were imported to various parts of the Americas, specifically the Caribbean. And, at some point, (at least in the original structure) they were further imported here.

Those that were able to make it to Canada were the lucky ones, which is why you know that they came as free men and women. My own were not among them, so it was the Indigenous Americans among my own ancestors, that came slightly further down to the US, (from Canada) much later.

As for the mystery…I think it goes all the way back to the beginning and it’s taking me a long time to trace that, if only because US citizens (overall) have simply not had much exposure to their REAL history. And, I think that matters a lot.

Meantime…I like Canada. wink

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 29, 2008 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

“I committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of others in that I shot in free-fire zones, fired .50-caliber machine bullets, used harass-and-interdiction fire, joined in search-and-destroy missions, and burned villages…..

If a hero like Kerry had the courage to tell the truth in 1971, jeopardizing his political career and potentially angering millions of Americans and fellow vets, why is Tom Brokaw so afraid to even raise the issue today?

I still find this “war hero” business very strange. I have relatives and inlaws who fought in WW2 against Germany and Japan.They didn’t think of themselves as heroes - although one was one of the “rats of Tobruk” - and neither do I. They were all rather sad, actually, and those were lost years for them that cost them distorted lives that took years to turn around.

Those who want to call themselves war heroes, and those politicians who want to use that term are something else altogether. It was good that Kerry made those frank admissions but neither he nor any other Western soldier were the heroes in that war. I have met some real heroes from that era and they were ALL Vietnamese or Cambodian - and they were ALL ordinary civilians.

Still, that doesn’t cover everyone’s interpretation of being a “war hero”. The USA is sick with military pride and overweaning arrogance in a world that needs love and kindness. The result is that it disregards the value of its own servicemen and its own war veterans almost as readily as it drops bombs on innocent villagers today in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did once in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Oh well, there are better reviews elsewhere on the net and I would let this person speak but there is NO morality in “duty” and “simple obedience”. That is NOT the path of becoming a true hero and it is something that has had to be learnt the hard way by those who have found the cost of their participation to be extremely high. Essentially, all wars are the same, only the egos are different.

“What is a hero? My heroes are the young men who faced the issues of war and possible death, and then weighed those concerns against obligations to their country. Citizen-soldiers who interrupted their personal and professional lives at their most formative stage, in the timeless phrase of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, “not for fame of reward, not for place of for rank, but in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it.” Who suffered loneliness, disease, and wounds with an often-contagious élan. And who deserve a far better place in history than that now offered them by the so-called spokesman of our so-called generation…”

(....PART 1….)

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 29, 2008 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

....PART 2…....

Sadly, you can see the same in stories of battles going back to the Crimean war more than a century ago. Nothing has been learned and there is a reason why. It is still all essentially the same blundering and self-betrayal because moral blindness is still cultivated as much as the history is blithely ignored. “Your country wants you” for cannon fodder and those are the inevitable results….....

Half a league half a league
Half a league onward
All in the Valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigad
Charge for the guns’ he said
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Now, we can see that the author, Lord Alfred Tennyson has stated the length of the valley (in which the charge was committed) as half a league (what is around 2.8 kilometers). It depends from the way you measure the valley but I’d agree at that point. Although I understand that the next fact, the number ’six hundred’ isn’t to be taken literally, there were 676 horsemen.

The order of Field Marshal Raglan is poetized and so we can’t take it literally but it is as random as the true command, “Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy, and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Horse artillery may accompany. French cavalry is on your left. Immediate.”, was. And yet, the commanders couldn’t question the order (although they wanted to, as it was such nonsense… to charge through a long valley towards artillery and under artillery fire against a superior enemy).

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldiers knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred….....

This poem was written to memorialize a suicidal charge by light cavalry over open terrain by British forces in the Battle of Balaclava (Ukraine) in the Crimean War (1854-56). 247 men of the 637 in the charge were killed or wounded. Britain entered the war, which was fought by Russia against Turkey, Britain and France, because Russia sought to control the Dardanelles. Russian control of the Dardanelles (supposedly) threatened British sea routes.

Many in the west best know of this war today because of Florence Nightingale, who trained and led nurses aiding the wounded during the war in a manner innovative for those times. The War was also noteworthy as an early example of the work of modern war correspondents. http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=review_light_brigade_tennyson

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By Jaman Jman, March 29, 2008 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment

The Vietnamese may have gone to the bargaining table, but only as a way to continue, knowing eventually they would drive the foreigners out; just as they have done for a thousand years.  Empire?? We are not even a government—just a collection of corporate interests. Empire—what an old word. 

I am sure Ireal is another story for you.  Stories are how we rationalize away the realities of our munitions industry.

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By Jaman Jman, March 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Absolutely Wonderful and Necessary Review.

I was drafted, ended up in the jungle with the 1st Air Cav, was wounded and became a combat correspondent for the 1st Air Cav.  I saw more of that war than most.  When I finally went back to college in 1983 I studied that war and the history of Vietnam.  I was one of the first vets to be diagnosed with PTSD.

When I watched Shock and Awe on my TV something in me snapped.  Having watched the run up to the war, seeing quite clearly we were repeating the same horror—the same ignorant, insular, horrendous mistake—so soon after such a blood bath of sacrifice and for what?   

It was the Brokaws and Bushes and Cheneys who spent that time advancing their own careers that ended up shaping the story and selling the lie that it was just an unwillingness to go all in to win. 

Even McCain, especially McCain is ignorant of what happened in Vietnam.  He flew 22 successful combat bombing missions over Vietnam.  On his last flight he was shoot down.  He spent the next 5.5 years in a prison.  He was tortured as a prisoner.  He had likely killed as many people as all the 9/11 highjackers—his captures likely hated him passionately for that.  From all that experience he saw as much of Vietnam and learned as much about its people as an a prisoner in Guantonimo knows about us.

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By MAR, March 29, 2008 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

Thank you for your comment. Unlike you, my origins are in the country to the south of Canada. One ancestor came to the Massachussets Colony around 1638 then to Salem and later to New York.  Another, a Dutchman, went to New Amsterdam (now New York) around 1623. Their descendants later took umbrage at the American War of Independence (for them read “Revolution”) as Loyalists and emigrated to Upper Canada in 1784-1801, having been stripped of their assets lands and houses and suffered physical abuse and torture. Canada has been affected by its non-French settlers being substantially from this source. Of course, later immigration brought the other ethnic dimensions, as it did to the US. The main difference is that our relatively small African-American population came as free men and women. And while our march across the Prairies to the Pacific was at the same time as yours, it was preceded by the rule of law and the Mounties. Ironically, most of the bad guys were American miners and land grabbers running from the law to the South.

Relevance? That difference in development created a different people - one that responded to the threats to world freedom in WWI, WWII and Korea, together with providing peace-keeping forces from the 1967 Israeli Arab war to the Balkans, Gulf I and now Afghanistan. The latter have not been “peacekeeping” but an attempt at rebuilding while protecting themselves at the cost of unacceptable losses to Taliban roadside ambushes and bombs. The difference is why we didn’t help with Viet Nam and why we didn’t countenance GulfII and certainly not further adventures into Iran which would only inflame the Islamic world even more.
But I don’t think KI am prejudiced. I met many fine US Air Force officers when I was in the Korean thing - and similarly with US naval officers in joint exercises during parts of the Cold War. Many of these friends were lost in the Viet Nam war and I highly respected them as individuals.

A mystery is why such generous and intelligent men and women soldier-citizens can can come from a country which harbors a fanatic rightist fundamentalism with its nonsense of Armageddon and “rapture” - and how can it produce power hungry and venal politicians that get themselves into these useless, terrorizing and unproductive adventures in the name of American patriotism. Mr. Cheney is a good example.  Perhaps it goes back to the Revolution because the resultant “patriotism” down the years seems to trump wisdom and common sense.

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By Marshall K, March 29, 2008 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

Brokaw has been a jerk ever since he became lead anchor during the Reagan years.  He gave those swine a free pass in order to keep his job.  By then anchors were supposed to just read the script provided to them and he has done a great job of serving warmed over crap disguised as news ever since.

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By Thomas Billis, March 29, 2008 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

Why are you wasting valuable TRUTHDIG space on anything Tom Brokaw says or writes.The worlds worst newscaster for over twenty years.Tom Brokaw was the the transistion from really great newsman like Ed R Morrow,Eric Sevareid and Walter Cronkite to the crap we have now.Good looking mindless talking heads.I dare one reader to come up with a contrary opinion Tom Brokaw has taken on anything.He eptomizes the American mindset if it was bad it did not happen,Racism is bad it did niot happen.Let us lynch the Rev Wright for the temerity to raise the issue.Vietnam was bad in Tom Brokaw’s view it did not happen.You wasted space in criticizing the Tom Brokaw I have wasted space in responding.Enough

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By abutaza, March 29, 2008 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

After all the wonderful “puff” reviews surrounding the “Love and Consequences” book fraud, it is indeed refreshing to read a review by an actual critic, in the positive sense of that function. Branfman’s focuses on the central omission of Brokaw’s book: the impact and definitely the rewriting and forgetting of the Vietnam War.  So that now we have a President who had the effrontery to proclaim to the Vietnamese that the United States would have won the war if we had only stayed there long enough.  Branfman solidly rests his case by identifying those who Brokaw chose to interview, and those omitted. He contrasts Les Gelb and Sen. James Web who were interviewed with Daniel Ellsberg and Tom Hayden who were not.

The civilian deaths in Vietnam, in the millions, was a paramount aspect of the ‘60’s, but there were others that Brokaw omitted, and it was necessary to read the NYT’s review, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/05/books/05masl.html which was not solely a promotional piece, to learn that the emergence of a gay culture is also omitted.  Still, should the book be read, just to ponder “six deferment Cheney” sitting on a motorcycle wearing shades?

Branfman does draw parallels between the mistakes we made in South East Asia and the ones we are currently making in South West Asia, specifically, that both conflicts were initiated based on falsehoods (the Gulf of Tonkin “incident”, and the weapons of mass destruction issue) as well as the fact that the United States has been weaken by both conflicts, but even Branfman does NOT mention the civilian deaths in Iraq as well as the many in the Palestinian territories.

Perhaps Branfman’s best point is:

“true national reconciliation can occur only if hard truths are acknowledged, responsibility taken and amends made”?

-  John Paul Jones
http://www.tazapress.com

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By cyrena, March 29, 2008 at 2:31 am Link to this comment

Excellent post. Thanks for all of the appropriate history.

And you’re right, America has NEVER understood that ‘might does NOT make RIGHT’.

But then, I think we have to understand that the mentality of those who order the atrocities of war, and aggressively pursue them, have NO CONCEPT of what is right, nor do they care.

I honestly believe that LBJ made have discovered the ‘error of his ways’. That has NEVER been the case with Dick Cheney, and the atrocities of Iraq are largely due to the still unresolved resentment that Dick Cheney has about the results of Viet Nam, and the fall of his own patron saint, Richard Nixon.

He’s been biding his time, (Cheney has) for over 30 years. Many of the same characters involved back then, are around for this US atrocity as well.

Also, Fred Branfman is very much on target about the whole US imperial mentality over the decades when he says this:

•  …These policies were deliberate and were designed to terrorize a population into submission and capitulation.”…

The policies were deliberate then, and they’ve been the very same deliberate policies that have been used on other nations as well. If the ‘targeted’ nations haven’t been blasted to kingdom come by all of the bombs and bullets, then they’ve been economically or otherwise lynched.

And ALWAYS, it’s been used to PROVE to the ‘world’ that America is the mightiest empire on the globe.

And yes, America has begun the same decline that Rome experienced, (for the same reasons) and isn’t all that fall from the completed fall.

It’s also noteworthy, (as Fred Branfman included here) that the color television brought the truth of Viet Nam to citizens of the US. THAT has NOT happened in the case of the same atrocities being committed in/on Iraq. There is NO truthful reporting on it, aside from what we’ve been able to garner from independent media, and those journalists courageous enough to get the truth out, under the worst of odds and obstacles. Our own dead and wounded troops are secreted in under cover of darkness, so there is no visual image of that either.

It’s a very, very sad time for America. I’m sorry my grandpa ever left Canada. That doesn’t mean I would be oblivious to all of this. It just would save me from the horrific shame of what is being perpetrated in our names.

This is an excellent work from Mr. Branfman, and Tom Brokaw is a cowardly hypocrite.

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 28, 2008 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

The only thing that yet another review of the 1960’s can do, apart from distracting us from the very real issues of the present, is to help us see more clearly what it is that is happening right now. 

But the 1960’s wasn’t only about Vietnam, the civil rights and women’s movements…...

The Tibet Card - West is punishing China for its reluctance to impose sanctions on Iran: “During the Vietnam era, the United States eagerly supported the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem, a man who brutally oppressed the Buddhists; yet today our government has risen in defense of the Dalai Lama and Tibet.

Has our sordid history finally led to compassion for the people of Tibet? One must wonder which people we want to protect for there are 41 races in Tibet, including Tibetan, Menpa, Luopa, Han Chinese, Hui, Sherpa, Deng, and so on; although by far, the majority are Tibetans. Perhaps the US is reaching out to the Dalai Lama - again?

It seems that the US government excels at propaganda for it continues to win over the very people it has betrayed and caused to be killed; buying their trust, it offers a friendship that is only self-serving. Oblivious to the past havoc wreaked by the CIA in Tibet, the innocent gather around the storm, stare into the eye, ready to be sucked into it.

Not too long ago, the Truman administration attempted to use the young Dalai Lama against China’s new Communist regime. The CIA offered to provide him financial support as part of the deal. Its subsidies to the Dalai Lama lasted, at an unspecified level, until 1974. However, the CIA officials seem to have misled the Tibetans into thinking they had American support for the establishment of an independent Tibet. They did not.

Once again, the Tibetans are thinking they have the support of the United States….. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19626.htm

(PART 1)........

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 28, 2008 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

....PART 2…....

MISSION statement from http://www.studentsforafreetibet.org - “Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. We are a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world….”

This is like saying that the Northern Territory of Australia, for example, has a right to demand “independence” and ally itself with Indonesia and despite most of the funding for its decades of development coming from their federal government in Canberra. It IS a place where there is oppression of native Australians and a kind of mini-martial law in remote communities (“the intervention” - http://womenforwik.org/ ).

“Working for independence” of a region within another country is not only illegal but is an act of sabotage against that country. In essence, it is an act of war. That is NOT like supporting the free rights of individuals in that region. Westerners have become hopelessly and dangerously confused in that respect.

QUOTE SFT: “Nearly three weeks have passed since Tibetan monks from Drepung Monastery carried out peaceful protests demanding their freedom. Their action spread to Sera Monastery and then to the streets of Lhasa and into the hearts of Tibetans across Tibet and around the world, igniting a nationwide uprising…”

If that is true, then SFT are saying that they are complicit with revolutionary elements within Tibet to foment and bring about an insurrection within a sovereign nation for their own perceived ends. Thus they are also complicit in inciting the riots which led to 100’s of innocent Chinese being attacked and injured or killed.

If that is true, then Americans are also engaging in the very kind of activities involving infiltrating and usurping the rights of a foreign country that they supposedly fought against in Vietnam. Thus the “domino theory” is now being used by the West to attempt to fragment and destroy China. Why?

The USA is in Iraq and Afghanistan. They bomb innocent villagers in Pakistan and Barack Obama and Condi Rice want to extend their war into Pakistan, ostensibly to chase the illusory Al Qaeda. Pakistan borders China and Kashmir borders Tibet. Kashmir is already more or less a war zone. Tibet will be next on the US/British/French/NATO agenda if they can get the chance!!! 

Quote http://afghanprofile.net/ : Today’s Afghanistan was known as Khorasan a little over a hundred years ago and as Khorasan they were once an advancing civilization. Khorasan had established itself as the center of Islamic culture and the home of great literature, art, architecture and science. But all that has changed. Now, Afghanistan is a ruined and struggling third-world country. And it is all because of the Pashtuns’ tribalistic culture….


The same can be said for Tibet in future. See it for yourself on YouTube from PureHazaragiGirl (My beautiful Hazara nation) - “Hazara Tajik Uzbek pashtoon: The result of wars !” Its all that you DON’T want your country to become - so why wish it on others??? </i>

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By P. T., March 28, 2008 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment

The U.S. will exit Iraq just as Nixon exited Vietnam and Reagan exited Lebanon.

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By P. T., March 28, 2008 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

The reason, of course, that Tom Brokaw can’t deal with the reality of Vietnam is because U.S. imperialism is an ongoing enterprise.  To seriously critique one imperialist adventure is to critique them all.  As William Faulkner wrote, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”

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By Zack, March 28, 2008 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It makes you wonder about Tom Brokaw? This book and The Greatest Generation are not reality based but are based on myth. He seems to be the propoganda minister for the greatest generation and the baby boomer generation and we fail to question him because that would mean questioning our parents and grandparents. Is it not greatest generation, the baby boomers and the other generations of history that have led us to where we are today? Climate change, middle east turmoil, nuclear proliferation, national debt, etc… are unearned burdens placed on the younger generations and future unborn generations. There is no greatest generation… they are all equals dealing with different circumstances. Certainly the younger generations have a difficult task of maintaining a declining nation and stearing it in the direction that allows for a long future. The Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers were just lucky enough to inherit an Empire at its peak.

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By News Nag, March 28, 2008 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And so is your embrace of empire.  Millions and millions of innocents killed for profits and ego.  That’s what empire is.  Empire is monstrous, and so is your notion that empire is a good thing.  You act like the world is junior high and that the bully is the one to be.  God help you when your soul comes to trial.  Makes me wish there could be eternal fires of damnation for people like you and your other imperial scum.

Truthdig:  Why NOT publish this reply to Blackspeare?It certainly is of higher moral value than Blackspeare’s wanton encouragement of empire’s mass murder and violent oppression and exploitation.

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By MAR, March 28, 2008 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

Those of you who have read General Joe Stillwell’s memoirs should remember that Ho Chi Minh, although having visited Moscow, suggested that Stillwell pass to his American superiors that Viet Nam (as he called French Indo China - along with Cambodia and Laos) would like to be in the American ambit, have friendly relations and trade - at the price of supporting Indo China’s independence from France. For whatever reasons, the genii of Foggy Bottom felt it necessary that they not use their influence with France, (and Britain, who had promised with the other “Great Nations” that colonial territories would be returned to their prewar “owners.”) France, which did little in World War II except give up, did not deserve a place at the peace tables. Canada which engaged a million troops (1/5 of its population) from 1939 to 1945, from Hong King to Holland and with the 1st Canadian Army into Germany did not even give a look-in -looked on as colonials by the Brits and Brits by the US. If Canada had had a voice, France probably would never have gone back to Indo China, there never would have been a Dein Bein Phu nor a Vietnamese war. Canada, although involved in Gulf I as a UN action,  also restrained from Iraq because the case for it was not proven, yet has troops in Afghanistan to go against the Taliban in support of the US 9/11 and NATO - with proportionately many dead and wounded. 

As opposed to the ill-considered “domino” theory whereby the loss of one area to the communists would ensure the lose of the next in line, the Vietnamese simply wanted their country back. If the US couldn’t do it, then they would seek help from whomever would and that, in this case was the Soviets - and interestingly, not their historical enemies, China.

So the real seeds of the Vietnamese war lay in colonial attitudes of Britain and France. The US has had periodic obsessions that have gone beyond reality - as the Monroe Doctrine (read United Fruit et al) related to the Spanish American War, as their fear of anything slightly left-wing (“communism”)sucked them into Viet Nam, and then as their understandable reaction to 9/11 led them to the Taliban and el Quaeda in Afghanistan, then the stupid diversion into Iraq, which had nothing to do at that time with terrorism and 9/1, and more fearfully, perhaps get itself sucked into Iran.

Most of those civilians killed in Vietnam, Gulf I and Gulf II would be alive today. Apart from the butcher’s bill, the hideous cost of Viet Nam is the loss of respect for the US in Asia. In Iraq it is the opinion of the Islamic world. Will the US never learn that might does not make right?  Have a look at Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

In this instance color television at the Viet Nam war brought the truth home to citizens of the US and most reacted as they should have, with regret and revulsion.

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By PBMUS, March 28, 2008 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

egotist like Tom Brokaw is an understatement…so, since Tom didn’t ask my opinion as well, I will just add my own real Nam experience to this hyperbole, with an insiders view of the whole stupid fu===d up dialogue about any of the wars that weren’t…over the last 100 years, the USA has formally declared war 11 times…but we all know we have been at war continuously for those 100 years in one capacity or another…so some estimates have the number in the two hundred something area….now, the real question is, who benefits from this level of involvement…politicians==fear mongerers==confusion==oh where did that 10 million or billion go too George and corporations==build the death toys==$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$...so did I see the planned, controlled waste generated by war, you can bet your sweet bippy I did, and at my very young impressionable age of 20, I knew something really out of control was going on…..so I will finally get to my question, Who are the real anti-war activists and where are they today?????

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By weather, March 28, 2008 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can’t speak for the others, but this aging yuppie asks and seeks forgiveness.

I used to think my parents were all about the country club and the bullsh-t - well we turned out to be the biggest frauds of them all and it shows, big time.

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Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, March 28, 2008 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment

Thanks a Hell of a Lot!
‘Wait til We get control- the world we finallly be Peaceful” My Ass.
What Wheeling & Dealing the Greatest Generation did and any really befor ethem) Is PEANUTS next to the Crap tha thas happed over the last 35 Yrs.
The sixties was a Mirage, A Facade A Fallacy.
Granted some have Kept the Faith and have kept trying - but the Majority of the ‘Boomers’ Fell in Love with the Plush Italian Leather and Stock Options.They embraced the ‘Establishment’ then squeezed the life out of it.They went Republican - pretend their ‘god Fearing Christians” and drive Escalades or Hummers (literally & figuratively)
What what is left for Lil’ Sis (and Brother)? Nothing. We will work til the day we fall over Dead. you’ve sucked everything out of our Pay scales, Bennies, Retirment funds/ Pension. Charged US our first born child for Interest. Indentured our Children (Yours , or your Grand children)
WE’ll be dragging you Pampered Ass all the way to the Grave. Oh and Those are Our Kids within the Range of Military Service. Thanks Again.
“Heckova Job!”

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By hollywood, March 28, 2008 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://www.snopes.com/quotes/giap.asp

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By weather, March 28, 2008 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

may you wash the feet of those kids dying, injured and crippled for Oil & Israel.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, March 28, 2008 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

It ain’t easy building an empire.  It takes lots of wars and many people killed, but that’s the price of empire.  You can be sure that the same mistake that was made in Vietnam will not be made in Iraq——the US military will not allow it!  As the North Vietnamese General Giap stated——“a few more weeks of intensive bombing of the north would have forced North Vietnam to the bargaining table”——if only the US had known——today there would be a North and South Vietnam vis-a-vis Korea and the US would have had a viable base in Southeast Asia——drats——what could have been.

As for Iraq, the US will be there for a very long time——the empire is well on its way and the petroleum deposits are now secured.  Also, with bases in Iraq. as well as Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait, the US is positioned to police the ME well into the future.  Oh, did I fail to mention Israel, but that’s another story.

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