Tag Archives: History

Vietnam VIII: End of Indo-China

Vietnam VIII: End of Indo-China
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 3:51:42
 
1X

Here it is, the end of the last real battle of the French war: Dien Bien Phu. After this it’s just Geneva and the transition from French ignobility to American monstrosity.

That all comes next time though. For now, maps. And you can, as always, click these for a larger view.

The overview:

The view from Tonkin:

And the specifics:

Then, since all the characters are the same as last episode (ie you can check those notes if you want them), here’s the audio credits, in video form:

 

Bayart, Jean-Francois. “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion.” African Affairs, 2000, 217-267.

Duncan, David Douglass. “The Year of the Snake: A time of fear and worry comes over warring Indochina.” LIFE, August, 1953.

Editorial. “Indochina, France and the U.S.” LIFE, August, 1953.

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York; Viking Press, 2002.

Fall, Bernard. Hell in a Very Small Place. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966.

Fall, Bernard. Last Reflections on a War. New York: Schocken Books, 1972.

Fall, Bernard. Street without Joy: Indochina at War, 1946-54. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1961.

Fall, Bernard. The Two Viet Nams: A Political and Military Analysis. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963.

Fehrenbach, T. R. This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness. New York: Macmillan, 1963.

Fitzgerald, Frances. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1972.

Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Halberstam, David. The Best and the Brightest. New York: Random House, 1972.

Halberstam, David. The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. New York: Hyperion, 2007.

Herr, Michael. Dispatches. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Hickey, Gerald Cannon. A Village in Vietnam. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1964.

Huntington, Samuel. “The Bases of Accommodation.” Foreign Affairs, 1968.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

Lacouture, Jean. Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography. New York: Random House, 1968.

Lacouture, Jean. Vietnam: Between Two Truces. New York: Random House, 1966.

Logevall, Frederick. Embers of WarThe Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam. New York: Random House, 2012.

Maclear, Michael. The Ten Thousand Day War: Vietnam, 1945-1975. New York: Avon Books, 1982.

Mus, Paul and McAlister, John T. The Vietnamese and Their Revolution. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Moore, Harold G., and Galloway, Joseph L. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. New York: Random House, 1992.

Niehbuhr, Rienhold. The Irony of American History. Chicago: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1952.

Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Vintage, 1988.

Vietnam V: Giap and de Lattre

Vietnam V: Giap and de Lattre
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 2:16:08
 
1X

I’m trying something a little different with these show notes, especially since, with that interim show about Kennan already done, I don’t have any other story I want to be telling apart from the cast. So I’ve got a couple of supplementary things and then all the audio credits, but just giving you the videos they’re from, along with some of the silent Pathé and French newsreels that give you a better idea of what this all looked like.

First up is a book you ought to get in any case and which would serve very well as an accompaniment to this show, reading along in it as the cast moves through the war. That’s Bernard Fall’s Street Without Joy.

Which you can find right here on Amazon.

Then we’ve got a scene from the most recent film made from Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, a novel about a British journalist and an American spy in Saigon as the US was getting involved in the French war. This one scene illustrates pretty well, I think, the isolation and the terror of the militiamen cooped up in the French watchtowers in Viet Minh territory.

And the maps:

This, by the way, is the one on my wall right behind my monitor:

And then we’ve got videos. Anything with audio is in the show, anything without it is not. Credit where credit’s due, and that’s right here below:

Bayart, Jean-Francois. “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion.” African Affairs, 2000, 217-267.

Chomsky, Noam. For Reasons of State. New York: The New Press, 1970.

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York; Viking Press, 2002.

Fall, Bernard. Hell in a Very Small Place. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966.

Fall, Bernard. Last Reflections on a War. New York: Schocken Books, 1972.

Fall, Bernard. Street without Joy: Indochina at War, 1946-54. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1961.

Fall, Bernard. The Two Viet Nams: A Political and Military Analysis. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963.

Fehrenbach, T. R. This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness. New York: Macmillan, 1963.

Fitzgerald, Frances. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1972.

Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Halberstam, David. The Best and the Brightest. New York: Random House, 1972.

Halberstam, David. The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. New York: Hyperion, 2007.

Herr, Michael. Dispatches. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Hickey, Gerald Cannon. A Village in Vietnam. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1964.

Huntington, Samuel. “The Bases of Accommodation.” Foreign Affairs, 1968.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

Lacouture, Jean. Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography. New York: Random House, 1968.

Lacouture, Jean. Vietnam: Between Two Truces. New York: Random House, 1966.

Logevall, Frederick. Embers of WarThe Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam. New York: Random House, 2012.

Maclear, Michael. The Ten Thousand Day War: Vietnam, 1945-1975. New York: Avon Books, 1982.

Mus, Paul and McAlister, John T. The Vietnamese and Their Revolution. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Moore, Harold G., and Galloway, Joseph L. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. New York: Random House, 1992.

Niehbuhr, Rienhold. The Irony of American History. Chicago: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1952.

Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Vintage, 1988.

Vietnam IV: The First Indochina War

Vietnam IV: The First Indochina War
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 3:07:17
 
1X

We’re getting into the French War proper now, and we’ll make it almost all the way to the outbreak of the war in Korea by the end of this one.

I’ve got some videos whose audio I couldn’t use, for various reasons, in the show itself, but that might serve to give all of us a better picture of the life and times of the place and period we’re talking about.

First we’ve got a silent short on Saigon after the British moved in in 1945:

Here we have the triumphant entrance of General Leclerc (and if you listen closely, you can hear exactly how wrong I’m pronouncing his name most of this episode) into Hanoi in 1946 after the March 6 Accords:

Then we’ve got a French newsreel on the outbreak of war in 1947 after the battle of Haiphong and during the ongoing battle of Hanoi:

I don’t speak a lick of French, but there are plenty of names I (and you) will be able to pick out. We hear from (and see!) Jean Sainteny, Overseas Minister (“de France Outremer”) Marius Moutet, Generals Morliere and Valluy,

On a less Indochinese front, we’ve got a propaganda film produced under the Marshall Plan, one of hundreds created at George Marshall’s Paris headquarters and aimed at Europeans who doubted their ability to rebuild after the war. That is, to stave off both Communist takeovers and fears of the same by holding out the redevelopment of the Marshall Plan as Western, Capitalist hope:

Then we’ve got maps, to back up the geography lesson in the first part of this show. Here’s modern Vietnam, with a very readable relief.

And then a map of Indochina, including Laos and Cambodia.

No subsidiary story in the notes today; that’s going to be next Monday’s show.

And last but never, ever least:

Bayart, Jean-Francois. “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion.” African Affairs, 2000, 217-267.

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York; Viking Press, 2002.

Fall, Bernard. Hell in a Very Small Place. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966.

Fall, Bernard. Last Reflections on a War. New York: Schocken Books, 1972.

Fall, Bernard. Street without Joy: Indochina at War, 1946-54. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1961.

Fall, Bernard. The Two Viet Nams: A Political and Military Analysis. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963.

Fehrenbach, T. R. This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness. New York: Macmillan, 1963.

Fitzgerald, Frances. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1972.

Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Halberstam, David. The Best and the Brightest. New York: Random House, 1972.

Halberstam, David. The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. New York: Hyperion, 2007.

Herr, Michael. Dispatches. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Hickey, Gerald Cannon. A Village in Vietnam. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1964.

Huntington, Samuel. “The Bases of Accommodation.” Foreign Affairs, 1968.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

Lacouture, Jean. Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography. New York: Random House, 1968.

Lacouture, Jean. Vietnam: Between Two Truces. New York: Random House, 1966.

Logevall, Frederick. Embers of WarThe Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam. New York: Random House, 2012.

Maclear, Michael. The Ten Thousand Day War: Vietnam, 1945-1975. New York: Avon Books, 1982.

Mus, Paul and McAlister, John T. The Vietnamese and Their Revolution. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Moore, Harold G., and Galloway, Joseph L. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. New York: Random House, 1992.

Niehbuhr, Rienhold. The Irony of American History. Chicago: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1952.

Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Vintage, 1988.

Audio Credits:

Berlin Airlift – The Story of a Great Achievement (1949). British Government Public Information Films, Crown Film Unit, National Archives. The National Archives.

Berlin Air Lift (1949). British Pathé. YouTube.

Cold War – Truman Doctrine. Mat Shackleton. YouTube.

French out of Indo China. sotonsom. YouTube.

Funeral in Paris of General Leclerc (1947). British Pathé. YouTube.

Hollywood Red Communism Probe Begins – 1947 Newsreel. CoolOldVideos. YouTube.

Looking Back – On 1947. British Pathé. YouTube.

Newsreel: End of the Nuremburg Trial (1946). Nuclear Vault. YouTube.

Japanese Sign Final Surrender 1945 Newsreel. PublicDomainFootage. YouTube.

Review of the Year 1946. British Pathé. YouTube.

Reviewing the Year 1949. British Pathé. YouTube.

The Big Picture “Army in Action” Marshall Plan Episode 9 74512. Periscope Film. YouTube.

War in the East (1947). British Pathé. YouTube.

War Victims Find Haven in America – 1946 Newsreel. C-SPAN. YouTube.

West Wins Berlin Blockade Battle (1949). British Pathé. YouTube.

Announcement—Vietnam Talk

Announcement—Vietnam Talk
Announcements

 
 
00:00 / 1:40
 
1X

Like it says in title, there’s no show this Monday, but there is going to be a show this week.

Rob Morris, Ernie Piper, and I are going to be broadcasting another live show this Thursday from 11am to 2pm EST and this time rather than being tangentially related to what we do here, it’s right up our alley.

The three of us are going to be talking about what still fascinates us in the US (or anywhere else) about the Vietnam War and why, from the bad romance of French colonialism to the failure of the Baby Boomers as a generation to movies like Platoon and Apocalypse Now.

This is probably the first time I’ve given you all enough advanced notice of one of these things to block out the time or get involved, so: do that. I know right in the middle of the work day isn’t going to be easy for most of you, and that’s fine. If you can open up the window behind Excel and tune in, that’s great. If you can’t, get your questions and comments and suggestions to me this week on the site or on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll address them on air.

If YouTube or the rough cut aren’t your thing, this show, like all shows, will be a podcast before too long. Vietnam III is coming either this Monday or next, and this live show will be whatever week that Vietnam III is not.

Come hang out with us, talk to me, tell your friends.

Vietnam I: Ancient History

Vietnam I: Ancient History
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 56:04
 
1X

Well, here we are folks. The beginning of the Vietnam series and very probably the end of SFD. We’re starting, literally, with the dawn of human history and carrying it all the way up to the 1700s. Like the folks over at Blank Check, we’re connoisseurs of context, and to get Vietnam right in a way that the Americans didn’t from 1946 to 1975, and in a way that even Ken Burns failed to get it in 2017, we’ve got to go way back.

It’s going to be a little tougher to get photos for this one, given that our big timeline begins around 2000 BC and gets more concrete around 221 BC, but let me try. First, though, if you want to get a visual for the cold open, there’s this.

You can just make him out there behind the microphone on the right, but that’s Ho Chi Minh on September 2, 1945, officially declaring Vietnamese independence. We’ll get more into this in the next show, but there were Americans in Ho’s audience, Americans that had helped him to fight against the Japanese, and, implicitly, against French designs on his country.

Then we’ve got the maps.

As always, click the image to bigify

This is your real basic relief map. The thing that I like about it, given that it’s modern, is that, as far as I can tell, the major roads it includes are somewhat like the road network that grew up from the end of the imperial period through the French colony and the war. Somewhat.

It gets really big, even after I cut out half the map

And here we’ve got a vintage French colonial map of Indochina, and you can see how they bundled Cambodia and Laos up with Vietnam, as well as the way they split Vietnam up into three distinct (and separately administered) regions: Tonkin up north, Annam in the middle, and Cochinchina in the south.

 

Here we’ve got a temple statue of a Hung King, one of the pseudo-mythical line of kings that ruled the Vietnamese from the time they came down from the highlands to settle the paddy land of Tonkin around 3,000 years ago until 221 BC.

This guy is Qin Shi Huang (“First Qin Emperor”) or Shi Huang Di (“First Emperor”), the man who ended the Warring States Period of Chinese history by uniting the disparate Chinese people under one government for the first time. He’s also the dude who had the Great Wall built and spent a lot of time drinking poisons like mercury in the pursuit of eternal life. He sent this dude to conquer Tonkin:

This is Zhao Tuo or Trieu Da, an officer of one of the southern Chinese kingdoms annexed by Shi Huang Di. He joined up, became a general, and took most of northern modern Vietnam.  When the Qin dynasty, and the empire Shi Huang Di had built, collapsed, Zhao Tuo declared himself king (and then emperor) of Nanyue or Nam Viet, comprising parts of southern China and northern Vietnam.

Chinese reconquest followed, and Vietnamese independence after that. Just like in the episode, though, we’re going to skip most of the intervening years because they’re not entirely relevant to us. By the eighteenth century, though, Vietnam was split between two powerful families, the Trinh in the north and the Nguyen in the south, with the Le Emperors nothing more than captive figureheads in the court at Hanoi.

Rebels from Tay Son village in Annam, fed up with the corruption of the Nguyen and the costs of their wars against the Trinh, Siam, and Cambodia, rose up to challenge the status quo. They wrecked the Nguyen, killing nearly all of the family, and then marched north and destroyed the Trinh. The last Le Emperor escaped to China and sought help from his imperial counterpart. That army of 200,000 the Tay Son also crushed.

The aforementioned Battle of Ngọc Hồi-Đống Đa

While all this was going on, though, the last surviving Nguyen scion, Nguyen Anh, had escaped to Siam, modern Thailand.

Just before his flight, Nguyen Anh met one Pigneau de Behaine, a French Catholic priest living in Vietnam. Behaine was looking for a way to secure a legal position for Vietnamese Catholics, and backing a contender for the throne seemed like a pretty good move.

Behaine sought help from his own monarch, Louis the XVI.

This Louis XVI

Louis signed the Little Treaty of Versailles, promising military aid in exchange for Catholic concessions, but the Revolution and his subsequent unheaddening (along with the opposition of the Irish, sort-of-also-American governor of French Pondicherry in India, Thomas Conway) torpedoed that plan.

Behaine raised his own money, munitions, and mercenaries in Paris by appealing to sympathy for embattled Vietnamese Catholics, and sailed back to Nguyen Anh. Because of a confluence of factors (somewhat covered in the show), Nguyen Anh was in the process of taking the country back from the Tay Son, a conquest he completed in 1802. Behaine didn’t live to see it though, having died in the defense of a fortress, like any normal missionary Catholic priest.

Nguyen Anh renamed himself Gia Long and founded the Nguyen Dynasty, which would last right up until the death of Vietnamese Imperialism in 1945. The country was re-united for the first time in over a century, and the new emperor’s rule was long and just.

Unfortunately, it also ended just a few short years before the French arrived in force, holding rifles this time, not crosses nor bibles.

Bayart, Jean-Francois. “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion.” African Affairs, 2000, 217-267.

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York; Viking Press, 2002.

Fall, Bernard. Hell in a Very Small Place. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966.

Fall, Bernard. Street without Joy: Indochina at War, 1946-54. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1961.

Fehrenbach, T. R. This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness. New York: Macmillan, 1963.

Fitzgerald, Frances. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1972.

Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Halberstam, David. The Best and the Brightest. New York: Random House, 1972.

Halberstam, David. The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. New York: Hyperion, 2007.

Herr, Michael. Dispatches. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Hickey, Gerald Cannon. A Village in Vietnam. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1964.

Huntington, Samuel. “The Bases of Accommodation.” Foreign Affairs, 1968.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

Lacouture, Jean. Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography. New York: Random House, 1968.

Lacouture, Jean. Vietnam: Between Two Truces. New York: Random House, 1966.

Maclear, Michael. The Ten Thousand Day War: Vietnam, 1945-1975. New York: Avon Books, 1982.

Moore, Harold G., and Galloway, Joseph L. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. New York: Random House, 1992.

Niehbuhr, Rienhold. The Irony of American History. Chicago: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1952.

Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Vintage, 1988.

 

Lying in Politics

Lying in Politics

 
 
00:00 / 24:06
 
1X

Not a whole lot of news this time out. The title of the post is obviously drawn from the essay in Hannah Arendt’s Crises of the Republic.

Which we should all read, but if the point of this show is that politicians stopped believing the American public capable of argument and then dumbed us down to the point that we actually became incapable of argument, then I guess the point is also that as a rule, we don’t read Arendt or anything else that might explain what’s going wrong at the heart of us.

Happy Monday, folks!

SFD Short—Forgetfulness

SFD Short—Forgetfulness
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 25:11
 
1X

This is the third short and the first entirely new one, although I’ll get it typed up and post it like any other blog and then link it here sometime this week.

The big news this time though is that sometime next week I’ll be having a long conversation with a guy named Robert Morris on YouTube Live that’ll become, soon after, a talky episode of SFD.

Robert runs a YouTube channel called the More Freedom Foundation and his latest project is a series of short videos called Everybody’s Lying About Islam and it is dynamite. Try the first one on here, and watch the rest of them right afterwards:

Keep one eyeball on SFD’s or my social media and I’ll let you know when the live thing’s going on. Either way, it’ll end up as a podcast and you’ll be able to get it however you normally do.

SFD Short—Looking at History from the Outside

SFD Short—Looking at History from the Outside
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 17:28
 
1X

The next one of these, I think, or the next two (who knows!) will be totally new, but this one, like the last one, does what it says.

New intro on this one, but I might shorten it up, given that the eps are shorter.

Let me know how you guys are liking (or hating) these, and I’ll dial them in accordingly. Also might have an interesting collaboration coming up, so keep your eyes and ears open for that one.

Cheers.

SFD Short—Historical Optimism

SFD Short—Historical Optimism
Safe For Democracy

 
 
00:00 / 12:06
 
1X

Hey folks, does what it says on the box.

It looks like I might end up in law school this fall, so there’s a fair chance the show is winding down. But I’m going to fill up the interim with episodes, and to that end, I’ll be taking some of the stuff I’ve written (that fits) over the last four years and making short little shows with it. We’ll see how it goes, and if it’s not your bag, just stick to the main eps.

Cheers, guys.

So What About the Why?

So the podcast has been out for about twelve weeks now, and I’ve gotten a couple of scattered comments and responses on two different subjects that I think, in the end, come to the same thing.

And I think they’re valid and I think they’re important.

So I’m going to talk about them.

This is me
Big surprise, right?

The first suggestion is that I ought to make an effort, in the podcast, to avoid offending listeners who might come from somewhere further to the right on the political spectrum. And the second is that I ought to be getting more into why all this happened, why the government of the United States was somehow invested in these terrible goings-on in Guatemala. It’ll take a while for my responses to come back around and meet each other, but bear with me.

In response to the first thing, I guess I’d ask a question. Is it that the show is partisan? Or could it be that listeners are coming to the show with a pre-existing and  implicitly partisan complaint?

Because the only way that the show could immediately turn you off is if you were under the impression that the US could do literally no wrong.

Credit NBC — Safe for Democracy
Which is tough, right?

I could try to emphasize at the beginning of every episode that Democratic presidents were just as culpable as Republican ones or vice-versa, but that would put the show in the “fairness” business, and it’s not in the fairness business. It’s in the history business.

Continue reading So What About the Why?