* it created anti-government groups like the Weathermen
* it spurred activist groups on campuses around the country to stage admin building take-overs, sit-ins, and attempts to disruption to the war draft
* it created a group of Veterans-- like John Kerry-- who came back and described for the general public horrific war crimes committed by U.S. servicepeople
* it created an even larger group of veterans who came back and described a war which-- even if the serviceperson believed in the aims of the U.S. gov't-- was clearly unwinnable
All of those things led to the use of federal resources domestically to try to quell the growing anger and violence against the war.
There is just no other way the national guard would be deployed and end up firing on students without the war.
Without that war, you would have had an older population who thought the younger generation was naive, wrong, lude, and in some cases immoral.
With the war you had one side thinking the other was becoming a growing existential domestic threat to the country.
edit 2: Don't forget that toward the end of his life, MLK Jr. spoke out against the war and ended up splitting his own base. (Oddly the article doesn't mention that.)
MLK's speaking out against the war was unpopular, but do you have any references that show he actions split his "base"? That's interesting since I was under the impression that the war was deeply unpopular with blacks.
>I remember so well when I first took a stand against the war in Vietnam. The critics took me on and they had their say in the most negative and sometimes most vicious way. One day a newsman came to me and said, "Dr. King, don’t you think you’re going to have to stop, now, opposing the war and move more in line with the administration’s policy? As I understand it, it has hurt the budget of your organization, and people who once respected you have lost respect for you. Don’t you feel that you’ve really got to change your position?" I looked at him and I had to say, "Sir, I’m sorry you don’t know me. I’m not a consensus leader. I do not determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I’ve not taken a sort of Gallup Poll of the majority opinion." Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.
-Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution, 1968
Oh? The Michigan National Guard did quite a bit of shooting during the Detroit riots of 1967.
And I think it was even common sense back then that breaking curfew was dangerous.
Do you feel like this was also a generation that missed their chance to be "men"? What I mean by that is that in all past memory, men had gone off to battle and were welcomed home as heroes. This was different, and I feel like in some ways led to the emasculation of the American male. They missed their chance to be heroes like their fathers had been in WWII. The women's rights movement also started at the same time. It was a complete upset to the social norms that had been established in society.
Was it really "unwinnable"? I watched "Vietnam in HD" which is a fantastic series if you're into that kind of thing. It is a difficult watch at times. What I gathered from that is most people seemed to blame the "seek and destroy" tactic. This involved prioritizing destroying enemy encampments, but not actually taking territory. There didn't seem to be line advancements or attempts to create new bases further into enemy territory.
I'm not a military strategist, and I have no idea the kinds of logistics required for it. I do know that it seemed to kill morale for soldiers to go take a hill, and then abandon it for the enemy to go back and take once again. Essentially taking the same ground over and over again. It seems like a lesson in futility.
Based off of experience in Korea, US didn't want China to enter the war. To avoid this, the US couldn't commit to full-scale of invasion of North Vietnam, which I believe would have been necessary for victory. Without a full scale invasion, they thought that they could 'tickle' the enemy into submission by aerial bombing of the North combined with ground-army defense of the south. I believe they were over optimistic.
It's easy to say "yeah, if the US had more manpower and/or crossed into North Vietnam and/or used different tactics we could have won!" and maybe that's true, but proponents of this view often fail to consider the entry of China as a possible outcome.
The alternative with political pressure would have been to work with China and Russia which at the time, communism was the biggest threat, so that wasn't an option.
The Vietnam war made no great impression. It was a constant stream of background noise in my European childhood, I don't recall one single specific episode of it, let alone any idea what the whole sorry thing was about.
Granted, there's a lot we know now that wasn't known at the time (e.g. MACV-SOG's pre-Tonkin activities and concealment of same from Congress, or the serious consideration of tactical nuclear weapons during the Battle of Khe Sanh), but if you're into history it's a good read.
Like the Korean War before it, to stop the spread of communism. Domino theory and such.
There's a lot revisionist history on both sides, but it ultimately boiled down to young people attempting to assert their visions of the world, while entrenched, older power structures attempted to avoid change.
Personally? I think it's inspirational for people to get off their ass and try to effect change they believe in.
Action, not anger.
Mentioned in another comment:
> Military intelligence officer K. Barton Osborne reports that he witnessed the following use of torture:
> > The use of the insertion of the 6-inch dowel into the canal of one of my detainee's ears, and the tapping through the brain until dead. The starvation to death (in a cage), of a Vietnamese woman who was suspected of being part of the local political education cadre in one of the local villages...The use of electronic gear such as sealed telephones attached to...both the women's vaginas and men's testicles [to] shock them into submission
Yes, I bet a some anti-social people used the protest movement to engage in their own oppression ("killing pigs" and "killing commie charlies" is the same thing in a way), but using them as a fig leaf is blatantly profiting of their deeds to hide yet other vile deeds, and to smear the best parts of a generation that at least tried.
That professor may never know even just one first-hand account of a person murdered as they looked away, and in turn may never know the life they actually lived. People don't like to hear that, but sometimes, who you think you are is just a shiny consolation price for being distracted from what you're actually serving. People can fool themselves and beyond a threshold, they're usually too weak to ever stop fooling themselves. They fell down the gravity well, let them serve as a warning. See them, see the well, and judge their words accordingly.
It was in Polish (the professor in question was Czeslaw Milosz), in Milosz's letters to Jerzy Giedroyc.
Late teen and early twenty-something kids have some amount of knowledge, but zero experience. We are reliving the same problem today. Antifa, just like the protesters in the 60s are a bunch of naive kids led by people exploiting that naivety for political gain.
Just like the kids the US government sent to Vietnam. That war was "Moral-based violence" and the idea that the counter reaction was the real evil is insane.
Edit: There are plenty more recent examples of the government using moral justifications for war - "They hate our freedoms". "Axis of evil". "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists".
If "Moral-based violence" is scary, the US government is its number one peddler, not the protestors.
The professor was a declared lefist since the 30ties, but, having witnessed Stalinism first-hand, he was very opposed to blind and brutal use of "revolutionary" force. Actually, by his account, most of the other professors were very conforimist in caving in to the anarchists' violence and appeasing their demands.
You know, it's possible for both of them to be the bad guys, right?
The class of '68 were petit totalitarians. Thankfully we had no Chairman Mao in the USA to really set them loose (like the Red Guard was in China).
The people building these bombs and such were cruel and violent. Hiding behind a shield of a "peace, love, and equality" ideology.
Having lived pre internet news days i am a minority that can truly describe how it was a different world back then. Our world is so much better because tv radio and newspapers matter so much less. We have to think for ourselves and decide which topics are newsworthy:not have others coax and decide what is important.
Long live the internet
We have to think for ourselves and decide which topics are newsworthy:not have others coax and decide what is important.
There comes a point were States like New York and California are better off alone. As it stands today large parts of the US are underrepresented. A suburb in Miami is more important for the presidential election than all the votes in NYC.
Both violent and property crime rates are way down .
My home region of the Ozarks (SW Missouri, NW Arkansas, NE Oklahoma) is much safer than when I was in jr. high and high school (1995-2001) when there was a huge amount of rural violence associated mostly with the meth trade. I had friends and neighbors killed both purposefully and incidentally with this, none of whom were users or involved in the trade in any way--just children or landlords or neighbors or whatever. We used to get out of school because the cops would be raiding meth labs within shooting distance of the school. This has largely subsided. There is definitely violence associated with the opioid crisis, but the deaths have been overdoses and suicides at least among the people I know.
There are definitely some nasty and protracted conflicts abroad, but, unlike in 1968, the US is not mired in them and losing thousands of soldiers a year--Wikipedia gives 4,491 deaths for US soldiers for the entire Iraq war, for example. Not that it wasn't a horrible and unnecessary loss, and several orders of magnitude worse for Iraqis than the US, but this was also the case for Vietnam (and Cambodia, Laos, etc). While there continues to be strife in the Middle East and a few other places, and I worry about Africa being a major site of east vs. west proxy war in the coming decades, globally the situation seems more peaceful and democratic than in the Cold War or the colonial era.
Societal issues in the US:
There is a lot of sound and fury, but protests are largely peaceful. The protests involved with Ferguson, Charlottesville, etc. were much more mild than in the 1960s, or the race riots of Tulsa (1921, 39-300 deaths, 10,000+ people left homeless ), LA (1992, 63 deaths ), and so forth.
Gay rights were granted largely peacefully as well--lots of progress here, though it wasn't frictionless.
Similarly, the recent wave of defenestrations of powerful men due to sexual abuse is to me a net positive even if there are inevitable witch hunts associated.
Domestic terrorism seems to be less of a concern. I don't know about rates but from what I understand there were a lot of bombings from both far left and far right sources in the 1960s and 1970s. We haven't had any high-profile political assassinations in a while.
The rise in single-parent households is a concern. I have no idea how much this reduces the incidence of domestic violence as moms don't live with abusive dads. Maybe a little?
Homelessness is also a major concern but is slightly decreasing over the past decade, not even accounting for population growth . I have no idea how it compares to the 1960s or so. I think a lot of mentally ill people were institutionalized then, which isn't the case now AFAIK.
Parts of the economy are good (stocks, general employment levels), and though there are still problems with stagnant wages for many, debt levels (particularly student loans), and housing prices in many places are terrifying (I'm living in SV on a pretty meager nonprofit salary, because my wife has a great job that pays OK). But it's a lot better than it was a decade ago, or in the 70s. There are still huge issues with medical care that need to be resolved, but at least lots of people are employed as paper pushers...
Inequality is a major concern, I concede. And I worry about an upcoming stock market crash.
I think it's possible that trade work will pay better and better, and as more tradespeople rejoin the middle class communities (neighborhoods, school districts etc.) some of the inequalities of social status between the higher-income blue-collar work and lower-income white-collar work will dissipate.
Way better than in the mid-20th century. We have a lot more protected lands than in the 1960s, and air and water quality are much improved (thanks, Nixon!). From Wikipedia:
"In the United States between 1970 and 2006, citizens enjoyed the following reductions in annual pollution emissions:
- carbon monoxide emissions fell from 197 million tons to 89 million tons
- nitrogen oxide emissions fell from 27 million tons to 19 million tons
- sulfur dioxide emissions fell from 31 million tons to 15 million tons
- particulate emissions fell by 80%
- lead emissions fell by more than 98%"
Without looking stuff up, I think that the broad population shifts from rural and semi-rural to urban and suburban since the 1950s are decreasing the pressure on the environment; national forests in most places are recovering from the ~1850s-1950s logging period.
Climate change is bad, forest fires are bad, the decrease in insect populations are probably quite bad and may indicate a very rotten ecological foundation. However, the effects of climate change aren't directly tearing our country apart at present; the debate over it (and the underlying struggle for power and authority between science and government vs. church and business) is or did contribute. Once agriculture begins to fail in the Great Plains and CA central valley, it'll get real.
Honestly, I don't get it. Sometimes I think things have been decent for long enough that we've forgotten what it was like when things were really bad--the Civil War, WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, Vietnam, etc.
I also think that a lot more of the seeming chaos is that more voices are included than previously, particularly from marginalized communities.
This aren't perfect, but are they awful? Or are we just bored and riled up about small matters such as the rhetoric of our politicians, or their seeming inability to get stuff done?
Edit: On further inspection, I am coming to the conclusion that the article is really a thinly veiled advertisement for TimesMachine, a subscription newspaper archive.
I agree that it animates a tad too quickly, and that the animation really isn't needed.
To be honest I'm quite impressed that NYTimes went this length to create these technical widgets. Do they have software engineers or web developers working in conjunction with journalists on articles like these? Seems like a relatively high cost of production.
Although I'm not a fan, I have to say in this case it does do its job quite well, which is to demonstrate how having twitter news would feel like back in the 1968s~ time.
That's because the article is really just an advertisement for TimesMachine, a subscription newspaper archive. I didn't notice it at first, either.
Was not intended, just curious. But that would be why I couldn't find it.
Sigh...half a century later the Tet offensive is called "an enormous attack by North Vietnamese forces".
How about an enormous attack by "South" Vietnamese forces, like the National Liberation Front? Who took over the American embassy in Saigon, the "North Vietnamese forces"? It was a local NLF C-10 Sapper batallion. The North Vietnamese attack had its main thrust toward the Vietnamese border, the ARVN's I Corps Tactical Zone. Further south it mostly aided the NLF (and local populace) uprising.
The Tet Offensive was costly to the NLF - after years of fighting the French, the Americans, and their Vietnamese collaborators, the NLF was somewhat worn down, and the Tet Offensive was kind of its last hurrah. From 1968 on, the resistance in southern Vietnam became more dependent on North Vietnamese aid.
Insofar as "North" and "South" Vietnam, these themselves are created entities. In 1940, Vietnam was under the control of the Vichy French, who were somewhat hostile to the US. Then it fell to Japanese control. In March 1945, the Vichy French were completely ousted. The OSS was arming and supporting Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh, people like Archimedes Patti.
At the end of 1945, the French wanted to take colonial control of Vietnam again (Ho Chi Minh had declared independence with a very pro-US speech and policy, seemingly approved by local American government officials). The French did not have the manpower to take over Vietnam though and asked the English for help, as French/English interests were not 100% US-aligned (see Suez crisis). The English did not have the manpower either so they sent Nepali Gurkhas to take back Vietnam. Many events took place in the next weeks and months, I can't go into it all here, including the British rearming the Japanese to fight against the Vietnamese.
So years of guerilla warfare ensue between the Vietnamese and French colonialists, ending in the 1954 Geneva conference. There, a promise for elections is made. Also pledged is reunification. The US is not a party to the conference.
Eisenhower says in his memoirs he could not allow elections as Ho Chi Minh would have won. So the US starts a policy against the promised elections and reunification. Like the Japanese, French and English, the US at some point invades southern Vietnam. It begins a war against the mostly southern NLF resistance, which includes not just communists but Buddhist monks, Vietnamese nationalists etc., all of these comprise the NLF. Of course, on the long war from 1954 to 1975, including things like the Phoenix Program where the CIA went around south Vietnam murdering school teachers, newspaper columnists and anyone seen as being against US forces being in Vietnam. By 1972 the US began pulling out, and was ousted in 1975. By then the southern resistance forces had been decimated (along with millions killed in the south) and the "northern" forces had become more prominent.
We should have told France to stuff it.
And what exactly business was of them to contain anything in foreign countries?
Well, the worst hypocrites when it comes to forgetting that "realpolitik" being a bitch are the US though.
Without American support after World War II, also Western Europe would have been ruled by stalinist USSR.
My uncle was drafted in Vietnam, except he didn't go to Vietnam, he went to West Germany. He spent his time waiting for the Soviets to roll their tanks over the border.
Again, that's not their business. Besides half of Europe wanted to be socialist -- and I'm speaking of the support for such parties in Western Europe.
>Could you imagine Soviet Europe for the last 60 years?
Many wished exactly that at the time. Again, not the business of a foreign power to meddle.
There's a big, big difference between wanting to be socialist and living under a Soviet regime.
It is US business because if Europe was overrun by Soviets, the US would have to get involved, if not for their own interests, certainly the interests of the now subjugated Europe. It's also a hell of a lot harder fighting with your back to the ocean. I mean we are talking the exact same scenario that happened in 1914 and 1939, except instead of Germany, it would have been the USSR. The Eastern Bloc countries revolted for a reason.
Not only that, the victors of WWII wanted the US military there for that very reason.
>Again, not the business of a foreign power to meddle.
It sure was welcomed in 1917 and 1941.
So, it would have been equally OK for other nations to invade the US in the interests of the black slaves, the native Americans, the other peoples all over the world it harmed, etc?
>It sure was welcomed in 1917 and 1941.
You'd be surprised. That's how Americans tell it themselves, and also how, via Hollywood, they taught modern historically illiterate people to see it.
In surveys and polls the decades just after WWII, when the thing was still fresh in memory, most Europeans placed the biggest role in defeating Nazi Germany with USSR, not the US.
In 1945, most French people thought that the Soviet Union
deserved the most credit for Nazi Germany's defeat in World
War II — even though the Soviets didn't play much of a role
in France's liberation, relative to the US and Britain. By
1995 and 2004, however, the French had changed their minds,
and were crediting the US as the biggest contributor to
victory in Europe (...)
Scholar addresses question, ‘Who won World War II in
There’s no easy answer, said Norman Davies, an Oxford-
educated British historian and Poland specialist who has
written widely on the 1939-1945 conflict.
Among the Davies so-called myths:
That D-Day was big and decisive. (About 80 percent of
German forces were lost on the Eastern Front, he said,
where the biggest battles raged.)
That the West triumphed over the Third Reich. (Germany was
all but defeated by the Soviets well before the Allies
landed troops on the continent, he contended.)
In fact, asserted Davies, it was the Red Army that played
the decisive role in defeating Germany, “and they were in
the service of an evil tyranny.”
Sheer numbers alone help dispel myths about the war, he
said. In 1939, the United States had half as many trained
soldiers as Poland — and it took until 1944 to muster 100
American divisions. The Germans fielded 230 divisions, and
the Soviets as many as 400.
Depends on how you look at it, the North certainly invaded an independent CSA (the South) over slavery as most of the war was fought in the South. Obviously the North thought it was ok and the South didn't. Also, the UK nearly join the war on the side of the South. "OK" is such a simple term, I think we are having completely different levels of discussion.
>You'd be surprised. That's how Americans tell it themselves, and also how, via Hollywood, they taught modern historically illiterate people to see it. In surveys and polls the decades just after WWII, when the thing was still fresh in memory, most Europeans placed the biggest role in defeating Nazi Germany with USSR, not the US.
So my statement was Europe wanted the US to enter the war (which they most certainly did.) You are arguing that the USSR was the most responsible for defeating Nazi Germany. Do you see how those are two different things? I know you want to win the argument, but at least counter argue what I'm arguing.
FWIW, I agree that the USSR was the single most important factor in defeating Nazi Germany. Russia was also was one of the factors of the rise since they signed the Soviet-German non-aggression pact, then both Germany and Russia invaded Eastern Europe. Oops.
The dichotomy of "everything must be US-style dystopia capitalism or full communism" has poisoned politics for over half a century.
I think the "foreign power meddling in our business" needs to be nuanced -- I'm personally happy the US decided to spend taxpayer's money to keep us safe.
While there was support for socialism in Western Europe, after 1956 it was not necessarily support for Soviet-style socialism, since the invasion of Hungary appalled many Communists and led them to denounce the USSR. Then, the uproar of 1968, the USSR was mocked by many as a spent force politically and no friend or guide to future actions, so the Situationists or Maoists proposed instead their respective takes on Communism. So, plenty of Western European socialists appreciated the USSR staying far, far away.
This lead to Russia only getting humiliation for its forward steps, and fast forward 20 years, new "cool war" with Putin.
The problem here is also short memory. It's Orwelesque "Oceania always had war with Eurasia", ignoring that "always" is just 40 years, but also it's all two generations can remember. In XX century, suddently human memory became too short for politics.
Russia wasn't “pro-US” in the 1990s; after the fall of the USSR, Russia, after a brief moment of inward-focussed stabilization, returned to active geopolitical competition based (in Europe, at least) largely on fanning the flames of pan-Slavism.
At best, under Yeltsin, Russia could be “pro integration into the neoliberal regime of international trade”, but that's a far cry from being pro-US.
Russian pan-Slavism faces an obvious obstacle of Poland. It's a no go. If you're talking about Serbia, then let's face it, 90s Europe saw a fire lit in their midst that they couldn't contain for a decade. It's a thorough failure of pan-European security. On yet another attempt to extinguish flame with gasoline, even Yeltsin's Russia had to do something. Which was totally not much.
Couldn't extinguish? They help lit the fire.
> How about an enormous attack by "South" Vietnamese forces, like the National Liberation Front?
In fairness, wasn't Tet both the NVA and VC? And Tet was organised and executed from the North, predominantly by Giap, right?