. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Radio – Vietnam And After – February 1, 1968 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
By 1968, the tide of public opinion was shifting dramatically against the war in Vietnam. Seen by many as a pointless excursion with no real end in sight, the situation had been further aggravated by the Tet Offensive just days earlier. A series of surprise attacks, culminating in an assault on Saigon made abundantly clear Vietnam was no easy-win as many were led to believe. Hawks in Congress were saying we couldn’t win the war without having radically stepped-up military action including, in some circles, the use of tactical nuclear weapons. On the other side of the argument, the ones dubbed Doves were saying it was time for the U.S. to cut its losses and get out – it was a no-win situation and time for the South Vietnamese Army, whom we were training since the 1950s, to take over as they had promised to do since 1963.
The arguments for and against were equally strong – advocates for escalation were saying it was an unpopular war now, but they said that during the dark days of the Civil War – but Lincoln persisted and the war was finally won. Critics were drawing parallels with French involvement in the 1950s and the disastrous results that ensued. They also pointed out how the war was in danger of bankrupting the country.
The bottom line was – we were sending draftees over to fight a war that no one was exactly sure why, and coming home in body bags at an increasing number. America‘s stomach for war, particularly among the young, was turning.
So 1968 became a crisis point – and the argument and debate over the War was becoming a regular issue on mainstream media. This broadcast via NBC Radio, was a panel discussion featuring Senator Gale McGee (D-Wyoming), former Senator Paul Douglas, John Kenneth Galbraith, Edward Reischauer, Richard J. Barnett, and Tran Thien Khiem, former Vietnamese Chargè d’affair.
In addition, some background on the conflict going back to the 1950s is presented which is illuminating, particularly if you’re not all that familiar with the Vietnam War.
But the discussion is the interesting part – and just how divided the opinion was on the war and what solutions, if any, were available in 1968.
A fascinating hour, which gives some clue as to our continuing problems in the area of Foreign Policy.
Here is that broadcast, as it was presented on February 12, 1968; Vietnam And After.
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