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This then has created two things. One it's created a purge of the army which is very important which comes back it doesn't it isn't complete because you Kavin got the kind of sense of where people stand throughout the whole system on this issue. It is complete within the central establishment of the army within the central command staff of the general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army as it's called there is Secondly produced a kind of coalescence here forces those who would favor intervention in Vietnam on a conventional sense and those who were against the cultural revolution being started right away. So in a sense the people that we thought were the more extremists were against getting into Vietnam the people who were more moderate that we so-called were the ones who were forgetting it in Vietnam. And in that sense the government had it just backwards on the whole question of of of the mind come of who was who was saying that we should be more involved in in overseas and more involved in international liberation struggles. It is crucial to understand that because in a in a sense for the next year the Chinese not only turn inward but in the debate whenever the
bureaucrats try to reassert their position as they come under increasing attack during the Cultural Revolution particularly in what are called the 50 days the days when Mao leaves town in June 1066 and turns over to some of the bureaucrats particularly. Helping the secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party when he turns it over to these people in the in the so-called 50 days the bureaucrats. One last hope is to make a number of statements about Vietnam and the last position taken by the president now purge the man by the name. The last statement he made came on July 22nd 1963 in which he made the statement technically in response to the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong at the end of June. A statement which described China as the great rear area used for the. I think the first time roughly at that time used to use using the notion of China as the great rear area of Vietnam. It had nothing particularly to do with what China was about to do. In terms of Vietnam so much
although he if Leo had been able to retrieve his position that might have happened but so much as you know trying to use this in order to bolster his own position. There were then five days of massive demonstrations about our getting involved in Vietnam they make the statements about sending volunteers to Vietnam again they had made it in 65. The Chinese still want to have the war continued but they don't pay very much attention to it in this year after July 22nd one thousand sixty six wins when she issues its statement for the next year through July 1967. There isn't much attention paid by the Chinese to the culture of pollution they refer to an American ism they refer to this is validating Mao's line from time to time but they over the striking impression one gets from the Red Guards is that it's not the central issue the central issue is internal though the central demons are internal to China not the extra ones. They're they the five bad the five olds the five bad habits from the from the past they're the they're that they're the feudal demons that they
say are the ones that must be destroyed and they they generate their activity and vent their their destructive destructiveness on internal targets rather than external ones. Which is it which is the major thing that I think one would would say during during this period. As that develops in this year from the point that I've just described from the July 22nd 1066 through July 1967 there is increasing chaos and destruction within China. The mouse proved himself to be a very poor tactician. He takes on too many enemies at too early shows them his hand too quickly and then begins to create an opposition before he's able to pick off all of them one by one. This this leads to chaos destruction lawlessness anarchy all the things a different dimensions different ways. It certainly leads to a situation where the Army in January 67 feels that it has to take control in what's called the seize power movement. They started in Shanghai and they've been doing it ever since one place after the other and they have been taking. They have been taking power in a number
of places. The chaos comes to a head in the city of wall hung a central industrial town and up the ends a river from from Shanghai and this this is in the city. The army which is so distraught by destructive activity within the state they some of the the provincial officers within the Army in particular the officers in charge of the city of Lu Han kidnapped a couple of the Maoists they kidnapped a man by the name of shampoo ger who is head of the security forces and also Mayor of Peking. They kidnap one of the members of Mao's own cultural revolution Committee a man by the name of Wang Li and they hold him and then there's a great struggle they even have to send the East China fleet up to the city of Will Honda Shelagh. Which is which is a little bit like sand pebbles but there is there is a there's still a sense of this which which is a great drama. We can't we're we're there's a little problem of the drama of China there's a little bit like the Peking Opera too much of this with people charging around but there's
still it's very clear that they will have an incident absolutely shook the Chinese leadership particularly the Army leadership to the very root. They were particularly concerned with the fact that they that now the Army leadership at their lower levels was beginning to Innes in their sense would undertake a rebellious activity and that this is in even more in critical ways was beginning to affect the internal security and the Internet and the major scientific and technical industries that would lead to to a stronger army and a stronger internal China at that point they begin to clamp down on it at that point that Jiang chain mounted on his wife makes the makes her confession that she has been wrong in trying to extend the Cultural Revolution to the army. And that the army indeed forces still unlighted to to side with it and then they put the extremists are turned on and what you seen very recently is through partially through primarily through the Army as a whole series of purges here of the very extremists who started the culture revolution in the first place. Kiba New Wanley fun all of these have
have been ousted in this period. They've even shut down the journal red flag as of January 1st of this year big stream Istar and the targets at this point in the Cultural Revolution for political reasons been there and for military reasons there was a greater degree a degree of concern about the condition of China and the whole question about there about the revolution and where it would go. Those military political and military reasons were reflected in a change of policy about Vietnam and finally I'd like to turn to that in my face. In these last remarks the political reasons that were crucial to day. Changing attitude of the Chinese toward Vietnam I should be obvious and that is they had gone to a condition of stalemate Mao's Cultural Revolution wasn't getting through and his line of a revolution ization was not being validated he had proved himself to be a poor judge of forces within China his base of operations with a rather narrow in this period and to this extent
more and more the extremists and particularly the people who have now been purged saw as this as a necessity for validating some parts of Mao's line. This external struggle in Vietnam and they they began to see to see it as as as more and more a struggle that even though it were dominated by the North Vietnamese outlook the North Vietnamese strategy which I began with and still it was something it was something that we as at the North Vietnamese began to have at least some measure of success at least were stalemate in the situation in Vietnam. It was crucial to saying that our doctrine is not really like the NLF doctrine anymore our doctrine is like North Vietnamese doctrine and we are and we are the ones who are should take the credit for us for it not the North Vietnamese in the end. To this extent they wanted to use the external struggle to validate some of their political policies internally. Perhaps the military reasons were most crucial here. We can't hard to weigh it's hard to know maybe we can explore them in questioning. But certainly there
was an increasing sense that the American involvement in Vietnam was growing. It was more and more of a threat to them and increasingly everyone began to see that the war was going to bring an increasing threat to the Chinese mainland itself. For this reason partially because of the more extremist in the Cultural Revolution but for whatever the reasons the Chinese did begin to take counter moves in there in order to offset growing American pressure as they saw it in Vietnam and in Thailand in particular they began to ship their line toward Burma toward Thailand and toward Laos and toward a number of other countries that as well for the first time and it had the capability of doing this for 17 years. They have openly actively supported the white flag communist movement in Burma. They they make no bones about this. Where is any Burmese will tell you they did they did they were. Quite pleased with the fact that the Chinese did not do this during the many years that they they could have supported this. There's languishing movement of the kitchen's and others and in the eastern part of Burma along the Chinese
border they now have begun to do that. They've actually begun to support they've begun to support the rebels in Thailand and they've begun to to do it in Laos and that sense you've got a kind of reverse domino if you've got a sense where the Chinese are with through our strong stand in Vietnam as we put it beginning to to take a position in in this area beginning more and more to involve themselves as they saw it primarily through for military reasons but also for reasons that they that were relevant to these but this political problem the same kind of thing was happening to the NLF as they were moving more and more into into a strategy that was like the North Vietnamese and were taking actions that they were they were. It would somehow counteract the pressure of the of the United States. The consequences of this come of the Chinese change come during the Tet Offensive when at which time they drop all references to self-reliance. They now begin to move heavier weapons and heavier support into into North Vietnam which is more a pipeline and then a
supply base anyway but begin to do to move weapons in into North Vietnam and through to the South Vietnamese communists for their support they begin to take a much more active role in support openly so now in support of the of the North Vietnamese strategy. And for the first time they have begun to pay a great deal of attention to Joppe and to coach him in pump and dung for years you could find no references to these people in the Chinese press. They would refer endlessly to their to their conversations into their into their encounters with the with with the National Liberation Front and they specifically set up the the mission as other countries did in order to deal directly with the National Liberation Front. They did not do this. Until fairly recently but they did it in in part as they began to do they they changed their doctrine and begin to deal more directly with the North and begin to give credit to the north. As as they undergo this change and begin to move away from the notion that Lindau had announced in 1065 of self-reliance This is my judgment and this is just
a judgment as I conclude that our strong stand then in Vietnam has created the very problem we set out in the in the first instance to stop the war to solve. We have got now the thing we said existed all along. We are now there. In that sense in my judgment we've taught the Chinese the wrong lesson. The lesson that they now see is that they must meet us along with the North Vietnamese ever so met ever so much higher levels of violence. And to that extent they do support the North Vietnamese in a fight to the finish. Thank you. Start right there with the worker that proximately this time line or take question I've been asked to field my own questions all.
I'm at your mercy. The question was So would I care to comment on such things as recognition of China China's admission to the United Nations and other policies that might bring about a reconciliation. As I suggested in the last part of my remarks and I suppose that I'm a little gloomy tonight because of it. I think that we are now in the process of having to live with our own mistakes. I do think that we are now in a position where it is right it is relatively difficult to spell out things that are going to change anybody's position even if you could be rather. Novel and begin to say well we could do this and this and this. This it began to happen along go with such things as recognition and Chinese seating in the United Nations in particular. As you know the Chinese believed in the earlier period that unlike other approaches to the question of recognition that the recognition was bilateral that that was
not a unilateral act of the established States but it would become about recognition and diplomatic relations as the result of of a discussion between the two sides and there would be in the US a bargain struck about the character of this relation which is the Chinese position not only about recognition but the Chinese position about all of affairs in Asia a Guinness Book as Professor Reischauer former investor a sharp points on the article today. And other people pointed out for him that the Chinese argument here about relations in Asia is that unlike Europe the Asian continent is in a crisis. It is a crisis which is so so fundamental that one cannot say what the guidelines will be for Asian International Relations and that is what they are fundamentally saying to us is that we we are not going to accept your guidelines for this. Your boundaries for this but we will take the lead to undertake the discussions and reach mutual agreements
with you which we can we will we believe will be mutually satisfactory. They have been willing to do that and they have indeed done it with a number of countries which are have been reasonably satisfied until we came in and began to very strongly upset the balance but until that point there was there was a sense that each of these countries could work it out on their own terms and I know there are other questions of one could ask about China's relationship with Southeast Asia and I would get off if you asked specific one but essentially that's what the Chinese were saying about diplomatic relations. It isn't you're saying that we will recognize that we will we will undertake certain things that certain discussions that will lead to two conditions of mutually agreeable. There they said are things that you can do short of that short of formal day to day Yuri or de facto recognition such as they exchange of correspondence to discussions they were the ones that initiated the discussions that started first after the Geneva conference and then were carried on every six months in Warsaw on our ambassadors do have discussions in Warsaw. Such discussions that now convince the
Russians that the Chinese new Americans have made a deal. But that's a humorous story I won't get into but the the the Chinese did initiate it dissipated so you could discuss it in a number of things short of recognition that we can that we certainly could have done they probably during the course of this war in Vietnam would have very little effect and certainly would. It's very it's difficult for me to see how you could persuade any leadership in this country to take such steps during a period particularly when China is becoming more and more involved in this war in Southeast Asia. It is equally true of the United Nations. I have I'm in print on the question of the United Nations and essentially what I would argue is that rather than constantly commit the prestige of the United States and its all of its political resources to at the time of the United Nations meetings to keeping everyone in line as we surely do and we don't let it just sort of take its own course. Rather than doing magic and making it our central central kind of preoccupation at the time the
discussion let the other countries try to try to deal with it. They are not that unaware of the complexities of the thing the problems of Taiwan and to a certain extent we structure the the whole discussion artificially and it's my judgment that the that the that the number of Asian and African and Latin American and other countries could work out compromises about the scene in which we could live with it. Yes ma'am. Here you're asking me the hardest question I can tell you about the Chinese
with it in their production this year was that much or something but I'm not too sure that it's a hardest thing for people or even specialists and particularly those who are involved in discussions about the Vietnam wars to figure out the American side of this equation. The in particular the question was this. I'm sorry we had a little dialogue and the question was to what extent can you consider a strategy for bringing pressure to bear as a voting citizen in order to create a change and in the administration's policies. This this is a troublesome kind of thing for Senator Fulbright. It's certainly a troublesome thing for most of the congressmen who are his persuasion or like kinds of mine. And it's virtually impossible to conceive of a of a direct kind of measure or an attacker's notion that there can be persuasive on the part of the individual elector or citizen. The Certainly
there is in my judgment a sense that has come about as a result of this Tet Offensive that is sometimes described as a credibility gap but is more I think appropriately described in terms of the the way in which we should begin to face up realistically I think there's a sense realistically to this this whole war in a sense that we've we've been fed a great deal of guff. I'm Ira said. There we said this in terms of the Vietnam War before but it is is not just a question of credibility. It's a question of say that you consider the the I'm going to go off attack I'm in a come back to it. So you consider the communist in Vietnam your enemy and certainly a number of our soldiers have to consider him and that in that way at this point then one would say you have to be aware of what is going on in Vietnam and how this situation is in fact developing there.
And then one finds absolutely preposterous the statements AIX for example in January twenty seven thousand sixty six by Dean Rusk that he was not aware and it's in the news. And the reference I can give you is that in the Vietnam supplemental appropriations hearings that on that day he was not aware of the history between 154 and one thousand sixty in Vietnam and thus he said he saw no basis for answering it this is a year after this war had started him and he says at this time I would have to be further briefed on it. And then one begins to wonder do you know your enemy if that's your enemy do you know what kind of situation you're confronting. I've spoken to a number of mentioning too. Yes or it's either there or there's a I was down to the Army War College not too long ago and I got the most enthusiastic response I've ever gotten from their two hundred five officers there and half of them are our battalion
commanders from Vietnam there's one question a Medal of Honor winner. And he said you have to in order to consider the army carrying out a mission of nation building. You'd have to be totally ignorant of what the name of the army is capable and through its training programs of doing. You'd have to have no notion of how a soldier is PTS what he set up to do and and how he is he is supposed to train in. And one has to be one day and begins to wonder if you could get an electorate that was informed and did know these facts and I don't. Then you could begin to get an appraisal that might lead to changes of votes in a lot of other things but I'm the only thing I can do is NOT tell you how to vote or not I can get at it. But if that is to say who is to try to fulfill the only I think appropriate function of a of a person who engages in the academic work here and that is to try to say it to the best of my knowledge haven't gone through these these materials both within the government since I still work for the Department of State and in the and in the open materials.
Having gone through them as carefully as I know how they do say things that run totally counter. What the government says they say and that worries me and I think that you know you can say as you lay out what you you know and let people make up their own minds. When we are in an election year and certainly the channel this year is the ballot box the channel is also through support of the people who are have really stuck their necks out early within the Senate and other places and who are may not have had the full picture but who did have the interest of this country as well as of the Vietnamese people at heart and who often have not received very much support in their and
their policies. And to that extent it is as a citizen letter writing supporting things and of studying through leagues of Women Voters and through the thing of looking at the record and to a certain extent this kind of thing isn't but I am sufficiently in tune with the system if you will to say that used you still must go through these kinds of. Approaches that is painfully long and it is probably not going to work. IF YOU WANT TO MY MY ABSOLUTE rather gloomy prediction at this point I'm sad about that and I'm scared of sad about this country at this point because of that I don't think we're going to I think it's going to take a kind of cataclysm and we're moving towards that because of the situation that the that is that is happening where people are beginning to raise it I don't know whether there's enough time that we have in the one case the statistic where 24 percent of the electorate if I remember the statistic correctly supported President Johnson and his handling of the war. But on the other hand if you look at the other statistic I think it says if
I remember correctly and correct me if I'm wrong that at over 60 percent in fact do support the war and some kind of way. And as long as that war is being supported by over half the American people Johnson is not going to change his policy for whatever reason that they say they support or don't or don't see an alternative or what have you. Do we have one more question from the no into yes or no. You stated or you can go to your speech stating our strong stand in Vietnam has caused. Problems to actually eliminate the increasing Chinese involvement in the affairs of other nations in Southeast Asia. And yet it seems that almost the thesis of the entire other part of the speech was. Internal developments in China and the fact that a good deal of China or one neighbor has increased involvement in China or in Burma used the rolls. And rolls in Laos and even in
Vietnam would not exchange it some way as a result of changes within China itself. Even without the US you must take me on your. Own in a sense if it depends on like on anything. When you start your day in part I've already too I'd already tried to argue that at the time of the Tonkin Gulf affair we changed the context of the internal debate and set up a condition by which that the internal Chinese things were more directly related to the to the to the affairs in in Vietnam. It is always hard to say and it's probably impossible to sort out which is the direct cause and all you have here is is in a sense they're their own. Statements about themselves and our assessments in this country about what are there. There it is the general kind of approach to this problem and that problem and most of their statements reflect a sense that they do feel that
there is that there is a change because of the increasing amount of pressure being brought by the United States to bear in South Vietnam that where they would have predicted they've been wrong on this that the people's war would have brought about the collapse of American power. They have now come into consonance with their with their North Vietnamese colleagues which they weren't before in the sense that you you have to meet force with force you have to up the thing in order in order to beat them you can't beat them by a Maoist strategy of politics first and building up a political base and going through all these other things. They've shifted their aired their doctrine then in part because they feel that they may need to meet the increasing American involvement which they see they saw before they would have been the ones if any to have said that dissent in this country would would would have some impact. They don't any longer and they do say that there if there is then the only way to beat it is by meeting force with force it's a change. Doctrinally that is related here in a change particularly in the relationship of of their.
Their military strategy to Vietnam that is in part as I try to suggest independent but related to the crisis internally related by the fact that they they weren't succeeding internally they were going to a stalemate. They needed to have some kind of victory to validate Mao's doctrine and they they also saw it in that way so that the two were related and I wouldn't by any means excluding the internal affect here. But it is but the think both are of extreme importance. Thank you very much. You've been listening to an address by Dr. John Lewis professor at Cornell University and co-author of a current text on Vietnam. Dr. Lewis spoke in the series as we
see it Vietnam 68. This form of opinion featuring noted spokesmen on the war in Vietnam was sponsored by the Miami University student senate and organized by Dave speller Burke recording an editing was done by Miami University Radio WMUB in Oxford Ohio. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
As we see it: Vietnam '68
Dr. John Lewis
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Miami University (Oxford, Ohio)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3509. This prog.: Dr. John Lewis of Cornell U. and author of The United States and Vietnam
War and Conflict
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Producing Organization: WMUB
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Chicago: “As we see it: Vietnam '68; Dr. John Lewis,” 1968-07-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
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APA: As we see it: Vietnam '68; Dr. John Lewis. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from