The Link Between Vietnam and Nixon’s Recognition of China

A Disrespectful Loyalty, Episode 9

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burn and Lyn Novick

Film Review

Last night Maori TV showed part 9 of the Vietnam War series.

During the period covered (February 1970 – March 1973), Nixon’s sole focus with to withdraw US troops from Vietnam without losing the 1972 election. He knew he would be defeated if Saigon fell. Much of this episode consists of tape recordings of Nixon’s Oval Office conversations with his chief security advisor Henry Kissinger.

Although the filmmakers refer to 1/4 of US GIs using marijuana in Vietnam and 40,000 being addicted to heroin, for some reason they neglect to mention the South Vietnamese army was the main source of these drugs.

They do report on the growing influence of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and play an excerpt of former naval lieutenant John Kerry’s (a VVAW member) compelling testimony before a Senate investigative committee.

1971 also saw the New York Times publican of the Pentagon Papers, leaked by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. This Defense Department study, covering 1945-1967, revealed successive US presidents had been continuously lying to the American public regarding their true motives waging war in Vietnam.

Nixon’s paranoia about documents Ellsberg and others might possess about his own lies led him to create “The Plumbers,” a secret team that broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office (in the hope of finding material they could use to blackmail him).

Much of this episode focuses on the Paris peace talks, and Nixon’s efforts to force North Vietnam to agree to a favorable peace treaty. To this end, he resumed bombing raid on North Vietnam, which were far more brutal (in terms of civilian casualties) than those Johnson had been condemned for.

I was surprised to learn that Nixon’s recognition of Communist China (after nearly 40 years) was part of a ploy to increase Chinese and Russian pressure on their North Vietnamese allies to sign a peace settlement favorable to the US.

The latter would be signed on January 23,1973, and over the next few weeks the last US troops would leave Vietnam.

As of March 1973, over 58,000 GIs and 2 million Vietnamese had been killed in North Vietnam.

 

George Seldes: Fighting the Corporate Takeover of the Press

Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press

Directed by Rick Goldsmith (1996)

Film Review

Tell the Truth and Run is a tribute to muckraking* journalist George Seldes, released shortly after his death at 104. It takes its title from a book Seldes published in 1952. It includes an extensive interview with Seldes at age 98, detailed biographical sketches and commentary by prominent activists, whistleblowers and media reformers (including Ralph Nader, Daniel Ellsberg and Ben Badikian, Victor Navksy and Jeff Cohen) who were influenced by his work.

Born in 1890, Seldes first became a reporter at 18, just as all major dailies were starting to rely on advertisers (instead of readers) for their funding base. As this occurred, investigative journalists seeking to expose government and corporate corruption began writing for the monthly magazines instead. Bankster JP Morgan and other industrial robber barons put an end to this by buying up all the monthly magazines.

Seldes quit his first job at the Pittsburgh Leader after the publisher spiked a story he wrote about the son of a department store magnate who raped a female staff member.

Following an eye opening stint in the US military press corps during World War I, Seldes became a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. He first ran into difficulty at that paper for exposing the violent and corrupt nature of Mussolini’s fascist regime – at a time when the US government and all the major newspapers were pro-Mussolini (owing to banker JP Morgan’s desire to refinance Italy’s World War I debt).

Seldes quit the Tribune in 1927 and published the first two of a series best selling books (You Can’t Print That and Can These Things Be?) based on all his material the Tribune refused to publish between 1918 and 1928.

Between 1940-1950 he put out the weekly newsletter In Fact: An Antidote to Falsehoods in the Daily Press. He would use the newsletter to expose the FBI role in spying on labor unions and  corporate media’s failure to report on 1940s research documenting health problems associated with smoking. He was also the first investigative journalist to expose the role of major Wall Street corporations in supporting Hitler’s rise to power.


* A term applied to American investigative reporters, novelists and critics of the Progressive Era (1890-1930)