tv 1968 - America in Turmoil 2018 The Cold War CSPAN December 31, 2018 10:40pm-12:13am EST
back to the cold war. the cold war provided the backdrop for the offensive 9060. weather in vietnam, the presidential campaign, or in the states race. is 1968 came to a close, the apollo 8 mission sent three astronauts into the's orbit for the first time. their lives as was the broadcast reading from genesis was watched by millions worldwide. you saved the 1968 said one telegram. our guests are alyssa cup, historian, doctorate of film maker and hoover institution fellow and mark kramer, co- program director at hope harvard university. first, here's a look back at the apollo 8 mission. >> december 21, 1968. the shortest day of the year. insignificant but perhaps the longest in the flow of history.
>> this is apollo 8. t-minus 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, nine, we have ignition sequence. the engines are on. four, three, two, one, zero. we have connect, we have lift off. left off at 7:50 1 am eastern standard time. we have cleared. >> we are clear, 13 seconds. the united states was undertaking the most distant voyage ever attempted by man. for the first time, three americans will travel by moon rocket.
>> roger, tli. >> tli. translator insertion. this was the commitment. foreman, lovell and anders were ready for the maneuver that would send them to the moon. as the world listened and watched, the people were overtaken by a new awareness and a real is that they were watching the ultimate destiny of man. >> global confirms ignition. the thrust is okay. >> onboard the spacecraft, emission control, the men of apollo 8 watched the readout. velocity buildup in seconds. the numbers snowballing. the velocity that would allow the spacecraft to escape earth's gravity. speech at the nasa film from
december 1968. we conclude the nine part series here on c-span. american history tv. joining us here in the studio in washington mark kramer, project director for the cold war studies program at harvard university. thank you for being with us. and elizabeth cobbs, professor at texas a&m university and a senior fellow at the hoover institution. let's talk about the intersection of what was happening in 1968. you had the escalation of the vietnam war, the political turmoil with lyndon johnson announcing that he would not seek another term. in large part because of vietnam and then the heightened tensions with the cold war. in the excepted expansion. that was in czechoslovakia. >> a bad year. it was a year where it seems like all the strands came together at once. north korea became more opportunistic and at times actually launch a kind of
situation where they might be able to open up the southern front. taking advantage of the vietnam war and the tet offensive. and then czechoslovakia which was a moment, like so much of 1968, everything changed for the better. and then the cold war comes and slams it down. >> explained what happens with the soviets moving into czechoslovakia and why that was such a significant milestone. >> in a way czechoslovakia was so important because it helped to start the cold war. the united states created the marshall plan and the truman doctrine was around czechoslovakia originally. and then went czechoslovakia started a program of reform and lifting censorship, and creating a more open government, the soviets came down and shut that down. and then what happens after that is then leonid brezhnev came in. he was called the brezhnev doctrine.
by the end of '68, all these wonderful flowering of possibilities for dialogue and freedom had been decisively cut off. we said we will intervene not in the government. >> what was the domino theory? >> that was the idea that developed after world war ii. that if one country fell to communism that others might as well. specifically in the case of indochina, the feeling was that if south vietnam was overtaken by the communist in the north, that laos and cambodia would follow. that doctrine or that notion was inspired in part by what had happened in eastern europe right after world war ii when various governments, mostly in central and eastern europe fell to communism. in that case it was through
direct soviet occupation. the concern in asia is that it would come about through indigenous guerrillas that would take over. >> who was sending the north korean government at the time? >> the north koreans, they were the north vietnamese were very heavily armed by both the soviet union and china. however, the soviet union and china were at odds at that point. so they were competing with each other for a greater influence in north vietnam. that worked out well for the north vietnamese because they could play them off against each other and get more weapons. >> what about north korea? who was there and explained what was happening and how that is relevant to what we see today? >> in north korea, again, it's playing both sides against the middle. they had patrons in the soviet union and china. at the same time they were
always doing their own thing. for example, they seized the uss pueblo. that was our ship. what happened there was that the pueblo was on his final mission or spy mission and we considered it international waters. but it was beyond the 12 mile limit. what happened in january of 1968 was that the north korean seized this american naval ship. it was lightly armed, it was ill-prepared. they were unable to fight off the submarine chasers and the mixed fighters that when after the ship. so the interesting thing about that was that neither the chinese nor the soviets were aware this would happen. so this really was something that was instigated by the north koreans. they saw it as possibly an opportunity to start another war. they would say liberate the south. the south korea. >> politically, you mentioned
leonid brezhnev who was the leader of the soviet union. he was dealing with jimmy carter when we saw him later. where was he politically in 1968? >> he had been a rising star for a long time. within the soviet union. so he was in the process of gaining power. so when he orders for example the invasion of czechoslovakia, he is really taking the reins of power. and guiding the soviet union and the direction he wants. egypt take us back to what you think president johnson was thinking as he said more troops to vietnam and is looking at the broader picture was and what was driving forward.
it led in short order to his decision in march not to seek reelection and to begin de- escalating. >> the johnson white house putting together once a month films that highlighted what he was doing. this is from july 1968 as president johnson traveled to hawaii and met with the south vietnamese president. >> on july 18, president johnson arrived in honolulu for meetings with south vietnam's president. president johnson: at all of our meetings over the past two and a half years, >> at all of our oumeetings ove the past 2.5 years, you have stressed your country's policy of reconciliation and peace. since we met last december, talks have begun in paris.
we devoutly hope that they are the first step on the difficult path to peace. and honorable peace, under which the people of your country will determine their own future. mr. president, our pledge to help your people defeats aggression, and stands firm. against all obstacles and against any deception. we want you to take back to your countrymen our hope and our conviction that their courage and their faith will be rewarded with a just peace with full freedom.
>> president johnson in july 1968, mark kramer, let's state where the country was at that time. vice president humphrey was about to be nominated as the democratic candidate. lyndon johnson was trying to bring a peaceful end to the war in vietnam. where was he politically, where was his military and where was his defense department? >> johnson was deeply shaken not only by the assassination of robert kennedy but two months earlier the assassination of martin luther king. there is several violence in the united states. it escalated in 1967 in 1968 including here in washington dc. johnson wanted to focus on domestic priorities. that was always his major
interest. he was consumed from early on by the war in vietnam. that is why in his final year in office he wanted to focus on whatever priorities he could do while trying to bring a peaceful end to the war. hubert humphrey was initially not the favored candidate. he was put forth by johnson as someone who can continue his programs to withstand a reasonable chance against richard nixon. johnson did not like robert kennedy. that was no secret. he was uneasy at the same time and was deeply saddened by kennedy's assassination. >> at the same time, the apollo program continues to grow with research being done in florida and texas at cape canaveral and
the johnson state center. apollo 8 we saw in the video a moment ago launched in december 1968. >> the thing about the cold war is that it brought out the worst and the best in america. part of that was a peaceful competition with the so be, soviet union regarding space. when the soviets heard about the satellite, they got going and launched the first satellite which was sputnik. foreign capitals at the time was sputnik one over the world and it would go eat the beep until washington and it would say hot, hot, hot. the space race was part of this whole thing. they not only beat us to the first satellite, they beat us to the first man in space. and again they were beating us in 1968. they had the first lunar orbit. they put up two turtles and some mealworms.
the united states at that moment decided they would change the mission of apollo weight which would be to orbit the earth but they put men orbiting the moon. that is what the mission was. >> we are looking at incredible pictures from nasa. 50 years ago. america in turmoil. frank, tim, and william. >> i am sure it must've been thrilling to them. they were supposed to run a much more pedestrian type of orbit. instead, here they are, the first human beings to be in that part of space orbiting the moon. and so it is a remarkable thing that on christmas eve day beamed back to the world a message to everybody. the cold war was a combination
of who we want to be and who we are forced to be by the circumstances their message on christmas eve, goodwill to everyone. >> we are dividing our phone lines a little bit differently. for those of you 50 and over, 202-748-8001. and for those other two you, 202-748-8000. >> what i remember about it directly is the picture for the detroit tigers who won 31 games. i remember the kennedy assassination and certainly martin luther king's association. my parents were upset. in retrospect as a scholar, i have written extensively about 1968 particularly the invasion of czechoslovakia, the spring that preceded it, and it is a combination of things we have
been discussing the combination of the vietnam war and the unrest in the united states. the apparent promise of major change in the communist world brought to a crushing end. the pueblo incident with the north koreans. the kind of despair that was there at the end of the year despite apollo weight in the message, the upbeat message it conveyed. there still was a real sense that american society was not holding together while, together well. >> it was a year of moral crisis . all of the things have been building since 1945 or 1947. it all comes home. the cold war was profound. this idea of taking responsibility for every major crisis around the world. and as i said, civil rights,
discrimination in america was always delightful to our enemies and the despair of our friends. we had been working on all of these things. 1968 was a culmination of that. that was true all around the world. there were major riots in mexico city. major riots in paris. the cultural revolution in china. it was a turning point in world history that caught us all. >> why was pso elusive for president johnson that year? >> it was mostly because of the political effect in the united states. it was quite poisonous. before long it led to overt campaigns against the war with democratic candidates. particularly robert kennedy who tried to pick up that mantle.
martin luther king had come out explicitly against the war which he had avoided because he knew it would antagonize johnson. even though they had an an easy relationship, they work together productively on civil rights issues. and so ultimately, it alluded johnson because the north vietnamese were not interested in peace. they wanted to win on the battlefield and they were confident they could do it. the chinese were encouraging them to do that. the soviet union was a different matter. the soviet union began to raise the question of oil futures with the north vietnamese listening to that. >> these talks taking place in paris more from 1968 and the johnson white house. on march 31 president johnson had ordered bombing in all
areas of north vietnam except the immediate panhandle about the dmc. an area where infiltrators and supplies of war continued to pour. >> as a result of this decision, the talks with hanoi began in paris on may 13. during september the ambassador , president's chief negotiator at the talks reported that after four months and 21 formal sessions there still have been no subnet, subnet it to discussions. they clung to their long-held demand that all bombing must stop. before they would discuss anything else. the president and close counsel with his top military and
foreign affairs advisers repeatedly asked for assurances that hanoi would reciprocate with some form of military de- escalation should the bombing be completely stop. no such assurance was forthcoming. >> that is from the johnson white house going back to your early point. you had richard nixon who had his own plan to get out of vietnam, or did he? >> nixon always promised to get out of vietnam. the evidence is there, archival evidence that nixon made an effort to halt into really for you johnson's peace efforts in october 1968 as part of his campaign. in many ways some people think this was worse than anything he did in watergate. he wanted to put a monkey wrench in the efforts in late october because of the concern that johnson was getting close and they could trade this
bombing halt for a movement. we will never know. the north vietnamese were determined. it's easy to play those things in black-and-white. if johnson's program had been able to proceed without the south vietnamese being told not to compromise because you will get a better deal under nixon, something else may have happened. it is a terrible tragedy for the united states and vietnam. >> the war would not formally come to an end for another seven years. >> 1968, america in turmoil. as we wrap up our series on c- span, mark kramer from harvard university and elizabeth clogs from the hoover institution at texas a&m university. stewart is joining us from mechanicsville virginia. >> good morning. happy mother's day to all of the mothers out there. i was born, i graduated high
school in 1968 at the age of 17 . i asked my father if he would sign for me to join the core. and he told me to remove my head from another part of my anatomy. i turned 18 and july. i went down and signed up to join. i failed the physical because i blew a neat playing football that last fall. at any rate, the army took me. i will tell you what the cold war was. the guys who did serve came back. if you had short hair you were shunned. i had one friend come to the airport in california and somebody asked him, they said, how many babies did you kill. he said i have and killed one
soul. if you don't get out of my face, you will be the first. >> let's give our guests to respond. why was that sentiment so prevalent in the late 1960s and early 1970s? >> i do not know. i really don't. if you had a short haircut, you are likely trying to get a date. it was very difficult back in those years. it really was. i do not know why it was. a small percentage served and armed forces. most people were either in college or something. i had one friend, one friend who was with the tip of the spear. he was first out of calvary. he was only there for 45 days. he was in 27 firefights. he was only 19 years old.
i mean, think about it. >> thank you for the mother's day wishes. i think that there was that moment where being an american was something people were questioning. some people looked in the mirror and said, i do not like what i see when i see america. and then, was your hair long, did you have a beard, at one point early in history during the peace corps one of the volunteers had a beard. another man made them shave it because he looked too much like fidel castro. so we had become very attuned in a way to the fashions which seem to speak volumes and say things about who we were identifying with. they were terrible times for the young men who served, some of them.
they were incredible circumstances and terrible. >> we will go to georgia next. >> yes, good morning. i wish everyone a happy mother's day also. i just want to asked dr. kramer, i am a two tour vietnam vet, 71 years old. i grew up in florida. we lost 41 young soldiers from this county. in the vietnam war. my question as i come back and read a lot about the vietnam era, i took a trip back to vietnam in 1998. we flew into hanoi and i was going over there mainly to revisit some of the areas i had served. what struck me was the way the
vietnamese people, the eagerness of them wanting to engage me in conversation, the young people wanted to get my email address. it was amazing the reception i got. no one talked about the vietnam war. and then a few months ago, we had a u.s. navy carrier call on the name for the first time in 50 years. here is my question to dr. kramer. i believe in the sense that we as veterans is served over there we were young and just happened to be the age of being drafted, i was in rotc. we happen to be the soldiers of that time. i believe we did accomplish something in the sense that that last domino fell, but cambodia, thailand, malaysia, those countries did not. so my question is, do you see that
maybe we who served did have some change in a sense, the ending of the cold war? that is my question. >> first of all, thank you for your service to the country which i certainly appreciate. the outcome of the war cannot just be judged by what happened in april 1975 with the fall of saigon. it has to be looked at in a larger context. what would have happened if the south had fallen much sooner? if the north vietnamese had been overwhelmed? at a time, neighboring countries could've fallen as well. the war achieved a good deal. there is no question, for example, the south which had a tough political system but was much more pluralistic than the totalitarian did advance.
that was largely big cause of, largely because of u.s. troops. i think overall for whatever reason you can point to domestic backlash or other things, you do have to look at vietnam ultimately as a failure for the united states. even if potentially it could've worked out more successfully. i agree with you that there were important things achieved there. among other things, it deterred other forces from contemplating launching that type of assault the vietcong and north vietnamese had. again, ultimately a failure, but with certain successes along the way. >> a key element of the cold war was the nuclear stockpile. let's tell a radio audience
what the u.s. was facing in 1968. you can see we had more than 29,000 warheads. the soviet union had just over 9000. great britain has 317. france 36 and china 35. beginning in the early 1970, you can see the decline in the nuclear stockpile. still significant for the u.s. and russia. >> the nuclear arms race of course had been going on since 1949 when the soviets commanded and dropped their first bomb. the oddity of it all was that this was part of the mutual assured destruction. if you can get enough bombs yet everyone is afraid to pull the trigger. it was mad. it was mad.
from the beginning there had been talks about how to create a situation where you could begin to drop back down. one of the big accomplishments of that period was signing of the nuclear nonpolar reparation treaty and an effort to bring back this escalation that a been gone, going on for such a long time. ireland put forward the first proposal in a un general assembly back in 1961. everyone was affected by that. and that is something that began to get a bit of a hold on after 1968. >> you wrote a piece about the five myths of the cold war. who was our enemy during this period? there are numerous imminent, numerous enemies. the u.s. saw the soviet union as
the chief enemy. there were smaller ones like north vietnam. north korea, and certainly the people's republic of china. in fact, in the 1960s the prc the chinese had replaced the soviet union for a while as the most hostile to the united states. ultimately until the late 80s the soviet union was a overriding enemy for the united states from 1945 or the late 40s until the end of the cold war. >> our next collar is from michigan. go ahead. >> good morning. in 1968 i was 19 years old and i had a four year did ferment. after i saw walter cronkite i
was against the war. i turned down my deferment and volunteered to go to vietnam. they wanted to see me to school but i had to go to vietnam. i had to work against the war. i had to have a gun and bombs if i was going to go. while i was in transit to my station i read the autobiography chi minh . i don't know how my father survived that war. i had a debt to pay for helping my father stay alive. i got every antiwar paper. i passed them out to the gis. the biggest piece march was held on a beach where i did most of my organizing. there is a flag at the base and i reported it. one year later there was a
fracking. that is what stopped the war. that is where he said i've got to get this army out of vietnam before they destroy themselves. we were going to take over the military. i was just a working-class kid from chicago. i did not want to fight. i wanted to go to vietnam. i succeeded. we succeeded. we stop the war and we stopped the draft. god bless them. kent state happened while i was in vietnam and i was outraged. i don't want to tell you what i would've done if nixon came in my sites. it was a time where you had to be there. every g.i. i pass the paper out to and no one received, no one refused it . >> run, we can sense your
emotion in your voice. it has been 50 years. >> it has not stop. i have two sons who did not go in the military. i'm sorry to brag, but i have instilled in him the same notion. he loves his country and i love my country. we do not want to see our country destroyed back then are now. >> there's a big difference, this is where i think the military is an honorable profession and be proud if they do serve in the military. there is a big difference between the holidays and the time you were there in 1968. there is military constriction in the united states which was against the grain of philosophy. the shift to military constriction after the second world war and particularly
after the korean war was a big change. it was always an easy in american society. in 1968 when young men were being constricted, it helped to spur the domestic opposition. it was one of the major factors in the growing unrest on the u.s. campuses. american society was coming up with civil unrest and violence in the streets and large-scale protest on large campuses. the movement among veterans as well as serving soldiers in vietnam against the war. all of that came together. that is why the united states over more than 45 years now has had an all volunteer force. that makes a very different today. >> the combination of the cold
war, the vietnam war and the political turmoil in the united states and the race for space is our focus. we also have a twitter poll. nearly 26,000 of you have weighed in. did the u.s. win the space race? join in by following us on twitter. diddly win? >> did we win? >> i think we did. we are going into space not because it's easy, but because it is hard. this is a challenge we intend to win. that is the whole point of the cold war. it is not like it was just a challenge of who gets to be king of the hill. what is the world going to be like? will the world, the association of peaceful states or not? we got a man on the moon and
the soviets didn't. we shared a space station with them. a larger goal, one that we always had of a more secure world where people do not have to send their children out to be slaughtered to protect the sovereignty of the nation. that is what both countries are striving for. ultimately, we got together on it. >> this mission from apollo weight set the groundwork for neil armstrong to be the first man to walk on the moon. >> think of the difference. in january 1967, just the year before, apollo 1 exploded with deaths of the three astronauts. think of the brave marie, think of the bravery of the men who went into that capsule. the next year we had three men on the moon. >> we hope you will add to
those 26,000 people who have weighed in. >> good morning. having been born in the late 50s, i just remember growing up and my childhood seem to be traumatic. my father was news magazines, radio, and he consumed information. it was brought into our household and all of the turmoil of the time was seared into my mind. i was four or five years old when president kennedy was killed. and then the trauma, i don't need to go into all of it, but i served under reagan during the cold war. it is hard to explain to veterans and young guys in uniform now how the country was locked in this battle for
control of the globe. i know your guests don't want to get into current politics, but that is why it boggles my mind how the current commander- in-chief enjoys support of the military, many of which are old enough to remember the cold war. this gentleman who was part of the kgb during that time, during my time in office there would've been talk amongst us of a firing squad. thank you. >> first of all, bob, thank you for your service to the country. the major thing i would say is that times have changed now. there are things that are feasible now that would have been inconceivable during the time the cold war was underway. 1968, there was progress especially in the communist bloc and it came to a crushing
end with the invasion of czechoslovakia. the war in vietnam had taken an unfortunate turn. the north koreans had ceased the pueblo. the cold war was very vividly underway at that point. nowadays, there are major problems with numerous countries . they are a different order compared to what was out there in 1968 and during other years of the cold war. >> and he brought up what it was like here on the home front . the rising concerns of vietnam , were taking a look at how children should prepare for the possibility of a nuclear attack.
>> at the request of the office of civil and defense mobilization the united states army chemical corps has developed a mask especially for civilian use. this mask protects the wearer against biological and chemical attack by purifying the air inhaled. filter pads in the mask absorb toxic gases and screen out radioactive dust and particles carried in the air. particles which are called microbial organisms. the mask is comfortable. it features good visibility and ease of breathing and prevents condensation with that there's. >> that is advising students to hide under their desks. >> right. it left an apocalyptic sense. that's what's hard to convey to people today is because of
nuclear weapons. i remember thinking that world war i or world war ii of course is going to be three. i can count. people had the feeling that what happened. it is so different today though. war between nations has declined every decade since the 1940s. and so the attempt to create a more harmonious world environment has actually worked. the collar was saying his dad was a news man. he was reliving the 24 hour news cycle that we all live today. sometimes that gives us a sensation that things are a lot more apocalypses than they are. >> we actually cooperate now. those elements of progress need to be appreciated and recognized. >> elizabeth is a senior fellow
and professor of history at texas a&m university. and marcus kramer is joining us and he is the program director at harvard's project on the cold war and david is from los angeles. go ahead please. >> good morning and happy mother's day. i would like to chime in regarding the assassinations as well as the cold war and the military industrial complex. as far as the cold war is concerned, we mentioned the marshall plan. here in the united states, we were out our peak. the only difference was south africa and the united states, the difference was mandela was assassinated. there was someone who said the
united states had amnesia in the ways in which we do history. it is like that period was america's zenith. >> david, thanks for the call. >> let me take issue with that, david. the united states had been a deeply racist society not only with a lengthy history was slavery but then with the 100 years with racial segregation and institutionalized racism in the united states. i think lyndon johnson who in 1968 decided not to run for reelection, he deserves immense credit for his incremental role in getting past the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965.
i would largely agree with you. until that time you could argue the united states had that system. it came to an end at least legally at that point. there continue to be problems with racism and continue to be to this day. but i think you shouldn't underestimate the crucial role that lyndon johnson played. there might have been no other president that could've done that. he had the credibility as a southerner and a hugely positive relationship with various key figures in the u.s. senate. >> i think the key senate and in many ways i highly agree regarding segregation throughout the 20th century. the critical difference between the u.s. and a country like south africa is that the united states had an original way of looking at itself. all men are created equal.
even though it was thomas jefferson who wrote those words, they establish a direction that was hard for the country to resist. and that is what i think really allowed people not only at the beginning of the country but the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the constitution. they were able to bring that to fruition. so yes, the ways of people acted were just as vicious and violent and cruel. but that law is what was our guiding star and thank goodness people like johnson and king helped us get there. >> different countries, different time period and different players. under the category of learning from the lessons of history, what the soviet union, are there lessons to what we are
seeing in north korea today with russia and china? >> i think absolutely. there's always this thing where the united states plays the bad cop. countries like china get to play the good cop. it seems to be very important for us to be putting more on those countries. they are the ones who have a border. the chinese are quite fearful. they're going to get all of those north koreans to take care of. what ever can be done to push those countries and call their bluff because otherwise the united states is carrying the burden. >> i would agree. the thing that is very different now and works in the u.s. favor is that basically russia, china, and the united states have a lot of overlapping agreement about north korea.
that wasn't the case in north vietnam. the interest of the soviet union and china, particularly china were starkly at odds with those in the united states. in some ways it is an easier issue to try to deal with that there is greater room for negotiations that would be helped by the russians and the chinese. >> if you're interested, this nine part series is available as a podcast. check it out on our website or wherever you get your podcasts. vicki is joining us from twin falls, idaho. >> hello. this period of time you were talking about, i lifted. i was born in 1951. a little while ago the lady said that war has been on the decline. american soldiers have been dying my whole life in some
place in the world, somewhere all the time. and the building of this international socialist system, i feel like i was deceived my whole life. while we are told we have a capitalist country here, we do not. we have a centrally planned economy. and this international socialist system that they are building, globalization they call it, they plan on rolling the world and what you could call catch fascism. >> i'm an ardent supporter of globalization. the united states in the aftermath of the second world war set about fostering an international economic system that promoted open trade, open
free trade and it was immensely beneficial for the world. it led to huge increases in global income. it was certainly beneficial for the united states. that is why i regret that over the last year or so there have been attacks on that system. but still the system of globalization should not be described as international socialism. quite the opposite. china and integrating itself later on into the international economic system discarded some of the elements of the socialistic economy. it was still an economist dictatorship but it has increasingly taken on, it is the opposite of what you are describing. >> i think i would respectfully disagree with that. although i absolutely empathize
with this worry and concern. the interesting thing about that, that number has declined. as bad as it is, that 24 hour news cycle that constantly reminds us tends to overlook the trend. that trend has been made possible by globalization for the reason that before world war ii, the only way a country could get ahead, countries like the soviet union or german , germany that they had to take over to become wealthy. you can get ahead by trading peaceably with your neighbors. the vietnamese, south koreans and the chinese communist have come to embrace that. they see it actually works better.
the chinese came to this on their own. largely because the united states always held to the idea that we can provide a better model for the world. if we could be our best self. others would want to emulate that over time and for the most part they have. >> brian, thank you for waiting. >> i hate to quibble about something, but apollo one did not explode. it had an oxygen fire. it might've been better for the three astronauts if it had exploded. it's hard to believe that nasa would think they could keep 15 pounds per square inch of pure oxygen in the capsule without a problem if there was a spark and that's what killed those three astronauts. >> you are right about that.
it was a terrible thing. the use of pure oxygen. also they had flammable materials inside the capsule. the door couldn't open from the inside out. all of these mistakes that were then later corrected were very sad. >> this illustrates the impact of the cold war. the cold war was driving the space race much faster than i probably should have gone. it meant cutting corners on some safety concerns. ultimately the number was very small. it worked out okay, but looking back on it, you have to be somewhat disconcerted to see how the cold water, cold war probably carried them out
before they should've been. i am happy with the way it worked out overall despite the loss of the apollo 1 astronauts. it is the way the cold war caught the united states and the soviet union to do certain things. >> stephanie is next. >> good morning to everyone and happy mother's day. i was born in 1950 and just graduating high school in 1968. i skipped my prom so i could go to washington and demonstrate against the war. it was such a year. it was like everything happened so fast. you could not recover from one event until the next event happen. you were constantly thinking, what happens next? and that nuclear threat that we were faced with since kindergarten, get under your
desk or run home so you can see your parents one last time. don't trust anyone over 30. we did not even think we were going to get to 30. it all happened so quickly. and then it all kind of just disappeared so quickly. after the 70s when the war was finally over, it was a different time and place again. one of the reasons why people were so against the war was that you could get drafted at eight team, but you could not vote. so these forces were so beyond her control. you were being buffeted by these things. and then later i learned that communism, it really was an economic system more than it was a political system. we were taught to be so frightened of it.
it was a very hard time i think, for everyone. i think it is a very hard time for everyone now. >> stephanie, thank you. >> it was meant to be an economic system. it also was a political system. it began in the soviet union and every country which came under communist rule. it was a confusing thing and i can completely relate to what you are saying. why should we care about someone else's economic system? there was such brutality. the way it was christ, the way the soviet union rolled over its neighbors after world war ii. i think that one thing we forget, something seem to happen all at once. i think that for a lot of
policymakers at that time, they have lived to six weeks are eight weeks in whichgermany hunted all of western europe. so it might seem silly to us now but those threats were real. but then the solutions were not as clear. and i think we did make some important mistakes and trying to solve the problem. there was a real issue that people were contending. >> apollo 1, the three astronauts who lost their lives, this is from time magazine in 1967. and then leading to the apollo 8 mission and then neil armstrong who successfully landed on the moon in 1969. >> good morning. concerning this cold war, mr. gorbachev sat across the table from george hw bush and the
soviet union was split up. and all bush had to do to promise was to stay out of his business. but we americans, we violated that immediately with the booklet. we just cannot mind their own business. >> the state have a point? >> first of all as elizabeth has pointed out, in the aftermath of the cold war, the late 80s on, there has been a steady decline in the number of people killed in conflict in the number of international conflicts going on.
but still, it has declined quite markedly. and that certainly includes americans despite the tragic number who lost their lives in iraq and afghanistan. it is a tiny fraction of those who lost their lives in vietnam. so it is true that the united states has had a propensity over the last 70 odd years of being a global policeman. there is significant, even though there is a very significant counter sentiment, it is hard for u.s. presidents when called on by other countries or when pushed by domestic forces to refrain from somehow taking a leading role in the world. >> i think madeleine albright said it right.
you are darned if you do and turned if you don't. there is an expectation that others have had and we will step in we try to umpire these conflicts all the time. i think but we are lacking is a kind of leadership we look beyond for the next 70 years. we've been doing this since 1947. it's always an odd thing where it is expected but not legitimate. is not legitimated by american law. and yet people expected and demanded. it is a conundrum that we have faced for a while. how do we get others to take more responsibility without being bad partners ourselves? we have helped to create a wonderful structure of world security and we need to appreciate that and sustain that.
one way is by developing good partners in making sure we are not carrying this burden that has's ricocheting from one issue to the next. >> we are going to see president dwight eisenhower. he left in 1961. did he have influence as a former president? >> you know, yes and no. i think some of our viewers have indicated the military industrial complex. when he left office he warned against the military industrial complex. i think those words echoed throughout this time. >> certainly, president kennedy consulted with eisenhower. on the other hand, kennedy had run
against then vice president under richard nixon. was harshly critical of the eisenhower administration including unfounded allegations of the missile gap. so i wouldn't say a very warm relationship between kennedy and eisenhower. that continued under johnson. there will always be consultations when important issues came up including vietnam. eisenhower remained a more revered figure in american society and not so much of an influential political figure. >> you have just returned from the czech republic. >> yes, i have. i was there 18 months ago. i wanted to call it czechoslovakia which it no longer is. the number of countries has multiplied.
how are the soviet troops received in czechoslovakia? >> was shock and dismay. the idea that you don't have control over your own country is a terrible thing. >> again, people hunker down and survive. that was the case in eastern europe. >> there was a big difference. in 1956, hungarian, 750 soviet troops were killed and 2500 hungarians were killed. in 1968 there was no violence resistance. they were dismayed and in shock to find that soviet and east european forces had come in to crush them. they also knew that if they tried to resist violently, it would be mercilessly crushed.
there were about 100 people killed in the invasion. there wasn't anything like the carnage in 1956. >> so from the white house, the johnson white house in this film that includes former president dwight eisenhower. >> a walter reed army hospital, former president dwight eisenhower suffered a heart attack and was on the critical list. he had never taken kindly to defeat. and what president and mrs. johnson visited him, they found he had rallied and was in good spirits. sli commander in world war ii, one of the countries general eisenhower help liberate was czechoslovakia pushing tyranny from its boundaries . but just
23 years later, the central european republic was ravaged by the forces of aggression. on august 20, armies of the soviet union, poland, hungary, bulgaria, and east germany invaded czechoslovakia. seizing the country in a few hours. the soviet industry lights burned late. even as russian tanks rumbled into prague, soviet ambassador called white house special assistant to present moscow's official reason for the invasion. the memorandum which set the soviet bloc forces had acted at the request of check leaders to safeguard the country against the person of elements sounded hollow indeed. >> from the summer of 1968 and
courtesy of the johnson library , back to your phone calls as we look back 50 years. american turmoil. deborah from richmond, virginia . >> good morning and happy mother's day. it's always unusual for me to think about all of the devastation all over the world. we make it into something heroic. i never could understand that. america has bombed the rest of the world. it doesn't make sense to blame it on europe and it is wrong. >> you know, deborah. i completely understand what you're saying. i know that that is the common belief. there is a lot of evidence for it. but we tend to not remember or even know is to the extent to which other countries have
asked us for protection. when you look at what has happened and you say costs, why didn't they just kick us out? why do we have bases all over the world? those countries want us there. most of the places where american soldiers serve a broad like south korea, japan, britain, germany, etc.. if the united states was an empire, they could ask us to leave. america is in an empire. france kicked us out in 1966. what did the united states do? we laughed. and the same is true of the philippines. we are aware of our own motivations. if you travel abroad and work from abroad, a lot of those folks ponies there. nobody likes to be dependent on somebody else. it is critical and at the same
time desired. >> mark kramer a key player that continues to come up. >> dean rusk started out as secretary of state under president kennedy and was one of the few holdovers who stayed throughout the johnson administration. there were others like mcnamara and others who served under kennedy. very few of them stayed until the end and that included mcnamara left. dean rusk was a very capable figure, a southerner like johnson. he had a very close relationship with johnson and also johnson's national security advisor during this time in 1968. that means that dean rusk on the one hand was committed to
the vietnam war. he wanted to help johnson in that effort. but was also increasingly conscious, i think that things were not working out very well there. that did not diminish his support for the war, but it did mean that he began to look for other issues and he accomplished quite a bit in policy for western europe. the president of france posed a direct challenge to the united states. that required a great deal of finesse and diplomacy to try to mend those breaches and try to keep nato from falling apart. dean rusk is one of the major figures in trying to work that out. even though vietnam did not work out well, he did have other significant accomplishments. >> and converselychi minh . what drove him? >> vietnam has a long history,
2000 years of worrying about its independence. conquered by china for 1000 years. china came back and tried to conquer them again. vietnam is a country and not a war. and they were passionate about reuniting that whole country. and of course he felt the way to do that was from a communist system. so that's been there throughout history. definitely a communist and a feeling he was on the vanguard of world revolution. that is what 1968 was about. world revolution was spreading everywhere. and so chi minh fed on that. >> barry, you are next from new hampshire. >> good morning and happy
mother's day. an earlier caller mentioned he thought military people that are in power presently won't remember how bad vietnam was and some of our experiences. i remember i served from 1962 could 1963. i became quite friendly with an officer. a few days before i was discharged in germany, he said to me, he was trying to talk me into staying in which i had, he said, vietnam isn't much, but it's the only war we've got. i use the term life for not, i went back in. i love the army.
sometimes people forget that eisenhower whatever it tired as a lieutenant colonel if it wasn't for world war ii. secretly they want a chance for advancement and it is understandable. we now have what washington advises to avoid. we have created a military casts on the military side and the officers side and i don't think it bodes well for the country in many ways. i think it is beneficial to see the rednecks who claim they will never integrate ole miss in the morning have to take orders from a black nco from harlem. >> i know her guests one away again.
>> i think you are absolutely right. the world's largest neutral nation for the first 150 years of its existence. and they made a deliberate decision that was debated in congress openly in 1947 as to whether or not take on this bigger role between the truman doctrine and the marshall plan. the military part and the financial part of helping to promote world peace. it was really to the advantage of everybody that that happened. what has happened since is that this logic has remained more or less in question. no system works for ever. it is good to plan for what comes next. we have this industrial complex that is problematic for the united states. that has let us down rows that are not always good roads to be going down. you make an important point.
>> mark kramer, one of the major achievements for johnson was the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. >> it has been under discussion for several years. mostly between the united states and the soviet union but increasingly as elizabeth mentioned, much smaller countries like ireland and india , in terms of weapons capability. they have been pushing this for a long time. the treaty was ultimately a way of trying to deal with the german question short of an outright settlement of a second world war because the status of germany wasn't really resolved until 1990.
there were important agreements achieved in the early 70s. one major step toward all of that was the nonproliferation treaty. that is why it was crucial for the united states and soviet union to ensure that west germany would be part of that. the germans were hesitant about it. but ultimately they agreed to sign on. the nonproliferation treaty was an attempt to contain the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons and the spread to other countries. again, the treaty is and ultimately what has limited that spread. it has certainly provided an international political framework that makes it easier for countries to do that. at the time the treaty was signed there were five nuclear powers. nowadays, depending on how you count, if you want to count a
country like south africa even though they gave up their nuclear weapons, there has been very little spread of nuclear weapons since that time. the nonproliferation treaty has got the framework for that even if ultimately it is larger security concerns. >> from that ceremony 50 years ago the signing ceremony for the treaty. >> on the morning of july 1 and parallel ceremonies in washington, representatives of 57 nations signed one of the most significant and meaningful documents of the 20th century. a nuclear nonproliferation treaty. >> music back -- [ music ]. this treaty is not the work of anyone country, but is in fact a
product of all nations >> this treaty is not the work of anyone country. it is in fact the product of all nations which shared her concerns over the danger of nuclear proliferation. the agreement has not been easy for basic security, technological and economic interests of nations are deeply involved. yet our collective and determination has been crowned with success. today we are here to add another stone which one day we all pray will ensure lasting peace to mankind for complete disarmament. >> i would just add that i think we just saw lbj in that clip. mark was so right to point out that because of what happened in vietnam, we remember lbj in
that way. he was a person that did so many other ways as well. advancing civil rights like no one had done since abraham lincoln. major accomplishments that changed our world. >> charlie is joining us from new york. >> good morning. in late 1970 i was assigned to the second armored calvary regiment. our mission was regarded the border between east and west germany and czechoslovakia. a couple of hundred feet into czechoslovakia there was an apple tree. i was there picking apples and walking back to our lines and heard movement behind me. it was a check army patrol. they smiled and waved. in the morning we would give them hot coffee. they would give us hot soup.
we got along very well with the soldiers in the czechoslovakian army. >> one of the results of the invasion of czechoslovakia was that the czechoslovakian army which had been very capable up until that time was not allowed to resist. that led to a widespread demoralization and subsequently there is a major purge in the army as well. they had been affected by the reforming sentiment. all of these people were removed. the czechoslovakian army over the next 20 years was pretty ineffective. are they so visible today in the republic? >> i think the czech republic looks completely different today. it is a beautiful place with music on every street corner. when you talk to people of a certain age, they will remind you of how terrible it was.
there is such a different feeling of western europe from eastern europe and how they saw us role in the cold war. we can be very self-critical of our role in the cold war. eastern europeans have a very different attitude. they felt left behind and they felt the united states was one of the few countries that was continuously expressing a desire for them to become free. >> mark kramer, another key player is the chinese leader. >> that was a very harsh time for china. there have been millions who died in starvation of famines caused by bad policies in the late 50s and early 60s. what happened in the cultural revolution in some ways was even more dramatic for chinese
ended with political violencer and assassinations. in december 1968 as we view planet earth from based. -- from space. these men were on board the apollo eight mission on christmas eve, 1960. [video clip] >> god created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. and the spirit of god moved upon the face of the waters, and god said let there be light. and there was light. , and itsaw the light was good. and god divided the light from the darkness.
awe-inspiring and makes you realize just what you have back there on earth. the earth from here is a grand oasis in the great vastness of space. have the division which i love in spite of human failure. give us the trust of goodness inside of our ignorance and weakness, give us the knowledge that we will continue to pray with understanding and show us what each one of us can do to that apollo eight mission christmas eve, 1968.