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Vietnam - A Television History: Episode 10 - Peace is At Hand 1968–1973 (1983) 🪖✈️
Vietnam: A Television History (1983) is a 13-part documentary and television mini-series about the Vietnam War (1955–1975) from the perspective of the United States. It was produced for public television by WGBH-TV in Boston, Central Independent Television of the UK and Antenne-2 of France. It was originally broadcast on PBS between October 4 and December 20, 1983. Later, it was rebroadcast as part of the PBS series American Experience from May 26 to July 28, 1997. However, only 11 of the 13 original episodes were rebroadcast. Episodes 2 and 13 were dropped. This is the complete original version.
Vietnam: A Television History was the most successful documentary produced by PBS up to the time of initial broadcast. The origins of the series reach back to 1977 when filmmaker Richard Ellison and foreign correspondent Stanley Karnow discussed the project. The latter had been a journalist in Paris during the 1950s and a reporter in French Indochina since 1959. Karnow was Chief Correspondent in the series and his tie-in book, Vietnam: A History (1983), became a best-seller.
Episode 10: By early 1968, the US had dropped nearly 3 million tons of bombs on Vietnam. After the Tet offensive, President Johnson ordered a stop to the bombing and peace talks began in Paris. Some thought the negotiations would be swift but there was little of the give and take that you would normally expect. Nixon had won the 1968 election by a narrow margin and 500,000 American troops were still in Vietnam at that point. After Tet, fighting had again shifted to the countryside and in the first half of 1969, 200 Americans were killed and 800 wounded every week. Nixon introduced the policy of Vietnamizing the war, that is transferring the ground and air war to the Vietnamese themselves.
By April 1970 US Forces in Vietnam had been reduced by more than 100,000, well ahead of schedule. Campus protests however reached a peak in 1970 with 4 students being killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State university in Ohio. National polls showed that a majority of Americans still supported the administration. Nixon proposed a ceasefire but Hanoi's leaders did not respond. Unknown to everyone, including the South Vietnamese, was that Henry Kissinger was in secret talks with the North since 1969. The North launched a major attack on March 31, 1972 across the DMZ and as a result, Nixon stepped up the bombing of the North and mined Haiphong harbor. A breakthrough was reached at the Paris peace negotiations in October 1972 when the North dropped its demand that the Thieu government resign. A draft treaty was soon agreed to but rejected by Thieu. The Christmas 1972 bombings of the North led to a final agreement, one with little difference from the October version. Former President Johnson died the day before the agreement was signed on January 27, 1973.