Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Did you lose the Vietnam war?

I watched How Vietnam Was Lost on BBC's Storyville last night. A fascinating and well-told story of student riots and botched battle plans. But a question was nagging away at me the entire time: only one side 'lost', so why was it titled that way.. What's wrong with 'How Vietnam Was Won'? I don't think it's pedantic to point this out: whose side are 'we' deemed to be on?

It was South Vietnam - backed by America and South Korea that - by most accounts, lost to North Vietnam - backed by Russia and China. So there's an assumption that the viewer is on the side of those who lost. I'm not American, so how did I lose? I expect Britain was on America's side.. and I'm British - but I don't think that means we could 'lose' this war. And even then - I'm not British to 1960s' Britain, I'm British to 'now' Britain.

The documentary was an American import, I found out afterwards. But isn't that too subtle to broadcast without a caveat? And for a programme that was largely critical of the American decisions of the day, couldn't they see things more from the Vietnamese point of view: they didn't lose the war..

Did you lose the Vietnam war?

Radio Times blurb: "How Vietnam Was Lost. Based on David Maraniss's book 'They Marched into Sunlight', a documentary telling the story of two seemingly unconnected events in October 1967 that changed the course of the Vietnam War. Whilst a US battalion unwittingly marched into a Viet Cong ambush which killed 61 young men - half a world away, angry students at the University of Wisconsin were protesting the presence of Dow Chemical recruiters on campus."

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