Vietnam series has lessons for today -- George Savage

September 27, 2017 GMT

I highly recommend the new 10-part PBS series on Vietnam, created by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

Though it will not please the ultra right (too antiwar) or the ultra left (not enough political analysis), the series gives a thorough and fair account of the war. Just as Homer narrated the Iliad from both the Greek and Trojan perspectives, Burns and Novick include, without judgment, both sides of the conflict.

The series also explores how the war was fought at home. Our current culture wars can be traced, in large part, to our deeply divided response to that war.

Burns and Novick are, for good reason, reluctant to make connections to later American military interventions, but these connections are obvious. In Vietnam, we became mired in a civil war in a country already decimated by an earlier French war of imperialism. We sided with an infamously corrupt regime. Flash forward to ongoing wars in the Middle East, a region torn apart by civil war, imperialism and corruption.

The Vietnam series makes it painfully clear that these wars are doomed from the start. The PBS series on the Vietnam War is television history at its best.

George Savage, Madison