Military historian Pete Maslowski served as one the experts advising Burns in putting together his series on the Vietnam War.
Maslowski, now a professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says one effect of the war was to undermine faith in political institutions.
“You can see why when you consider how much they lied, I mean I don’t know what other word to use; misled the public. Maybe that’s a little kinder way of saying it,” Maslowski tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Maslowski served as one of about two dozen advisers to the 10-part PBS documentary produced by filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. He says it was fascinating to discuss the script with Burns, Novick, fellow historians, and journalists who covered the war.
Some of the other experts he knew. Some he knew only through their work.
The time might be ripe to reflect on the controversial Vietnam War which divided the nation.
Maslowski says after 25 years some of the passions it evoked have cooled. Some of those involved, who had reputations to protect, have died. Also, records long closed have opened and access has been granted to the records kept by the Viet Cong who eventually won their war with the seemingly undefeatable United States.
Still, myths about the war persist, according to Maslowski. He says the biggest perhaps is that it was a noble cause, a fight against communism, spurred by the suspect domino theory. Maslowski says another was that it was a crucial war for American interest. He says twice the CIA informed President Lyndon Johnson America could allow Vietnam to fall without any repercussions to its reputation.
Maslowski says he hopes the series sparks an informed debate about the war that can lead to progress and understanding which could lead the United States away from similar mistakes in the future.
He’s not sure that will happen, though.
“But, I hate to be a pessimist and to be skeptical, but I’m a pessimist and I remain skeptical.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]