Americans who love their country should be sure to watch the multi-part series about Vietnam produced by the incomparable Ken Burns.
It starts on Sept. 17 and will tell the tragic story of America’s war in Vietnam in reverse chronological order, so viewers come to understand the incredible misunderstandings and miscalculations that led to America’s first lost war.
I hope this series will create a groundswell of support for the proposition that America should only go to war if there is a declaration of war by Congress pursuant to the Constitution. In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Act to limit the authority of the president to start a war, but presidents have taken the position that this law is unconstitutional and ignored it. Congressional approval of the deployments of troops in 1991 in the Persian Gulf War and in 2001 in Afghanistan were not the same as declarations of war.
I had the honor of meeting Ken Burns a few months ago, when he told a group of us about this film. As I recall, he said the last scene will be the press conference by Ho Chi Minh following the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu. Ho predicted that the first nation to recognize the sovereignty of Vietnam would be the United States, given the historical parallel of the founding of both nations.
Joel W. Collins Jr.