Vietnam: Still America's War
“This film is not about day-to-day slaughter of soldiers. It’s about the continuing and growing and forgotten suffering of the Vietnamese people in what is still, almost incredibly, America’s war.”
For the first film in the Pilger series, made by ATV for the ITV network, John Pilger returns to Vietnam with director Charles Denton in 1974. America had withdrawn its ground forces at the beginning of the previous year, he reports, yet the war had not ended. During this ‘peace’, more than 70,000 soldiers and civilians had been killed.
The film reveals that the Pentagon still has thousands of senior officers, pilots and technicians in Vietnam, many described as civilians. Pilger interviews pilots and Marines disguised as civilian contractors and concludes that the cost of the war is still being paid by real civilians – the Vietnamese.
A nurse at a Quaker hospital tells him that that 65 per cent of patients’ injuries are still war-related, most a result of children stepping on unexploded mines, and no money allocated for this in the peace agreement had been forthcoming. An aid worker says that victims in a refugee village are hungrier than they were a year earlier. This film was broadcast at a time when the war in Vietnam rarely appeared in the news and would set a pattern for much of Pilger’s reporting that departed from the ‘mainstream’.
Vietnam: Still America’s War (Pilger, ATV), ITV, 12 May 1974
Producer-director: Charles Denton (27 mins)
With thanks to Anthony Hayward, whose biography of John Pilger is available to buy here.