This often meant destroying villages, moving people forcibly, destroying crops, and performing other acts of destruction which the filmmakers do not see as that different from what the enemy was doing. Indeed, this is one of the major points of the film--the goals and methods we used were not that different from those used by the enemy, and yet from the filmmakers point of view, we had less right to be there and to be treating the people in this fashion than did the people of North Vietnam. We treated this as a war of aggression, and they treated it as a civil war in which we had no legitimate stake.
The filmmakers deal always with this idea, but they do so from a standpoint of outrage and develop the mood of the film accordingly, trying to build up the anger of the audience in order to effect a change in U.S. policy. An added element in the film was the view that whatever we thought we were doing in Vietnam, we were losing and would not admit it. Indeed, the film systematically challenges most of the official reports of the time and the stance taken by the government toward the war. The filmmakers see the government as having an agenda which placed the protection of the government itself at the top, meaning that anything that would make the government look bad, including a poor showing in the war, was to be hidden or reported in a biased way to make it seem we had a clear goal and were achieving it.
As subsequent events have shown, right up to the revelation by Robert S. McNamara recently that much of what this film says was true, the film was quite accurate in its appraisal of the situation and was right to be critical of the government position and government reports. This is the idea the filmmakers present with considerable force and effectiveness.
Some analysts considered the specific issue of the legitimacy of the war, something O'Brien also considers while Major Callicles rejects this even as an issue. An altern...
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