I am nearly finished watching Ken Burns’s epic documentary series on Vietnam. David Thomson, writing in the London Review of Books , is surely right to talk of it in terms of being (one of?) the finest documentaries ever made.
So what is the connection with Brexit? Am I being an obsessive?
Well of course the casualties from Vietnam were direct and the horror immediate. The deaths and destroyed lives from Brexit will take longer and envelop people with no drama. But that’s not the point I want to make now.
A late episode in the series details the impact of the leaking of the Pentagon Papers. I’d forgotten quite what they signified. Commissioned by an at-this point departed Secretary of State (Robert McNamara), they were designed to get into writing the lessons of the disaster that was Vietnam. The Nixon administration tried hard to stop the New York Times running them, even fighting (and losing) a case all the way to the Supreme Court. They showed successive administrations knew that Vietnam was a disaster and consistently lied to the public while things went from bad to worse.
Remind you of anything? Exactly: those 58 studies of the impact of Brexit that David Davis refuses to publish. These are Brexit’s Pentagon Papers. They must come out.