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Thread: Vietnam: Where Did the US Go Wrong?

  1. Top | #21
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    I think Ho was first and foremost a nationalist. The support he got from Russia IMO more opportunistic than ideological..

    Remember after the south fell, China invaded VN but got beaten back.

    Maoism and Stalinism were personality cults nominally communist. Ho also was a personality cult. Today China's ruling elte is the communist party in name but bears no resemblances to communism. It is an outright dictatorship at this point.

  2. Top | #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trausti View Post
    The US was fighting a war against Communism. The Vietnamese were fighting a nationalist war against foreigners. They weren't fighting the same war.
    This. They call it the American war (naturally) and it was about them resisting invasion and was only one small part of a very long series of other invasions by other countries. Viet Nam has been invaded and subjugated again and again throughout its whole history. If you think the US fought for its independence, that ain't nothing compared to Vietnam.

  3. Top | #23
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    The fight against communism was real. We see what we were opposing today in Hong Kong Back then it was Russia in places like Poland,East Germany, and Hungary.

    In Asia it was the Domino Theory. if VN the rest followed. If China or Russia controlled SK it was a short jump to a Japanese island. Islands that were in dispute post war.

    It was not just USA, Australia and SK were there. What I heard from combat vets the South Korean ROK troops were fiercely anti communist.

    In the long run VN has allied itself with the USA as a hedge against China. They do repair work on Navy ships.


    It was a new kind of war for us. One where overwhelm military power dud not. We lost hearts and minds as it was called. There was no popular support outside Saigon.

    We see it today in Afghanistan. The Taliban are used to sleeping on cold rocks and eating bugs. Utterly tough people. The old Brits and modern Russia both failed.

    The French failed in VN. They utterly underestimated the capacity and will of NV troops to fight at Dien Ben Phu.

  4. Top | #24
    Super Moderator Bronzeage's Avatar
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    There are two ways to win a war:


    1. Destroy your enemies capability to make war.

    2. Destroy your enemies will to make war.

    The problem in Viet Nam was pretty straight forward. We could not destroy the North Vietnamese capability to make for various political considerations. We could not destroy their will to fight.


    The question of where we went wrong is like taking your March madness chart and working it backwards after the championship and trying to figure out why you picked so many losers.

  5. Top | #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronzeage View Post
    There are two ways to win a war:


    1. Destroy your enemies capability to make war.

    2. Destroy your enemies will to make war.

    The problem in Viet Nam was pretty straight forward. We could not destroy the North Vietnamese capability to make for various political considerations. We could not destroy their will to fight.


    The question of where we went wrong is like taking your March madness chart and working it backwards after the championship and trying to figure out why you picked so many losers.
    if the powers that be would have left it to the armed forces, they would have done both 1 and 2.

  6. Top | #26
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    I wonder if the US pursued the strategy it did in order to avoid Chinese intervention a la Korea. The bomber guys thought they could do it all themselves.

  7. Top | #27
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horatio Parker View Post
    I wonder if the US pursued the strategy it did in order to avoid Chinese intervention a la Korea. The bomber guys thought they could do it all themselves.
    I wouldn't be surprised.

    Lyndon B. Johnson: Foreign Affairs | Miller Center
    Johnson's decisions were based on complicated political and military considerations. LBJ steered a middle course: The "hawks" in Congress and in the military wanted him to engage in massive bombing of enemy cities, threaten to use nuclear weapons, and even threaten to invade North Vietnam. This might have led to Chinese entry into the war, as had happened in the Korean War, or even Soviet engagement. "Doves" in Congress, the State Department, and even Vice President Hubert Humphrey wanted Johnson to negotiate with Hanoi for a "neutral" South Vietnam and eventual reunification with the North. The President's "middle way" involved a commitment of U.S. ground forces, designed to convince the regime in Hanoi that it could not win, and some punishing bombing campaigns, after which serious U.S. negotiations might ensue.

  8. Top | #28
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    Nixon's unrestricted bombing of NV brought then to the table. When we pulled out NV took over SV.

    Nixon and the nation wanted out. He came up with 'Vietnamization'. Training SV to take over all military actions.
    China and Vietnam were historical enemies. China invaded VN post war.

  9. Top | #29
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by funcouple-husband View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bronzeage View Post
    There are two ways to win a war:


    1. Destroy your enemies capability to make war.

    2. Destroy your enemies will to make war.

    The problem in Viet Nam was pretty straight forward. We could not destroy the North Vietnamese capability to make for various political considerations. We could not destroy their will to fight.


    The question of where we went wrong is like taking your March madness chart and working it backwards after the championship and trying to figure out why you picked so many losers.
    if the powers that be would have left it to the armed forces, they would have done both 1 and 2.
    Sure; But only at the cost of genocide, and the likely provoking of a hot war with the Soviet Union, neither of which seem like worthwhile prices to pay for the short term US domination of a small south east asian nation.

    There was never any need to fight (much less win) in Vietnam. The domino theory was utter bunk, and as we see today, a victory by Ho Chi Minh was only a local problem, and only for a very short time.

    When we look at the difference in long term outcomes in Korea and Vietnam, it's fairly obvious that losing the war was far superior for all parties than getting a stalemate, and not noticeably worse than winning it could have been.

  10. Top | #30
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    I don't think there was much danger of Soviet intervention. They had not much of a navy at that point.

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