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Thread: Vietnam: Where Did the US Go Wrong?

  1. Top | #31
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    You can look at the list of combatant.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War

    Soviet ships in the South China Sea gave vital early warnings to Viet Cong forces in South Vietnam. The Soviet intelligence ships would pick up American B-52 bombers flying from Okinawa and Guam. Their airspeed and direction would be noted and then relayed to COSVN, North Vietnam's southern headquarters. Using airspeed and direction, COSVN analysts would calculate the bombing target and tell any assets to move "perpendicularly to the attack trajectory." These advance warnings gave them time to move out of the way of the bombers, and, while the bombing runs caused extensive damage, because of the early warnings from 1968 to 1970 they did not kill a single military or civilian leader in the headquarters complexes

    The Soviet Union supplied North Vietnam with medical supplies, arms, tanks, planes, helicopters, artillery, anti-aircraft missiles and other military equipment. Soviet crews fired Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles at U.S. F-4 Phantoms, which were shot down over Thanh Hóa in 1965. Over a dozen Soviet citizens lost their lives in this conflict. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian officials acknowledged that the Soviet Union had stationed up to 3,000 troops in Vietnam during the war

    Some Russian sources give more specific numbers: Between 1953 and 1991, the hardware donated by the Soviet Union included 2,000 tanks, 1,700 APCs, 7,000 artillery guns, over 5,000 anti-aircraft guns, 158 surface-to-air missile launchers, 120 helicopters. During the war, the Soviets sent North Vietnam annual arms shipments worth $450 million.[299][300] From July 1965 to the end of 1974, fighting in Vietnam was observed by some 6,500 officers and generals, as well as more than 4,500 soldiers and sergeants of the Soviet Armed Forces. In addition, Soviet military schools and academies began training Vietnamese soldiers—in all more than 10,000 military personnel.[301]

    The KGB had also helped developed the signals intelligence capabilities of the North Vietnamese, through an operation known as Vostok (also known as Phương Đông, meaning "Orient" and named after the Vostok 1).[302] The Vostok program was a counterintelligence and espionage program. These programs were pivotal in detecting and defeating CIA and South Vietnamese commando teams sent into North Vietnam, as they were detected and captured.[302] The Soviets helped the Ministry of Public Security recruit foreigners within high-level diplomatic circles among the Western-allies of the US, under a clandestine program known as "B12,MM" which produced thousands of high-level documents for nearly a decade, including targets of B-52 strikes.[302] In 1975, the SIGINT services had broken information from Western US-allies in Saigon, determining that the US would not intervene to save South Vietnam from collapse

    In 1950, China extended diplomatic recognition to the Viet Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam and sent heavy weapons, as well as military advisers led by Luo Guibo to assist the Viet Minh in its war with the French (1946–1954). The first draft of the 1954 Geneva Accords was negotiated by French prime minister Pierre Mendès France and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai who, seeing U.S. intervention coming, urged the Viet Minh to accept a partition at the 17th parallel.[292]

    China's support for North Vietnam when the U.S. started to intervene included both financial aid and the deployment of hundreds of thousands of military personnel in support roles. In the summer of 1962, Mao Zedong agreed to supply Hanoi with 90,000 rifles and guns free of charge. Starting in 1965, China sent anti-aircraft units and engineering battalions to North Vietnam to repair the damage caused by American bombing, man anti-aircraft batteries, rebuild roads and railroads, transport supplies, and perform other engineering works. This freed North Vietnamese army units for combat in the South. China sent 320,000 troops and annual arms shipments worth $180 million.[293] The Chinese military claims to have caused 38% of American air losses in the war.[24] China claimed that its military and economic aid to North Vietnam and the Viet Cong totaled $20 billion (approx. $143 billion adjusted for inflation in 2015) during the Vietnam War.[24] Included in that aid were donations of 5 million tons of food to North Vietnam (equivalent to NV food production in a single year), accounting for 10–15% of the North Vietnamese food supply by the 1970s

  2. Top | #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post

    And we not only never recovered, we keep trying to win it over and over and over again, as if we can regain our soul the same way we lost it.

    The specter of WWII (and WWI) has never left us. Which goes a long way to explaining why Nazis keep springing back up like whack-a-mole’s in our periodic zeitgeists.
    I was jusy listening to a women on CSPAN talking about how she traces the history of the white supremacist movement back to the end of the Vietnam war. The veterans came home to a country that didn't honor them sufficiently for their sacrifices, which they understandably resented, and that this led to the birth of backwoods militias which led to widespread distrust of government anything. I can see that. And I think this resentment is still having repercussions and is intimately related to gun-rights. Especially to the romance with military-style assault rifles. This is our heritage. Just as Lincoln said about the civil war being repayment with the sword of every drop of blood lost to the whip. I'm not a spiritualist or a supporter of Marianne Williamson but this is one idea she was right. When our moral compass has been broken we end up paying the price.
    I am not sure that Vietnam was responsible for the white supremacist movement. There were certainly white supremacists in the US before the Vietnam war. And what triggered the resurgence of the white supremacist movement in the US was the civil and voting rights acts passing and the SCOTUS rulings on school desegregation, i.e. George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door and running for president, splitting the Democratic party and setting the stage for the Republicans to absorb the racists into their party.

    What the Vietnam war did was to destroy a lot of peoples' faith in the government and it started the split of the liberals from the workers and started the movement of the Democratic party to the right. The liberal anti-war protesters' primary motivation was not, in my opinion, a moral one of being against the war but was that they didn't want to be drafted to fight in the war. This didn't sit very well with the workers whose sons were fighting the war and dying. It is when liberals started to be viewed as elitists and unpatriotic because thinking that other people should fight a war instead of you is both unpatriotic and the very definition of an elitist.

  3. Top | #33
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    Jane Fonda did not help by having her picture taken next to a NV tank in North Vietnam.

    The war tore apart families forever.

    The opposition was actual a minority. Real time pictures and video of casualties made an impact.

    The American young middle class did not want to fight. People like Leary promoted drugs and dropping out of mainstream culture. That aspect was more serious than many today may realize.

    In the 60s during a protest march that trashed the flag in NYC construction workers came down. There was a picture of a construction workers hitting a demonstrator with a flag. My father was one of the construction workers. That highlights the cultural and generational split. He was a Marine in WWII.

    White supremacists go back to the 19th century. When records became cheap there was a racist industry centered in Illinois producing racists music and commentary.[

    And there was the movie Birth Of A Nation.

    Part of the support for the war was undoubtedly the 'yellow peril'. Fear of being overwhelmed by Asians.

  4. Top | #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Jane Fonda did not help by having her picture taken next to a NV tank in North Vietnam..
    I'm kinda fascinated by the outsized role Fonda plays in the minds of some Vietnam War defenders.

    Was it a questionable decision she made? Yeah. Did it change anything? No. By the time she took that trip in 1972, the war had long been a lost cause for the Americans.

  5. Top | #35
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    It has been said we did not have a propaganda program in VN as we did in WWII. In WWII the short movie Why We Fight wqas shown in theaters.

    I'd say Fonda was a huge propaganda and morale boost for the NV govt and military. What she presented was that there were Americans on the side of NV. It would have had an impact in Europe.

    The Nazis had Lord Hawhaw. Brits who made Nazi radio propaganda,.

    In WWII Fonda would be charged with treason.

    It became fashionable to be anti war. The irony is the leadership of the anti war and system protest pretty much went mainstream with exceptions. Jerry Rubin went to Wall Street. Abbe Hoffman committed suicide. The counter culture bands became rich. Looking back it was mostly bullshit.

    There were serious people like the Berrigans who took a serious moral stand and the release of the Pentagon Papers by Ellsburg.

    IMO the majority of the young students got caught up in a movement with no real understanding. The Students For A Democratic Society.

    Back then I felt communism had to be opposed and in the light of history I still feel that way. VN was disaster for many reasons already stated here.

  6. Top | #36
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    We lost the war for several reasons:

    1) War is politics by other means. We did not have the political support of the Vietnamese people and eventually of the American people.

    2) War is capture the flag. You can not bomb people into submission. To win the war we would need to go to Hanoi. Just like we went to Berlin

  7. Top | #37
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    its a characteristic of right-wingers to simplify and dumb down complex issues. Their favorite is to pick some extremist and use them as a poster child for an entire movement they don't like. Fonda is a rich, socialite New York woman, the epitome of the 'liberal elite.'

    The same pattern bears out in every discussion. Where African American Civil Rights is under discussion, the right-wingers will inevitably bring up Jesse Jackson. And who can forget George Soros, or Hillary Clinton?

    Liberals have their villains too, but I notice we don't bring them up unless they are actually relevant to the discussion.

  8. Top | #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by HaRaAYaH View Post
    We lost the war for several reasons:

    1) War is politics by other means. We did not have the political support of the Vietnamese people and eventually of the American people.
    It isn't really true that we didn't have the support of the South Vietnamese. There were many more ARVN fighting than U.S. and other allies' troops and they were all volunteers. Estimates are that more than one and a quarter million ARVN were killed or wounded defending the South. After the '68 Tet offensive, there was such a flood of Vietnamese volunteers that they had to be put on a waiting list because they all could not be handled at once. But you are right that American popular support waned.
    2) War is capture the flag. You can not bomb people into submission. To win the war we would need to go to Hanoi. Just like we went to Berlin
    Right. We were fighting a defensive war. Since there was no desire to invade the North, the war was limited to defending the population centers of the South. (sorta reminiscent of our recent tactics in Syria - only fighting the troops sent into the conflict area.)

    By the Paris Peace Accords signed to end the war, it could be argued that we won. The North agreed to stop sending troops into the South and we agreed to pull out (mission accomplished "on paper"). However, it was known that the North really wouldn't comply with the agreement and stop sending troops south so the agreement just turned out to be a way for the U.S. to exit the fighting.
    Last edited by skepticalbip; 10-09-2019 at 03:06 AM.

  9. Top | #39
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    We did not have the support of the Vietnamese. The cIA installed a puppet regieme that was brutaly opressive.C
    In high school a friends brother was in VN during Tet.

    Around him ARVN hunkered down and fired rifles into the air.

    The VN War was a windfall foe r our military industry. I heard one engineer say the only way to get a vaaction was quit and then get another job.

    Fonda was emblematic of the Hollywood and power elite liberals. She was not that big a deal over here. It was about the propaganda value for VN, a morale issue for our soldiers, and an image for Europe. The north did not believe the USA had the political will to continue fighting with all the negative reporting at home.

    The war was fought politically not militarily. We could not bomb ships in Haiphong Harbor loaded with missiles. Possible Russian and Chinese entry placed a bound on actions.

    The movie Hamburger Hill typifies the war. Take a hill in the middle of nowhere at great loss, declare victory, then walk away and take another hill.

    There was a strategy of fortified fire bases and search and destroy missions. Winning was now a matter of body count, a war of attrition. Turns out it was highly inflated numbers. Read Rumor Of War. Fire Base Kaison. A fierce battle over a fort on a hill with high losses in the middle of nowhere, then abandon it.

    Chuck Yeager talked about VN in his bio. It was almost comical. Incompetence on incompetence.

    Then it was Hearts and Minds. We go out and make friends. Problem being we were just the lasts in foreign invaders..

    SVN never existed. It was all a facade.


    To win we would have had to occupy and control,. In the planning for Iraq General Chinseki got fired by Rumsfelt because he complained he did not have enough troops for post war occupation. They had a shaky election with a major group not participating and GWB declared it was all over. Same thing happened. No popular support for Americans and in short order citizen militia attacking american.

    Same thing in Afghanistan. Hearts and minds was a failure. We would have had to take and hold ground.

    We are doing the same thing in syria.

  10. Top | #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    We did not have the support of the Vietnamese. The cIA installed a puppet regieme that was brutaly opressive.C
    In high school a friends brother was in VN during Tet.

    Around him ARVN hunkered down and fired rifles into the air.
    ... snip ...
    I was a grunt in an Air Cav. unit in Vietnam (not by choice, but drafted). While there I worked with several ARVN, ROK, and Aussie units. The ARVN were damn dedicated to defending their country. In fact they carried the brunt of the ground fighting. That is why more than a million of them were killed or wounded.

    During the '68 Tet offensive there was a Tet cease fire so most U.S. troops were on stand down. It was primarily the ARVN who repelled and defeated the 90,000 NVA (plus many VC) that were sent in, killing about half of them before they escaped back into the jungles. All major cities in the South had been under attack but were defended by the ARVN. Hue was the only city temporally taken.

    Maybe the problem was that the U.S. news only showed U.S. troops fighting so the general public thought they were the only ones involved.
    Last edited by skepticalbip; 10-09-2019 at 04:18 AM.

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