VietNam War Thread

Marauder06

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This thread is a spinoff of the Dr. Phil discussion.

Ref. whether or not the war in VietNam was a military success, I think we could craft a very simple formula. 1) establish what the military objective of the war was; and 2) a yes/no answer to the question of whether we achieved it.

IMO, the military objective of the war was something along the lines of, "prevent the military takeover of South VietNam by the regular and irregular forces of North VietNam." If that is the case, then we failed to achieve that military objective.
 

HOLLiS

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Another way to look at it, as another battle in the cold war. Problem in wars like this is on how it differs from WWII, WWII was a war to end. After WWII, Korea, Viet-Nam, El Salvador, and all the other places in the world where political battles.

Look at Afghanistan today, Let say we pull out, and a number of years later the T-ban comes back and takes over again. Would you consider Afghanistan a loss?

I hear people argue that the measure of victory was not in hold land. So-called victories for the NLF was in that it over ran some unit or position or place. They would consider that a NLF victory. Yet they say we lost in Viet-Nam, because we did not hold the contested ground.

As I posted the US made a deal with the communists, to let North and South fight it out with out help from outsiders. The US upheld it's agreement the Communists did not. We did not get kicked out of Viet-Nam, we were not in retreat, we were not even there when the South fell (except for some small units). The NFL can not claim a military victory. The can claim a political victory.

There are a lot of reasons why it is a political victory and why for the NLF. Some are wrong, the biggest aspect was mostly internal US politics.

As I posted in the other thread:

One aspect of the Viet-Nam war that became very clear, The effectiveness of propaganda and that the West would not be united, that political infighting in the west would aid in the promoting anti-west propaganda themes. Just like today, propaganda is the most effective weapons against any Western country. The anti-War force, political opponents of those support the war, etc would by their own natural self interests aid the enemies of the West.

Just like the propaganda war surrounding Gitmo. When Bush was president it was a serious blemish against the West, it would be closed under the new administration. The D's made it a big issue, knowing that Bush could not close it for solids reasons. When Obama D, was elected, for those same solid reasons Bush could not close Gitmo, Obama has not closed Gitmo. Our enemies know that our worse enemy is our own partisan political process. As Pogo said in the '60's, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

I think it is also important to tie this into the rest of the bigger war, the Cold War. Military people think of a military victory or loss, politicians do not ee it that way. The sad part is that the political gains or loss back home are more important than the military gains or loss on the battlefield. Our politicians are very much like what is said about the North Viet-Namese, the did not care how many of their people where killed.

Viet-Nam was decided by our politicians, the NFL where just merely players in that conflict.
 

Marauder06

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Another way to look at it, as another battle in the cold war. Problem in wars like this is on how it differs from WWII, WWII was a war to end. After WWII, Korea, Viet-Nam, El Salvador, and all the other places in the world where political battles.

Look at Afghanistan today, Let say we pull out, and a number of years later the T-ban comes back and takes over again. Would you consider Afghanistan a loss?

The Taliban are going to re-take Afghanistan after we leave, there is little doubt in my mind about that. But I don't think the war was ever about the Taliban in the first place; they were in Afghanistan long before we started caring about them and they will be there after we leave. IMO we went to war in Afghanistan to get after AQ and to make sure Afghanistan couldn't be used to launch attacks against us in the future. So if we leave before AQ is defeated (not destroyed) in the area, then I feel we will have lost- although I think that endstate has already been met. That leaves the second part. If AQ or HQN or even the TB (if they decide to expand their game) use Afghanistan as a base to launch attacks in the US, then yeah, we failed to achieve victory militarily. But it's going to take a while to see how that works out.

I hear people argue that the measure of victory was not in hold land. So-called victories for the NLF was in that it over ran some unit or position or place. They would consider that a NLF victory. Yet they say we lost in Viet-Nam, because we did not hold the contested ground.

Not only did we not hold "contested ground," we ended up holding no ground whatsoever ;)

As I posted the US made a deal with the communists, to let North and South fight it out with out help from outsiders. The US upheld it's agreement the Communists did not. We did not get kicked out of Viet-Nam, we were not in retreat, we were not even there when the South fell (except for some small units). The NFL can not claim a military victory. The can claim a political victory.

There are a lot of reasons why it is a political victory and why for the NLF. Some are wrong, the biggest aspect was mostly internal US politics.

As I posted in the other thread:

I think it is also important to tie this into the rest of the bigger war, the Cold War. Military people think of a military victory or loss, politicians do not ee it that way. The sad part is that the political gains or loss back home are more important than the military gains or loss on the battlefield. Our politicians are very much like what is said about the North Viet-Namese, the did not care how many of their people where killed.

Viet-Nam was decided by our politicians, the NFL where just merely players in that conflict.
 

HOLLiS

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Not only did we not hold "contested ground," we ended up holding no ground whatsoever ;)

That is probably what bother me the most, we left some good people behind. I guess if there is any good of this, Viet-Nam and US are becoming friends again. From the Viet-Namese that I know, they like Americans. The other part the do not like the Chinese. The Cold War was sort of a period of global insanity. The only good point was compared to the first half of the 20th century, there was a lot less life loss to war.
 

JohnnyBoyUSMC

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For those interested, since leaving the Corps I've started attending Texas Tech university here in Lubbock Tx. Texas Tech holds the Vietnam Center and Archive which is the nation's largest and most comprehensive collection of information on the Vietnam War. If you ever get the chance or are interested in the war's history I highly suggest paying the campus and it's center a visit. That is all, Semper Yut Yut.
 

AWP

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By 1948 or 1949 our war in Vietnam was guaranteed, it just took another decade and a half to play out. Kennedy wouldn't have saved us.
 

pardus

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I remember seeing a memorial to the Korean war, the inscription read "Communism's First Defeat".
I was puzzled by that for quite a while.

But as Hollis mentioned, if you look at Korea in particular and also Vietnam, although the localized war may have been lost/ended in stalemate, what did it achieve globally? In terms of the cold war they are far more important than just the fighting within those countries.
 

pardus

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Didn't Eisenhower warn him about getting involved?

I'm a bit hazy on it but I think Ike was the one who wanted to increase aid to the French during Dien Bien Phu with American bombers but was shot down by Congress.
 

Marauder06

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I remember seeing a memorial to the Korean war, the inscription read "Communism's First Defeat".
I was puzzled by that for quite a while.

But as Hollis mentioned, if you look at Korea in particular and also Vietnam, although the localized war may have been lost/ended in stalemate, what did it achieve globally? In terms of the cold war they are far more important than just the fighting within those countries.

I think you may be conflating military victory with political victory. Victory in the Cold War was a political victory, much of which was a result of military actions, some of which were successful and some of which were not.

I can see the Korean War as a defeat for Communism because it prevented the Communists from achieving their goal, which was unification of Korea under Communist ideology. Also, if our goal in Korea was "prevent South Korea from being taken over by the Communists," then I think we achieved our goal. Since we achieved our goal and prevented the Communists from achieving theirs, I would be comfortable calling that a victory, even though some say Korea is the first war we lost. America just wasn't used to achieving anything short of complete destruction of the other side, on the Germany/Japan model. After WWII though, we weren't willing to do that as a nation any more, and it's unlikely we will have that degree of national will in the future.
 

AWP

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Okay, US involvement in "Indochina" through the fall of Dien Bien Phu.

There's an excellent book on this, Valley of Death by Ted Morgan. IIRC, US aid to the French WAS the war. We paid for the French to fight Uncle Ho while wringing our hands over French colonialism in Indochina. Once Korea kicked off and the domino theory (Ike used the term in '54, but as early as 52 or so he and his advisers were worrying about the spread of Communism, citing the loss of China and then Korea as reason
s to become involved in Indochina) became a fear in Ike's cabinet, we doubled down on our aid. By '54 we were pressuring France to "allow" us to "advise" them on the war, essentially strong-arming France to fight their war with our equipment, money, and leadership. Yes, Ike tried to force the French to fight their war on our terms using aid as leverage.

Ike may have warned Kennedy, I don't recall, but under his presidency we laid the groundwork for our involvement. We sent a carrier task force out on at least one occasion, and placed others on stand by. CAT pilots from the US participated (2 were killed) in the airdrops and we even had small numbers of troops on the ground. One was in Haiphong helping the French build pallets for the airdrops.

Ike was prepared to commit US ground forces IF the Brits would agree to do the same, a la Korea. The Brits told Ike to bugger off, but Dulles pressed so hard for UK involvement that he actually damaged his relationship with his UK counterpart. We even went so far as to offer B-29 carpet bombing and the use of nukes at one point.
 

HOLLiS

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I think you may be conflating military victory with political victory. Victory in the Cold War was a political victory, much of which was a result of military actions, some of which were successful and some of which were not.

I don't think so, I mentioned that earlier;

I think it is also important to tie this into the rest of the bigger war, the Cold War. Military people think of a military victory or loss, politicians do not ee it that way. The sad part is that the political gains or loss back home are more important than the military gains or loss on the battlefield. Our politicians are very much like what is said about the North Viet-Namese, the did not care how many of their people where killed.

One can say the war in Viet-Nam was a part of the larger war, the Cold War. The goal was to keep communist expansion to a mini mun in Indochina. Which it did. So now we have a victory? ;)

I think we both are saying, after WWII ended, the way we fought wars greatly changes. As I mentioned earlier;

Another way to look at it, as another battle in the cold war. Problem in wars like this is on how it differs from WWII, WWII was a war to end. After WWII, Korea, Viet-Nam, El Salvador, and all the other places in the world where political battles.

All of this can be pretty confusing for the American citizen and military personal.
 

AWP

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Really? Wow....

Yes. It came from the JCS and Dulles even offered the use of them to the French Foreign Minister. Eventually the US would back off on the offer and no weapons were moved to French control, but the reality is that we offered three nukes for France to use around DBP.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Vulture

http://www.hawaii.edu/cseas/pubs/explore/v1n2-art2.html (This sources say two nukes)

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1901759?uid=3739504&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=56072348153 (Doesn't specify the quantity)

http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2004/August 2004/0804dien.aspx (Three nukes, this also lists the amount of support we gave the French)
In an effort to assist the besieged garrison, French forces had borrowed and were using a US Navy aircraft carrier, 10 US Air Force B-26s, several C-47s and C-119s, and hundreds of US Air Force personnel.

The Tonkin Gulf incident in 1964 was a forgone conclusion and the second incident on August 4, 1964 was at best a misinterpretation of data and at worst a total fabrication.
 

CDG

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Yes. It came from the JCS and Dulles even offered the use of them to the French Foreign Minister. Eventually the US would back off on the offer and no weapons were moved to French control, but the reality is that we offered three nukes for France to use around DBP.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Vulture

http://www.hawaii.edu/cseas/pubs/explore/v1n2-art2.html (This sources say two nukes)

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1901759?uid=3739504&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=56072348153 (Doesn't specify the quantity)

http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2004/August 2004/0804dien.aspx (Three nukes, this also lists the amount of support we gave the French)

Thanks for the links. I had never heard of anything like that before. It's pretty astounding that we would do something like that.... Money, troops, training sure, but some fucking NUKES? Goddamn.....
 

SpitfireV

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Yes; you can have military victory but political defeat, and vice-versa. This thread is a good example.

I disagree. Military action is an extension of political foreign policy. You can have politics without military action but not vice versa. The two are inseparatable IMO, a failure for one is a failure for the other (in the context of a conflict).
 

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We raised conscription for troops to deploy to Malaya and Indonesia, not for Viet Nam. At the end of the day, very few national servicemen served in either of those places, Viet Nam became the main game in town and the Communist threat in the bottom part of SE Asia basically faded away. There is a school of thought that wouldn't have been the case if the North rolled the South early on and US and the rest of us, didn't step in. As far as Australia is concerned not having Communist countries that close to our border is a win.
 
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