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Originally posted by WyrdeOne
Despite the Tet offensive, I maintain that the Viet Cong possessed superior generals, or at the very least, generals and planners who were more concerned with actually winning the war. Would you agree?
I disagree. The United States had no concerns at all about any possibility of an “axis of nationalism” between Japan and Vietnam (or any other country). As someone who was raised in the Pacific, spent six months in Japan, and read Yomiuri Shimbun religiously, I find that assumption simply ludicrous.
Noam Chomsky: Well, I don't think that Vietnam was a mistake; I think it was a success. This is somewhere where I disagree with just about everyone, including the left, right, friends and so on.
To determine whether it was a failure you have to first look at what the goals were. In the case of Indo-china, the US is a very free country; we have an incomparably rich documentary record of internal planning, much richer than any other country that I know of. So we can discover what the goals were. In fact it is clear by around 1970, certainly by the time the Pentagon Papers came out, the primary concern was the one that shows up in virtually all intervention: Guatemala, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Chile, just about everywhere you look at. The concern is independent nationalism which is unacceptable in itself because it extricates some part of the world that the US wants to dominate. And it has an extra danger if it is likely to be successful in terms that are likely to be meaningful to others who are suffering from the same conditions.
So in the former colonial world, the Third World and the south, the problem was what planners called the rotten apple that might spoil the barrel or a virus that might infect others. The virus is independent nationalism that seems as though it may be successful in terms that are meaningful to others that are suffering similar problems. That's a theme that goes through the entire documentary record and it was a concern in Vietnam. So the US, during the late 1940s, hadn't really decided whether to support the French in their re-conquest of the former colony or to take the path that they did in Indonesia in 1948 and support the independence movement against the Dutch. But the issue was: suppose Vietnam turns out to be an independence movement that is out of control. They knew it was not run by the Russians and the Chinese: that was for public show. It was clearly an independent nationalist movement which could turn out to be successful. So in the 1950s they became increasingly concerned that North Vietnam was developing in ways that could be meaningful for others in the region. A fully independent Vietnam could truly dominate Indochina, which could become an independent nationalist force, a rotten apple which would affect others: Thailand, Malaya, which was a big problem at the time, possibly Indonesia. They were deeply concerned about Indonesian nationalism under Sukarno, which was going off on its own independent course and was a pillar of the non-aligned movement. If this infection of independent nationalism spread the concern was it might ultimately lead to Japan -- the "superdomino," as Asia historian John Dower called it. Not that Japan would be affected by it but that Japan would be induced to, as they put it, accommodate to independent Asian nationalism in SE Asia, maybe spreading from Vietnam, Indonesia, China, which was by then a huge rotten apple. And if Japan were to accommodate to Asian independent nationalism and offer itself as the technological and commercial and financial and industrial center it would effectively have won the Second World War. The Second World War was fought in the Pacific phase to prevent Japan from establishing a new order in Asia in which it would be the center. And it would be an independent force in world affairs. Well in the 1950s the US was not prepared to lose the Second World War and so it took a nuanced position. It first supported Sukarno then quickly turned against him. In 1958, US President [Dwight] Eisenhower was supporting the break up of Indonesia. It quickly in 1950 decided to support the French in Vietnam. And it just goes on from there. You can go through the steps, but effectively this is what happened.
By around 1960 the US recognized that it could not maintain a client state in Vietnam. The client state, which had already killed maybe 60,000 people, had engendered resistance which it could not control. So in 1962 Kennedy simply invaded the country outright. That's when US bombing started, chemical warfare, attempts to drive people into concentration camps and so on, and from then on it just escalated. By 1967 South Vietnam was practically destroyed. Bernard Fall, who is a very respected and rather hawkish military analyst and Vietnam specialist, was writing by 1967 that he wondered whether Vietnam could survive as a historic and cultural entity under the assault of the biggest military machine of all time. There was very little protest at that time. The US and England and the rest were just content to see Vietnam destroyed. That was much worse than anything happening in Iraq. It looked at that point as if they would conquer Vietnam. The Tet Offensive [a major national offensive by anti-US Vietnamese forces in early 1968] made it clear it was going to be a long war. At that point the business world turned against the war and decided this is just not worth it. They said we have already achieved the main objectives and Vietnam is not going to undergo successful independent development. It will be lucky if it survives. So it is pointless; why waste the money on it. The main goal had been achieved by the early seventies.
Avalon project- Yale
Indochina - Unification of Viet-Nam Through Free Elections: Statement by the Secretary of State at a News Conference, June 28, 1955
World Socialist web site
Prince Sihanouk had sought to maintain his country's distance from the war in Vietnam through a policy of neutralism. He refused to act against Vietnamese supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh trail, which ran through eastern Cambodia. At the same time he kept silent about US military actions against Vietnamese forces operating on Cambodian soil.
The Nixon administration finally broke with Sihanouk in April 1970, backing a CIA-directed military coup that installed General Lon Nol and sent Sihanouk into exile in Beijing. One month later Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia by 20,000 US and Vietnamese troops.
During nearly five years of bombing raids, from 1969 to 1973, some 532,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Cambodia, more than three times the tonnage dropped on Japan in all of World War II.
By 1974, 95 percent of Cambodia's national income came from US aid, much of it siphoned off into the pockets of corrupt military officers. Two million out of the seven million people were homeless.
The nationalist xenophobia of the Cambodian leadership led to a series of clashes with Vietnam, as Khmer Rouge forces staged bloody attacks on ethnic Vietnamese living along the Cambodia-Vietnam border. After nearly a year of such raids, the Hanoi government ordered a full-scale Vietnamese invasion in December 1978, which rapidly overwhelmed the Khmer Rouge forces . . .
The most critical role was played by the United States government, which saw Pol Pot as a useful Cold War ally, since he was at war with Vietnam, which was allied to the Soviet Union. With US backing, China supplied the Khmer Rouge with military equipment and the right-wing military regime in Thailand, a US client state, allowed free flow of supplies to Pol Pot's guerrillas in their base camps along the Thai-Cambodian border.
Air Force Assoc. magazine
The communist force comprised tough, regular North Vietnamese army units and supplementary--and generally not very effective--local Pathet Lao units. They were opposed by the very ineffective Royal Laotian armed forces, whose leaders preferred to let the despised Laotian hill people, the Hmong, do the real fighting. The US supplied airpower on a very limited scale, initially, but in greater and greater amounts as the war progressed.
As the Hmong casualties rose, the US-sponsored fighting forces were increasingly augmented by Thai "volunteers," whose numbers eventually reached 17,000. These mostly were mercenaries paid with US funds and led by the Thai army's regular officers and noncommissioned officers.
Your acceptance of an icon of the Old Left is certainly no worse than some other posters here blindly accepting the gospel according to John Wayne or Robert McNamara.
We won by destroying any socialist ideas that Vietnam had. If they had experimented with socialism they may have made it work in a way that was attractive to other Asian nations. This could not be allowed.
It is true that North Vietnam won the war, but I think it is more than disingenuous for anyone to say that the US lost the war. Had the communists not had so much support from the likes of John Kerry both in the streets and in Congress and President Johnson, who insisted on micro-managing the war, the havens of Laos and Cambodia for the communists, and without the complete withdrawal of US combat troops the North would have been completely defeated by 1973.
Originally posted by Zabilgy
Actually the only people that won are the big businesses (and mega-rich that ownded stock in those businesses) that made money off the war. i.e. defense contracts, etc etc etc.......Wars are very profitable to the corporations providing the weapons, vehicles, planes, etc etc etc....and to the people whose pockets get lined by those corporations. Richard Nixon made plenty off of the war!....and a lot of other politicians that had a secret agenda for wanting to keep that "war" going!!
Originally posted by Seekerof
Who supplied the North Vietnamese? The VietCong?
Do they have weapons manufacturers or did the State simply reap from those arms and munitions sales?
[edit on 6-4-2005 by Seekerof]
You see, for the US, the real Vietnam 'War'/Conflict started in 1950 and ended 25 years later in 1975. The buck doesn't stop with only the two presidents you mention. The buck goes further back...