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Thread: Was Vietnam an American victory?

  1. #16
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    Did good things come out of our involvement there in a roundabout way? Probably so; however, we did not prevent the communist north from taking over the south. So in that sense we "lost." We did not achieve our objective.

  2. #17
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    The US had left Vietnam by 1975, though. It's definitely a policy loss, I'll concur with that.

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    I thought the bigger goal had been achieved and that was the prevention of Dominoe theory. Look at SouthEast Asia now. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Phillipines are capitalist societies and they are well better off than Vietnam.

    Shek, in 1975, US was still the dominant power in terms of economic and social mobility. US was able to recover from Vietnam in a fairly quickly manner and USSR's advantages was negated in the early 80s. The NATO alliance was still firm and strong. Western Europe's economy was on the upswing no longer needing America financial aid. So I would not say that it was a loss but more of a stalemate and strategic and tactical withdrawal and rearrangement of forces for a better posture. And that's what exactly happened.

  4. #19
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    I thought the bigger goal had been achieved and that was the prevention of Dominoe theory. Look at SouthEast Asia now. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Phillipines are capitalist societies and they are well better off than Vietnam.
    Indonesia wrapped up their commie problem before hand (1965), the Philippines is still fighting their commies (who rose up after 1968 for different reasons) - Indochina-2 didn't change much on either front. Attempts politically to connect the killing fields with NPA communism failed in the Philippines, totally different set of issues and actors.
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  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    No, it was a loss. The Sino-Soviet rift existed prior to the conventional intervention in 1965, and how does not fighting change the economic paths for the dragons and the tiger?

    So where did the US stand in 1975? Visible defeat in SVN. An emasculated presidency with an ascendant Congress that would say no to most any conflict. On the verge of a President whose first three years in office were a disaster vis a vis the USSR. A hollow Army riddle with drug use and racial infighting. Weaponry that was often outclassed by the USSR. A USSR that had achieved nuclear parity in terms of #s of warheads thanks to a lack of continued capitalization of the nuclear force during Vietnam.

    Vietnam is a "gift" that keeps on giving today. Many politicians and voters still see the world through Vietnam, which clouds judgements. It hampers recruitment, as parents of the sons and daughters of American often counsel their kids not to sign up to join their generation's "Vietnam".

    I'd have to see Lee Kuan Yew's speech in full (the download timed out on me) to see if he actually has something to support his assertions, but given that the Sino-Soviet split is an obvious miss, I suspect there's not much meat to some of his other points.
    Not to mention it also set the stage for disco.

    And what a tragdey THAT turned out to be.

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  6. #21

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    Shek Reply

    Thanks. You're absolutely correct and reminded me again of the very bitter taste of defeat. Nothing but. Don't know the elixir I'd consumed that allowed me to nuance my posture into factual irrelevance.

    Mr. Yew's observations of Asia's economic miracle have far more to do with these nations' success in spite of our defeat in SVN.
    Last edited by S2; 10 Apr 08, at 19:10.
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  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by troung View Post
    Indonesia wrapped up their commie problem before hand (1965), the Philippines is still fighting their commies (who rose up after 1968 for different reasons) - Indochina-2 didn't change much on either front. Attempts politically to connect the killing fields with NPA communism failed in the Philippines, totally different set of issues and actors.
    Suharto's power was relatively weak after succeeding to the throne. He still needed time to consolidate his power base and Americans gave him that.

    The Phillipines are still fighting the commies but the commies was never allowed to rise to a major player status like the Maoists in Nepal. Now the Maoists have risen in Nepal, the same thing would happen to the Indian Maoists. It is another strategic blunder by the GOI. GOI should have actively assisted the Nepal monarchy in suppressing the Maoists in Nepal as to deny any power base to build upon and export their ideologies / project their influence abroad.

    That's what the Americans accomplished in Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese gov't was so weak to be concerned with the affairs abroad with the exception of Cambodia for perfectly understandable reasons. However that being said, it must be remember that Vietnamese communism ideology was quite different from Soviet communism and was never a really strong platform. It was more of a national ideology that drove the N. Vietnam to take over S. Vietnam. It was akin to Lincoln's stand that the Union shall not be divided.

  8. #23

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    Unintended Downstream Effects

    "That's what the Americans accomplished in Vietnam."

    Our own debilitation was so profound that it was hardly worth the cost to achieve the same effect in the N. Vietnamese. Not to dispute the fact, but it was hardly an intended explicit objective. Neither might the resultant condition of the Vietnamese gov't really mitigate against our sense of inadequacy.

    The unforeseen downstream effects of history are compelling and part of the sum narrative. Sometimes, they're so compelling as to defy our imagination as to how they couldn't be anticipated. Still, when actions are viewed against objectives, instead of actual outcomes, the picture is often different.

    Mr. Yew's comments fit a vogue perspective which I've entertained about the insidious power of American culture and the immutability of economic progress to synergize some amazing results. It's a revisionist view that seeks to balm our sense of objective failure, though. This perspective ignores that America could have quite possibly, though not easily, avoided the SVN calamity altogether via a different operational approach and still retained a useful role in the Asian economic miracle.
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  9. #24
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    Our objective, as far as I can tell, was the continued existance and defending of South Vietnam.

    South Vietnam no longer exists, so I can't see how that's anything other than a loss. To say otherwise is a bit like these politicians going on stage after a poll shows them doing terribly and they go, "We're not doing terribly. The people think we're doing great."

    Here's our country's record:

    American Revolution: Win
    War of 1812: Draw
    Mexican-American War: Win
    Civil War: Win for the Union
    Spanish-American War: Win
    World War I: Win
    World War II: Win
    Korean War: Draw
    Vietnam War: Loss
    Persian Gulf War: Win
    Iraq War: Win

    So we've got a record of 8 wins, 1 loss, and 2 draws, IMO.
    Last edited by rj1; 12 Apr 08, at 16:31.

  10. #25
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    The Phillipines are still fighting the commies but the commies was never allowed to rise to a major player status like the Maoists in Nepal.
    The NPA was a major player up to and past the fall of Marcos. They grew locally, and became a bigger player after China cut all support to them (which at best had a very limited impact in helping them). The NPA had control over lots of territory, had widespread public support and lots of arms in the 1980s. I'm too lazy to list where they had fronts and how many at the time but they were large. Loss of public support and decades of fighting have reduced them in power, but they are far from gone. Indochina-2 didn't save the RP from the Communists, who in fact never disappeared after the Huk revolt and were a local phenomena.

    Now the Maoists have risen in Nepal, the same thing would happen to the Indian Maoists. It is another strategic blunder by the GOI. GOI should have actively assisted the Nepal monarchy in suppressing the Maoists in Nepal as to deny any power base to build upon and export their ideologies / project their influence abroad.
    Just put it in the list with all of the other strategic blunders by the GOI...

    Suharto's power was relatively weak after succeeding to the throne. He still needed time to consolidate his power base and Americans gave him that.
    That was aid which would have come regardless of Indochina-2.
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  11. #26
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    You lost not only South Vietnam but Laos and Cambodia too in 1975. For the latter your meddling in its internal affairs and then your departure triggered the rise of the khmer rouge and the genocide that followed (1.3 million murdered people cannot be forgotten so easily) .
    Last edited by Oscar; 12 Apr 08, at 21:30.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    You lost not only South Vietnam but Laos and Cambodia too in 1975. For the latter your meddling in its internal affairs and then your departure triggered the rise of the khmer rouge and the genocide that followed (1.3 million murdered people cannot be forgotten so easily) .
    Before that Vietnam was known as French Indo-China. The Viet Minh defeated the French forces after the debacle at Dien Bien Phu. Remember? The Americans were invited to assist the South Vietnamese later.
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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    For the latter your meddling in its internal affairs and then your departure triggered the rise of the khmer rouge and the genocide that followed (1.3 million murdered people cannot be forgotten so easily) .
    Oh come on, there is NO WAY whatsoever the Americans could ever be responsible for that butcher's bill. That is Khmer Rouge sole responsibility. No one else's.

  14. #29
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    The Americans invited us first to defend Indochina. The war couldn't have lasted as long without their help. We had to defeat the Viet minh (because of the Cold war) and then declare their independence. Not very motivating to continue the fight: whatever the outcome we had to leave.

  15. #30
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    That still does not mean the Americans lined up those 1.3 million to be shot.

    Quick question. What would've happened had you won DBP? It was an all or nothing battle for the Viet-minh. They had nothing left.

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