Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: A different kind of war

  1. #1
    Senior Contributor chakos's Avatar
    Join Date
    21 Apr 08
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    1,289

    A different kind of war

    I have been doing a little reading on the Vietnam War and have several times read that LBJ and the US government in general did not fight the war in a way that would have allowed it to succeed due to the fear of starting a nuclear war.

    So i bring this to the experts... If in say 1965 the US government drew the proverbial line in the sand regarding the North and gave the ultimatum, 'withdraw all support for the Viet Cong and cease and decist with cross border attacks or we will invade' and then followed through if the North did not comply with a massive attack all the way up to the Chinese border with the aim of unifying Vietnam under the control of the South (or a new puppet government, no matter).

    How would the situation have panned out?

    Thanks in advance.
    The best part of repentance is the sin

  2. #2
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
    Join Date
    03 Aug 03
    Posts
    8,018
    So i bring this to the experts... If in say 1965 the US government drew the proverbial line in the sand regarding the North and gave the ultimatum, 'withdraw all support for the Viet Cong and cease and decist with cross border attacks or we will invade' and then followed through if the North did not comply with a massive attack all the way up to the Chinese border with the aim of unifying Vietnam under the control of the South (or a new puppet government, no matter).
    Didn't need to - large scale ground operations into North Vietnam and Laos and a WW2 style bombing campaign would have brought them to their knees. Add in the US taking over hiring/firing in the ARVN and starting Vietnamazation earlier and doing the same withLaos and it would have been a win.
    Last edited by troung; 23 Feb 12, at 04:00.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  3. #3
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jan 07
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    9,180
    Quote Originally Posted by chakos View Post
    I have been doing a little reading on the Vietnam War and have several times read that LBJ and the US government in general did not fight the war in a way that would have allowed it to succeed due to the fear of starting a nuclear war.

    So i bring this to the experts... If in say 1965 the US government drew the proverbial line in the sand regarding the North and gave the ultimatum, 'withdraw all support for the Viet Cong and cease and decist with cross border attacks or we will invade' and then followed through if the North did not comply with a massive attack all the way up to the Chinese border with the aim of unifying Vietnam under the control of the South (or a new puppet government, no matter).

    How would the situation have panned out?

    Thanks in advance.
    Chakos,

    First, Truong is on the right track. A US invasion of the Lao panhandle & southern tip of the DRV along wiht heavy bombing might have worked. At worst it wold have done little harm. However, the US was too worried about CHinese intervention & a repeat of Korea to chance it. The bit about taking over ARVN appointments is a nice idea, but I'm not sure it would have worked & I am certain it would never have happened. It does pint to the real issue her, however. This was not America's war to win or lose. That was ultimately down to the ARVN & RVN. They were always outmatched by their northern cousins (and in many ways by their southern opponents too).

    I'm tipping that under your scenario, however, we get the same result, just wiht a different course. There are so many elements to discuss here it is difficult to know ehere to start.

    First there are the mechanics. The US can't just charge hell for leather for the Chinese border, even if they could. There were thousands of Chinese troops in the DRV serving openly (in CHinese uniforms) in support roles. While this may have been a bluff - Col. Yu assures me China woud not have intervened - the US doesn't know that. They will have to hasten cautiously in order to ensure no repeat of the Korean mess. This will give Ho & the key DRV & PAVN folk time to retreat to the mountains or to China itself.

    In fact, China will remain a problem for a number of reasons. It will provide a safe haven for the communists. Worse, it might become a player. At this point in China's history mao is on the outer. In 1966 he launched the Cultural Revolution, regaining power & purging his enemies. Lets assume the Chinese government doesn't intervene in Vietnam. Mao could choose this as the start of his 'revolution'. He could accuse his enemies of ignoring the plight of their socialist bretheren. Even if Mao & Zhou aren't dumb enough to send Chinese forces across the border (lets assume) there will be an almost endless supply of young volunteers prepared to fight the capitalists for the greater glory of the revolution. Cannon fodder to be sure, but they don't have to kill many Americans to achieve their goal.

    Next, lets have a look at some of the practicalities of this. America wants Ho to sign a piece of paper stating 'I will be nice'. Sound familiar? Ho's plan will be to get US troops out any way he can. If signing a piece of paper does it then great. Your best bet is that the threat forces a change to the internal politics of the Nth & the faction bent on re-unification loses influence. This is far from guaranteed, however & it certainly doesn't guarantee that arms won't keep finding their way sth.

    Lets assume, however, that the US does invade. Then what? Are they really going to occupy the DRV? Really??? Who is going to run it? The leaders of the RVN couldn't run their own state - one where they at least had some pretty big chunks of the population supporting. Things be differnt up north. There will be people who greet the Americans as liberators, but they will not be that many. Remember the hard core of the anti-communist forces in the Nth did a runner in the mid-50s. Precious little to work with there. That leaves the US military & a handful of RVN folk & whoever they can scrape together in the Nth to run the place until Ho calls 'uncle'. This is NOT going to go well.

    Then there is the dilution of US & ARVN forces. The war in the south is going to get easier because the nth will no longer be sending men & supplies sth. That may not be as helpful as you think. In 1965 the ARVN was a pretty poor excuse for a military. One of the reasons the US had to intervene was that not only could ARVN units not deal with PAVN troops infiltrating sth (of whom there were less than you might think), but they could not even deal with local VC units. In '63 & '64 VC 'main force' units chewed up & spat out whole ARVN battalions. The VC may simply revert to small scale attacks & harrassment and play the long game. Remember that it wasn't until they butchered themselves in a series of attacks in 1968 that the southern VC was really suppressed. In this scenario all those networks will stay intact. Further, the US is most likely going to take some ARVN units north wiht them, if only for show. It is hard to know quite which ones would go. The more skilled uints like the Rangers would be an obvious choice, but the RVN in 1965 was not a olitically stable place. There had been a succession of coups in '64, so units tended to be deployed based as much on their political reliablity as their ability (this will also impact the fighting in the RVN). Still, it will have to be a few competent battalions, which therfore furhter dilutes the number of competent battalions in the RVN itself.

    This is a slightly amended quote I have borrowed from a poster on another forum. While it does tend topward polemic in parts it neatly summarizes some of the problems of the RVN & especially the ARVN relative to the DRV & PAVN. This is all VERY relevant

    The roots of the ARVN’s appalling performance versus the soldiers of the NLF were due to motivation. The low motivation of the ARVN and the high motivation of the NLF was due to historic, cultural and social factors.

    The history of the Northern part of Vietnam is thousands of years older than the South. The Northern Vietnamese had not long themselves, in grand historical terms, colonised the southern portion of Indochina from the Chams and Cambodians, before being themselves usurped by the French. The Viet people of the North were as a result a more homogenous, conservative and cultured people when compared to those in the South. The South was still regarded as ‘frontier territory’ by most Vietnamese. As a result the ‘Vietnamese’ who occupied the south were a fractured and fractious bunch compared to the northerners. There were far more ethnic minorities and disparate religious groups in the south. Each ethnic and religious group not only guarded against each other, but also against the hated Cambodians and Laotians This was the status quou in the South even before the French took over late in the 19th century. The chaotic political situation that the US inherited and frustrated them so much had its roots in the South’s history.

    Ho Chi Minh’s subordination of Vietnamese nationalism and his homespun ‘low key’ communism played perfectly to his northern, conservative audience, who truly (and quite correctly) believed that they were better than what their French masters allowed them. It was HCM’s defeat of the hated French, who as a colonial power were simply bastards, which gave HCM and the communists a political legitimacy that was exceptionally hard to match. It was this political legitimacy allied with the fact that the VM and PAVN were self evidently fighting a foreign enemy that provided much of the motivation for the Bo Doi.

    Almost everything about HCM’s Vietnamised version of communism assisted in the motivation and morale of the communist soldiers. Firstly, unlike the ARVN the communists adopted the same system of promotion adopted by the Australian Imperial Forces in both World Wars – Merit. It didn’t matter if you were a bricklayer in the AIF, if you had leadership potential and military acumen you would be promoted. It was the same in the Viet Cong and the PAVN. It didn’t matter if you were a ‘rice paddy person’ and not a member of the urban elite. If you had the goods when the bullets were flying you would be promoted. Motivation in any organisation is best when it is driven from the bottom and not imposed from the top. In this important respect the PAVN and VC totally outclassed the ARVN.

    The communist system of the ‘three man cell’ of which all soldiers were consigned was an instrument of social control on one hand, but an obvious source of comfort, solace and support on the other. Ultimately a person may sign on for Ho and Country but when the chips were down, as a result of the ‘cell’ system, Vietnamese communist soldiers were fighting for their mates. They couldn’t hope for much medical attention if wounded, but they could absolutely rely on the fact that the other two members of his ‘cell’ would die trying to get him to it. Something that seldom could be said for their ARVN rivals.

    The existing social situation in the South had been made worse by the French. The PROVN report makes this quite clear. Social stratification between the urban elites and rural poor were much more marked in the South than in the North. The urban elites, of especially Saigon and Hue, provided the government officials to the Provinces and the officer corp to the ARVN. To quote Bergerud -These military elites running South Vietnam, disdained the rural population, believing themselves masters rather than servants of the people. They were driven by sordid personal motives and viewed government and military service as an avenue for financial gain through corruption.

    The middle class too were disdainful of the rural masses, from which the foot soldiers of the ARVN were drawn. However they had contempt as well for their government and were suspicious of the crude and uncivilised Americans (and dare I say, the cruder and even more uncivilised Australians) Therefore they often had respect and admiration for the NLF.

    The great majority of the population, and therefore the ARVN, were the peasantry. They were fatalistic, weary and suspicious of a government that continually broke its word and were susceptible to the promises (no matter how hollow) held out by the NLF of a better future.

    The communist soldiers of the NLF had the benefits of historic and cultural solidarity, which was completely lacking in the south. Communist comradeship actually meant something to an NLF soldier. It rarely meant much to the ‘put upon’ and exploited ARVN peasant soldier.

    Haughty arrogance, petty demagoguery and the absolute incapacity to admit an error were the hallmarks of the South Vietnamese urban elite. This elite constituted both the ARVN Officer Corp and minor Government functionaries. It is no wonder then that the average private in the ARVN was sick to the teeth of the mindless incompetence and extraordinary hubris of their ‘masters and betters.’

    It is little wonder too, that barely a shot was fired at the PAVN tanks that rolled into Saigon in 1975. The officer Corps were the first to desert and the soldiery simply stripped off their uniforms and went home to their hamlets.

    What is a wonder was that the rate of ‘fragging’ in the ARVN was as low as it was.
    Here's what is going to happen. The US will attack the North, and after a bit of hard fighitng here or there & the odd heroic stand the DRV & PAVN will dissolve into the populace or the mountains. Realistically, America will control the coastal strip & the Red River Delta along wiht a few strategic bases elsewhere - much as the French did. They may even revive the old French blockhouses around the Delta. These were effective in keeping PAVN divisions out of the Delta, but battalion sized forces moved back & force easily. Now the US is in charge of about 30 million pople, most of whom don't want it there. There are several rather large cities, some mountains & a bunch of jungle.

    The war in Vietnam steadily lost popularity as the death toll rose. By mid-'67 opposition was almost as high as support. At this point less than 15,000 Americans had died. By the time 20,000 were dead (about 2 1/2 years) in it was Tet Offensive time & the war's popularity was in terminal decline. In this scenario I'm betting that US casualties are higher in a shorter space of time. IN the meantime the US is having to explain at home & abroad why it has invaded someone else's country. There will be an initial 'rally 'round the flag' popularity bump, but thereafter popularity will slide...perhaps quite dramatically. Every day the US sits in the Nth & US boys die there is one more day they come closer to doing a runner from the whole place.

    If Ho can hold his nerve he can get the US out of the Nth in 12-18 months for a fig leaf. From that point on the clock is ticking on the war in the Sth and it is ticking fast. The US will have to hope that the ARVN gets a lot better a lot faster than it did because my bet is that US combat troops are leaving even sooner than in OTL...either as part of a phoney peace deal or because the costly northern excursion has robbed the war of saleability.

    The only good news for the RVN here is that the DRV won't be sending an army sth anytime soon. That doesn't mean no troops or supplies, but no armies...yet. Perhaps they never will. Perhaps the RVN will actually be able to overcome the VC with minimal US help. Imagine, however, a fully functioning VC launching a Tet-style attack against an RVN with few US troops around. Confident they can hold on?

    Here is a quote from the excellent Arnold Isaacs & his book 'Without Honour' about the collapse of the RVN & Cambodia. It sums up the RVN nicely. If there was a way to get it wrong the RVN would find it & then double down.

    “The truth was that the Thieu government offered little except self interest to command the support of the rural Vietnamese. Its officers and officials often refused to share the dangers and hardships of those they sought to lead, unlike the communist cadres. The regime was tainted by the anti-nationalist past of its president and most of its officers. Officers came from the elite; enlisted soldiers, from the peasantry. The war made rich men of colonels, generals, bureaucrats, and entrepreneurs; it made refugees of the farmers and unwilling draftees of the sons of the common people in the towns and villages. Falling somewhere between democracy and dictatorship, the regime had the disadvantages of both: it was authoritarian enough to be unpopular, democratic enough to be inefficient. Rather than motivating the army or the society to meet national goals, the South Vietnamese system provided haven for opportunists who used privilege and power for their own gain. From the top down, few of its leaders ever seemed to have any real goal other than to perpetuate their own power.”


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  4. #4
    Global Moderator
    Military Professional
    Bandaid

    Join Date
    04 Oct 04
    Location
    India
    Posts
    4,996
    Bigfella, you summed it up well.

    Cheers!...on the rocks!!

  5. #5
    Regular
    Join Date
    27 Oct 11
    Location
    Indiana, USA
    Posts
    46
    Wasnt there a leader of the North Vietnamese "Army" who said that if we would have continued bombing raids the way we were that they eventually wouldve lost? Im not entirely sure about that but i think i remember hearing something about it somewhere

  6. #6
    Senior Contributor Triple C's Avatar
    Join Date
    11 Apr 06
    Location
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Posts
    2,351
    Also, where were you going to find the divisions to invade N. Vietnam with? Weakening US forces in Europe seems unwise.
    All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
    -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

  7. #7
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
    Join Date
    08 Mar 11
    Location
    London
    Posts
    2,308
    The CCP sent scores of PLA officers to Vietnam in the 1950s, and they had a very high and strong presence; here’s a good study of the period: Qiang Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975 (UNC Press, 2000) ISBN 0807848425.


    If the US had taken a more aggressive posture in Vietnam in the mid-1960s, the key factor would have been the impact on Mao’s ability to launch the GPCR. If he felt constrained, because of threatened war on his Southern flank, or if Lin Biao and others in the PLA and CCP leadership felt they had to constrain him, China today would be a very different place. Possibly worse, as the horrors of the GPCR led to a 180 degree political about face.

  8. #8
    Senior Contributor Triple C's Avatar
    Join Date
    11 Apr 06
    Location
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Posts
    2,351
    It's a popular what-if. But I do not see it as sound strategy to contain Communism in Vietnam when the Soviets were in Germany. There is a point when the resources sunk in Vietnam stopped having returns even if you believe the domino theory.
    All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
    -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

  9. #9
    Regular
    Join Date
    23 Jul 14
    Posts
    54
    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    If the US had taken a more aggressive posture in Vietnam in the mid-1960s,
    What if say the americans accepted Ho Chi Mins advances for assistance gaining liberation from France?

  10. #10
    Global Moderator
    Military Professional
    Defense Professional
    Albany Rifles's Avatar
    Join Date
    27 Apr 07
    Location
    Prince George, VA
    Posts
    8,288
    Quote Originally Posted by Samuels creek View Post
    What if say the americans accepted Ho Chi Mins advances for assistance gaining liberation from France?
    Samuels Creek,

    It is our custom to first introduce ourselves to teh member ship before posting. Please go here and tell us a bit about yourself.

    http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/wab...mbers-110.html

    And when you are done there go to this thread for how we act as members of the WAB commnity.

    http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/wab...val-guide.html
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Kind of a dick
    By Parihaka in forum American Politics & Economy
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 05 Jul 11,, 23:12
  2. What kind of weapons are these?
    By temujin77 in forum Small Arms and Personal Weapons
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 31 Jul 09,, 06:07
  3. What kind of rifle is this?
    By temujin77 in forum Small Arms and Personal Weapons
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 22 Jan 09,, 04:03

Share this thread with friends:

Share this thread with friends:

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •