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Old 04-15-2012, 08:07 PM
Ralphpotato Ralphpotato is a male Wales Ralphpotato is offline
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Exclamation The Vietnam War

In school, we are studying the Vietnam War. As many of you who have studied this know, there was a huge amount of controversy surrounding the entire thing. I am curious to know what people think of the war. What their first thoughts are when the topic is brought up. What your first thoughts are.

So please, I think engaging in civil debate is perfectly fine, but more than anything I am curious to know the first thing you think. I would ask if you could please include the county you're from, because I would also like to know how the perspective of different countries affects this.

One last thing. Be nice to people. This is a topic that could raise a lot of arguments. Do not let your emotions get the better of you. Be mature in this conversation please.
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:26 AM
Apollo Apollo is a male United States Apollo is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

I don't think anyone really has any heated debates over the war these days especially from people not old enough to have been born when it was going on.

Vietnam was an overreaction on the part of the USA. If people want to live in a communist government then we have no right to stop them. It's really as simple as that we shouldn't impose our values. Communism may be a disfavor to them, but they have to deal with their own consequences of their actions.

The idea of containment had some serious flaws such as the USA going crazy every time a country threatens to go commie or even liberal for that manner. It wasted a hell a lot of money resources and most of all lives.
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:32 AM
Ralphpotato Ralphpotato is a male Wales Ralphpotato is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

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Originally Posted by Apollo View Post
I don't think anyone really has any heated debates over the war these days especially from people not old enough to have been born when it was going on.

Vietnam was an overreaction on the part of the USA. If people want to live in a communist government then we have no right to stop them. It's really as simple as that we shouldn't impose our values. Communism may be a disfavor to them, but they have to deal with their own consequences of their actions.

The idea of containment had some serious flaws such as the USA going crazy every time a country threatens to go commie or even liberal for that manner. It wasted a hell a lot of money resources and most of all lives.
Ah, that makes sense, however I still think the possibility of a slightly angered debate is plausible, just being cautious.

And thank you for your reply, interesting....
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Old 04-16-2012, 01:39 AM
Flames of Valor Flames of Valor is a male United States Flames of Valor is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

The Vietnam war suffered from a lack of support, both from politicians and from citizens.

Whether or not one agree with the purpose of the war, the part that bothers me the most is how many people don't bother to acknowledge that, after the withdrawal of the United States and her allies, that region suffered the malignancy that was Pol Pot -- and millions died; perhaps needlessly. The very sort of presence that the United States hoped to eliminate. It was a very real threat -- maybe not to the United States, but to the citizens of those regions of the world. Simply take a look at China with something like 40 million dead thanks to Mao. They called it communism, but it was totalitarian collectivism.

The motivation of the war may not have even been the welfare of those people; but it would have been a happy side effect should they have lived, I think. For that reason, I don't necessarily oppose that war; although I disagree with many things that occurred during it. But, hey, we can say that for any war, I'd say.
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Old 04-16-2012, 01:42 AM
Tabby Prussia Tabby is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

It's quite different than just "The Vietnamese wanted to be communist, we should have let them".

Most vietnamese were not communist. Ho Chi Minh was not even a committed communist at all, he was a nationalist. The US THOUGHT it was fighting Communism, and felt that if Vietnam fell to Communism, it would become a puppet state of China. The US was keen to not let China's influence expand into the region, and as such did not want it going Communist. The Vietnamese, meanwhile, saw their struggle as one of national independence. The Americans also wanted the same thing, but mutual mistrust and mistakes prevented any form of understanding.

The US was very much mistaken. The French had begged the Americans for help during the Indochina conflict, but the Americans wanted Indochina to be independent as it saw Imperialism as abhorrent. But as soon as it saw Communism taking hold in the Vietnamese nationalist movement. they had no choice but to intervene themselves. Allowing the Communist Chinese to expand into Vietnam was as bad as the French colonial empire, if not worse.

Though in the end, the US certainly made a lot of mistakes. Militarily, after the Tet offensive, victory was well within the grasp of the US forces. Had they not pulled out, Vietnam would have been a victory, if still a controversial one, for the US and her allies.
And the idea Vietnam would become a Chinese puppet was also a mistaken one. For centuries, the Vietnamese had been bitter rivals with the Chinese. No Vietnamese, communist or not, would allow their country to be a puppet of China. Had the US government read history, they would have thought differently.

Though in the Cold War, allowing a country to go Communist was just political and diplomatic suicide. There is absolutely no way the US government would ever had allowed it to go Communist without a fight. The same way the Soviets would never allow any of Eastern Europe go democratic.


People always go on about the US in Vietnam, but you hardly ever hear any condemnation of the Soviets in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:00 AM
Janus Janus is a male United States Janus is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flames of Valor View Post
The Vietnam war suffered from a lack of support, both from politicians and from citizens.
Just to reinforce that point, I once heard a Vietnam veteran say we (the US) couldn't win the war because we weren't allowed to. He talked about how if your plane was being shot at, you had to radio in for permission to return fire.
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:28 PM
Valhelm Valhelm is a male United States Valhelm is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

I've never been truly sure which side was in the right during the war. North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the United States all committed their fair share of atrocities. In many ways, the South was worse under Ngo Dien Diem, given his persecution of non-Catholics and personal corruption.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:43 PM
Ralphpotato Ralphpotato is a male Wales Ralphpotato is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

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Originally Posted by Tavros View Post
I've never been truly sure which side was in the right during the war. North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the United States all committed their fair share of atrocities. In many ways, the South was worse under Ngo Dien Diem, given his persecution of non-Catholics and personal corruption.
The South Vietnam were...eh. The US only supported them because the US wanted to stop the spread of Communism at seemingly no cost. If they had other options, I'm almost sure the US would have not supported Ngo Dien Diem, as his corruption level was about yay high (spreads hands out as wide as possible).
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:43 PM
minervyx minervyx is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

Vietnam War was a disaster, through and through.

1. Vietnam wasn't pro-communist. It just wanted its independence from France. The fact that communism did not spread in the Pacific after the U.S. lost is proof.

2. The U.S. needed to send a lot more troops in order to win, but did not because of political pressure. Basically, we were in it, just to be in it.

3. We were supporting a brutal dictatorship over there.

4. It resulted in massive quantities of debt, abandoning the gold standard, and inflation
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:57 PM
Ralphpotato Ralphpotato is a male Wales Ralphpotato is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

North Vietnam was a Communist state. Vietnam is Communist now.

I agree with your other points, however.
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Old 04-17-2012, 05:58 AM
Tabby Prussia Tabby is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralphpotato View Post
North Vietnam was a Communist state. Vietnam is Communist now.

I agree with your other points, however.
That is over simplifying it. The Vietnamese who fought against the US and their allies were not doing so because they wanted a Communist revolution, but because they wanted national independence. First from France, and then from the US. Thing is, the US did not want to occupy the country at all, and thought it was fighting for Vietnamese independence- the US thought a Communist Vietnam would be a puppet of either China or the USSR. They were mistaken, however. The Vietnamese were certainly not going to let China control them, as you can see by the numerous conflicts between the two after the US war.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:43 AM
minervyx minervyx is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

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Originally Posted by Ralphpotato View Post
North Vietnam was a Communist state. Vietnam is Communist now.

I agree with your other points, however.
The poster above me summed it up well.

NV was not really ideologically communist nor did it want to spread its ideologies. France was occupying NV and the U.S. favored France, so the North Vietnamese only took the aid from Soviet/China to be free from western countries influence.
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Old 04-19-2012, 12:31 PM
Raptor Buddha Raptor Buddha is offline
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Re: The Vietnam War

I think the long period of conflict in Indochina—ranging from France’s attempt to reclaim its colonies to China’s attempt to invade Vietnam in 1979 is best characterized by:
1) a near criminal lack of foresight on the part of national leaders; and
2) a nihilistic waste of human life and resources.

For the United States, the lesson of Vietnam was one that should have already known—to be cautious about playing custodian to European empires and that one must be able to distinguish communist revolution backed by self-determination from Soviet-led imperialism. Additionally, it’s a demonstration of the systemic flaws intrinsic in the predominant doctrine of US grand strategy of the era, aka the Domino Theory. I think Operation Ajax should have been a pretty reasonable foreshadowing and indicator of all of these flaws. In Ajax, the British government petitioned the US government for assistance in dealing with Mohammed Mosaddegh’s nationalist government after it nationalized certain petroleum interests held by BP. One of ways the British government attracted US support to overthrow the government was alleging that such nationalization was the first step in what would become a communist takeover of the country. Realistically, Mosaddegh was a conservative nationalist—a rightwing Nasser—and certainly no red. It’s up for debate how much the US government truthfully believed that communism was a realistic threat, but I think it was somewhat instrumental in obtaining US involvement—especially given the hysteria surrounding the contemporaneous Korean War. The net result is that the United States and the United Kingdom overthrew a legitimate, democratic government and established a regime that was so repressive that the logical result evolved into the current insane government that inhabits Tehran today.

This is not to say that Soviet imperialism wasn’t worth containing. Indeed, while I think people today tend to scoff at Manichean Cold War dichotomies, I invite those people to converse with people who remembered the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1956 and 1968, or to those who remember the imposition of undemocratic communist states imposed upon them in the aftermath of the Second World War. Why isn’t there a fundamental inconsistency in containing communism in Europe but not, apparently, in Indochina? Because Soviet cannibalization of Eastern Europe was in direct contravention of democratic elections and national self-determination. In fact, I think the United States was probably guilty of similar interference and ignorance of self-determination. Although such ignorance was not as brazen as that of the USSR’s, the scale of destruction precipitated during the campaign more than made up for that.

In the Vietnam War, I think it’s pretty clear that the US government supported a Saigon based regime that existed primarily for the purpose of withholding the elections agreed upon by the international community at Geneva when France agreed to grant sovereignty pending a national election. It was, additionally, quite an artificial regime formed on the unsteady foundation of French appointed peninsulares and an antique royal family in the personage of Bao Dai. The lesson of Vietnam is that even if your archenemy lends material aid to a liberation struggle backed by popular will—be the archenemy Nazis, communists, or terrorists—that said material aid does not delegitimize the absolute right of self-determination.


Furthermore, Ho Chi Minh made very exhaustive efforts to achieve US support. Indeed, Ho was chiefly inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and he worked closely with US intelligence during the Second World War in order to resist the occupying Japanese forces. Had the US had more foresight, Ho’s united Vietnam might have become an invaluable ally. While the government might have still been explicitly communist, that never prevented the United States in its relationship with, say, Tito’s Yugoslavia or the PRC. The entire war was a colossal intellectual and diplomatic blunder.

The war also demonstrates the great limits of military powerful as, from start to finish, the war was the United States’ to lose. Though America’s military forces in Vietnam were never led by a genius of say, Douglas MacArthur’s caliber, neither were American forces ever threatened with destruction or expulsion from the country—as they were during the Korean War. Generally, US forces enjoyed tactical and operational dominance, even if strategically US plans lacked imagination and perception. Even the NVA and Viet Cong’s military advantages in jungle fighting were slowly mitigated by growing US acclimation to Indochina.

Indeed, for North Vietnam the war—from the point of view of military planning—was somewhat bungled. North Vietnam’s main effort during the war, the TET Offensive, was in almost every sense a US success. The NVA had decided to attempt to duplicate the success of encircling French Airborne units at Dien Bien Phu. The idea behind TET was to have irregular and regular units make a surprise offensive deep within South Vietnamese lines while peripheral units peeled off and encircled US frontier positions—like that of Khe Sahn. Thus, presumably, an encirclement of US forces in a set-piece battle would embarrass the US into seeking terms like the French. The US, however, was not France. It was a superpower with overwhelming military power, not an ailing colonial empire. Even though the North achieved complete strategic surprise, the North simply could not stand toe-to-toe with US line units and firepower. Also, the NVA should have been aware, that the success at Dien Bien Phu was achieved—in spite of high casualties—due to overwhelming superiority in firepower, namely through artillery. I think it’s also notable that Vo Nguyen Giap, the quite capable soldier who achieved success at Dien Bien Phu, objected to the plan.

However, there were other crucial strategic factors developing that mitigated US tactical dominance. The first was the fact that the long period of US economic prosperity following World War II and Bretton-Woods was slowly beginning to unravel. Simultaneously, LBJ began his very costly Great Society and the War on Poverty. Despite the fact that LBJ escalated US involvement to the point of involving a little around half a million ground troops, he tended to view the war as a distraction, and Vietnam as a “pissant country.” Just as importantly, after seeing US forces struggling to maintain the US embassy in Saigon—a metaphor for regional US military power—the NVA certainly won the war on popular perceptions.

However, the most important strategic factor of all was one that would develop in 1971. Ever since the death of Stalin, Maoist China and Khrushchev’s Soviet Union had effected split—a split that saw the two countries engage in a small border war in 1968. Eventually, the fall out of that conflict allowed for the most unlikely smut pairing in history—a rapprochement between veteran anti-communist Richard Nixon and anti-revisionist Mao Zedong. A war over perceived communist expansion in Indochina was effectively ended with one of the most hardline communist regimes in the world allying with the most anti-communist government in an effort to squeeze out the USSR. Why fight a war to contain the expansion of nationalism with communist overtones when you’ve just leapt into bed with the most hardcore communist regime of them all? Thus, it shouldn’t come as any surprise when the PRC supported Pol Pot’s invasion of Vietnam and initiated one of its own in 1979—an invasion which was as laughably mismanaged as it was tragic. I think for me, that summarizes my feeling on the entire history of conflict in Indochina in general: it would be hilarious based on sheer absurdity if not for the sobering realization of the millions of people who died for nothing.
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