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When was Vietnam lost?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Apr 2011 at 11:35
Dear Al Jassas,

Please pardon me, but your use of the name of Glenn Beck, as a source of mine is totally a misconception on your part. I have never even heard or read anything by Beck concerning this war. But, being now age 64, I have had some correspondence with the Vets. who were there.

That is the ones who searched the bodies found, and looked for documents or photos linking them to the North.

Have you?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Apr 2011 at 19:40
You took some info about the Tet's effects of the NVA from his site and this is what I meant.
 
Anyway what do you think about the reports I linked above.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 04:21
Opus: in re your: "Just how many NVA tank units were a part of the insurrection, for instance?"

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 04:56
Captain Vancouver:  in re your: "After over a million killed, and an air campaign that can be described as nothing short of furious, no aims were achieved, and the US was forced to negociate a undesirable document to allow for a reasonably face-saving withdrawal. This has all the elements of a loss. But admitting this is out of step with the overall paradigm many still have of the world."

Captain V, it is hard to argue against your conclusion in the last two sentences, however your statement that the "U.S. was forced to negotiate..." is overly simplistic, and wrong. Internal disagreement over the war certainly pressured Nixon and company to nail down a solution that would get U.S. forces out of Vietnam, and leave the RVN intact. And they are the ones who used force on both the north and the south to get just such a document signed. Even here, their real target audience was an internal U.S. slice of the electorate. Simply put, had Richard Nixon not hobbled himself with Watergate, North Vietnam's 1975 offensive would not have gone unchallenged. Indeed, it would have been destroyed. But, thanks to Gerald Ford, it was not, and twenty-five years of U.S. policy was defeated. Proof indeed that if you want something done, it is better to do it yourself. Which in Vietnam, the U.S. never had the national will (or backing) to do, ergo the political discontent.

As for that 'furious air campaign', it was off and on. We even used B-52 strikes to clear jungle landing zones for helicopter assaults. All that counted up in the tonnage that so many like to cite to create the image of a Haiphong to Hanoi corridor under continuous round the clock aerial bombardment, not that it wasn't rough when such was going on. It just was never rough enough.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 07:29
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

Captain Vancouver:  in re your: "After over a million killed, and an air campaign that can be described as nothing short of furious, no aims were achieved, and the US was forced to negociate a undesirable document to allow for a reasonably face-saving withdrawal. This has all the elements of a loss. But admitting this is out of step with the overall paradigm many still have of the world."

Captain V, it is hard to argue against your conclusion in the last two sentences, however your statement that the "U.S. was forced to negotiate..." is overly simplistic, and wrong. Internal disagreement over the war certainly pressured Nixon and company to nail down a solution that would get U.S. forces out of Vietnam, and leave the RVN intact. And they are the ones who used force on both the north and the south to get just such a document signed. Even here, their real target audience was an internal U.S. slice of the electorate. Simply put, had Richard Nixon not hobbled himself with Watergate, North Vietnam's 1975 offensive would not have gone unchallenged. Indeed, it would have been destroyed. But, thanks to Gerald Ford, it was not, and twenty-five years of U.S. policy was defeated. Proof indeed that if you want something done, it is better to do it yourself. Which in Vietnam, the U.S. never had the national will (or backing) to do, ergo the political discontent.

As for that 'furious air campaign', it was off and on. We even used B-52 strikes to clear jungle landing zones for helicopter assaults. All that counted up in the tonnage that so many like to cite to create the image of a Haiphong to Hanoi corridor under continuous round the clock aerial bombardment, not that it wasn't rough when such was going on. It just was never rough enough.
 
Perhaps I didn't use the most articulate terms, but I have to say here that I am hearing a familiar slant to this story.
 
Internal disagreement is certainly not an incorrect way to describe events, but it hardly does them justice either. Opposition to the war raged across the country, in the form of civil disobedience, university occupations, riots, and draft evasion. Thousands of young men left the country, and became virtual refugees in Canada. The segment that Nixon was playing to rose from a small minority near the start of the war, to the majority of the population at its peak. Both Nixon, and indeed Johnson before him, realized that the war could very well tear the country apart. Nixon realized that he was in a no-win situation, in that he could keep shipping kids of to Vietnam for a generation, and victory may still not be assured. And given the sentiment of the country, this would have been an impossibility anyway. At this point, he was "forced" if we can put it that way, to negociate a peace treaty with N Vietnam. Straight withdrawal would have looked awfully bad, truly like a defeat, and so some sort of document was needed to make history more comfortable. The N Vietnamese knew this of course, and so spun it out for as long as they thought their luck would hold. Washington needed a treaty more than Hanoi did. The US was going, no doubt about that, and the N Vietnamese were equally certain about where they would be located. This gave a measure of imbalance to the process, which at times Nixon attempted to equalize by massive bombardment of the North. Furious, if you like.
 
Watergate came to light in 1973, by which time the possibility of going back into Vietnam in force was a political impossibility. No president, Nixon, Ford, or anyone else would have survived politically after advocating such a move. The citizenry had had enough, had seen through the foolish preceps for the war, and there was no going back, at least not without risking a true meltdown of society.
 
It is the nature of guerrilla warfare that victory may not be possible by pure force of arms, but equally, it is very difficult for the other side to prevail also, and least not without a complete determination and comittment, part of which flows from a sense of doing the necessary and right thing. In this sense, there was a looser, and a winner in this conflict.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 12:44
Captain V:  Well argued, but in reference to this:  "It is the nature of guerrilla warfare that victory may not be possible by pure force of arms, but equally, it is very difficult for the other side to prevail also, and least not without a complete determination and comittment, part of which flows from a sense of doing the necessary and right thing. In this sense, there was a looser, and a winner in this conflict."

It ceased to be a guerrilla war in 1968, when it became plain that regardless of how the VC fared, the shots were being called in Hanoi, and Hanoi was in for the duration, or until their will was broken. Guerrilla warfare in VIetnam was merely a tactic that fit a particular time and place. As the offensives of 1972 on showed, Vietnam had transitioned into a conventional test of wills. This was confirmed in the wake of the NVA's 1975 victory. The U.S. did not need to "go back into Vietnam". Rather they needed the means to provide the air support necessary for the ARVNs to pulverize their armored and mechanized opponents, much like what the U.S. did recently in Libya. And we may yet see their inability to provide that support in a sustained and timely manner undo their efforts in Libya as well.

Again, well argued, and Nixon's bombardment of the North certainly was 'furious' at times, but we must agree to disagree.

Even as we write this, Bob Dylan is touring Vietnam, where he is a virtual unknown. FOr the great majority of VIetnamese, this is ancient history, and with the scrapping of Communist economic doctine, they have no reason to care.


Edited by lirelou - 11 Apr 2011 at 12:46
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Apr 2011 at 14:06
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

Captain V:  Well argued, but in reference to this:  "It is the nature of guerrilla warfare that victory may not be possible by pure force of arms, but equally, it is very difficult for the other side to prevail also, and least not without a complete determination and comittment, part of which flows from a sense of doing the necessary and right thing. In this sense, there was a looser, and a winner in this conflict."

It ceased to be a guerrilla war in 1968, when it became plain that regardless of how the VC fared, the shots were being called in Hanoi, and Hanoi was in for the duration, or until their will was broken. Guerrilla warfare in VIetnam was merely a tactic that fit a particular time and place. As the offensives of 1972 on showed, Vietnam had transitioned into a conventional test of wills. This was confirmed in the wake of the NVA's 1975 victory. The U.S. did not need to "go back into Vietnam". Rather they needed the means to provide the air support necessary for the ARVNs to pulverize their armored and mechanized opponents, much like what the U.S. did recently in Libya. And we may yet see their inability to provide that support in a sustained and timely manner undo their efforts in Libya as well.

Again, well argued, and Nixon's bombardment of the North certainly was 'furious' at times, but we must agree to disagree.

Even as we write this, Bob Dylan is touring Vietnam, where he is a virtual unknown. FOr the great majority of VIetnamese, this is ancient history, and with the scrapping of Communist economic doctine, they have no reason to care.
 
Air support hmm? My guess is that future history books will record this event as one of the most massive air wars ever. Aside from nuclear weapons, the US actually threw pretty much everything they had at the Vietnamese. The main problem was that air power has its limitations when dealing with a low level, very determined, dispersed guerilla force. The US gave it their best shot for a decade, and it didn't work. If they returned in 1975, yes, some of the more prominent targets would likely been in danger, tanks, etc. But honestly, what are the odds the US would have returned to an air war in Vietnam? Congress had already voted to cut off all funds for the Vietnam War in 1973. It was the end. Washington had their face-saving document, and no one was going back.
 
As for Hanoi calling the shots, I suppose they were. But if this seems odd, imagine if the same events had occured in the US. Suppose a foreign power had occupied the US. After much resistance, the best Americans had come up with was an artificial division of the country. The east was run under a right-wing  government, and the west was set up in reflection of the occupiers taste, as a more leftist regime. Why accept this? If Americans did not, and fough back, in both halves of the country, would you think it odd that Washington was orchestrating much of the resistance? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2011 at 02:12
Captain V: in re your: "But honestly, what are the odds the US would have returned to an air war in Vietnam? Congress had already voted to cut off all funds for the Vietnam War in 1973."

Precisely, but I would argue that Watergate effected the votes on the Case-Church Amendment, and without Watergate, Nixon would have been in a stronger position to send in the USAF in a ground support role.

Also, in re: "The main problem was that air power has its limitations when dealing with a low level, very determined, dispersed guerilla force."

Again, on target, but that was not Vietnam combat after 1968. It was being sustained in the field by regular PAVN forces from Cambodian and Laotian sanctuaries.

Finally, in re:  " After much resistance, the best Americans had come up with was an artificial division of the country."

First, the Americans never came up with that. It was the product of the First Indochina War when the Viet Minh were not strong enough to eject the French from the entire country, and the French were unable to continue holding Tonkin without serious reinforcements. (Note: The French recognition of the Indochina War as separate from a post-WWII cleanup campaign in late 1947 resulted in a prohibition against sending draftees there.)

Second, the division of Vietnam into two states in 1954 was no more unnatural than its hundreds of years de facto division in the Trinh-Nguyen period, or de jure official recognition as two separate states in the Dang Trong - Dang Ngoai period, which only ended in 1802. And remarkably enough, nearly along the same geographic lines. No more unnatural than the division of East and West Germany, North and South Korea, or the PRC from Taiwan, or East Timor from Indonesia. I.e., a political divisory line with some basis in historical precedent, which both sides had legally recognized with aims of emerging as the master of both.

So: It was Vietnamese history and politics, plus the Geneva Accords, that 'came up' with the 'artificial' division of what all Vietnamese saw a their national territory. (Quare the Cambodians, the Montagnards of the Southern Plateaus, the few remaining Cham, and the Chinese)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2011 at 10:26
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

Captain V: in re your: "But honestly, what are the odds the US would have returned to an air war in Vietnam? Congress had already voted to cut off all funds for the Vietnam War in 1973."

Precisely, but I would argue that Watergate effected the votes on the Case-Church Amendment, and without Watergate, Nixon would have been in a stronger position to send in the USAF in a ground support role.
 
 
The 1960s saw one of the largest groundswells of enthusiasm for cultural change in recent times. Opposition to the Vietnam War, and indeed societies methods for dealing with international conflict, were central to this event. Anger against the war had been building since at least 1968. The US was in real danger of fracturing down the middle if this conflict continued to drag on. Nixon was elected on a promise to wind down the war and bring it to an end. By 1973, Vietnam was such an open sore that the media didn't even want to touch it. It was over, or at least over for Americans- that was an overwhelming sentiment. And in fact, much of Nixon's fall from dignity concerned his desparate attempt to win at the last moment, widening the war and increasing bombing missions in order to get the document he wanted out of Hanoi.
 
If against this backdrop of public opinion, and two years down the road, Nixon, or anyone else in office, said: "Buck up everyone, we're going back in one last time. Oh, and kids- don't through away your draft cards just yet"- what do you think would have been the response?
 
No one was going to send forces back to Vietnam in 1975.

 
Also, in re: "The main problem was that air power has its limitations when dealing with a low level, very determined, dispersed guerilla force."

Again, on target, but that was not Vietnam combat after 1968. It was being sustained in the field by regular PAVN forces from Cambodian and Laotian sanctuaries.
 
 
I must accept your verdict on guerilla vs conventional formations. But if the latter was so, wouldn't they have been a much easier target for air power? Surely the further one moves up the scale towards larger and more organized units, the more vulnerable to detection and air attack? And if this transition took place around 1968, that left 5 years of air strikes to make an effect. Yet it was a loosing proposition either way. If a decade of air strikes provided insufficeint to swing the tide, how would an 11th hour blitz have helped, even if it were politically possible?
 
 
Finally, in re:  " After much resistance, the best Americans had come up with was an artificial division of the country."

First, the Americans never came up with that. It was the product of the First Indochina War when the Viet Minh were not strong enough to eject the French from the entire country, and the French were unable to continue holding Tonkin without serious reinforcements. (Note: The French recognition of the Indochina War as separate from a post-WWII cleanup campaign in late 1947 resulted in a prohibition against sending draftees there.) 
 
 
I'm afraid we have mis-communicated here. I was offering a thought experiment about the US, in an attempt to visualize the other sides view of things.

 
Second, the division of Vietnam into two states in 1954 was no more unnatural than its hundreds of years de facto division in the Trinh-Nguyen period, or de jure official recognition as two separate states in the Dang Trong - Dang Ngoai period, which only ended in 1802. And remarkably enough, nearly along the same geographic lines. No more unnatural than the division of East and West Germany, North and South Korea, or the PRC from Taiwan, or East Timor from Indonesia. I.e., a political divisory line with some basis in historical precedent, which both sides had legally recognized with aims of emerging as the master of both.

So: It was Vietnamese history and politics, plus the Geneva Accords, that 'came up' with the 'artificial' division of what all Vietnamese saw a their national territory. (Quare the Cambodians, the Montagnards of the Southern Plateaus, the few remaining Cham, and the Chinese)
 
 
True enough, boundaries change over time. Nothing is permanent. But are you going back to 1802? The US had different boundaries in 1802 as well. Those in the "Oregon Terrritory", and in California I'm sure consider themselves Americans, and living on home turf today, although they wouldn't have been in 1802. 


Edited by Captain Vancouver - 12 Apr 2011 at 10:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2011 at 14:28
Captain V, I think that we have exhausted our arguments and counter-arguments, and will just have to cordially agree to disagree. It's always a pleasure to find someone who actually has thought their positions through, and is capable of re-examining their theses.

I wonder if Bob Dylan has had any such moments during his recent tour. Personally, I doubt it, but perhaps he possesses more intellectual honesty that I credit him with. I travel to Vietnam a fair bit and am always surprised to find people who, charmed with warmth and politeness of the people, conflate that experience with their government. Yet these same people are quick to distance themselves from their own political leaders back home. As recent events have shown, the Party will jail even the sons of war heroes for even suggesting the formation of other political parties. Government for the one Party, and by the one Party, was, after all, the raison d'etre of the war.




Edited by lirelou - 12 Apr 2011 at 14:32
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Apr 2011 at 08:34
I really thought that someone, would bring up the T-54 tank units? But perhaps, I am confusing the over the border attack?
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