Why Couldnt the US win the Viet Nam conflict?

July 10th, 2004  
Mark Conley

Topic: Why Couldnt the US win the Viet Nam conflict?

Over the years I have noticed that a lot of people say we lost the war in Viet Nam, Its always been a fascination subject for me, as my Father was in Viet Nam with the Air Force for most of my formative years (10-14) and I always wondered why was he gone so long if we did so bad over there. And It was crushing when we finally got out of Viet Nam, and it fell 3 years later.

I would like to start a topic that deals with why the US couldn't win the war in Viet Nam. As always:

Keep your opinions as factual as possible. provide links if possible, to back it up.

Value each other opinions. No flamming Please. There are considerate and polite ways to tell someone they are essentially full of if you believe them to be so.

I would like to believe that what we discuss here could possibly relate years later when some of our younger members are leaders. With that thought in mind lets start this topic.

My Contribution: We could not win the Viet Nam Conflict because it was an action where we were essentially disconnected from reality by expectations versus the real situation. Bad association with the people and bad warfighting policy were the two biggest factors in why we lost the Viet Nam conflict.

We were disconnected from a country that had bad internal politics and leadership. We were led to believe we were saving a country to preserve its democracy from communism: What we essentially stepped into was a pseudo-democratic dictatorship designed to preserve its own austerity, with first Diem, then Ky. Most of the people in the South were persecuted by these governments. When we finally were engaged in South Viet Nam to help these institutions stay in power, these same persecuted people only saw us as the same, with self interests as their own government. That was essentially our first big mistake. We did not really have the peoples acceptance. We should have let this country fall to the communists, let them live under the rule of the north, and then asked them wether or not they wanted help.

We could not get the South Viet Nam government to accept and allow the means to eliminate the military and insurgent threat from the North. We were a country that practiced total war, with the annialation of our enemys ground, air, and logistics base to either eliminate that countries war base capability, or cause such attrition that the enemy would sue for peace. Because the South Viet Nam government already knew that total war would mean massive retaliation on its on soil, possibly against more of the people they had already persecuted, they deliberately limited the type of support we could provide in the early stages of the conflict, to try and prevent further unrest in its people. Instead, we tried to pacify the populace by telling them we would protect them from insurgency. We would win their hearts and minds, counting on their bodys to follow. We poured millions in aid, setting up hospitals, agriculture, and industry. This was all very fine and good, except that the people just wanted the fighting to stop. Those that truly believed we would stay and help were quite shocked when we finally pulled out, and left them to their fate.

Bad association with the people and bad warfighting policy were the two biggest factors in why we lost the Viet Nam conflict.
July 10th, 2004  
C/2nd Lt Robot
Also because the VC were very resourcefull. Like using unexploded bomb fuses as hand grenades for one (history channel).
July 10th, 2004  
The Amerian people were another major factor. There were massive anti-war anti-military anti-government riots. College students jumping on the band wagon and hippies and peace-niks who had no respect or appreciation for anything were vocalising their views. The enemy was inspired by this and thought they could win. It makes you wonder how many lives were lost directly because of this.

I've heard some Vietnam vets say they didn't lost the war, they just never got a chance to finish.
July 10th, 2004  
C/2nd Lt Robot
Thats all ways a good way to look at it. One major reason for the protests was the showing of dead American Marines, sailors, soldiers, and airman on tv. The public didnt realize how many where coming home in body bags.
July 10th, 2004  
Mark Conley
Originally Posted by FutureRANGER
...The Amerian people were another major factor. I've heard some Vietnam vets say they didn't lost the war, they just never got a chance to finish.
probly a good way to put it. we never turned the full might of our forces against North Viet Nam : wonder what would of happened if we did?

July 11th, 2004  
From a military standpoint, we were winning the war! But little Civil war in homeland didn't let it finish, so we didn't have chance to finish it......
July 12th, 2004  
I will tell you why, the media, like right now in Iraq, only told one side of the story.

During the Tet Offensive the VC were able to capture the American embassy, but only held it for 5 HOURS! The media then broadcasted the pictures of the VC troops running around the embassy but never told of the Marines retaking the embassy merely hours later. In another instance an entire village of almost ten thousand was massacred by the VC, many were buried alive, but the media never said anything about that, they showed a picture of 1 VC being shot by a South Korean Police Officer and the public went nuts. The Tet offensive was a huge military victory of the US and South Koreans, but the media twisted the story, picked only negative aspects of the incident, and ran with them, the people back home thought we had lost a major battle. The US was waiting for a huge battle over the VC where they could finally destroy them and here they got it, only when they tried to continue with their attacks the media started criticizing the President and the Pentagon and before you know it we were losing support back at home.

Vietnam was a Political loss, not a military loss, that is the first thing you have to learn when discussing the issue. Due to pressure from the people back home Johnson attempted to micro manage the war, every bombing missions had to go through him, we were not allowed to attack the VC in Laos or Cambodia, only small units of Special Forces were allowed to cross into those countries. You can not have a president 10,000 miles away from the battlefield running the show, that is why we have Generals and Colonels, to make the decisions fast and on the spot.
July 14th, 2004  
No matter what we would of lost the war. 90% of the vietnamies did not want us in there and even if we took out the main person in charge over the vietcong we still would of lost because people over there didnt want us. We had no right to be over there pushing are views onto others. I think we never should of been there in the first place. There was no need of thousands pf troops dieing because we desided to be barbaric typical americans and try to rule over another counrty that doesnt like us nore want us. What is the point of most the wars in this age that america has when that 90 billion could be spent on college students tuition, education, better health care, ECT... I believe this generations Vietnam will be the Iraq war. Alot that has been said back in the day of vietnam was lies and so is iraq. Everyone has the right to a voice but according to bush anyone that doesnt agree with his obserd views is a terrorist and anti patriotic. Like the war in vietnam.
July 14th, 2004  
Young Winston
Probably heaps of reasons but a few could be

1. US were unable to fight "a total war" ie bomb the business out of North Vietnam due to political reasons at the time.

2. US were continually trying to prop up corrupt governments in South Vietnam.

3. Too many US soldiers were draftees. More specialized troops needed.

4. Drugs were rife amongst many of the US soldiers.

5. Domestic support for the war collapsed.

6. North Vietnamese were bloody good fighters.

7. US soldiers found it extremely difficult to know who the enemy was amongst the general Vietnamese population ( a little like Iraq for that matter)

8. Viet Cong were extremely difficult to track down and were getting plenty of local support.

and we could go on.
July 14th, 2004  
Do you believe, purely military, the war could have been won? This is disregarding all other aspects for now,