Who won the Vietnam War?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Admiral_Thrawn60, May 7, 2002.

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  1. Thraxwhirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 14, 2002
    star 5
    "IMHO though I don't think North Vietnam won the war either. There was too much death and destruction on both ends. I have never claimed that the US won the war."

    While not wishing to show disrespect for your argument, Amidala-Leia, I nevertheless feel I have to disagree.

    To state that the number of casualties suffered by the North Vietnamese(outnumbering as they did those of the Americans) detracts from the victory is not accurate. If the same rules were applied, the Soviet Union was not victorious against Nazi Germany. German casualties on the Eastern Front were approx 9 million, while Russian/Soviet satellite countries such as Estonia and Ukraine were far greater, some estimate as high as 26 million. Yet nobody would argue that the USSR failed to triumph against Hitler, because it accomplished even greater objectives than Stalin could ever have dreamt possible prior to June 1941. I don't wish to go into the details of those objectives at great length unless you wish me to do so(in which case I'd be more than happy to PM you so as not to distort the focus of this thread), but suffice it to say that the obvious objective of the defeat of Nazi Germany was undoubtedly achieved. By the same token, the limitation of casualties was immaterial to the VC(early evidence of this can be seen in the shape of Giap's victory over the French at Dien Bien Phu), who sought as its only objective the unification of Vietnam as a whole under one Communist government. An objective it undoubtedly did achieve.

    As for the notion that no one claims America won the Vietnam war. Maybe not explicitly, but by implication the US Military does - essentially, by claiming never to have lost one.
    The claim that it was not a 'real' war due to the absence of an official declaration meely calls into question the notion of whether or not it was a 'legal' war. Both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan began wars without declaration, against Russia(June 1941) and the US(Dec 1941) respectively. Nobody however would claim that these weren't 'real' wars.

    Possible reasons for making a distinction are a) that both Germany and Japan surrendered to their enemies, unlike America, and b) that America was justified in taking 'Military Action', rather than a declared 'War', against North Vietnam because it felt it necessary to stop a threatening regime from spreading its sphere of influence and becoming a greater danger.

    However, to point a) I would say that 'surrender' versus 'withdrawal' is an insufficient distinction because it does not alter the fact that the objective was not achieved while the enemy's was. Hence this was a defeat. Albeit not total defeat.
    To point b) I would argue that both Germany AND Japan, by their own logic felt themselves to be far more threatened by their enemies - directly threatened - than did America in the '60s. Nevertheless, the severity of the threat, as perceived by those perceiving it is immaterial. The mere perception of the threat itself(to whatever extent) determines whether or not the nation in question taking action considers itself operating with legality(forgive the repetition, but lingustic creativity for a moment has to take secondplace for the purpose of consistency here). Hence the wars were as 'official' and 'legal' as each other by virtue of variance of the subjective ideologies of those waging them without declaration.

    Thus:

    America WAS at war with North Vietnam.
    => America failed to achieve its objective.
    => America's enemy did achieve its own.
    => America's enemy won.
    => America lost.
    => America claims never to have lost a war.
    => America claims not to have lost in Vietnam.
    => America claims to have won the Vietnam War.
  2. KansasNavy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2001
    star 4
    Objectives under what president?

    LBJ's to keep S.Vietnam from falling to the North.

    <or>

    Nixon's objetive to bomb N.Vietnam to the negotiating table.

    And the fact is this: we gave them a royal ass kicking. The kill rations in infantry combat reached 7:1 at some points in our favor. Of course, their seemed to always be an eigth.
  3. Maveric Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 1999
    star 4
    Actually, it was 12:1 at one point.
  4. Amidala-Leia Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2002
    star 4
    Thraxwirl-I see your point and from the perspective that you use, I would have to disagree with me as well. But, IMO, I think no one wins wars no matter how you put it. Military may claim they win war, but what about the country as a whole? And after the "victory" acheived by N. Vietnam the united Vietnam was in economic shambles. The country struggles even today as a result of the actions taken by the government around the time of the war.

    My question for the American military at the time would be if they couldn't lose the war because there was no formal declaration, then how could they win the war?
  5. KansasNavy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2001
    star 4
    I personally feel we lost the war, but in an honorable but harsh way. What was it, Operation Linebacker II?, in which we bombed them to the negotiating table. That was done to make us look good as we exited the war. The fact remains, though, South Vietnam fell.
  6. Admiral_Thrawn60 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2000
    star 6
    Well, we had our final history class on the Vietnam War today. The teacher gave us a list of several reasons why South Vietnam collapsed. I don't have it with me, so I'll post what I can remember.

    The Americans failed to establish a stable non-Communist government in South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese felt that the Americans were the cause of their suffering. They felt that the Americans were unsympathetic to their needs. Moreover, they felt that the Americans were exploiting them. The South Vietnamese felt they were exploited both physically and sexually. Many felt that they would be just as well off under the Communists, and so many refused to fight.

    It should be noted that the South Vietnamese did not see all of American society. They just saw a small part of it: the military part. This led them to the assumptions that the Americans were exploitative, violent barbarians.

    Of course, the single most important cause of the collapse of South Vietnam was the loss of the American fighting force. The policy of Vietnamization of the war was what decided its outcome.
  7. Maveric Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 1999
    star 4
    It also did not help that the majority of the population of South Vietnam thought Ho Chi Minh was their leader.

    That and the drop in the kill rate from 1 US soldier lost to 12 Viet Cong or North Vietnamese to 1:3, forced the US populace to turn against the war.
  8. Admiral_Thrawn60 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2000
    star 6
    The Tet Offensive of 1968 was the event that most spurred the anti-war movement.
  9. The_Emperors_Foot Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2000
    star 3
    I believe the United States lost, but not because of inferiority to the Vietnamese. I believe that the US was much more prepared and 100 times more capable. However, I think we lost because of principle.

    The Vietnamese had to resort to ambushing American troops, even while they slept or were unarmed, and fooling them by posing as an innocent village-man greeting the troops, and then blowing all of them up with a concealed grenade. These tactics were used because they were the only ones the Vietnamese knew, and because they had no other choice when confronting the superpower of the world, the US.

    Our crippling fault was that it was against our values, as Americans. We, as one whole civilized people, believe in the importance of all human life, and we are a nation founded under the fair and equal treatment of all people. While we had the advantage in most any area of combat, we simply couldn't bring ourselves to commit such horrid acts, which we were taught for some 200 years to consider disgusting, disgraceful, and inhumane. Indeed, such atrocities were something expected of animals. The Americans were fighting as the advanced people that we were, while the enemy was just fighting to win.

    Sometimes, unfortunately, our generosity can also be a double-edged sword.
  10. Jedi_Xen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 4
    Our crippling fault was that it was against our values, as Americans. We, as one whole civilized people, believe in the importance of all human life, and we are a nation founded under the fair and equal treatment of all people. While we had the advantage in most any area of combat, we simply couldn't bring ourselves to commit such horrid acts, which we were taught for some 200 years to consider disgusting, disgraceful, and inhumane. Indeed, such atrocities were something expected of animals. The Americans were fighting as the advanced people that we were, while the enemy was just fighting to win.

    You do know the allies in the war (the US, Australians and the others) were known to slaughter entire villages of every man woman and child for harboring suspected Viet Cong, dont you? We wasnt exactly on a high cloud, the US military won the war, the government gave it away, its just that simple. As far as fighting bravely, courageously, and most of the soldiers fought honorably (it wasnt like everyone there took part in the slaughter of villages, which I understand, dont necessary agree with it, but I do understand the mindframe), the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fought just as their predecessors in WWI and WWII but, they were forced to fight with one hand tied behind their back, blindfolded. The Armed Forces did their part, if President Johnson or Nixon would have done theirs, the war wouldnt have lasted into the 70s.
  11. The_Emperors_Foot Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2000
    star 3
    Jedi_Xen:
    I do acknowledge that the Allied forces did commit some regretable cruelties, but I'm sure that you'll admit that it was certainly not on such a grand scale, and was and continues to be condemmed even to this day. But what you just said confirms my point:

    "You do know the allies in the war (the US, Australians and the others) were known to slaughter entire villages of every man woman and child for harboring suspected Viet Cong, dont you?"

    You used the word "slaughter," a word used to describe the act of murder in a particularly gruesome and dispicable light. You could've used the word "kill," "over-powered," "defeated," but you chose slaughter. This means that you recognize the heinousness and treachery involved. Well, most of the Americans and our allies would describe those events in much the same way, as we as a culture and a more advanced people know to. The difference is that the Vietnamese would describe thier commiting such acts as "neccesary," "justifiable," "vital," and occassionaly as "heroic."

    If the Allies had used their machanical might combined with the ambushing and treacherous tactics on such a wide scale as the enemy, there is no doubt we would've been the victors, even with the politics that existed in Washington.

    Can you honestly deny this? Seriously consider before answering...
  12. Admiral_Thrawn60 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2000
    star 6
    I believe there should be limits in what you're willing to do in a foreign war to win. You can't claim to be the great hero and they commit Naziish atrocities. It's not justified.
  13. Obi_Wan_01 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2001
    star 5
    As my sig. says:

    The objective of war is not to die for your country... its to make the other guy die for his country
  14. Ghost_of_Caesar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2000
    star 4
    Jedi_Xen, as an Australian, I resent the allegation without supporting evidence that Australian troops commited war crimes in Vietnam. To the best of my knowledge, Australian troops in Vietnam conducted themselves in a totally professional manner, went about fighting their piece of the war using the strategy of winning hearts and minds, and when they engaged VC or NVA forces, accounted well for themselves.

    I'm the first to admit that I don't know as much about the Vietnam War as I probably should, but I do know that after the Battle of Long Tan, in August 1966, Australian forces had near total domination of the province under their area of responsibilty, and it did not involve the wholesale slaughter of civilians.
  15. Admiral_Thrawn60 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2000
    star 6
    As my sig. says:

    The objective of war is not to die for your country... its to make the other guy die for his country


    There are many different versions of the quote, but the most widely accepted one is this:

    "The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bast*** die for his." - General Patton

    In any case, he was talking about killing soldiers, not civilians. Patton fought against the Nazis. He wasn't one himself.

    Believing that the best way to win a war is through barbaric acts committed against civilians is rediculous. Anyone who believes that should read up on Auschwitz, and don't forget to look at the pictures.
  16. KansasNavy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2001
    star 4
    I just noticed I have a quote from We Were Soldiers Once...And Young in my sig. Just an FYI.

    What are some examples of American atrocities. I know we did them, but only vaguely.
  17. Jedi_Xen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 4
    Watch the history channel Ghost of Ceasar, there was a special on about Vietnam and the chaos of the war. It mentioned allied soldiers committed these astrocities. Sense Australia is an allied nation during the war, it seems that they had their incidents too. I don't doubt Australia fought honorably, for the most part so did the American's, but when in war people take leave of their senses, and all nations have their ROGUE SQUADRONS that go out and just lay waste to anything that moves.

    The US in WWII was extremly honorable in fighting that war. It doesn't mean that squads didnt go into French towns and rape the women or kill suspected Nazi's.

    Show me one nation that doesn't have soldiers with any war crimes charged against them and Ill hold up a mirror and show you a liar.
  18. Ghost_of_Caesar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2000
    star 4
    I say again, Jedi_Xen, PPOR that Australian troops committed criminal acts in Vietnam that would, in a just world, rate a war crimes trial. You say the History Channel mentions that allied nations committed war crimes in 'Nam, and say that Australia was an allied nation in Vietnam. True and true. Yet, Australian troops were very rarely under direct US authority, and as I mentioned earlier, went about fighting their piece of the war under different tactics. Those tactics depended totally on honourable behaviour at all times.

    I take a broad interest in military history, and in my readings, I have never once come across a mention of such actions. Virtually every article I've read on Vietnam mentions the My Lai massacre by US Army personnel, and various other instances, but I have never once seen an account of Australian troops doing similar acts in Vietnam.

    BTW, I do not suggest that any soldiers are saints - they have a difficult job to d under the best of circumstances, and circumstance are rarely at the best.
  19. Thraxwhirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 14, 2002
    star 5
    "And after the "victory" acheived by N. Vietnam the united Vietnam was in economic shambles. The country struggles even today as a result of the actions taken by the government around the time of the war."

    I see where you're coming from, Leia, but that's a separate issue. If you look at the situations of Germany and Japan, they both show a huge econimic improvement over their status in 1945. By contrast, yes Vietnam has become impoverished since the fall of Saigon, but to look at a country's state of health AFTER a war in which it either triumphed or surrendered/withdrew is more a question, as Correlli Barnett might put it, of "who won the Peace," rather than who won the War.

    Britain's loss of Empire and economic downturn in the post 1945 era is a good example of a nation who shared in the victory of War, but lost the Peace.
  20. Jedi_Xen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 4
    I am not going to do this Ghost of Ceasar, I get so tired of anytime people disagree on something one has to whine about posting proof, big boo hoo. Especially when the other cant do it, ya know there just some things that is hard to find on the internet. IE the Trent Affair, a struggle between British and American Navies during the US Civil War which almost brought the British in the war siding with the Confederate States, I look this up on Yahoo and other search engines but do I find it? No I get Trent and Smith attorneys at Law, because I cant find proof of the Trent Affair on the net doesnt mean it didnt happen.

    Can you post me proof of Bill Gates being a multi billionaire? Not just some magazines word, but give me his bank statement posting proof he is. Cant do it can you? Thats how ridiculous so many people with this PPOR is. Why would I lie? I rather like Australia, I love my own country but that doesnt mean that they're perfect in war.
  21. Darth_Seditious Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2002
    Ghost of Ceasar is right. My uncle was a CSM with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion,Royal Australian Regiment and did two tours, 67-68 and 70-71. By the end of the second tour which was in 1970-71, the Australian Taskforce had total control over their area of operations. In fact by the end of the war, just before we pulled out in 72, our guys could go unarmed into almost any area of Phuc Tuy province without fear of the VC. Long Tan and the stiff resistance at the fire support bases of Coral and Balmoral, NWest of Saigon proved to the VC and their NVA backers that we were not going to play their little games.
  22. Darth_Seditious Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2002
    "You do know the allies in the war (the US, Australians and the others) were known to slaughter entire villages of every man woman and child for harboring suspected Viet Cong, dont you?"

    Actually Jedi_Xen, there is no recorded case of this happening within the area controlled by the Australian Task Force. You must understand that we went into Vietnam with the same policies which had worked so well in defeating the conmmunist uprising in Malaya. That is we won the support of the populous by way of winning hearts and minds. It worked quite well in fact. Taking reprisals out on civilian targets was ditched as Australian military doctrine in 1901 after the Breaker Morant episode in South Africa.
  23. DARTHPIGFEET Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2001
    star 4
    The United States lost that war for the following reasons.

    1. We should have never allowed the darn French back into Indochina after WWII.

    2. We should have listened to the OSS and it's reports straight out of Hanoi back in the 40's and 50's dealing with Ho Chi Mien being a Nationalist before being a Communist. When we and the rest of the world ignored Uncle Ho that is when he said "forget all of you" I will go Communist for good, since The Communist party was the only group which gave him the time of day. However we were so scared and ignorant of the Vietnamese that we were doomed after WWII. The Vietnamese are a very nationalistic people who don't like foreigners. They hated the Chinese more than the French due to them being under Chinese control for over 1000 years.

    3. We should not have backed the French in it's war with the Vietnamese and after 1954 we should have just left and never worried about Vietnam.

    4. We learned nothing from the French and thought we could use conventional warfare techniques against the people of Vietnam. BIG mistake. If we had fought a like Guerilla warfare against Guerilla warfare we may have had better sucess.

    5. Bombing hurt the VC but did not destroy them. In 1964 we had only 98 strategic targets for bombing in the North. That should have rang a bell saying that this is not a industrious group of people. In many ways they were in the stone age so blowing up what factories they had didn't do anything.

    6. Washington never LISTENED to the CIA or inteligence reports coming out of Vietnam. Huge example would be the reports about the Ho Chi Mein trail. The VC only needed 5 trucks a week to supply there soldiers and the trail was not one trail but hundreds and most of the trail was made up of humans carrying the stuff themselves.

    7. The stupid governments we sat up in South Vietnam. First off the people in the south are Buddist. The ones from the North were mainly Catholic, and like I said before the Vietnamese are nationalistic and don't like outsiders coming in and telling them what's what. So those Catholics coming into the South into power was a big no no.

    8. The Gulf of Tonkien was a joke and was a terrible reason to get involved in a war which killed 54,000 Americans as a result.

    9. We never established any ground. We would do search and destroy missions in which we would spot the enemy go in fire off some rounds and burn a village. The VC would run away and come back after the U.S. left the area. If we had taken one battle at a time, and pushed north then something could have been done, however we never controlled any land we took in a battle.

    10. Ignorant, Arrogance from Washington doomed us in Vietnam after WWII. Plus the lack of support on the home front did not help. Plus the war should have been run by the military and decisions should have been made by the military not civilians.
  24. Admiral_Thrawn60 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2000
    star 6
    What are some examples of American atrocities. I know we did them, but only vaguely.

    The best-known one is the Mylai Massacre. I'm not gonna link you to holocaust like pictures, but you can get info on google.
  25. Na Wibo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2000
    star 3
    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the US won the Vietnam War, perhaps better referred to as the War on Indochina. What was the US objective? It's been said that it was to prevent the "fall" of Vietnam to the Communists, but I think it wasn't exactly that. It was to prevent the whole Domino Effect -- one country falls, and the rest follow in short order. But the "domino" was not a Communist government, rather it was a peaceful transition to an independent nationalist government (which could happen to be Communist). If South Vietnam were allowed to transition to an independent state, outside of US influence, surrounding states might do the same. This is what had to be stopped. So the US made a clear demonstration that transition to an independent state would be met with the massacre of millions. To "inoculate" surrounding states from the nationalist "virus", friendly dictators were installed. The end result - the domino of independent nationalism never fell, ie the US achieved its objective.
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