I definitely wasn’t old enough to live through Vietnam, but you should be aware that there’s been a fair amount of revisionist (meant in a good way) scholarship on the war recently. I’d especially look at Michael Lind’s and Lewis Sorley’s work. The bottom line is, it was a war that was fought horrendously badly, not by the soldiers on the ground, but by the micromanagers in Johnson’s White House and McNamara’s (worst Secretary of Defense until our current guy) Pentagon.
I think Vietnam was probably a winnable war though, in spite of the fact that we were tricked into it (read up on Tonkin Gulf) and we were facing an incredibly determined enemy. Conquering the North and uniting Vietnam was not politically feasible, and the government in the South was an ongoing disaster, but if we had had the political will post-Tet (when the Viet Cong was virtually destroyed, something they never recovered from) we could have defended the South, cleaned up the rest of the insurgency, and left an independent South Vietnam. Wouldn’t have been a democracy right away, but probably would have evolved much like South Korea. Bottom line, we hung millions of people out to dry by leaving that country, a betrayal I think we are in the process of repeating in Iraq now.[/quote]
agreed, leaving the south to be slaughtered by the north is a horrible stain on our reputation.
Obviously we didn’t achieve our goal of uniting the north and south, but we never really lost a battle. I mean, south vietnam fell 2 years after all us troops left the battlefield.
Was it worthwhile? I think it showed that we were willing to fight the spread of communism and may have helped put the seed doubt in other countries minds. I look at vietnam as more of a battle than a war…one battle in the cold war.
We can look at history and say “see, the domino effect was bullshit.” I dont believe we can do that, because we tried very hard to stop it with korea, vietnam and other operation. How far communism would have penetrated without US intervetion is unknown. We know the outcome when there was US intervention: Communism died. So was it worthwhile? Yes. That doesn’t mean i’m glad that some 2 million or whatever people died however. Vietnam is quickly becoming a very capitalistic country and will one day become a democracy. Who wins then? We do. Vietnam is already becoming a very important friend of the US’s. Not that long ago we had a US naval ship in port in vietnam as a sign of friendship.
With all that said, we executed the war very poorly and could have done things a lot better to 1) help “win” the war and 2) save more lives.