T Nation

why we lost vietnam and what it means

 Here's some words from a veteran who served in the marines and fought in vietnam. It shows how indecisiveness is all it takes to keep the enemy going.

'I met with three former colonels in the North Vietnamese Army. Each of them had spent 40 years fighting the French, Americans and Chinese. We talked about battles and troops and nightmares. They explained the terror of B-52s pounding their positions and the quake and thunder and concussion as bodies blew through the air. Napalm was worst, they said, bursting into orange fireballs that turned humans into charcoal.

We sipped tea and it was quiet for a while. Then I asked: What had kept them fighting when we seemed to have won every major battle? They explained that after the 1968 Tet Offensive they felt the war was lost, their soldiers defeated. The only thing that gave them hope was the antiwar protests going on back in the United States. They felt if they could hold on, that public opinion in the United States would bring down our government’s will to resist.

Gurney died in that war more than 30 years ago, and for a long time I hated the protesters more than those who actually killed him. It was hard to see their side. Back then I never met a Marine who appreciated that kind of thing. We used to think, “Why not send us a letter or cookies in the mail?” We used to say, “If you flash the enemy a peace sign, he’ll just put a bullet in your head.”

I know it is more complicated than that. But when I hear about the plans of protest and see the placards of disdain, it makes me churn inside. It’s time to put aside our fractured feelings and beliefs. It’s time to support our sons and daughters, for carrying the load for those who can’t, and for those who are unwilling.’

 For each protest going on now that the war has started, you might as well put a bullet through one of our soldiers. 

 Protest all you want, but with war underway - DON'T DARE DO IT IN OUR SOLDIERS NAME. More likely than not, you'll bring more casualties to the field.

Thank you for posting this. I’ll be reposting this on a lot of other boards as well. Hope you don’t mind.

I agree. That’s why it seems Saddam wasn’t in any hurry to disarm, because it seems like he had everyone’s support and everyone was against the U.S., even people in the U.S. Just my thoughts anyway. I hope that crazy bastard dies and burns in hell.

I’d like to hear what this former Marine thought about all his buddies that came back from the war missing body parts and decided to take part in the protests, or all the soldiers’ family members who took part in in the protests in order to get their sons back from what they thought was an unjust war and an unworthy cause to sacrifice their son’s lives for.

This is Jonah Goldberg’s column today – it also criticize’s the protestors, and gets at what I had also concluded was the true motivation behind most (though not all) of the protests. The take here is not that our troops are the victims of the protestors, but that the oppressed citizens of Iraq are their victims. Here you go:

“No Saddam Hussein!” called one young man. “Bush!”

Another young man named Abdullah cheered the arriving Americans. “Saddam Hussein is no good. Saddam Hussein a butcher.”

An old woman, dressed all in black, hugged an American woman. And knelt at the feet of the Americans. A man pulled her away, sliding his finger across his throat in a signal not to make friends with the enemy.

“Americans very good,” a man named Ali Khemy said. “Iraq wants to be free.”

Some of the townspeople chanted, “Ameriki! Ameriki!” Others put makeshift white flags on their cars and trucks. And many simply patted their bellies in a sign of hunger.

These are all scenes from the liberation of Safwan, Iraq — a “poor, dirty, wrecked” town near the border with Kuwait. Before crowds of Iraqis, American Marines used their jeeps to pull down portraits of Saddam. Maj. David “Bull” Gurfein told the people of Safwan: “Saddam is done” and launched them in a cheer: “Iraqis! Iraqis! Iraqis!”

This is all from a single Associated Press report from one town, 375 miles from Baghdad. There’s every reason to assume that such stories will be multiplied a hundred, if not a thousand times over as U.S. forces approach the capital of the Republic of Fear. Even though the residents of southern Iraq have every reason to be suspicious of American altruism. Last time, we refused to topple Saddam ourselves — as Major Gurfein himself noted. “We stopped in Kuwait that time,” he said. “We were all ready to come up there then, and we never did.” Afterwards we told the Shiites of the south to rebel against Saddam, and they did. Then we did nothing as Saddam slaughtered the Shia, forcing some to lie down in the road and be paved over, alive, with asphalt.

There are two immediate lessons to be drawn from this. First, the slaughter, torture, and terror hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of Iraqis faced was the consequence of not war, but the lack of it. If we had toppled Saddam in 1991, we would have improved both the lives of Iraqis and the security of the United States. It was the premature peace that prolonged the suffering. “Peace” was the moral horror these last twelve years. Giving peace a chance for the last twelve years cost more lives and caused more suffering — by a wide margin — than this war is likely to. Giving peace a chance by playing games in the U.N. and by dickering around with “proportionate responses,” emboldened and enraged Osama bin Laden and his cadres. Giving peace a chance made it necessary for the United States to shlep its way back to Iraq one more time. Giving peace a chance is what made the people of Safwan hungry and grateful and suspicious of American charity all at once.

The second lesson is even more painful. The alleviation of Iraqi suffering, the liberation of the people of Safwan and of all of Iraq, makes many puke. Some, quite literally. Antiwar protesters in San Francisco organized a “vomit-in” yesterday to show how the war “made them sick.” They regurgitated on cue, their bellies full of milk dyed red, on the steps of federal buildings in downtown San Francisco. Meanwhile other, merely metaphorically nauseous protesters snarled traffic and generally made asses of themselves in the name of ensuring that the people of Iraq were never liberated. Similar protests were held all over America and the world by people who can most charitably be described as Saddam’s useful idiots.

These people say they want Iraq to be free, that it’s just the war that makes them sick. Well, at best, this is childishness of the first order. It is a refusal to condone the only means that will ensure the desired ends. It is akin to demanding that a doctor excise a tumor but demanding with even greater righteousness that he not use a scalpel. Imagine reasoning with a child:

“Do you want to be able to leave the hospital and be able to play baseball with your friends?”


“Well, then you have to have this surgery.”


“No buts. That’s it. Period.”

I view those who talk about “indicting Saddam” or “shaming Saddam” as alternative routes to fixing Iraq like children now. They might as well say, “We can just click our heels together three times.”

But however much contempt I have for the radical chic here at home, I have even more for the protesters abroad. At least those in America and Britain who take to the streets to stop the war are protesting actions by their own democratic governments. They can at least claim that America is acting against its own interests.

But these people in France, in Mexico, in Cairo, and elsewhere around the globe — these people have made an outrageous moral choice. Their protests are not couched in terms of national interest, even though their own governments are behaving exactly as they would have them behave. No, these foreign critics have made a moral judgment about the United States and the regime of Saddam Hussein and, when forced to choose, they picked Saddam.

Of all the wars and conflicts all around the globe, this is the one that has caused them to spill out onto the boulevards in rage. This is the one they’ve decided warrants human shields and boycotts. There were no human shields boarding buses to defend the Kurds or the Kuwaitis from Saddam Hussein — but they’re falling over themselves for the opportunity to get in our way when we try to defend or liberate them. The useful idiots didn’t rend their clothes and gnash their teeth when the Soviets invaded Kabul, but they were out in force when we liberated it. In short, these people don’t hate war or care for the innocent nearly so much as they hate America.

Like it or not, war forces people to choose sides. If the vomiting protesters had had their way the United States would never have bombed Saddam’s bunker. If they had their way, U.S. tanks would be turned around right now and we would apologize to Iraq, to France, and to the world for daring to shatter that glorious peace that allowed Saddam Hussein to keep the professional rapists’ guild working overtime and the people of Safwan patting their empty bellies.

If the war goes well and the people of Iraq are saved, let the useful idiots cheer the liberation if they like. Let them applaud the alleviation of famine and disease should they feel so inclined. Indeed, let them claim all they like that they wanted all of these good things too. But don’t let them forget that they never believed these things would be worth it if the price was letting America have its way.

 BRIDER - Please do - This madness needs to stop!

 NO one is saying it was a war without many scrifices. The point made in this Marine's story is indecisiveness and separatism kills our soldiers at war. Think about that. The vietnamese would have surrendered if people at home stopped their protests, and much fewer casualties would have ocurred. Our goals would have been achieved as well, although that is not the main benefit.

 A war has two fronts: physical and psychological. The physical front shows them the immense damage and loss of life they will suffer. The psychological demotivates and demoralizes their military and causes them to surrender and lose the will to fight. If youre successful in both fronts the war will be short and siwft. If you're successful in only psychological, the war will not be as bloody. 
 However if you succeed only on the physical front, while the enemy refuses to give in in spite of the massive casualties that have ocurred so far and will continue to ocur on both sides, THEN we're fucked. That's when massive casualties occur.

 It's your right to protest and demonstrate against the governent. Just please realize you're not doing so in the name of our soldiers, many of whom are our friends, brothers, sisters, dads, sons... They are the only ones who will see with their very own eyes the effects of a prolonged war caused by doubt.

 Once a decision is made, separatism is not an option, and swiftness and unity is the only way.

To vredstein: Fantastic post
To diesel: Their was dissention among the elite. This is where the indecisiveness started. The U.S. wasn’t winning the war. The government was lying about our military conquets and trying to cover up how many of our soliders were dead. They also lied about the whole Gulf of Tonkin incedent in order to rouse up public support for an escalation of the war. That’s what the Pentagon Papers were about. Read them, they may help to open your eyes to what really is going on. Not the crap you are being bombarded with by the mass media on a daily basis.
To Bostonbarrister: Don’t expect Jonah Goldberg to say anything different. He is a neoconservative (essentially the war party) who’s foreign policy differs sharpley from the paleoconservatives and libertarians. Try going outside your comfort zone and log onto antiwar.com. You can see how Justin Raimondo lays Goldberg’s arguements to waste. This war is about power, oil and making the world safe for Isreal. It is an unprovoked and immoral war. And all that talk about how the U.S. are going to liberate the Iraqi’s is quite ironic since this government is doing it’s best to get rid of freedoms here. Just to name a few anti-freedom policies - Patroit Act I, Patriot Act II, book banning and getting rid of ephedera(something we all can relate to).

 Okay. We lost 50,000 troops. Regretable? Very. 

 How many did the vietnamese lose? I think they reported it as being 120,000. Not bad on the part of our military. Well, Vietnam has come forward, and has said the number was much higher. more like 20 million dead.
 Now Restless and gang, nowhere have I said the words 'excitement for blood and death' here. I"presenting th facts.

 Blood will be shed in war time. It wasnt the first time, it wont be the last.

 Also notice that nowhere did I argue as to the validity of Vietnam - I simply pointed out that protests in the US cost us soldiers. It's a fact, wether you like it or not. Wether the government was shady< wether we should have fought it, is a discussion I will not join. my point is strictly this, and this only: Separatism and divisiveness will cost us more soldiers in the long run because itll keep the enemy fighting in hopes we'll pull back.

It remains true wether its a just war or an unjust war. Wether you have thousands of body parts and limbs, or not. War is just as much a battle of wills as it is a battle of power. take either one off the equation and you have the recipe for a lost war.

Mark –

You’re making an awfully big assumption to maintain I don’t already know all about the paleo and Libertarian arguments against the war. Sadly, most of those arguments are ridiculous conspiracy theories blaming some undefined cabal of Israelis and Jews for pushing U.S. foreign policy – and that includes Raimondo. It’s as much bullshit as are the whole conspiracy of oil interest arguments.

Personally, I find a lot of the paleos don’t even deserve the title of conservative, as they profess beliefs more akin to the old Big Labor Democrats in economics and the old isolationists in foreign policy. Additionally, since September 11 the paleos have sounded as anti-American as the average protestors. And generally, I find it hard to stomach a group of so-called conservatives who are more pro-Hitler than pro-Lincoln (which I know does not encompass all paleos, but there certainly are some loud ones who advance that belief).

As for the Libertarians, they are basically adopting the paleo arguments, although there are some who, sticking to actual Libertarian principles, just don’t agree with any foreign military campaigns. However, I think that is a naive global policy, especially for a super power that has a globally dependent economy and has many foreign enemies gunning for its demise – on various different levels that require various different responses.

Now, I generally consider myself a small “l” libertarian with conservative leanings. I find a lot to admire about libertarian principles and the devotion to freedom, but sometimes the Libertarians seem to want to cut off their noses to spite their faces. Also, they aren’t always as consistent in their ideology as they like to make out (Don’t get me started on Ayn Rand – who did have some good ideas…).

Heres a little nugget for ya’s. Its now commonly accepted that one of the major factors that caused ptsd in nam vets was the way they were treated when they returned home. Killing in any capacity is terrible, and thats one of the things that helped soldiers in all the other wars deal with it was-in order-1. Shipping back stateside with the same men you fought with. In nam they rotated in and out constantly and were back home in 2 days.-2.In all the other wars when our soldiers returned they had parades and cheering masses to greet them to let them know that what they did-killing-which 98% of humans are born with a severe abberation for was the right thing to do. Vets returning from nam in most cases did not even have anyone waiting on them at the airports. When they were seen stateside in uniform they were treated terribly. Said one marine “i spent the entire flight back thinking about the things i had just done, the things i’d seen. Wondering if i’d ever be the same person who left. When i got off the plane and was walking through the airport. A hippie ran up to me called me a murderer and spit on me. You’d think a marine would have knocked his lights out, but i just stood there. He was right. I knew it in my heart he was. I sat in my room that night thinking about what the hippie said to me. After alot of crying and putting the rifle in my mouth 3 or 4 times . i decided not to kill myself.” So if you dont agree with Bush, hey great. BUT DONT YOU DARE TAKE IT OUT ON THE SOLDIERS!!! You dont have to salute em (which you should) but dont make them feel bad for doing there duty. If you would like to dispute any of my opinions please read the book “On Killing” you’ll find it in the Physcology section of our finer teaching institutions.

Good post BFA. I too was accosted when I arrived back in the states. Luckily for me my grandparents were there to welcome me home or I might still be serving time for killing some long haired dope smoking miscreants. The time for protest is before the first bullet is fired. After that, it is our duty to support the troops fighting in any way we can. What were these protestors doing as the World Trade Center came crashing down? Having a party. I don’t allow them time on my TV screen.

Thanks AR. The complete title is “On Killing, the phsycological effect of killing and its impact in society” It was recomended reading for all law enforcement as its the first book that looks at everysingle aspect of killing someone. Its a great read for anybody though. You can order it from any Law enforcement web site.

To BostonBarrier: You must be reading David Frum or that old rag called National Review. Go to anti-war.com and read Raimando’s latest column. It will do much to put away the neocons conspiracy that everyone who critcizes Isreal is anti-semtic. Why do you call the paleos anti-american? And if you really belive that most of thier arguments are about conspiracy theories then I’ll bet you haven’t really read their arguements and are just quoting stuff you’ve read from the war party(neocons) columns. The paleos are non-interventionist just like the libertarians. They do not believe in the initation of force. Besides they were part of the conservative movement before all the leftists moved in and helped splinter the party into the neoconservative wing. Read The Conservative Intellectual Movement by George Nash. Why don’t you believe that a non-interventionist foriegn policy is a far better way to go?
To Diesel23: Firstly everyone supports our troops through taxation. Secondly I support our troops in coming home not in what they’re presently engaged in. If one believes that this is an unjust war then why should we stop protesting just because it has started. I agree American lives are important and that is even more a reason to keep on protesting. Their will be unforseen consequences to this war. It will just serve to galvanize those who already have good reason to despise the U.S. This is just an escalation of the continuing imperialistic American foreign policy that has brought us 9/11. I fear that things will only get worse for us.

“The U.S. has killed more people outside it’s borders than anyone else or am I missing something?” - Joeseph Sobran

“I agree American lives are important and that is even more a reason to keep on protesting.”…Mark

You and Jane Fonda. Go sit on an Iraqi tank in Baghdad and espouse your rhetoric.

A friend of mine was just talking to her friend in the Army two nights ago who is stationed in the middle east right now. He told her to keep protesting; that he does not agree with this war but since he has a duty to fight, he is happy people back here have the courage to express the opinion he can’t.

We did not lose the vietnam war because of protests. And to say at least 120,000 vietnamese died so we did good is disgusting to me.

Some of you acknowledge that the government lied to us about the vietnam war. I want to hear you acknowledge that the administration is lying to us right now. I don’t care if you still agree with the war, just acknowledge you know about the lies so I know you’re at least informed.

Acknowledge that our administration used FORGED documents to try and prove Iraq had WMD.

Acknowledge that our administration lied about the source of ricin to dishonestly imply it had ties to Iraq.

Acknowledge that our administration lied to the weapons inspectors about dual-use materials in Iraq.

Acknowledge that our administration lies about Saddam’s “gasing of his own people.”

Acknowledge that our administration lies about the ffectiveness of its “shock and awe” military campaign, and misleads the public about surrender numbers.

Acknowledge that our administration is selling rebuilding contracts worth millions to American firms that give large donations to the republican party. This includes Halliburton, the company Dick Cheney was CEO of prior to being elected.

Acknowledge that the administration claims to know for a fact Iraq has WMD, yet they use forged evidence instead of giving us real evidence. Acknowledge that they also mislead the American public about Iraq’s ability to attack America.

If you agree with the war, at least step up and acknowledge that you are informed of this information and that you still believe in an administration that openly lies to you.

To Mark,

Unlike most individuals I will not call you an anti-american, a hippie, or any other condescending term aimed at either discrediting you or making me feel like a true patriot. I will however educate you on some very important issues.
First take your own advice, you encourage individuals to diversify their media sources for information on politics and foreign policy yet your own argument revolves around antiwar.com a very unbiased news source (that was sarcasm if you missed it), you may wish to read the Standard or watch Fox news. The liberal media bias is rampant(read Bias by Bernard Goldberg) and journalism in general is corrupt on both sides of the aisle right and left which stems from news magazine shows, specifically from 60 minutes taking a large share of the nielson ratings turning news into a cash cow and thus corrupting it. That is another debate however.
Secondly while you are correct about our Governments own domestic propaganda in the Pentagon Papers regarding the Gulf of Tonkin and various other incidents you neglected to mention the horrific atrocities commited by the VC during the war and prior to it. A true story, adapted and recalled in the movie Apocolypse Now says of a marine expeditionary unit innoculating an entire village against various diseases and leaving. Upon return to the village the soldiers discovered the VC had amputated every childs arm who had recieved a vaccination. Our governments action aside we fought the devil in Vietnam, and lost due to our own internal conflict. Furthermore those individuals who fought the devil returned to encounter extreme hatred which contributed to severe PTSS (post traumatic stress syndrome)and alcoholism and drug addiction in many soldiers.
Now on to more pressing matters regarding our current conflict in Irag and post 9/11 measures taken by our Government.
The notion that this war is based on oil is quite proposterous. We recieve 17% of our nations oil supply from the middle east or OPEAC, we recieve the majority of our supply from Central America and Russia. If oil was the main issue here it would be in our national interest to not engage in a war that Russia does not support.
Regarding the idea that this war is based on power is also quite ludacris. We are the only Superpower left standing, there is no need to demonstrate our prowess especially after we just defeated an Afghani nation that halted the USSR in its tracks for over ten years.
Israel is another issue. Individuals who critize our alliance with Israel are often times called anti-semitic. If however, this war was in reagards to protecting Israel I believe it would be in our best interest to send troop to Palestenian settlements in the West Bank and Gaza strip instead of Baghdad, along with securing the border with Egypt.
The measures taken following 9/11, ie the Patriot Acts were not as severe as Lincoln’s Suspension of habeous corpus however they did limit our personal freedoms. You must remember however that “A society that values its priveledges above its principles soon loses both.”
On a final note regarding war in general; war is bad, tyranny, oppresion, and genocide are far worse however. Civil disobedience is freedom protected by the individuals you critize…“The tree of liberty must now and again be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants” we must hope more of the tyrants blood is used.

Realist, would you like to come to Killingworth, Ct. and have a talk about all these “lies” we are being “fed” or are you the typical war protestor who doesn’t know what war is even about? You’re probably the typical pseudo-intellectual who, in 20 years, will be ashamed of how you feel now. Just stop by the VFW on Route 81 (north of the traffic circle) and ask for me. They will know who you mean. I’ll leave word to expect your presence. Captain Roids, USN ('66-'72). And God help all our troops and those of our coalition partners.

It sounds as if some of the more Liberal/conspiracy minded here believe the Iraqi government more than their own.

How sad is that?

The truth is not what you hear, read or see but what you believe and some of what is posted here is “unbelievable”.

In Russia we only had two TV channels. Channel One was propaganda. Channel Two consisted of a KGB officer telling you: Turn back at once to Channel One"

~ Yakov Smirnoff

Realest: Where’s your proof that these are lies? Where’s your acknowledgement that what we are doing is for the good of the Iraqi people? Do you acknowledge the fact every town we go into, people are happy we are there? Do you acknowledge that the war is successful in many different aspects, including the betterment of humanity by helping our fellow man who has been oppressed? Do you deny the fact that after all is said and done, Iraq will be a better place for its people? Do you acknowledge it is good for a people to be fed, have medicine, be able to say and do what they please without punishment, or to have the ability to PROTEST a governmental action if they disagree? Or, do you acknowledge that Iraq and the world was better off with Saddam in power?
On Killing is an excellent read. I suggest those who are very misunderstood about the psychology of killing, and it’s aftermath read it. It and other reads by Col. Grosman will more than fill you in. Great suggestion, BFA. If you get the opportunity to listen to him in person, do it.

Clap clap clap.

  Realest, you're so much dumber than we all thought. You must have a rare ability to see proof where there is none, and to mistake rumours for facts.

  Oh, and whatever strategy the DOD decided to use, it's their choice. If they decide to play little psychological games with the iraqis and scare the living shit out of them because itll give them an edge on the field, so much the better.

  As for your other comments... They are so painfully idiotic I refuse to comment on them. Let it just be said I dont admit to dumb treehugger comments. 

   I AM 100% PRO-WAR, I support Bush 100%, I support our troops 100%. And I disagree with you 100000000000000%, you get my point.