South Vietnam: Worthy Ally? (General Creighton Abrams Reassessing the ARVN)

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South Vietnam: Worthy Ally? (General Creighton Abrams Reassessing the ARVN) thehistorynet ^ | 3-15-03 | Lewis Sorley

Posted on 03/16/2003 3:04:15 PM PST by SJackson

General Creighton Abrams thought the Vietnamese people were worth the heavy price of the war.

Americans know very little about the Vietnam War, even though it ended just over a quarter century ago. That is in part because those who opposed the war have seen it as in their interests to portray every aspect of the long struggle in the worst possible light, and indeed in some cases to falsify what they have had to say about it. This extends from wholesale defamation of the South Vietnamese and their conduct throughout a long and difficult struggle, to Jane Fonda's infamous claim that repatriated American prisoners of war who reported systematic abuse and torture by their captors were "liars" and "hypocrites."

I would like to speak to selected aspects of the war primarily having to do with the South Vietnamese, beginning with some of the many contrasts between the earlier and later years of major American involvement in the Vietnam War. In shorthand terms, the earlier years began with the introduction of American ground forces in 1965 and continued through a change of command not long after Tet 1968. The later period stretched from then through withdrawal of the last American forces in March 1973.

During the earlier years, with General William C. Westmoreland in command, the American approach was basically to take over the war from the South Vietnamese and try to win it militarily by conducting a war of attrition. The theory was that killing as many of the enemy as possible would eventually cause him to lose heart and cease aggression against the South. This earlier period was also characterized by recurring requests for more American troops to be dispatched to Vietnam, resulting in a peak commitment there of some 543,400.

In prosecuting this kind of war, General Westmoreland relied on search-and-destroy tactics carried out by large-scale forces, primarily in the deep jungles. Those tactics succeeded in their own terms--over the course of several years the enemy did suffer large numbers of casualties, horrifying numbers, really--but the expected result was not achieved. Meanwhile, given his single-minded devotion to a self-selected war of attrition, Westmoreland pretty much ignored two other key aspects of the war--pacification, and improvement of South Vietnam's armed forces.

Following the enemy's offensive at the time of Tet 1968, General Creighton W. Abrams replaced Westmoreland and brought to bear a much different outlook on the nature of the war and how it should be prosecuted. Abrams stressed "one war" of combat operations, pacification, and upgrading South Vietnam's armed forces, giving those latter two long-neglected tasks equal importance and priority with military operations.

Operations themselves also underwent a dramatic change. In place of "search and destroy" there was now "clear and hold," meaning that when Communist forces had been driven from populated areas, those areas were then permanently garrisoned by allied forces, not abandoned to be reoccupied by the enemy at some later date. Greatly expanded South Vietnamese Territorial Forces took on that security mission. Major General Nguyen Duy Hinh said that "expansion and upgrading of the Regional and Popular Forces" was "by far the most important and outstanding among U.S. contributions" to the war effort. Lieutenant General Ngo Quang Truong viewed these forces as "the mainstay of the war machinery," noting that "such achievements as hamlets pacified, the number of people living under GVN [Government of Vietnam] control or the trafficability on key lines of communication were possible largely due to the unsung feats of the RF [Regional Forces] and PF [Popular Forces]."

The nature of operations also changed in the later years. Large-scale forays deep into the jungle were replaced by thousands of small-unit ambushes and patrols, conducted both day and night, and sited so as to screen the population from enemy forces. Pacification was emphasized, and particularly rooting out the covert enemy infrastructure that had through coercion and terror dominated the populace of South Vietnam's villages and hamlets.

Body count was no longer the measure of merit. "I don't think it makes any difference how many losses he [the enemy] takes," Abrams told his commanders in a total repudiation of the earlier approach. In fact, said Abrams, "In the whole picture of the war, the battles don't really mean much." Population secured was now the key indicator of success.

Contrary to what many people seem to believe, the new approach succeeded remarkably. And, since during these later years American forces were progressively being withdrawn, more and more it was the South Vietnamese who were achieving that success.

During the period of buildup of U.S. forces in Vietnam, many observers--including some Americans stationed in Vietnam--were critical of South Vietnamese armed forces. But such criticisms seldom took into account a number of contributing factors. American materiel assistance in those early years consisted largely of cast-off World War II–vintage weapons, including the heavy and unwieldy (for a Vietnamese) M-1 rifle. The enemy, meanwhile, was being provided with increasingly up-to-date weaponry by his Russian and Chinese patrons.

"In 1964 the enemy had introduced the AK-47, a modern, highly effective automatic rifle," noted Brig. Gen. James L. Collins, Jr., in a monograph on development of South Vietnam's armed forces. "In contrast, the South Vietnam forces were still armed with a variety of World War II weapons....After 1965 the increasing U.S. buildup slowly pushed Vietnamese armed forces materiel needs into the background." General Fred Weyand, finishing up a tour as commanding general of II Field Force, Vietnam, observed in a 1968 debriefing report that "the long delay in furnishing ARVN modern weapons and equipment, at least on a par with that furnished the enemy by Russia and China, has been a major contributing factor to ARVN ineffectiveness."

It was not until General Abrams came to Vietnam as deputy commander of U.S. forces in May 1967 that the South Vietnamese began to get more attention. Soon after taking up his post, Abrams cabled Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson. "It is quite clear to me," he reported, "that the U.S. Army military here and at home have thought largely in terms of U.S. operations and support of U.S. forces." As a consequence, "Shortages of essential equipment or supplies in an already austere authorization have not been handled with the urgency and vigor that characterizes what we do for U.S. needs. Yet the responsibility we bear to ARVN is clear....the groundwork must begin here. I am working at it."

By early 1968 some M-16 rifles were in the hands of South Vietnamese airborne and other elite units, but the rank and file were still outgunned by the enemy. Thus Lt. Gen. Dong Van Khuyen, South Vietnam's senior logistician, recalled that "during the enemy Tet Offensive of 1968 the crisp, rattling sounds of AK-47s echoing in Saigon and some other cities seemed to make a mockery of the weaker, single shots of Garands and carbines fired by stupefied friendly troops."

Even so, South Vietnamese armed forces performed admirably in repelling the Tet Offensive. "To the surprise of many Americans and the consternation of the Communists," reported Time magazine, "ARVN bore the brunt of the early fighting with bravery and élan, performing better than almost anyone would have expected."

In February 1968, retired U.S. Army General Bruce C. Clarke made a trip to Vietnam, afterward writing a trip report that eventually made its way to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Clarke observed that "the Vietnamese units are still on a very austere priority for equipment, to include weapons." That adversely affected both their morale and effectiveness, he noted. "Troops know and feel it when they are poorly equipped."

After reading the report, LBJ called Clarke to the White House to discuss his findings. Then, recalled Clarke, "within a few days of our visit to the White House a presidential aide called me to say the President had released 100,000 M-16 rifles to ARVN." President Johnson referred to this matter in his dramatic speech of March 31, 1968. "We shall," he vowed, "accelerate the re-equipment of South Vietnam's armed forces in order to meet the enemy's increased firepower."

U.S. divisions were not only better armed but also larger than South Vietnam's, resulting in greater combat capability. To the further disadvantage of the South Vietnamese, during these early years the U.S. hogged most of the combat assets that increased unit effectiveness. That included allocation of Boeing B-52 bombing strikes. Abrams noted that during the period of the North Vietnamese "Third Offensive" in August and September 1968, "The ARVN killed more enemy than all other allied forces combined." In the process, he said, they also "suffered more KIA, both actual and on the basis of the ratio of enemy to friendly killed in action." This was a function, he told General Earle Wheeler, of the fact that "the South Vietnamese get relatively less support, both quantitatively and qualitatively, than U.S. forces; i.e., artillery, tactical air support, gunships and helilift."

Under these conditions of the earlier years, criticism of South Vietnamese units was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Given little to work with, outgunned by the enemy and relegated to what were then viewed as secondary roles, South Vietnam's armed forces missed out for several years on the development and combat experience that would have greatly increased their capabilities.

In the later years of American involvement, during which U.S. ground forces were progressively being withdrawn, priority for issue of M-16 rifles was given to the long-neglected South Vietnamese Territorial Forces, who provided the "hold" in clear and hold. As those forces established control over more and more territory, large numbers of VC "rallied" to the allied side. This reached a peak of 47,000 in 1969, with another 32,000 crossing over in 1970. Given the authorized 8,689-soldier strength of a North Vietnamese Army division, that amounted to enemy losses by defection equivalent to about nine divisions in those two years alone.

There came a point at which the war was as good as won. The fighting wasn't over, but the war was won. The reason it was won was that the South Vietnamese had achieved the capacity, with promised American support, to maintain their independence and freedom of action. This was a South Vietnamese achievement.

A crucial part of that achievement was rooting out the enemy's covert infrastructure in the hamlets and villages of rural South Vietnam. An effective campaign was developed for neutralizing members of that infrastructure, based on obtaining better and more timely intelligence and acting on it. Critics of the war denounced the ensuing Phoenix Program as an assassination campaign, but the reality was otherwise.

For one thing, captives who had knowledge of the enemy infrastructure and its functioning were invaluable intelligence assets. That provided considerable incentive to capture them alive and exploit that knowledge. Congressional investigators sent out to Vietnam to assess the program found that of some 15,000 members of the Viet Cong infrastructure neutralized during 1968, 15 percent had been killed, 13 percent rallied to the government side and 72 percent were captured. William Colby, who then coordinated the Phoenix Program and in 1973 was appointed director of the CIA, testified later that "the vast majority" of the enemy dead had been killed in regular combat actions, "as shown by the units reporting who had killed them."

During those years the South Vietnamese, besides taking over combat responsibilities from the departing Americans, had to deal with multiple changes in policy. General Abrams was clear on how the South Vietnamese were being asked to vault higher and higher hurdles. "We started out in 1968," he recalled. "We were going to get these people by 1974 where they could whip hell out of the VC--the VC. Then they changed the goal to lick the VC and the NVA--in South Vietnam. Then they compressed it. They've compressed it about three times, or four times--acceleration. So what we started out with to be over this kind of time"--indicating with his hands a long time--"is now going to be over this kind of time"--much shorter. "And if it's VC, NVA, interdiction, helping Cambodians and so on--that's what we're working with. And," Abrams cautioned, "you have to be careful on a thing like this, or you'll get the impression you're being screwed. You mustn't do that, 'cause it'll get you mad." Among the most crucial of the policy changes was dropping longstanding plans for a U.S. residual force to remain in South Vietnam indefinitely, in a solution comparable to that adopted in Western Europe and South Korea.

In January 1972, John Paul Vann, a senior official in pacification support, told friends: "We are now at the lowest level of fighting the war has ever seen. Today there is an air of prosperity throughout the rural areas of Vietnam, and it cannot be denied. Today the roads are open and the bridges are up, and you run much greater risk traveling any road in Vietnam today from the scurrying, bustling, hustling Hondas and Lambrettas than you do from the VC." And, added Vann, "This program of Vietnamization has gone kind of literally beyond my wildest dreams of success." Those were South Vietnamese accomplishments.

When in late March of 1972 the NVA mounted a conventional invasion of South Vietnam by the equivalent of 20 divisions, a bloody pitched battle ensued. The enemy's "well-planned campaign" was defeated, wrote Douglas Pike, "because air power prevented massing of forces and because of stubborn, even heroic, South Vietnamese defense. Terrible punishment was visited on PAVN [NVA] troops and on the PAVN transportation and communication matrix." But, most important of all, said Pike, "ARVN troops and even local forces stood and fought as never before."

Later critics said that South Vietnam had thrown back the invaders only because of American air support. Abrams responded vigorously to that. "I doubt the fabric of this thing could have been held together without U.S. air," he told his commanders, "but the thing that had to happen before that is the Vietnamese, some numbers of them, had to stand and fight. If they didn't do that, ten times the air we've got wouldn't have stopped them."

The critics also disparaged South Vietnam's armed forces because they had needed American assistance in order to prevail. But at the same time, some 300,000 American troops were stationed in West Germany precisely because NATO could not stave off Soviet or Warsaw Pact aggression without American help. And in South Korea there were 50,000 American troops positioned specifically to help that country deal with any aggression from the North.

South Vietnam did, with courage and blood, defeat the enemy's 1972 Easter Offensive. General Abrams had told President Nguyen Van Thieu that it would be "the effectiveness of his field commanders that would determine the outcome," and they proved equal to the challenge. South Vietnam's defenders inflicted such casualties on the invaders that it was three years before North Vietnam could mount another major offensive. By then, dramatic changes would have taken place in the larger context.

After the Paris Accords were signed in January 1973, to induce the South Vietnamese to agree to terms they viewed as fatally flawed (the North Vietnamese were allowed to retain large forces in the South), President Richard M. Nixon told Thieu that if North Vietnam violated the terms of the agreement and resumed its aggression against the South, the United States would intervene militarily to punish them. Moreover, Nixon said that if renewed fighting broke out, the United States would replace on a one-for-one basis any major combat systems (tanks, artillery pieces and so on) lost by the South Vietnamese, as was permitted by the Paris Accords. And finally, said Nixon, the United States would continue robust financial support for South Vietnam. As events actually unfolded, of course, the United States defaulted on all three of those promises.

Meanwhile, North Vietnam was receiving unprecedented levels of support from its patrons. According to a 1994 history published in Hanoi, from January to September 1973, the nine months following the Paris Accords, the quantity of supplies shipped from North Vietnam to its forces in the South was four times that shipped in the entire previous year. But even that was minuscule compared to what was sent south from the beginning of 1974 until the end of the war in April 1975. The total during those 16 months, reported the Communists, was 2.6 times the amount delivered to the various battlefields during the preceding 13 years.

If the South Vietnamese had shunned the Paris agreement, it was certain not only that the United States would have settled without them, but also that the U.S. Congress would then have moved swiftly to cut off further aid to South Vietnam. If, on the other hand, the South Vietnamese went along, hoping thereby to continue receiving American aid, they would be forced to accept an outcome in which North Vietnamese troops remained menacingly within their borders. With mortal foreboding, the South Vietnamese chose the latter course, only to find--dismayingly--that they soon had the worst of both: NVA forces were ensconced in the South, and American support was cut off.

Many Americans would not like to hear that the totalitarian states of China and the Soviet Union had proven to be better and more faithful allies than the democratic United States, but that was in fact the case. William Tuohy, who covered the war for many years for The Washington Post, wrote that "it is almost unthinkable and surely unforgivable that a great nation should leave these helpless allies to the tender mercies of the North Vietnamese." But that is what we did.

Colonel William LeGro served until war's end with the U.S. Defense Attaché Office in Saigon. From that close-up vantage point he saw precisely what had happened. "The reduction to almost zero of United States support was the cause" of the final collapse, he observed. "We did a terrible thing to the South Vietnamese."

Near the end, Tom Polgar, then serving as the CIA's chief of station, Saigon, cabled a succinct assessment of the situation: "Ultimate outcome hardly in doubt, because South Vietnam cannot survive without U.S. military aid as long as North Vietnam's war-making capacity is unimpaired and supported by Soviet Union and China."

The aftermath of the war in Vietnam was as grim as had been feared. Seth Mydans wrote perceptively and compassionately on Southeast Asian affairs for The New York Times in 2000: "More than a million southerners fled the country after the war ended. Some 400,000 were interned in camps for ‘re-education'--many only briefly, but some for as long as seventeen years. Another 1.5 million were forcibly resettled in ‘new economic zones' in barren areas of southern Vietnam that were ravaged by hunger and extreme poverty."

Former Viet Cong Colonel Pham Xuan An described in 1990 his immense disillusionment with what a Communist victory had meant to Vietnam. "All that talk about ‘liberation' twenty, thirty, forty years ago," he lamented, "produced this, this impoverished, broken-down country led by a gang of cruel and paternalistic half-educated theorists." Former North Vietnamese Army Colonel Bui Tin has been equally candid about the outcome of the war, even for the victors. "It is too late for my generation," he said, "the generation of war, of victory, and betrayal. We won. We also lost."

The price paid by the South Vietnamese in their long struggle to remain free proved grievous indeed. The armed forces lost 275,000 killed in action. Another 465,000 civilians lost their lives, many of them assassinated by VC terrorists or felled by the enemy's shelling and rocketing of cities, and 935,000 more were wounded.

Of the million who became "boat people," an unknown number lost their lives at sea between 1975 and 1979--possibly more than 100,000, according to Australian Minister for Immigration Michael MacKellar. In Vietnam perhaps 65,000 others were executed by their self-proclaimed liberators. As many as 250,000 more perished in the brutal "re-education" camps. Meanwhile, 2 million, driven from their homeland, formed a new Vietnamese diaspora.

Many of those displaced Vietnamese now live in the United States. Recently, Mydans visited the "Little Saigon" community around Westminster, Calif., site of some 3,000 businesses, and then described the bustling, prosperous scene. It was, he suggested, "what Saigon might have looked like if America had won the war in 1975." And, Mydans concluded, "There is nobody more energetic than a Vietnamese immigrant."

Campaigning in Westminster during his run for the presidency, Senator John McCain said to a large crowd of Vietnamese, "I thank you for what you have done for America." Nor have Vietnamese expatriates in the United States forgotten their kinsmen still living in Vietnam. Every year they send back an estimated $2 billion.

None of this has been easy for those who came to America. Nguyen Qui Duc wrote in 2000 in the Boston Globe that, for expatriate Vietnamese, "Painful memories of the war will always remain in our hearts." But, he added, "The cultural differences and homesickness they endure seem a fair price to be free."

In conclusion, the war in Vietnam was a just war fought by the South Vietnamese and their allies for an admirable purpose. Those who fought it did so with their mightiest hearts, and in the process they came very close to succeeding in their purpose of enabling South Vietnam to sustain itself as a free and independent nation.

A reporter once remarked that General Abrams was a man who deserved a better war. I quoted that observation to his eldest son, who immediately responded: "He didn't see it that way. He thought the Vietnamese were worth it."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government KEYWORDS: VIETNAM -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Also published as Reassessing the ARVN Worth thinking about at this time of shifting alliances.

1 posted on 03/16/2003 3:04:15 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies ]

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To: Sparta For your list?

2 posted on 03/16/2003 3:04:36 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Hmmm. This is timely.

3 posted on 03/16/2003 3:06:53 PM PST by SolutionsOnly [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson BTTT.

4 posted on 03/16/2003 3:15:36 PM PST by vbmoneyspender [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Yehuda; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; ... If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.

5 posted on 03/16/2003 3:18:12 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Former Viet Cong Colonel Pham Xuan An described in 1990 his immense disillusionment with what a Communist victory had meant to Vietnam. "All that talk about Â`liberation' twenty, thirty, forty years ago," he lamented, "produced this, this impoverished, broken-down country led by a gang of cruel and paternalistic half-educated theorists." I have always wondered if the VC understood how they were used during Tet. The North Vietnamese purposefully used them as shock troops so that they would take the brunt of the fighting (and attendant casualties) and thereby leave the way open for North Vietname to dominate the South once the war was won. And this is not the first war in which the Communists have employed this tactic. In Spain, Stalin's thugs spent almost as much going after heretical leftists as they did going after Falangists. Likewise, the Soviets employed a similar tactic in WWII when the paused their assault on Warsaw in order to give the Nazis sufficient time to finish off the Polish resistance.

6 posted on 03/16/2003 3:26:30 PM PST by vbmoneyspender [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: vbmoneyspender "All that talk about Â`liberation' twenty, thirty, forty years ago," he lamented, "produced this, this impoverished, broken-down country led by a gang of cruel and paternalistic half-educated theorists." Funny, I read this in print this morning, then found it on the web from a different source, but I keyed on the same quote you did. Couldn't fit it in the tag line, FR needs to expand that.

I have always wondered if the VC understood how they were used during Tet.

Who knows, for those who survived, it didn't matter, they were finished. But Uncle Ho knew how to snatch victory from defeat, on the backs of those he was "liberating", and with a little help from his foreign "friends". A familiar theme.

7 posted on 03/16/2003 3:36:00 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Then, recalled Clarke, "within a few days of our visit to the White House a presidential aide called me to say the President had released 100,000 M-16 rifles to ARVN." This is an excellent, detailed example of the extremely poor management of the V'Nam War by Lyndon Johnson.

The then issue, M-14 rifle, was a heavy kicking brute, compared to the M-16. To see some of the diminutive Asian soldiers struggle to shoulder the 14 would be comedy, if it weren't so tragic. The M-14 was a large caliber rifle (308 NATO), and would give a six-foot American a sore shoulder from the recoil. The Asian's just hated to fire an M-14. The M-16, on the other hand, was lighter and had a much milder recoil and was eminently more suited to the size of the Asian shooter. That it took a direct Presdential decree to get these rifles to these ARVN troops is a travesty.

This isn't the only example of mis-management, but it is a thread that runs through the whole Vietnam War.

8 posted on 03/16/2003 3:39:50 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson The South Vietnamese, the ARVN, The Vietnamese Marines, the RFs and PFs were superb allies and good friends. They were (and are) worth fighting for. I for one am distinctly proud to have served alongside the South Vietnamese - I only wish that our people had known them better and stayed in the fight to keep them free.

9 posted on 03/16/2003 3:44:18 PM PST by USMCVet [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson You may add me to your ping list concerning Asian politcal issues.

10 posted on 03/16/2003 3:50:13 PM PST by Enemy Of The State (Beware the lollipop of mediocrity... lick it once and you suck forever) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson During the earlier years, with General William C. Westmoreland in command, the American approach was basically to take over the war from the South Vietnamese and try to win it militarily by conducting a war of attrition. The theory was that killing as many of the enemy as possible would eventually cause him to lose heart and cease aggression against the South. This earlier period was also characterized by recurring requests for more American troops to be dispatched to Vietnam, resulting in a peak commitment there of some 543,400. Tragic blunder. What did he think was the end game?? That policy could succeed--only by threatening Hanoi. But LBJ was never going to do that, so it was a meatgrinder strategy in which the enemy had time to find a winning (political) strategy.



-- (Viet_Nam@Quê-Hương.govt), September 25, 2004

Answers

11 posted on 03/16/2003 3:52:23 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: USMCVet Agreed. Vietnam was another war that the french had a hand in getting us involved. Ba$tards! We fought against the British before and now they are our closest ally. No reason not take the Vietnamese under our wings, Im sure they would love to have us as an ally considering that they really are not that favorable of China and it would be great to be right in Chinas back yard!

12 posted on 03/16/2003 3:53:24 PM PST by Enemy Of The State (Beware the lollipop of mediocrity... lick it once and you suck forever) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson All that talk about Â`liberation' twenty, thirty, forty years ago," he lamented, "produced this, this impoverished, broken-down country led by a gang of cruel and paternalistic half-educated theorists." I'd like to include Bill Moyers to that lamentable description.

13 posted on 03/16/2003 3:54:33 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies ]

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To: conservatism_IS_compassion For the thread. PERSECUTION OF MONTAGNARD CHRISTIANS IN VIETNAM

Christmas crackdown in Vietnam (Communists persecute Christians, again)

3 executions in Vietnam alleged as part of government crackdown (on Christians)

VIETNAM UNREST THREATENS TO RAISE OBJECTIONS (persecution of Christians)

14 posted on 03/16/2003 4:02:47 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson I commanded an EOD detachment in 1972 and went through the Easter Offensive. I was also in Military Intel Unit toward the end of the year. You name a communist country and I saw weapons and munitions from it. When Vietnam fell in 1974 not only did we quit supplying them, we didn't even make up their ammunition expenditures and equipment lost during 1972. What equipment we did give them was third rate when the NVA was receiving modern equipment right up to the end.

I had two friends who were advisors who both spent over 5 years in country. They had a high regard for the South Vietnamese.

When our conventional forces fought, we fought the war like it was OUR war and not theirs. We really blew this one. In my opinion the lost of the war was partly due to our conduct of the war and due to both the lack of support to our troops in this country. These mistakes could have been retified given time. How ever the MAIN cause for the lost of the war was due to the support of the VC and PAVN basically HAD IN THIS COUNTRY.

15 posted on 03/16/2003 4:04:26 PM PST by U S Army EOD (Served in Korea, Vietnam and still fighting America's enemies on Home Front) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: conservatism_IS_compassion Tragic blunder. What did he think was the end game?? There wasn't an end game. This war did not have , at the beginning, a "Noble Purpose". LBJ was only interested in preventing Saigon from falling to the communists before he could win the '68 election, and a second term. That's it! There is no other geopolitical strategy to apply to the start of this war.

Lyndon didn't care about Vietnam, he didn't care about US servicemen. H*ll, he thought they "belonged" to him. Lyndon was a "Kingfish", in the Southern political sense. He owned the sheriff, the courthouse and the jails. You don't think, as President, LBJ didn't think he owned the Army too?

Vietnam is not complex at the beginning. It is about political power in the USA, and not a World struggle.

16 posted on 03/16/2003 4:11:34 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson You may also enjoy this informative book:

17 posted on 03/16/2003 4:14:13 PM PST by BenLurkin (Socialism is slavery.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies ]

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To: BenLurkin bump for later

18 posted on 03/16/2003 4:28:17 PM PST by Mr. Thorne (Inter armes, silent leges) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko There wasn't an end game. This war did not have , at the beginning, a "Noble Purpose". LBJ was only interested in preventing Saigon from falling to the communists before he could win the '68 election, and a second term. That's it! There is no other geopolitical strategy to apply to the start of this war. Lyndon didn't care about Vietnam, he didn't care about US servicemen. H*ll, he thought they "belonged" to him. Lyndon was a "Kingfish", in the Southern political sense. He owned the sheriff, the courthouse and the jails. You don't think, as President, LBJ didn't think he owned the Army too? Vietnam is not complex at the beginning. It is about political power in the USA, and not a World struggle.

Your analysis was definitely correct as it related to the _1964_ election.

I think it gets muddier (;-)) after that.

The bizarre strategy of "escalate until they negotiate" violated thousands of years of established warfare strategy which said that victory could best be achieved by annihilating your enemy.

At that time we were the dominant world power and the threat (and if necessary, the reality) of a nuke or two on Hanoi would have ended the meatgrinder quickly.

LBJ lacked the vision to see victory. He was a miserable excuse for a commander in chief.

19 posted on 03/16/2003 4:33:27 PM PST by cgbg (and his domestic policy created a budgetary quagmire of entitlements that won't go away.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies ]

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To: cgbg Your analysis was definitely correct as it related to the _1964_ election. Respectfully, I disagree. My analysis is directly related to the 1968 US presidential Election and NOT the 1964 election. LBJ knew he had '64 in the bag. His polls told him. The RINO's told him.

LBJ was worried about what had happened to Harry Truman would happen to him and he would not get a second term, just as Truman was denied one by Korea. If Saigon was lost before '68, Johnson feared, and rightly so, that he would loose to a Republican, "Ike" type. Remember, it is almost the same amount of time from Korea to Vietnam, that it is from the invasion of Kuwait till now.

Lyndon Johnson had Korea, the 1952 election, Saigon and the 1968 election, very much on his mind when he sent US troops into Vietnam in 1965.

20 posted on 03/16/2003 4:59:40 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko LBJ was worried about what had happened to Harry Truman would happen to him and he would not get a second term, just as Truman was denied one by Korea. If Saigon was lost before '68, Johnson feared, and rightly so, that he would loose to a Republican, "Ike" type. Remember, it is almost the same amount of time from Korea to Vietnam, that it is from the invasion of Kuwait till now. Ironically LBJ was handed a potentially decisive victory in 68, Tet, which he allowed the media to turn to defeat. He inherited the war, he clearly didn't want to be the one to "lose" it, but winning, not on the agenda.

21 posted on 03/16/2003 5:12:52 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies ]

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To: cgbg threat (and if necessary, the reality) of a nuke or two on Hanoi would have ended the meatgrinder quickly. I don't think so. Look at map of S.E. Asia, its proximity to Red China and at the same time, the peninsula of Korea. The mistaken strategy of Vietnam is that no one can understand why it wouldn't "behave" like Korea. Geography is the answer, as any good soldier knows. A peninsula can be defended. The waters mined and patrolled, the defenders supplied. But Vietnam lies against the Chinese Mainland, and is therefore, un-defendable. Laos and Cambodia are sieves and cannot be successfully controlled as can the waters around Korea.

When it comes to the comparison of Korea and Vietnam, militarily, it is apples and oranges. But both, unfortunately have been consecrated with American blood by Democrats that do not understand warfare.

22 posted on 03/16/2003 5:14:27 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Good post. Thank you.

Adios.

23 posted on 03/16/2003 5:16:38 PM PST by jo6pac [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Ironically LBJ was handed a potentially decisive victory in 68, Tet, Ironically, LBJ did not know it. He chewed out his commanders for "Tet" and told them he couldn't "survive politically" if another one happened in Saigon.

I stand by my opinion of Johnson and his motives.

24 posted on 03/16/2003 5:22:09 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko I don't disagree with your assessment of LBJ, just pointing out that his political cowardice turned potential victory into defeat. He missed the opportunity because, as you point out, he didn't "know it", though I might have said he just didn't care, it was a war he inherited and considered a political liability, LBJ had other places to be. Winning, other than elections, wasn't in the equation.

25 posted on 03/16/2003 5:31:21 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Interesting. Appointments to the ARVN officer corps were largely political, thus there was a lot of sporadic unit leadership. Some were great. Some competed to see who could break and run the fastest. Their elite units were usually their best. And Provincial Reconnaisance Units in I Corps were also very good...proud and highly motivated.

26 posted on 03/16/2003 5:45:10 PM PST by onedoug [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson This is the shocker - we spent years winning the Vietnam war and then threw away the peace we gained: In January 1972, John Paul Vann, a senior official in pacification support, told friends: "We are now at the lowest level of fighting the war has ever seen. Today there is an air of prosperity throughout the rural areas of Vietnam, and it cannot be denied. Today the roads are open and the bridges are up, and you run much greater risk traveling any road in Vietnam today from the scurrying, bustling, hustling Hondas and Lambrettas than you do from the VC." And, added Vann, "This program of Vietnamization has gone kind of literally beyond my wildest dreams of success." Those were South Vietnamese accomplishments. When in late March of 1972 the NVA mounted a conventional invasion of South Vietnam by the equivalent of 20 divisions, a bloody pitched battle ensued. The enemy's "well-planned campaign" was defeated, wrote Douglas Pike, "because air power prevented massing of forces and because of stubborn, even heroic, South Vietnamese defense. Terrible punishment was visited on PAVN [NVA] troops and on the PAVN transportation and communication matrix." But, most important of all, said Pike, "ARVN troops and even local forces stood and fought as never before."

... Near the end, Tom Polgar, then serving as the CIA's chief of station, Saigon, cabled a succinct assessment of the situation: "Ultimate outcome hardly in doubt, because South Vietnam cannot survive without U.S. military aid as long as North Vietnam's war-making capacity is unimpaired and supported by Soviet Union and China."

Let us summarize:

1964-1968 - Used a flawed 'war of attrition' strategy that held the enemy but didnt win victory.

1968-1972 - Improved strategy to win and hold ground and clean out VCs, by supporting national army.

1973 - Flawed peace agreement signed that gains South Vietnam and North Vietnam the same kind of status quo as Norht and South Korea. Flawed in that North Vietnamese arms are still flowing into the south via Cambodia.

1974-1975 - Threw away the victory we gained by 1972, by failing to support the allies in the south. Communists won by funding their proxies better than we did.

Conclusion: By making it politically impossible to support South Vietnam properly after years of 'anti-war' agitation, the Liberals and McGovern Democrats lost Vietnam - incredibly AFTER we actually won the war (or fought to a stalemate a la Korea). We undermined our *OWN* will to fight better than an enemy could have done and thereby cut the throats of the ARVN in 1975.

Thanks for posting this.

27 posted on 03/16/2003 6:20:52 PM PST by WOSG (Liberate Iraq! Lets Roll! now!) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko All the more reason to avoid the Korea-like defensive strategy, and go for a more offensive strategy. .... why *didnt* we march to Hanoi, or at least bomb the cr*p out of it until the Communists cried uncle? When this was finally tried in late 1972, in operation 'linebacker' we got a peace agreement in a matter of a month or so. had we tried it 10 years prior, we might have had much more positive effect and saved thousands of American lives. Why did we waste the bomb on jungle trails that could easily be repaired? It just screams at you "Wrong! read 'Art of War' and quit running a war like a Ford factory!"

28 posted on 03/16/2003 6:26:40 PM PST by WOSG (Liberate Iraq! Lets Roll! now!) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies ]

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To: cgbg "The bizarre strategy of "escalate until they negotiate" violated thousands of years of established warfare strategy which said that victory could best be achieved by annihilating your enemy."

Absolutely true.

This nonsense was the ugly progeny of the 'containment' strategy. The flaw of course is that 'balance-of-power' , "containment" and other high-level strategy concepts are *different* from the concepts you entertain when dealing with a state of war. Once in a war, you need to state your objectives and use maximimum will and power to reach them. And the goal in a war, is not to kill the enemies soldiers, but to destroy his will to oppose your objectives.

29 posted on 03/16/2003 6:32:32 PM PST by WOSG (Liberate Iraq! Lets Roll! now!) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson *bump* for later read

30 posted on 03/16/2003 6:52:51 PM PST by nicollo [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson I live part time in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). It's my understanding that (1) of the population of 76 million, one million are in the police and one million are in the military, that doesn't include the block supervisors who rat on their neighbors about minor/major transgressions. They rat to the local communist party representative (2) of the 76 million population, two million are party members, the rest want out of Vietnam immediately, but the two million are repressing any and all rights of the 74. (3) about 50% of the population is under the age of 20 and are getting information from cable news, from the internet and from the friends. Vietnam is changing and the Commies are going to lose thru a peaceful revolution because one of these days the people are going to refuse to cooperate with idiocy.

31 posted on 03/16/2003 7:30:32 PM PST by Chu Gary [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: conservatism_IS_compassion I've said for years that we fought that war in the wrong country, we should have gone north.

32 posted on 03/16/2003 9:17:54 PM PST by Valin (Age and deceit beat youth and skill) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies ]

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To: sphinx; Toirdhealbheach Beucail; curmudgeonII; roderick; Notforprophet; river rat; csvset; ... For your list?

Right up my alley. If you want on or off the Western Civilization Military History, let me know.

33 posted on 03/16/2003 9:29:17 PM PST by Sparta (I like RINO hunting) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies ]

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To: U S Army EOD How ever the MAIN cause for the lost of the war was due to the support of the VC and PAVN basically HAD IN THIS COUNTRY. From the Wall Street Journal, 3 Aug 1995:

Excerpted here:

Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi's victory? A: It was essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

And (regarding Tet '68):

Q: What about the results? A: Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise;. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for re-election. The second and third waves in May and September were, in retrospect, mistakes. Our forces in the South were nearly wiped out by all the fighting in 1968. It took us until 1971 to re-establish our presence, but we had to use North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. If the American forces had not begun to withdraw under Nixon in 1969, they could have punished us severely. We suffered badly in 1969 and 1970 as it was.

34 posted on 03/16/2003 10:23:38 PM PST by DuncanWaring (...and Freedom tastes of Reality.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies ]

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To: DuncanWaring Which is why I am a FReeper. If there is anything I can do, it will NEVER happen again.

Thanks for the article.

35 posted on 03/16/2003 10:31:55 PM PST by U S Army EOD (Served in Korea, Vietnam and still fighting America's enemies on Home Front) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies ]

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To: WOSG another book worth a read:

36 posted on 03/16/2003 10:33:50 PM PST by KantianBurke (The Federal govt should be protecting us from terrorists, not handing out goodies) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies ]

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To: cgbg LBJ lacked the vision to see victory. He was a miserable excuse for a commander in chief. He was a life-long politician. Look into his WWII "service". He was also a miserable human being. Add Strange McN. as well.

37 posted on 03/17/2003 8:33:36 AM PST by banjo joe [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Never forget that Johnson's own party was in its post Kennedy/post Goldwater redefinition: the one that gave us Bill Clinton.

I always thought Johnson was doomed for (a) immediately following the manufactured icon that was JFK, and (b) being the last true FDR liberal atop the party.

I believe that he felt he was on a tightrope the whole time.

38 posted on 03/17/2003 9:45:53 AM PST by norton [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies ]

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To: WOSG; SJackson It just screams at you "Wrong! read 'Art of War' and quit running a war like a Ford factory!" Behind my opinion of the fecklessness of LBJ, it is also my opinion that this was not a war the US should have been involved in at all. I know that offends my fellow veterans, but some have come to understand that Vietnam was the wrong place too start WWIII, as well as the 1960's were the wrong time, as well. (However it was not in vain. It prevented further "Vietnams".)

Having come from a family that had helped some of the Hungarian refugees from Budepest, in 1956, we had the confident awareness that communism would buckle under its own weight. America would prosper and prevail because of its free system. There was not the fear that if Vietnam was lost it would be a bad thing for the US. On the contrary, the more third world countries the Soviet Union had to finance and administer, the sooner the Communist Bloc would crumble. I think Ronald Reagan and the fall of theBerlin Wall proved this strategy correct.

This is what I keep trying to get some of you comprehend. The war in Vietnam had nothing to do with freedom vs communism. That was not the motive of LBJ (or Truman). The Democrats had the "monkey on their back" of commies in the government since FDR (they still do). The Democrats had to put on a show of fighting the communists, or loose elections to the Republicans here at home in the USA! As long as you look for a "Grand Strategy" or an "Art of War or "Bomb them till they Glow in the dark", you will have missed the point. Vietnam was national politics and an attempt to "stuff a ballot box" and not a Geopolitical, "Crusade for Freedom".

Iraq, however, is.

39 posted on 03/17/2003 4:00:38 PM PST by elbucko (Democrats, clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies ]

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To: norton Never forget that Johnson's own party was in its post Kennedy/post Goldwater redefinition: the one that gave us Bill Clinton. Well said! It still is, as one can witness the behavior of Democrats post 9/11 and pre-'04 election.

The Democrats that are running for president (or any office) right now, would sell military info to Baghdad, for a million votes a pop in the USA.

40 posted on 03/17/2003 4:19:04 PM PST by elbucko (Democrats, clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko Behind my opinion of the fecklessness of LBJ, it is also my opinion that this was not a war the US should have been involved in at all… There was not the fear that if Vietnam was lost it would be a bad thing for the US. On the contrary, the more third world countries the Soviet Union had to finance and administer, the sooner the Communist Bloc would crumble. I think Ronald Reagan and the fall of the Berlin Wall proved this strategy correct…The war in Vietnam had nothing to do with freedom vs communism. That was not the motive of LBJ (or Truman). The Democrats had the "monkey on their back" of commies in the government since FDR (they still do). The Democrats had to put on a show of fighting the communists, or loose elections to the Republicans here at home in the USA! As long as you look for a "Grand Strategy" or an "Art of War or "Bomb them till they Glow in the dark", you will have missed the point. Vietnam was national politics and an attempt to "stuff a ballot box" and not a Geopolitical, "Crusade for Freedom". It could have been a worthwhile war, after our defeat the dominoes fell all over Central America and Africa, not to mention Cambodia and South Vietnam itself. You address the crux of the matter when you note he Democrats had to put on a show of fighting the communists, or loose elections to the Republicans here at home. That, and his place in history is what LBJ was fighting for. It didn’t have to be just politics, that was a function of who was in power, it’s what he made of it, just as Reagan’s victory in the cold war was. What would the history of a Carter 2nd term, perhaps followed by a Mondale presidency look like?

41 posted on 03/17/2003 4:40:42 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies ]

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To: KantianBurke I liked that, but since we're plugging Amazon, my personal favorite, especially if the media interests you. Big Story: How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington [ABRIDGED], Peter Braestrup . You want the abridged version, since it's only 700 or so pages, they usually have it used.

42 posted on 03/17/2003 4:43:40 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies ]

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To: WOSG All the more reason to avoid the Korea-like defensive strategy, and go for a more offensive strategy. .... why *didnt* we march to Hanoi, or at least bomb the cr*p out of it until the Communists cried uncle? Or implement an actual Korea strategy, cut the trail and establish a line extending to the Thai border. Would have saved a lot of innocent lives, especially in Cambodia. And the goal in a war, is not to kill the enemies soldiers, but to destroy his will to oppose your objectives.

You're right, your enemy isn't defeated, until he's been convinced he’s defeated.

43 posted on 03/17/2003 4:50:36 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson; Sparta NEVER FORGET

'..GARDEN GROVE votes Free South Vietnam Flag -IN-, who's next..?'

http://www.Freerepublic.com/focus/news/863430/posts

...for FREEDOM.

Signed:..ALOHA RONNIE Guyer / Vet-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.LZXRAY.com

NEVER FORGET

44 posted on 03/17/2003 11:10:00 PM PST by ALOHA RONNIE (Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.LZXRAY.com) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson; Sparta; All ALOHA RONNIE's...

Fight for FREEDOM in Vietnam Threads:

http://www.Freerepublic.com/perl/profile?u=18629

45 posted on 03/18/2003 9:21:36 AM PST by ALOHA RONNIE (Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.LZXRAY.com) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson What would the history of a Carter 2nd term, perhaps followed by a Mondale presidency look like? I shudder to contemplate that scenario. Mondale would have been "Carter II". As feckless a leader as Carter. Remember "Stagflation"? Remember the Olympic boycott of the Carter years? Remember the Iran hostages? Remember Carters military operation to rescue them? That was Carters "Vietnam"! Once again, too little, too late. Remember the fate of the hostages after Reagan was elected? Reagan fired not a shot, yet caused the hostages to be released. Democrats threats are hollow and the world knows it. Republicans tend to act. Enemies know this. (That's why Europe is calling "W" a "Cowboy". BTW, the allegory has merit in the context of the movie "High Noon".)

So the two Carter terms and two subsequent Mondale (Gag) terms, that you postulate, would have gone on to 1992. Frightening prospect, isn't it? Anyway, had the Soviet Union had the world it wanted, it would have been a handful. Cuba is an example, as well as No. Korea, on the feasibility of pure communism. They would and did suck the Soviet Union dry! The Soviet Union would still have fallen, even if the Democats had tried to prevent it. It was attempting to be a real "Empire".

(There are still many in the American Left that believe communism has not flourished because it has never been tried in a pure fashion. Which begs the question, does the struggle itself, eventually kill communism. I maintain that it does.)

Vietnam would have been a winnable war had it not been for the geography. With Red China to the East with an endless supply of men and arms, Vietnam, at best, would have been a trench war of attrition, like WWI. It almost was.

..."after our defeat the dominoes fell all over Central America and Africa,.."

And so? Africa is a non-starter. Central and So. America are different in their geography to Vietnam, as night is to day, as well as different in commitment and threat. The Monroe Doctrine comes into play in this hemisphere.

What Mondale would have done is irrelevant. The choice, under the conditions that you describe, would not have been his to make.

46 posted on 03/18/2003 9:35:01 AM PST by elbucko (Democrats, clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson; Sparta; All NEVER FORGET

.."WE WERE SOLDIERS".. Forum

http://www.TheAlamoFILM.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=8

NEVER FORGET

47 posted on 03/18/2003 9:40:38 AM PST by ALOHA RONNIE (Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.LZXRAY.com) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Or implement an actual Korea strategy, cut the trail and establish a line extending to the Thai border. Oh Geeze! LOOK AT A MAP. Than what do you do when you cut Cambodia in half on the way to the Thai border? Defend "So. Cambodia" from the communist in No. Cambodia?

Vietnam is not a peninsula, it is part of the MAINLAND of Chinese Asia. Look at a map and tell me how-in-the-H*ll you would defend those borders and that topography.

You guys are still fighting that war with the same mentality as the people that got us into it and the same lack of "military awareness".

48 posted on 03/18/2003 9:57:04 AM PST by elbucko (Democrats, clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson ...the American approach was basically to take over the war from the South Vietnamese and try to win it militarily by conducting a war of attrition. Put another way: "What would a Democrat do".

49 posted on 03/18/2003 10:08:26 AM PST by elbucko (Democrats, clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic Home · Browse · Search News/Activism Topics · Post Article Gentelmen, Please read the continued paragraphs belows, thank you

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-- (Viet_Nam@Quê-Hương.govt), September 25, 2004.


11 posted on 03/16/2003 3:52:23 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: USMCVet Agreed. Vietnam was another war that the french had a hand in getting us involved. Ba$tards! We fought against the British before and now they are our closest ally. No reason not take the Vietnamese under our wings, Im sure they would love to have us as an ally considering that they really are not that favorable of China and it would be great to be right in Chinas back yard!

12 posted on 03/16/2003 3:53:24 PM PST by Enemy Of The State (Beware the lollipop of mediocrity... lick it once and you suck forever) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson All that talk about Â`liberation' twenty, thirty, forty years ago," he lamented, "produced this, this impoverished, broken-down country led by a gang of cruel and paternalistic half-educated theorists." I'd like to include Bill Moyers to that lamentable description.

13 posted on 03/16/2003 3:54:33 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies ]

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To: conservatism_IS_compassion For the thread. PERSECUTION OF MONTAGNARD CHRISTIANS IN VIETNAM

Christmas crackdown in Vietnam (Communists persecute Christians, again)

3 executions in Vietnam alleged as part of government crackdown (on Christians)

VIETNAM UNREST THREATENS TO RAISE OBJECTIONS (persecution of Christians)

14 posted on 03/16/2003 4:02:47 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson I commanded an EOD detachment in 1972 and went through the Easter Offensive. I was also in Military Intel Unit toward the end of the year. You name a communist country and I saw weapons and munitions from it. When Vietnam fell in 1974 not only did we quit supplying them, we didn't even make up their ammunition expenditures and equipment lost during 1972. What equipment we did give them was third rate when the NVA was receiving modern equipment right up to the end.

I had two friends who were advisors who both spent over 5 years in country. They had a high regard for the South Vietnamese.

When our conventional forces fought, we fought the war like it was OUR war and not theirs. We really blew this one. In my opinion the lost of the war was partly due to our conduct of the war and due to both the lack of support to our troops in this country. These mistakes could have been retified given time. How ever the MAIN cause for the lost of the war was due to the support of the VC and PAVN basically HAD IN THIS COUNTRY.

15 posted on 03/16/2003 4:04:26 PM PST by U S Army EOD (Served in Korea, Vietnam and still fighting America's enemies on Home Front) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: conservatism_IS_compassion Tragic blunder. What did he think was the end game?? There wasn't an end game. This war did not have , at the beginning, a "Noble Purpose". LBJ was only interested in preventing Saigon from falling to the communists before he could win the '68 election, and a second term. That's it! There is no other geopolitical strategy to apply to the start of this war.

Lyndon didn't care about Vietnam, he didn't care about US servicemen. H*ll, he thought they "belonged" to him. Lyndon was a "Kingfish", in the Southern political sense. He owned the sheriff, the courthouse and the jails. You don't think, as President, LBJ didn't think he owned the Army too?

Vietnam is not complex at the beginning. It is about political power in the USA, and not a World struggle.

16 posted on 03/16/2003 4:11:34 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson You may also enjoy this informative book:

17 posted on 03/16/2003 4:14:13 PM PST by BenLurkin (Socialism is slavery.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies ]

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To: BenLurkin bump for later

18 posted on 03/16/2003 4:28:17 PM PST by Mr. Thorne (Inter armes, silent leges) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko There wasn't an end game. This war did not have , at the beginning, a "Noble Purpose". LBJ was only interested in preventing Saigon from falling to the communists before he could win the '68 election, and a second term. That's it! There is no other geopolitical strategy to apply to the start of this war. Lyndon didn't care about Vietnam, he didn't care about US servicemen. H*ll, he thought they "belonged" to him. Lyndon was a "Kingfish", in the Southern political sense. He owned the sheriff, the courthouse and the jails. You don't think, as President, LBJ didn't think he owned the Army too? Vietnam is not complex at the beginning. It is about political power in the USA, and not a World struggle.

Your analysis was definitely correct as it related to the _1964_ election.

I think it gets muddier (;-)) after that.

The bizarre strategy of "escalate until they negotiate" violated thousands of years of established warfare strategy which said that victory could best be achieved by annihilating your enemy.

At that time we were the dominant world power and the threat (and if necessary, the reality) of a nuke or two on Hanoi would have ended the meatgrinder quickly.

LBJ lacked the vision to see victory. He was a miserable excuse for a commander in chief.

19 posted on 03/16/2003 4:33:27 PM PST by cgbg (and his domestic policy created a budgetary quagmire of entitlements that won't go away.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies ]

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To: cgbg Your analysis was definitely correct as it related to the _1964_ election. Respectfully, I disagree. My analysis is directly related to the 1968 US presidential Election and NOT the 1964 election. LBJ knew he had '64 in the bag. His polls told him. The RINO's told him.

LBJ was worried about what had happened to Harry Truman would happen to him and he would not get a second term, just as Truman was denied one by Korea. If Saigon was lost before '68, Johnson feared, and rightly so, that he would loose to a Republican, "Ike" type. Remember, it is almost the same amount of time from Korea to Vietnam, that it is from the invasion of Kuwait till now.

Lyndon Johnson had Korea, the 1952 election, Saigon and the 1968 election, very much on his mind when he sent US troops into Vietnam in 1965.

20 posted on 03/16/2003 4:59:40 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko LBJ was worried about what had happened to Harry Truman would happen to him and he would not get a second term, just as Truman was denied one by Korea. If Saigon was lost before '68, Johnson feared, and rightly so, that he would loose to a Republican, "Ike" type. Remember, it is almost the same amount of time from Korea to Vietnam, that it is from the invasion of Kuwait till now. Ironically LBJ was handed a potentially decisive victory in 68, Tet, which he allowed the media to turn to defeat. He inherited the war, he clearly didn't want to be the one to "lose" it, but winning, not on the agenda.

21 posted on 03/16/2003 5:12:52 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies ]

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To: cgbg threat (and if necessary, the reality) of a nuke or two on Hanoi would have ended the meatgrinder quickly. I don't think so. Look at map of S.E. Asia, its proximity to Red China and at the same time, the peninsula of Korea. The mistaken strategy of Vietnam is that no one can understand why it wouldn't "behave" like Korea. Geography is the answer, as any good soldier knows. A peninsula can be defended. The waters mined and patrolled, the defenders supplied. But Vietnam lies against the Chinese Mainland, and is therefore, un-defendable. Laos and Cambodia are sieves and cannot be successfully controlled as can the waters around Korea.

When it comes to the comparison of Korea and Vietnam, militarily, it is apples and oranges. But both, unfortunately have been consecrated with American blood by Democrats that do not understand warfare.

22 posted on 03/16/2003 5:14:27 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Good post. Thank you.

Adios.

23 posted on 03/16/2003 5:16:38 PM PST by jo6pac [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Ironically LBJ was handed a potentially decisive victory in 68, Tet, Ironically, LBJ did not know it. He chewed out his commanders for "Tet" and told them he couldn't "survive politically" if another one happened in Saigon.

I stand by my opinion of Johnson and his motives.

24 posted on 03/16/2003 5:22:09 PM PST by elbucko (clear land mines for free, click here.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko I don't disagree with your assessment of LBJ, just pointing out that his political cowardice turned potential victory into defeat. He missed the opportunity because, as you point out, he didn't "know it", though I might have said he just didn't care, it was a war he inherited and considered a political liability, LBJ had other places to be. Winning, other than elections, wasn't in the equation.

25 posted on 03/16/2003 5:31:21 PM PST by SJackson [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson Interesting. Appointments to the ARVN officer corps were largely political, thus there was a lot of sporadic unit leadership. Some were great. Some competed to see who could break and run the fastest. Their elite units were usually their best. And Provincial Reconnaisance Units in I Corps were also very good...proud and highly motivated.

26 posted on 03/16/2003 5:45:10 PM PST by onedoug [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson This is the shocker - we spent years winning the Vietnam war and then threw away the peace we gained: In January 1972, John Paul Vann, a senior official in pacification support, told friends: "We are now at the lowest level of fighting the war has ever seen. Today there is an air of prosperity throughout the rural areas of Vietnam, and it cannot be denied. Today the roads are open and the bridges are up, and you run much greater risk traveling any road in Vietnam today from the scurrying, bustling, hustling Hondas and Lambrettas than you do from the VC." And, added Vann, "This program of Vietnamization has gone kind of literally beyond my wildest dreams of success." Those were South Vietnamese accomplishments. When in late March of 1972 the NVA mounted a conventional invasion of South Vietnam by the equivalent of 20 divisions, a bloody pitched battle ensued. The enemy's "well-planned campaign" was defeated, wrote Douglas Pike, "because air power prevented massing of forces and because of stubborn, even heroic, South Vietnamese defense. Terrible punishment was visited on PAVN [NVA] troops and on the PAVN transportation and communication matrix." But, most important of all, said Pike, "ARVN troops and even local forces stood and fought as never before."

... Near the end, Tom Polgar, then serving as the CIA's chief of station, Saigon, cabled a succinct assessment of the situation: "Ultimate outcome hardly in doubt, because South Vietnam cannot survive without U.S. military aid as long as North Vietnam's war-making capacity is unimpaired and supported by Soviet Union and China."

Let us summarize:

1964-1968 - Used a flawed 'war of attrition' strategy that held the enemy but didnt win victory.

1968-1972 - Improved strategy to win and hold ground and clean out VCs, by supporting national army.

1973 - Flawed peace agreement signed that gains South Vietnam and North Vietnam the same kind of status quo as Norht and South Korea. Flawed in that North Vietnamese arms are still flowing into the south via Cambodia.

1974-1975 - Threw away the victory we gained by 1972, by failing to support the allies in the south. Communists won by funding their proxies better than we did.

Conclusion: By making it politically impossible to support South Vietnam properly after years of 'anti-war' agitation, the Liberals and McGovern Democrats lost Vietnam - incredibly AFTER we actually won the war (or fought to a stalemate a la Korea). We undermined our *OWN* will to fight better than an enemy could have done and thereby cut the throats of the ARVN in 1975.

Thanks for posting this.

27 posted on 03/16/2003 6:20:52 PM PST by WOSG (Liberate Iraq! Lets Roll! now!) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: elbucko All the more reason to avoid the Korea-like defensive strategy, and go for a more offensive strategy. .... why *didnt* we march to Hanoi, or at least bomb the cr*p out of it until the Communists cried uncle? When this was finally tried in late 1972, in operation 'linebacker' we got a peace agreement in a matter of a month or so. had we tried it 10 years prior, we might have had much more positive effect and saved thousands of American lives. Why did we waste the bomb on jungle trails that could easily be repaired? It just screams at you "Wrong! read 'Art of War' and quit running a war like a Ford factory!"

28 posted on 03/16/2003 6:26:40 PM PST by WOSG (Liberate Iraq! Lets Roll! now!) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies ]

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To: cgbg "The bizarre strategy of "escalate until they negotiate" violated thousands of years of established warfare strategy which said that victory could best be achieved by annihilating your enemy."

Absolutely true.

This nonsense was the ugly progeny of the 'containment' strategy. The flaw of course is that 'balance-of-power' , "containment" and other high-level strategy concepts are *different* from the concepts you entertain when dealing with a state of war. Once in a war, you need to state your objectives and use maximimum will and power to reach them. And the goal in a war, is not to kill the enemies soldiers, but to destroy his will to oppose your objectives.

29 posted on 03/16/2003 6:32:32 PM PST by WOSG (Liberate Iraq! Lets Roll! now!) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson *bump* for later read

30 posted on 03/16/2003 6:52:51 PM PST by nicollo [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: SJackson I live part time in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). It's my understanding that (1) of the population of 76 million, one million are in the police and one million are in the military, that doesn't include the block supervisors who rat on their neighbors about minor/major transgressions. They rat to the local communist party representative (2) of the 76 million population, two million are party members, the rest want out of Vietnam immediately, but the two million are repressing any and all rights of the 74. (3) about 50% of the population is under the age of 20 and are getting information from cable news, from the internet and from the friends. Vietnam is changing and the Commies are going to lose thru a peaceful revolution because one of these days the people are going to refuse to cooperate with idiocy.

31 posted on 03/16/2003 7:30:32 PM PST by Chu Gary [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

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To: conservatism_IS_compassion I've said for years that we fought that war in the wrong country, we should have gone north.

32 posted on 03/16/2003 9:17:54 PM PST by Valin (Age and deceit beat youth and skill) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies ]

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To: sphinx; Toirdhealbheach Beucail; curmudgeonII; roderick; Notforprophet; river rat; csvset; ... For your list?

Right up my alley. If you want on or off the Western Civilization Military History, let me know.

33 posted on 03/16/2003 9:29:17 PM PST by Sparta (I like RINO hunting) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies ]

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To: U S Army EOD How ever the MAIN cause for the lost of the war was due to the support of the VC and PAVN basically HAD IN THIS COUNTRY. From the Wall Street Journal, 3 Aug 1995:

Excerpted here:

Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi's victory? A: It was essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

And (regarding Tet '68):

Q: What about the results? A: Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise;. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for re-election. The second and third waves in May and September were, in retrospect, mistakes. Our forces in the South were nearly wiped out by all the fighting in 1968. It took us until 1971 to re-establish our presence, but we had to use North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. If the American forces had not begun to withdraw under Nixon in 1969, they could have punished us severely. We suffered badly in 1969 and 1970 as it was.

34 posted on 03/16/2003 10:23:38 PM PST by DuncanWaring (...and Freedom tastes of Reality.) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies ]

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To: DuncanWaring Which is why I am a FReeper. If there is anything I can do, it will NEVER happen again.

Thanks for the article.

35 posted on 03/16/2003 10:31:55 PM PST by U S Army EOD (Served in Korea, Vietnam and still fighting America's enemies on Home Front) [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies ]

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-- (Viet_Nam@Quê-Hương.govt), September 25, 2004.


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