Skip to comments.Is It Possible, Could America Have Won the Vietnam War In '1968?
Posted on 03/17/2002 2:25:49 PM PST by Mom_Grandmother
Is It Possible, Could America Have Won the Vietnam War In '1968?
By '1968, North Vietnamese morale was at it's lowest point ever. The plans for "Tet" '68 was their last desperate attempt to achieve a success, in an effort to boost the NVA morale. When it was over, General Giap (Senior General Vo Njuyen Giap) and NVA viewed the Tet '68 offensive as a "failure", they were on their knees and had prepared to negotiate a "surrender."
At the time, there were fewer than 10,000 U.S. casualties, the Vietnam War was about to end, as the NVA was prepared to accept their defeat. Then, they heard "Walter Cronkite" (former CBS News anchor and correspondent) on TV proclaiming the success of the Tet '68 offensive by the NVA. They were completely and totall amazed at hearing tha the US Embassy had been overrun. In reality, the NVA had not gained access to the Embassy--there were some VC who had been killed on the grassy lawn, but they hadn't gained access. Further reports indicated that riots and protesting on the streets of America.
According to General Giap, these distorted reports were insperational to the NVA. They changed their plans from a negotiated surrender and decided instead, they only needed to persevere for one more hour, day, week, month, eventually the protesters in America would help them to achieve a victory they knew they could not win on the battlefield.
Remember, this decision was made at a time when the U.S. casualties were fewer than 10,000, at the end of '1967, beginning of '1968. Today, there were 58,000 names on the Vietnam Wall Memorial that was built with the donations made by the American public.
Although General Giap did not mention each and every protester's name in his book, many of us will never forget the 58,000 names on the Wall. We will also never forget that names of those who helped in placing those additional 48,000 names there: Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Walter Cronkite, and other's.
Gene Kuentzler, '66-67, S-3 Operations 19th Combat Engineer Battalion
If the US had concentrated on economic targets (destroying the dikes in North Vietnam and ruining the rice harvest; taking out the warehouses in Haiphong; etc) and gotten the North too busy keeping its own people from starving to look for trouble down South, things might have been different
4 years later we implemented Linbacker II, after North Vietnam walked out of the peace talks.
After intensive bombing of North Vietname (known as the Christmas offensice), the North Vietnamese ran back to the peace talks and signed the peace agreement.
We did NOT lose in Vietnam.
Now I certainly am no expert when it comes to war, but I would have knocked the he** out of the North. It was politics, right, all politics? Seems to me we were totally destroying the wrong part of Vietnam.
This is not a credible statement!
for a 190 page analysis of the Viet Nam War complete with recently released Kennedy tapes documenting the assassination.
We left = We lost the war in Vietnam
The Vietnam war was the longest in our nation's history. Two American advisors were killed on July 8, 1959, and the last casualties in connection with the war occurred on May 15, 1975, during the Mayaquez incident. Approximately 2.7 million Americans served in the war zone; 300,000 were wounded and approximately 75,000 permanently disabled. Officially there are still 1,991 Americans unaccounted for from SE Asia.
Vietnam was a savage, in your face war where death could and did strike from anywhere with absolutely no warning. The brave young men and women who fought that war paid an awful price of blood, pain and suffering. As it is said: "ALL GAVE SOME ... SOME GAVE ALL"
The Vietnam war was not lost on the battlefield. No American force in ANY other conflict fought with more determination or sheer courage than the Vietnam Veteran. For the first time in our history America sent it's young men and women into a war run by inept politicians who had no grasp of military strategies and no moral will to win. They were led by "top brass" who were concerned mainly with furthering their own careers, most neither understood the nature of the war nor had a clue about the impossible mission with which they'd tasked their soldiers. And the war was reported by a self serving Media who penned stories filled with inaccuracies, deliberate omissions, biased presentations and blatant distorted interpretations because they were more interested in a story than the truth! It can be debated that we should never have fought that war. It can also be argued that the young Americans who fought so courageously, never losing a single major battle, helped in a huge way to WIN THE COLD WAR.
All we had to do was bomb the living clinton out of Hanoi, but the limp wristed libs were in charge, tying one hand behind the General's backs.
Still makes me sick. Thanks again LBJ what a piece of clinton he was.
As a Linebacker 2 veteran I'm inclined to agree that we didn't lose militarily. But war is "policy carried out by other means" and unless our policy was to fight for ten years and then evacuate ignominiously, we lost.
I doubt the America of the 1960s, with its clueless politicians and careerist military officers, could have done anything but flounder around and make excuses. We were facing an enemy who was serious - and our decision-makers weren't, except about looking good at the moment.
It is not only possible but likely if the war were prosecuted in the same fashion as the Persian Gulf war.
1) With overwhelming force instead of gradual escalation
2) With decisive use of airpower assets and effective strategic bombing.
3) By letting the military set the priorities instead of politically based micromanagement.
4) With insistent and unrelenting pressure instead of bombing pauses and truces intended to send messages and "open dialogue opportunities"
5) By establishing a stong alliance with allied forces in the region particularly Australia, Thailand and Japan.
The problem with Vietnam is that the communists successfully intertwined themselves with nationalsim. The average VC (actually Viet Minh but that's another story) or even NVA soldier was fighting for their country, NOT for communism. If you notice, communism has pretty much taken a back seat in Viet Nam today.
The USA missed out on a golden opportunity when it didn't send in air support at the Bay of Pigs. Even with the landing mishaps there, Castro could have been easily overthrown if we sent in air support to destroy his air force and ground forces.
Of course, you must remember that the Secretary of Defense during both the Bay of Pigs fiasco and Vietnam was Robert STRANGE McNamara. Think there was any chance of victories with him there?
Bottom line on Vietnam was that the communists were willing to sacrifice large numbers of people in a war of attrition. We weren't willing to make the sacrifice in a war of attrition.
As somebody once said of Vietnam: It was the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Looking back at the Cold War era, the USA should have picked it's battlefields more carefully.
You are essentially correct, IMHO. The primary problem was micromanagement of military decisions by Johnson. All failures originate there.
If you want to speak for yourself, say I lost the war in Vietnam."
But don't speak for me.
That was just one problem among many. A victory at the Bay of Pigs just a hundred or so miles from our shores would have been easy. Instead, we got suckered into fighting a tenacious foe on the other side of the world. We should have picked out Cold War battles a lot more carefully.
How did we win almost every major battle, but end up on the short end of the stick?
Partially because the real battlefield was moved. In that battle people such as Joan Baez and Jane Fonda were the generals and won the real war taking place here.
No, not because of the valiant performance of Lt. Col. Hal Moore's 1st Battalion Seventh Cavalry at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley November of that year.
Because of the fifteen-minute meeting LBJ had in the White House that month with the Joint Chiefs.
The full account appears in the four-page article by Lieutenant General Charles G. Cooper, U.S. Marine Corp (Retired) in the May 1996 Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute "The Day It Became the Longest War".
The Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1965 (Army General Harold Johnson; Air Force General John McConnell; the Chairman, Army General Earle Wheeler; Navy Admiral David McDonald; Marine Corps General Wallace Greene) were allowed fifteen minutes in a small room of the White House to urge their course of action. No chairs were provided. They stood.
They stood and delivered their strongest recommendation for the massive bombing of Hanoi, mining of Haiphong, and LBJ replied:
"He screamed obscenities, he cursed them personally, he ridiculed them for coming to his ofice with their 'military advice.' Noting that it was he who was carrying the weight of the free world on his shoulders, he called them filthy names--sh__heads, dumbsh__s, pompous assh___s--and used 'the F-word- as an adjective more freely than a Marine at boot camp. He then accused them of trying to pass the buck for World War III to him. It was unnerving. It was degrading."
The result of LBJ's target list "sanitization" is shown in the novel and film "Rolling Thunder"--and with the tens of thousands of names on The Wall.
Cronkite was aided in subverting American will by Hanoi Jane who in 1972 went to Hanoi to pose on the NVA AAA and deliver propaganda broadcasts on their radio--which they said gave them the strength to continue their fight. Hence the book, Aid and Comfort: Jane Fonda in North Vietnam by Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer at the link. Taping Hank Holzer's appearance cleaning Tom Hayden's clock on The O'Reilly Factor, the Holzers found themselves having dinner two tables down from Bill Clinton, who distinguished himself as the only president to journey to Hanoi to pose by a large bust of Ho. Bust and ho being terms irrevocably associated with traitor-rapist 42.
LBJ could have allowed his military leaders to win the war, but chose to waste American bravery and blood, while simultaneously squandering American wealth on a multi-trillion-dollar "war on poverty".
Dealing with the North Vietnamese who imprisoned and tortured 40,000 French (and, as the Holzers point out, the French cannot say to the nearest ten thousand how many of their young men they lost in that war), LBJ spared the North the full might of the American military.
And now Barbara Walters on The View allows Jane Fonda to say the "government lied to us" and she was only "trying to save American lives". In truth, she committed treason.
As did Taliban John.
And today we have a fifth column led by Tom Daschle--who incredibly wants to tar and feather Tom Ridge. While giving immunity to Saddam Hussein, Yassir Arafat, and the rest.
In truth, Vietnam was a battle against evil in a war which continues. The New York Times to the contrary notwithstanding.
We did that in Korea. China did not want to tolerate US forces occupying land close to the Chinese border, so when we got close in Korea, the Chinese entered the war. We did not want to repeat that in Vietnam.
I am truley beginning to believe this did not have anything to do with our Military, they could have taken this war, they could have brought the North to their knees if they had been given the "back up" and "support" they needed. Some did not want to go the whole nine yards and it was not the United States Military.
They had the backing and support the needed to kick Japan and Germany's butt at the same time. I do believe Vietnam was a disaster because too many back home didn't have the guts, or sided with the them. just my opinion!
The biggest problem was president johnson micromanaging the war. He personally picked bombing targets. When the president has that much distain and mistrust of the military, there is no way the military could function. And when we did withdraw, we failed to support the South. So they were unprepared to fight alone.
Of course it could have been won--and with far less loss of life on our side. But a winning plan would have required the use of overwhelming, unrelenting, and devastating force from Day One, force sufficient to utterly break the morale and will of the enemy. That is best done early, in an all-out sprint, before the enemy finds its legs. If you build up to it slowly, you only allow the enemy to harden and become inured to death and hardship. You make your enemy into a marathoner.
The north Vietnamese were not superhuman by any stretch of the imagination. They could have been defeated. We had the ability to defeat them, but neither the will nor the plan to bring it about.
Re: korea, towards the end we were beating the north koreans and their chinese helpers. Vietnam was the biggest mistake in the history of the united states. The worst thing happened: people became disconnected from their government.
Notice that it took TWO A-Bombs to end the war with Japan. We weren't about to do that in Vietnam. Also the war with Japan was a truly national struggle. Vietnam was something of a police action or that is how it was portrayed to be. Remember, the purpose of the Vietnam War was to stop communism. This could have been much more easily accomplished at the Bay of Pigs with just a little air support. You gotta know where to pick the fights and where to avoid them.
You've bought into the myth. You truly believe they were extra-human. But then you were likely weaned on Cronkite's socialist-praising pablum.