Vietnam, a unwinnable war?

He's an interesting character really, but either way extended the DMZ across the middle of Laos is certainly not going to make him a true convert to the US cause
Made JFK's Death a Government Holiday so they they could take time off to celebrate.
That's pretty telling
 
The government was but read the earlier posts it was also a military dictatorship with it's own issues even a nascent communist insurgency, and the US presence even as it was was not popular in the streets.
I think the crux of the issue is that, whatever the US and Saigon does they will have to win over a large number of at least vaguely anti-colonialist/pro-peasantry sorts OTL's policies drove into overt communist sympathies.

Or am I totally off base.
 
Your analysis of what I'm suggesting, and your understanding of the geostrategic situation is way off. The whole line along the 17th Parallel is about 150-175 miles long, it's not adding 250 miles to the official DMZ. The line is anchored on the Thai border, which is a hard flank. There are already foreign troops invading Laos, they came from North Vietnam, and they came uninvited. The Line is nowhere near the Cambodian Border with Laos. Cambodia isn't going to be trying to force the U.S. to reopen the HCM Trail. For what reason would they want the Communists to continue to invade their territory, and raise a Communist insurgency in their country?

I always find the arguments for historical inevitability about the Vietnam War interesting. In order to achieve victory the North Vietnamese can ignore even physical laws. They can pass unseen wherever they want to go. They can run supply lines though a fortified zone, as if it wasn't there. They can fight without weapons, or supplies, and reinforcements will reach them, because they can move unseen, and unimpeded anywhere they want to go. They have the support of the population, but they need to terrorize them to gain their cooperation. And best of all Laos & Cambodia will fight for the privilege of having North Vietnam invade, and use their territory as a base to attack South Vietnam. Why? Because they thought being client States of their historical enemies in Vietnam was the best thing to happen for the future of their countries.
I generally agree that it was at least worth trying. It would have several advantages. Most of the fighting US units would do would be in defense of the line and we would be fighting against regular NV units so it would be more understandable as an army versus army war as opposed to "pacification", destroying villages in order to save them, attritional body count search and destroy, etc. The war within SV could be left to a great extent to the SV Army which would be better at distinguishing friend from foe.
US military morale would probably have been higher and it would have been easier to explain to the public. Also the enemy would have to mass and concentrate force in order to attempt to break through the line. This would enable the US to use its firepower advantage against concentrated enemy units. All in all, it would be the "type" of war our Army was more prepared and trained to fight.
I think that it was rejected for several reasons - 1. the memory of the Maginot Line led a distrust of positional warfare, 2. the Army had a doctrine of being on the offensive and exercising "initiative" - "search and destroy" fit into this nicely, 3. there was some temerity about invading Laos, 4. There was concern that the initial push into Laos could lead to a spike in US casualties and the concern throughout the war was to avoid short term political costs even at the cost of long term strategic defeat. At every step, the Administration had one eye on the evening news and wanted to avoid a debacle. Thus, the strategy of gradually adding more and more men to the battle, of gradually escalating the air war, etc. If we had fought WW 2 this way we would still be in the Solomon Islands.
It was disgraceful to send American boys into this morass under these terms and conditions.
 
2. the Army had a doctrine of being on the offensive and exercising "initiative" - "search and destroy" fit into this nicely
1.Marching up Hill 821, without setting off too many boobytraps and mines
2. shoot at some possible VC, claim some blood trails spotted
3. then march back to the LZ and Leave.
Repeat in three weeks time, over and over.

That's patrolling idiocy.
But Beancounter Bob figured from statistics, a Company would expend 10,000 rounds for 17 blood trails, so sending a million rounds of ammo for 100,000 draftees
to fire into the Jungle, numbers meant the North would run out of bodies before the US ran out of bullets
Winning!
 
1.Marching up Hill 821, without setting off too many boobytraps and mines
2. shoot at some possible VC, claim some blood trails spotted
3. then march back to the LZ and Leave.
Repeat in three weeks time, over and over.

That's patrolling idiocy.
But Beancounter Bob figured from statistics, a Company would expend 10,000 rounds for 17 blood trails, so sending a million rounds of ammo for 100,000 draftees
to fire into the Jungle, numbers meant the North would run out of bodies before the US ran out of bullets
Winning!
I do not think anyone is claiming what went on in OTL was effective on any level. The argument is what the better idea would be (and perhaps how to sell it to the Brass/Public).
 
1.Marching up Hill 821, without setting off too many boobytraps and mines
2. shoot at some possible VC, claim some blood trails spotted
3. then march back to the LZ and Leave.
Repeat in three weeks time, over and over.

That's patrolling idiocy.
But Beancounter Bob figured from statistics, a Company would expend 10,000 rounds for 17 blood trails, so sending a million rounds of ammo for 100,000 draftees
to fire into the Jungle, numbers meant the North would run out of bodies before the US ran out of bullets
Winning!
I agree. But the Army had a doctrine that it was important to somehow "take the initiative" and go on the offensive (even though historically, the US military has always had a great "chin" and has been able to fight brilliantly on the defensive at the Pusan Perimeter, Bastogne, New Orleans, Wake Island, the Alamo, Anzio, etc. etc. etc. - we have almost never had one of those battles with massive numbers of our men surrendering - only exceptions being Bataan, Harper's Ferry, and Charleston - but never anything approaching Tunisia, Saratoga, Vicksburg, Stalingrad, Kiev, etc. ). But the mantra was to go on the offensive, "take the battle to the enemy", maintain morale by going after them, etc. etc. The defensive approach was viewed as outmoded and it was feared it would condemn us to the conditions of WW I.
The "search and destroy" approach was the worst of all possible worlds - we fought the enemy on his terms, in his terrain, and on his schedule. The notion that we could somehow win a "war of attrition" this way was idiotic.
It is possible that a completely different strategic approach might have "worked." The wall was no sure thing but almost any strategy would have been better than the one we employed.
 
I think the crux of the issue is that, whatever the US and Saigon does they will have to win over a large number of at least vaguely anti-colonialist/pro-peasantry sorts OTL's policies drove into overt communist sympathies.

Or am I totally off base.
Yep its certain one of the big issues. the problem is different people are fighting different wars here with different priorities. The US wants to fight world Communism (tm), the hard core communists what to fight Capitalism (tm), governments like Diem want to fight to stay in power, but most of teh locals are really looking for land reform and maybe a bit of democracy or at least referendums where the incumbent running the referendums don't get 98.8% of the vote.

However the post you replying to was specifically talking about Thailand, now the above is still true there but their specific issue was also that Thailand was basically being used as an R&R station for US soldiers in SEA, and due to all that comes with that (intentional and unintentional) it was beginning to rub the locals up the wrong way .

But more in general and talking about SEA as a whole and this plan that's what happens when you put a bunch of boots on the ground and set up checkpoints and go hunting communists with a bunch of foreigners from halfway around the world and all that come with doing that (again intentional or otherwise) in general rubs the locals up the wrong way. You know the saying "the map is not the territory", well here the map is the guy welcoming you to his ex-colonial palace and asking about US financial support over a lavish dinner, the territory is the people in the country.

So the point was made earlier that the Vietnamese communists in northern Laos were also foreign invaders, and yeah they are, but they are a damn site less foreign and have way more in common than a bunch of Americans coming over to fight a a ideology in conflict that counts in geopolitical domino theory not local issues. It's the old saying

I, against my brothers. I and my brothers against my cousins. I and my brothers and my cousins against the world.


(also it doesn't have to be every Laotian, or Cambodian or Vietnamese thinking like that just enough to make it a problem)

This is one of the key problem with counter insurgency with a foreign military, you will be seen as invaders by the locals no matter your PR, because the locals see the 6ft white boy with army boots manning the HMG at the check point hassling threatening every cart that goes through it, they hear the story about how some village got burned to the ground in the hunt for communism they hear how some teenager got cornered in some alleyway and raped by drunk off duty GIs, they see the local monk getting disrespected by chaps who don't know any better (or don't care much either way) etc, etc.
 
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1.Marching up Hill 821, without setting off too many boobytraps and mines
2. shoot at some possible VC, claim some blood trails spotted
3. then march back to the LZ and Leave.
Repeat in three weeks time, over and over.

That's patrolling idiocy.
But Beancounter Bob figured from statistics, a Company would expend 10,000 rounds for 17 blood trails, so sending a million rounds of ammo for 100,000 draftees
to fire into the Jungle, numbers meant the North would run out of bodies before the US ran out of bullets
Winning!
I think the problem with kill counting is not that they all thought it was a great plan, it's that they didn't have any other implementable plans (partly due to being hedged in by political reality) and they "needed to do something" and this was something.

See also 'an OK plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow', that's the sad thing about all this you can see why they did it and continued to do it, even though you can see it going wrong as they do it
 
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Yeah internet snark aside, he's probably not smarter or more relevantly more aware of the political reality than the combined brains aimed at this problem at the time. Especially when the apparent solution is so simple.
The solution to many problems in life are simple, in that their clear to see, that doesn't mean their easy to do. At the time cutting the HCM Trail was the obvious solution, but they never did it, because the political leadership in the United States thought it would complicate their diplomacy. The agreement on the neutrality of Laos was considered a diplomatic success, and crossing the border with ground forces would be admitting the agreement had failed. Entering Laos would change the rules of the game, and all the possible ramifications couldn't be known. That was why the war was lost, because the political leadership was so paralyzed by their fears, they failed to see opportunities. Losing the war was more acceptable then running diplomatic risks.

Every war involves calculated risks. What were the risks of entering Laos? The Chances of Chinese intervention were extremely low. Vietnamese victory wasn't a Chinese vital interest. Invading the Northern part of North Vietnam would likely provoke Chinese intervention, as in the Korean War, but no one was talking about that. In the mid to late 1960's China was consumed with the Cultural Revolution, and the intensifying conflict with the Soviet Union. A war with the U.S. wasn't something the Chinese wanted to engage in at that time. While NV was engaged in the war they were dependent on good relations with China, so a continuing conflict was to China's advantage. Once the war was over it was likely that a united Communist Vietnam would for historical reasons draw away from China, and closer to the Soviet Union.

The chances of Soviet intervention was about nil. The Soviet interest in supporting NV was to weaken the U.S., not because they had a deep interest in a united Vietnam. Their military options in that part of the world were very limited, so there wasn't much they could do anyway. Laos was already being torn apart by internal conflict, and the NV invasion. Cambodia wouldn't have been involved in a U.S. intervention in Laos. So what we're left with is a propaganda campaign about U.S. aggression against a small Asian Nation, and the White Liberal Elite in the U.S. felt uncomfortable with having to deal with that.

This was the same White Liberal Elite that was on the defensive at home on civil rights, and abroad over the Vietnam War. These were men who were defending America against charges that dropping the Atomic Bomb was racist, because the Japanese aren't White. That the Whiteman stole the land from the Indians, was oppressing People of Color all over the world, and were keeping the poor down at home. Laos would just have been another brick in the pack on their back, that they didn't want to carry. They lacked the self assurance that they could justify their actions in the court of world opinion. They were suffering from a lose of self confidence, and if you no longer believe in your own cause how can you expect others to support it? So that's why it was easier to accept defeat, then to risk having to defend a clear decisive action.
 
The solution to many problems in life are simple, in that their clear to see, that doesn't mean their easy to do. At the time cutting the HCM Trail was the obvious solution, but they never did it, because the political leadership in the United States thought it would complicate their diplomacy. The agreement on the neutrality of Laos was considered a diplomatic success, and crossing the border with ground forces would be admitting the agreement had failed. Entering Laos would change the rules of the game, and all the possible ramifications couldn't be known. That was why the war was lost, because the political leadership was so paralyzed by their fears, they failed to see opportunities. Losing the war was more acceptable then running diplomatic risks.

Every war involves calculated risks. What were the risks of entering Laos? The Chances of Chinese intervention were extremely low. Vietnamese victory wasn't a Chinese vital interest. Invading the Northern part of North Vietnam would likely provoke Chinese intervention, as in the Korean War, but no one was talking about that. In the mid to late 1960's China was consumed with the Cultural Revolution, and the intensifying conflict with the Soviet Union. A war with the U.S. wasn't something the Chinese wanted to engage in at that time. While NV was engaged in the war they were dependent on good relations with China, so a continuing conflict was to China's advantage. Once the war was over it was likely that a united Communist Vietnam would for historical reasons draw away from China, and closer to the Soviet Union.

The chances of Soviet intervention was about nil. The Soviet interest in supporting NV was to weaken the U.S., not because they had a deep interest in a united Vietnam. Their military options in that part of the world were very limited, so there wasn't much they could do anyway. Laos was already being torn apart by internal conflict, and the NV invasion. Cambodia wouldn't have been involved in a U.S. intervention in Laos. So what we're left with is a propaganda campaign about U.S. aggression against a small Asian Nation, and the White Liberal Elite in the U.S. felt uncomfortable with having to deal with that.

This was the same White Liberal Elite that was on the defensive at home on civil rights, and abroad over the Vietnam War. These were men who were defending America against charges that dropping the Atomic Bomb was racist, because the Japanese aren't White. That the Whiteman stole the land from the Indians, was oppressing People of Color all over the world, and were keeping the poor down at home. Laos would just have been another brick in the pack on their back, that they didn't want to carry. They lacked the self assurance that they could justify their actions in the court of world opinion. They were suffering from a lose of self confidence, and if you no longer believe in your own cause how can you expect others to support it? So that's why it was easier to accept defeat, then to risk having to defend a clear decisive action.
The thing is, what is winning Vietnam worth. As in, what is the actual value to the USA of 'winning' (whatever that means) in Vietnam. Because fundamentally, it wasn't worth that much. Even all of Indochina (as in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam) falling to the communists wasn't even close to an existential threat to the US. There were no vital interests there. It didn't threaten any vital allies, it didn't control vital shipping lanes, it didn't provide massive industries or the like to the ideological enemy. There simply wasn't anything there that actually was worth risking escalation over. And even if the US had somehow managed to keep the South Vietnamese government in place, that wouldn't have been worth the expenditure of all the resources that went there. It was all a colossal waste and a perfect demonstration of a sunk cost fallacy.

If you had told Kennedy, before he sent in the first forces, that Vietnam would lead to tens of thousands of dead American soldiers, he wouldn't have gone in. No one vaguely sane would have. Only, they were there and backing out was seen as admitting to weakness. Escalation to Laos didn't look like something that would gain anything except for political hits (expanding the war to other countries. Sure, the North Vietnamese already were there, but that's not what the public opinion cares about) and, of course, any risk of Chinese intervention would make the situation a billion times worse. It would also absorb even more manpower that really had better uses elsewhere. And that's aside from suddenly having to deal with Laotian guerrillas as well. And all that for cutting off part of the supply for an insurgency that didn't actually need all that much to remain relevant.

Because that's another issue in fighting an insurgency. Sure, you can limit them, but they will remain active until they have an actual reason to stop. And as long as you keep killing people, they have no real reason to stop their activities so you have to keep your troops there. It remains a bleeding ulcer. And reforming the Southern government also is pretty hard to do in the middle of a war/insurgency because that would lead to temporary weakness, which you can't afford either.
 
The solution to many problems in life are simple, in that their clear to see, that doesn't mean their easy to do. At the time cutting the HCM Trail was the obvious solution, but they never did it, because the political leadership in the United States thought it would complicate their diplomacy. The agreement on the neutrality of Laos was considered a diplomatic success, and crossing the border with ground forces would be admitting the agreement had failed. Entering Laos would change the rules of the game, and all the possible ramifications couldn't be known. That was why the war was lost, because the political leadership was so paralyzed by their fears, they failed to see opportunities. Losing the war was more acceptable then running diplomatic risks.

Every war involves calculated risks. What were the risks of entering Laos? The Chances of Chinese intervention were extremely low. Vietnamese victory wasn't a Chinese vital interest. Invading the Northern part of North Vietnam would likely provoke Chinese intervention, as in the Korean War, but no one was talking about that. In the mid to late 1960's China was consumed with the Cultural Revolution, and the intensifying conflict with the Soviet Union. A war with the U.S. wasn't something the Chinese wanted to engage in at that time. While NV was engaged in the war they were dependent on good relations with China, so a continuing conflict was to China's advantage. Once the war was over it was likely that a united Communist Vietnam would for historical reasons draw away from China, and closer to the Soviet Union.

The chances of Soviet intervention was about nil. The Soviet interest in supporting NV was to weaken the U.S., not because they had a deep interest in a united Vietnam. Their military options in that part of the world were very limited, so there wasn't much they could do anyway. Laos was already being torn apart by internal conflict, and the NV invasion. Cambodia wouldn't have been involved in a U.S. intervention in Laos. So what we're left with is a propaganda campaign about U.S. aggression against a small Asian Nation, and the White Liberal Elite in the U.S. felt uncomfortable with having to deal with that.

This was the same White Liberal Elite that was on the defensive at home on civil rights, and abroad over the Vietnam War. These were men who were defending America against charges that dropping the Atomic Bomb was racist, because the Japanese aren't White. That the Whiteman stole the land from the Indians, was oppressing People of Color all over the world, and were keeping the poor down at home. Laos would just have been another brick in the pack on their back, that they didn't want to carry. They lacked the self assurance that they could justify their actions in the court of world opinion. They were suffering from a lose of self confidence, and if you no longer believe in your own cause how can you expect others to support it? So that's why it was easier to accept defeat, then to risk having to defend a clear decisive action.

Things is the world is a bigger place than just achieving you goals in SV even for the US state dept and as to setting up politics and waging war as opposing things, well there's a Clausewitz quote for that isn't there.

I don't think anyone was thinking the Soviets were going to invade?

On the white liberal elites lacking self assurance and losing self confidence, yes fighting unpopular wars is a tough row to hoe. But frankly that last sentence sounds very much like 'we can win in Vietnam is if we just believe harder'.

No it won't, but it will make him much less relevant.
Only as per your earlier post you were going to have Southern Laos run itself after cutting Laos in half and Cambodia is going to be pretty key in how that works.
 
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Things is the world is a bigger place than just achieving you goals in SV even for the US state dept and as to setting up politics and waging war as opposing things, well there's a Clausewitz quote for that isn't there.

I don't think anyone was thinking the Soviets were going to invade?

On the white liberal elites lacking self assurance and lose of self confidence, yes fighting unpopular wars is a tough row to hoe. But frankly that last sentence sounds very much like 'we can win in Vietnam is if we just believe harder'.


Only as per your earlier post you were going to have Southern Laos run itself after cutting Laos in half and Cambodia is going to be pretty key in how that works.
I believe I was speaking about the global view. I did say the chances of Soviet intervention were about nil. The State Department has defended more questionable acts then this would be. I think what your looking for is War is an extension of politics, by other means. Clausewitz didn't think war & politics were opposing things. War must serve political objectives. Weather the Vietnam War was worth fighting is a different question then what I've been talking about. I suggested a military solution that would achieve the objective of protecting South Vietnam, at a lower military cost then in the OTL. That the political leadership lacked the will to use that option is a complex subject. It's not a matter of believing we could win, that statement just belittles the subject, and is not what I said. The question was national will. If your not willing to do what's necessary for victory the best bet is not to fight at all.

The Vietnam War was fought with U.S. ground forces largely restricted to South Vietnam. They fought on the strategic defense, but the tactical offensive. Ground forces were given a good degree of operational freedom, within the confines of SV, and major resources were committed. The strategic limitation was troop levels couldn't reach a level that would require calling out the National Guard. That was the crisis point the Johnson Administration reached in March 1968. They asked Westmorland to request any reinforcement he felt he needed. His request was for another 150,000 men, to give him a strategic offensive option. At first they favored granting the request, but on second thought rejected it, because of the need to call up Guard Divisions, which would be politically costly.

From that point there was no way forward in Vietnam. LBJ lost his nerve after Eugene McCarthy's near run in the New Hampshire Primary. LBJ dropped out of the race, halted the bombing of the North, and announced he would spend the rest of his term trying to negotiate peace. He never understood what the North was fighting for. He thought he could make a deal by offering a TVA for the Mekong, as if he was talking to the Governor of Tennessee. What kind of deal did he think Lincoln would take to let the South go in 1863?

The strategic thinking during the war was muddled, and the message to the American Public, and Global Community was confusing. Was America at war, or wasn't it? What were we fighting for? Again For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
 
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I believe I was speaking about the global view. The State Department has defended more questionable acts then this would be. I think what your looking for is War is an extension of politics, by other means. Clausewitz didn't think war & politics were opposing things. War must serve political objectives.

right but my point was you seemed to be saying political needs ended up undermining the Vietnam war (e,g. keeping Laos ostensibly neutral), my point is political needs and war needs are all part of the same thing,


Weather the Vietnam War was worth fighting is a different question then what I've been talking about. I suggested a military solution that would achieve the objective of protecting South Vietnam, at a lower military cost then in the OTL. That the political leadership lacked the will to use that option is a complex subject. It's not a matter of believing we could win, that statement just belittles the subject, and is not what I said. The question was national will. If your not willing to do what's necessary for victory the best bet is not to fight at all.

The Vietnam War was fought with U.S. ground forces largely restricted to South Vietnam. They fought on the strategic defense, but the tactical offensive. Ground forces were given a good degree of operational freedom, within the confines of SV, and major resources were committed. The strategic limitation was troop levels couldn't reach a level that would require calling out the National Guard. That was the crisis point the Johnson Administration reached in March 1968. They asked Westmorland to request any reinforcement he felt he needed. His request was for another 150,000 men, to give him a strategic offensive option. At first they favored granting the request, but on second thought rejected it, because of the need to call up Guard Divisions, which would be politically costly.

From that point there was no way forward in Vietnam. LBJ lost his nerve after Eugene McCarthy's near run in the New Hampshire Primary. LBJ dropped out of the race, halted the bombing of the North, and announced he would spend the rest of his term trying to negotiate peace. He never understood what the North was fighting for. He thought he could make a deal by offering a TVA for the Mekong, as if he was talking to the Governor of Tennessee. What kind of deal did he think Lincoln would take to let the South go in 1863?

The strategic thinking during the war was muddled, and the message to the American Public, and Global Community was confusing. Was America at war, or wasn't it? What were we fighting for? Again For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
Possibly or another way to look at is not so much the US message wasn't clear to the US public, but that the US public was increasingly unwilling to buy what the US government was selling when it came to defeating world communism, especially with it's chosen tactics.
 
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right but my point was you seemed to be saying political needs end up undermine Vietnam war (e,g. keeping Laos ostensibly neutral), my point is political needs and war needs are all part of the same thing,



Possibly or another way to look at is not so mush the US message wasn't clear to teh US public, but that the US public was increasingly unwilling to buy what the US government was selling when it came to defeating world communism, especially with it's chosen tactics.
I think the American public was more supportive of the war, and the fight against Communism then people think it was. Today peoples memories are a bit foggy, because of subsequent events. People don't like to say they supported something that's unpopular today. In 1975 I couldn't find anyone who voted for Nixon, other then my father. Funny how he won in one of the biggest landslides in political history. If LBJ had fought it out he probable would have been reelected in 68, but the man was worn out. None of the 3 candidates that ran in November were so called peace candidates. No major polls showed a majority of Americans being against the war, until after U.S. involvement ended.

A sizable block of the public objected to the war policy on the grounds that they wanted to win, and not fight for stalemate. Now many of them couldn't have told you what they thought victory would be, or how we should achieve it, but that's what they wanted from their leaders. Their thinking was often voiced as "If we won WWII we can beat North Vietnam." Nixon popularity went up whenever we stepped up the bombing campaign. Anti Communism was major factor in American Politics to the end of the Cold War. Ending the Cold War on our terms was the center piece of the Reagan Foreign Policy.

Every war in American History was divisive, and required active measures by the Government, and political parties to rally the public. It a natural inclination to support the troops, but that's not enough to make people think it's all worth it. Giving the public a feeling of participation, with things like war bond drives, scrap metal campaigns, moves, posters, public events, rationing, newspaper editorials, teachers explaining the reasons for the war to their students, publicizing war heroes, even paying special taxes. Few of those things were done in Vietnam, or later wars. The movie industry, and TV were largely neutral, or hostile, and LBJ wanted the people at home to go on with their lives as if there was no war. If your understanding of the war was watching GI's burn villages, and get killed on TV, it's tough to be enthusiastic.

The way we fought the Vietnam War is a perfect example of how not to fight a war. In terms of military strategy, economic planning, public relations, and international relations it was a disaster. Many of our Allies went on trading with North Vietnam. The war was financed with deficit spending, while domestic spending rose, damaging the dollar. Almost nothing was done right.
 
I think the American public was more supportive of the war, and the fight against Communism then people think it was. Today peoples memories are a bit foggy, because of subsequent events. People don't like to say they supported something that's unpopular today. In 1975 I couldn't find anyone who voted for Nixon, other then my father. Funny how he won in one of the biggest landslides in political history. If LBJ had fought it out he probable would have been reelected in 68, but the man was worn out. None of the 3 candidates that ran in November were so called peace candidates. No major polls showed a majority of Americans being against the war, until after U.S. involvement ended.

A sizable block of the public objected to the war policy on the grounds that they wanted to win, and not fight for stalemate. Now many of them couldn't have told you what they thought victory would be, or how we should achieve it, but that's what they wanted from their leaders. Their thinking was often voiced as "If we won WWII we can beat North Vietnam." Nixon popularity went up whenever we stepped up the bombing campaign. Anti Communism was major factor in American Politics to the end of the Cold War. Ending the Cold War on our terms was the center piece of the Reagan Foreign Policy.

Every war in American History was divisive, and required active measures by the Government, and political parties to rally the public. It a natural inclination to support the troops, but that's not enough to make people think it's all worth it. Giving the public a feeling of participation, with things like war bond drives, scrap metal campaigns, moves, posters, public events, rationing, newspaper editorials, teachers explaining the reasons for the war to their students, publicizing war heroes, even paying special taxes. Few of those things were done in Vietnam, or later wars. The movie industry, and TV were largely neutral, or hostile, and LBJ wanted the people at home to go on with their lives as if there was no war. If your understanding of the war was watching GI's burn villages, and get killed on TV, it's tough to be enthusiastic.

The way we fought the Vietnam War is a perfect example of how not to fight a war. In terms of military strategy, economic planning, public relations, and international relations it was a disaster. Many of our Allies went on trading with North Vietnam. The war was financed with deficit spending, while domestic spending rose, damaging the dollar. Almost nothing was done right.
I agree it wasn't universally unpopular but it was unpopular enough to matter here. Also it does also tie into other things going at the time within the US (as you mentioned earlier).


and yes I agree every war required efforts by the Gov at the time to get the public on board, but that's an abstract point, it was in done within each war's context.

However the point about elements within the US public wanting an escalation whish while true still ignores the point that not only would that like increase the numbers on the anti-war side of the public, but has implications outside of US public opinion.

which is why when you type:

"Now many of them couldn't have told you what they thought victory would be, or how we should achieve it"

That's the key part of that, because it's natural enough to want to 'win' a fight you in, but if you don't know how to do it or more importantly how to do it within the political reality of the time without making your situation worse, it doesn't matter. Take the point about "if we won WW2 surely we can beat N.Vietnam", point (which I know was the sentiment of many at the time). It's built on some many assumptions and erroneous comparisons, and misunderstanding of the reality of what was happening in Vietnam and even the US' goals there, as to be pretty meaningless and so bound to be never be fulfilled in a way to satisfy those said it.

Just one example of this In many ways the US in WW2 once we have pearl harbour and the UN being formed was politically a simpler situation (both internally and internationally), although as the war was drawing to it's known close rather less so.
 
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