What if the United States had not given up in Vietnam?

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Luciano7477

Kicked
I propose the following scenario:

(Please read the entire threads before commenting)threads

The United States has become a military government. In this scenario for some reason, a military junta takes the government, and immediately begins controlling the media (like in ww2), propagating strong anti-communist and patriotic campaigns, and repressing anti-war protests and hippie culture, and drug use is also heavily repressed, especially in the army. This happens at the height of the war in 1968, and American generals are ready to fight until the annihilation of communist aggression in Vietnam and the region.

In this scenario, it is not the intention to debate how it would affect the rest of the world, so suppose the international geopolitical situation was similar to what occurred in our timeline, the Soviet Union and China still support northern Vietnam, a full ground invasion is not possible against North Vietnam, because it would eventually generate Chinese involvement, but the United States ends up using any military actions that are necessary against Cambodia and Laos, in order to neutralize the Ho Chi Minh line and attack Vietnamese positions in these countries, allowing invasions military by ground, but very limited, in order to not involve other countries and not escalate into a global or major conflict, therefore the only main target are Vietnamese troops and Vietnamese who use military positions in these countries.

American strategies remain basically the same, for body counting, but the military now has the autonomy to make war-related decisions without having to worry about justifying actions for the civilian government.

PS: The purpose of the discussion is not to focus on debating how this radical political change in the USA would be possible. This is a parallel universe where different and specific events generated this scenario that would not be possible in our timeline, the purpose here is to debate how it would affect the conflict, since there would be no more withdrawal of troops from Vietnam or anti-war movements.

PS II: The army taking the government is just an excuse to justify this scenario, where the United States does not give up the war, and the military has freedom to act around this objective. The idea of the military taking power was to create a context where this total engagement in the war would be possible. If you think this scenario is unrealistic, you can create your own explanation for describe how this total engagement in war would be possible in a alternative timeline.
 
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Well first of all how did it get so bad anyone proposing a coup didnt immediately get court marshalled and probably hung? We have the longest running republic in modern history, for things to get that bad something else definitely happened.

Even at our worst, the idea of a military government never sat right with any american of good standing.
 

Luciano7477

Kicked
Well first of all how did it get so bad anyone proposing a coup didnt immediately get court marshalled and probably hung? We have the longest running republic in modern history, for things to get that bad something else definitely happened.

Even at our worst, the idea of a military government never sat right with any american of good standing.
Read the last note I wrote
 
American strategies remain basically the same, for body counting, but the military now has the autonomy to make war-related decisions without having to worry about justifying actions for the civilian government.
If the bolded part happens, America will never win in Vietnam. What they're doing with that strategy is fighting against the nation's birth rate. Short of nukes or killings bordering on genocide, they're never going to win a fight like that. And while they fight that way, it's only going to drive more Vietnamese to the communists. The domestic situation in America has nothing to do with it. The strategy was tried OTL for four years, longer than America's part in either World War, Korea, or even the Philippines at the turn of the century. It got nowhere.

America's two best chances to win in Vietnam are either:
- Send Abrams or another general like him in 1964, and pursue a hearts and minds strategy from the start (Westmoreland was basically alone in thinking body count was a good idea). The goal of the war in Vietnam was ultimately to ensure SV was able to hold its own against the communists, and this is how you get there.
- or Escalation. Invade and capture the Ho Chi Minh trail, or just straight up invade NV and topple Hanoi. This does carry the risk of Chinese intervention and/or World War III.

- BNC
 

Luciano7477

Kicked
If the bolded part happens, America will never win in Vietnam. What they're doing with that strategy is fighting against the nation's birth rate. Short of nukes or killings bordering on genocide, they're never going to win a fight like that. And while they fight that way, it's only going to drive more Vietnamese to the communists. The domestic situation in America has nothing to do with it. The strategy was tried OTL for four years, longer than America's part in either World War, Korea, or even the Philippines at the turn of the century. It got nowhere.

America's two best chances to win in Vietnam are either:
- Send Abrams or another general like him in 1964, and pursue a hearts and minds strategy from the start (Westmoreland was basically alone in thinking body count was a good idea). The goal of the war in Vietnam was ultimately to ensure SV was able to hold its own against the communists, and this is how you get there.
- or Escalation. Invade and capture the Ho Chi Minh trail, or just straight up invade NV and topple Hanoi. This does carry the risk of Chinese intervention and/or World War III.

- BNC
I disagree with you, because in a war this is not how it works. If you destroy the enemy army, it will be difficult to restore casualties, in addition, you will need to replace all lost equipment and supplies lost, besides, new troops will have no combat experience, you will have to create new officers, who also have no experience, in addition to having less population left to run the economy forward.

If Germany, of which it was extremely superior in all technological, strategic and logistical aspects than North Vietnam (in relation to its time), had serious problems with manpower at the end of the war, having about 80 million inhabitants, so imagine Vietnam, which had less than half

You quote the birth rate, but remember that even if Vietnamese women had as many children as possible, the gestation is 9 months, and they take another 18 years to go to war, taking into account that they would send adults and not teenagers or children, but if they used children and teenagers, their army's effectiveness would end up falling even more.

Vietnam would NEVER be able to compete with the United States in a war of attrition with the United States, while Vietnam had 38 million inhabitants, the United States had 200 million, apart from the American soldiers who were:

- Better equipped;
- They had much higher quality equipment;
- They had superior training;
- They had almost indisputable aerial superiority;
- They had greater firepower;
- They had more soldiers and the ability to mobilize more soldiers
- They could manage to continue the war indefinitely, always feeding more soldiers and equipment.

The reason for the defeat in the Vietnam War was the anti-war movements, when the population and politicians turned against the war, they started to withdraw soldiers and equipment from the country, as well as prevented an offensive in Laos that would have captured the Vietnamese headquarters. in the area, in addition to interrupting the flow of the Ho Chi Minh line.
 
The trouble with the comparison to Germany is the level of dedication. Germany during World War II was seen as an existential threat that HAD to be dealt with by any means necessary, Vietnam will never be seen as that level of threat. Americans aren't going to accept, say, the level of food rationing as a means to send more supplies to the troops in Vietnam that they had enthusiastically supported before.

Regardless of the form of government, Vietnam is only going to be so important to America. Even if there's a military junta that has no reason to be concerned about public opinion, even they're going to recognize that a Southeast Asian backwater is only worth so many lives. Maybe they never actually pull out, but I imagine even they're going to gradually reduce their commitment and thus what their ambitions for it are. The only way to get the sort of scenario I think you want, where America just keeps the level of commitment it had in 1968 until the entire country is bled dry, is to infect every member of the American government with terminal stupidity and shortsightedness.

Afghanistan is a good example, the Soviet Union theoretically could've done the same thing, kept up their commitment forever and eventually worn the mujahideen out with sheer numbers. But even in an undemocratic system, it turns out leaders will only commit to a stupid, extremely costly conflict for so long.
 
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America was on a hiding to nothing in Vietnam. It never had the basic understanding or even a wilingness to understand that Vietnam wanted to become a Communist nation because the Communists were the only ones which ejected the French from Indochina. Washington refused to accept the Geneva Accords and did everything could to undermine them. The South was a corrupt regime propped up by American largess and when that was swept out from under it, it was just going to fall. Until you have Washington being honest with itself and it's allies and the Vietnamese people, the Vietnam war was going no where fast.
 
as well as prevented an offensive in Laos that would have captured the Vietnamese headquarters. in the area, in addition to interrupting the flow of the Ho Chi Minh line.
In other words, go for the second option that I listed.

Vietnam would NEVER be able to compete with the United States in a war of attrition with the United States, while Vietnam had 38 million inhabitants, the United States had 200 million, apart from the American soldiers who were:

- Better equipped;
- They had much higher quality equipment;
- They had superior training;
- They had almost indisputable aerial superiority;
- They had greater firepower;
- They had more soldiers and the ability to mobilize more soldiers
- They could manage to continue the war indefinitely, always feeding more soldiers and equipment.
The thing with Vietnam is: none of that matters at all. Yes, it is within America's ability to kill Vietnamese. But America wasn't in Vietnam to conduct a genocide. They were there to make the Vietnamese people south of the 17th parallel support the non-communist regime in Saigon. Killing a conscription class worth of NV soldiers every year doesn't accomplish that goal, because NV will just send more (remember, the US isn't invading NV, so NV will always be able to send more). Burning towns in SV doesn't accomplish that goal either, as it just drives more South Vietnamese into communist groups.

The reason for the defeat in the Vietnam War was the anti-war movements, when the population and politicians turned against the war, they started to withdraw soldiers and equipment from the country,
Because what the Americans were doing, by following Westmoreland's strategy, was not working. The public will support war when the enemy is deemed to be a threat to the nation (eg vs Nazi Germany) or when military action looks to be accomplishing something that the nation deems to be in its interests (I think the best example for this is the occupation of Japan). Piling up bodies in Vietnam was doing neither.

- BNC
 

Luciano7477

Kicked
The trouble with the comparison to Germany is the level of dedication. Germany during World War II was seen as an existential threat that HAD to be dealt with by any means necessary, Vietnam will never be seen as that level of threat. Americans aren't going to accept, say, the level of food rationing as a means to send more supplies to the troops in Vietnam that they had enthusiastically supported before.

Regardless of the form of government, Vietnam is only going to be so important to America. Even if there's a military junta that has no reason to be concerned about public opinion, even they're going to recognize that a Southeast Asian backwater is only worth so many lives. Maybe they never actually pull out, but I imagine even they're going to gradually reduce their commitment and thus what their ambitions for it are. The only way to get the sort of scenario I think you want, where America just keeps the level of commitment it had in 1968 until the entire country is bled dry, is to infect every member of the American government with terminal stupidity and shortsightedness.

Afghanistan is a good example, the Soviet Union theoretically could've done the same thing, kept up their commitment forever and eventually worn the mujahideen out with sheer numbers. But even in an undemocratic system, it turns out leaders will only commit to a stupid, extremely costly conflict for so long.
I think you didn't fully understand the meaning of my comparison with Germany, I said that if Germany that had 80 million inhabitants run out of manpower, then imagine Vietnam that had 38 million people, the American superiority being absolute in all military aspects, while Germany in World War II was a major threat to the end.

But it is true, the American people would not support the war forever, so in that thread I proposed a scenario where the government would repress anti-war protests and control the media.

As for rationing, it would not be necessary, as the US had strong industrial production, and would be able to supply troops with ease.

"Regardless of the form of government, Vietnam is only going to be so important to America. Even if there's a military junta that has no reason to be concerned about public opinion, even they're going to recognize that a Southeast Asian backwater is only worth so many lives. "

The coronavirus killed 200,000 Americans in a few months, while the Vietnam war in 20 years killed 60,000, in of a population of 200 million. American casualties are minimal for a 20 years war proportionally speaking, and the United States had 5 times the population of North Vietnam, and lost 10 times fewer soldiers than the Vietnamese.

It is interesting to debate whether Vietnam would be an investment that would justify so many casualties, but they could transfer more and more autonomy to the South Vietnamese and compel the North Vietnamese to negotiate, as happened in real life, but always maintaining troops in southern Vietnam. and supplying the South Vietnamese army in order to avoid aggression, as was the case in our timeline.

If North Vietnamese violated the peace agreement (as happened in real life), they would be repelled by South Vietnam and American forces and would fall into international disrepute for disrespecting peace agreements, and future negotiations with the United States would be severely impaired.

In contrast, I quote here, the Korean War, where the United States had half the casualties of Vietnam, this in 3 years, and managed to guarantee the independence of South Korea, which until today is a strong ally of the Americans, the same could have happened to South Vietnam.

I think South Vietnam would be a good investment, having an allied nation just below China, is militarily strategic, in addition to the commercial advantages, investments there, etc.

In my view, an American victory was feasible, and it would have been worth it, I am sure that today the world would be a little better, and people in southern Vietnam would at least live better and have more freedom, although unfortunately those in the north would continue to to suffer the tyranny of communism.
 
At this stage yet another “sink the boats” thread is exactly as tasteful as an oxyaction bleached Wehrmacht thread.
 
Imagine the Ameripedia (ATL Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that only government approved citizens can edit) entry:
The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, is a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 (currently 23,756 days at last update). It is the second of the Indochina Wars and is officially fought between commie scourge North Vietnam and our loyal and glorious allies South Vietnam. North Vietnam is supported by Union of Socialist States (formally Soviet Union), China, and other communist lackeys; South Vietnam is supported by the United States, and South Korea (until 1975), the Philippines (until 1982), Australia (until 1972), Thailand (until 1976), and other anti-communist allies. According to President-General Richardson, the United States is only weeks away from forcing a surrender.
 

Luciano7477

Kicked
In other words, go for the second option that I listed.


The thing with Vietnam is: none of that matters at all. Yes, it is within America's ability to kill Vietnamese. But America wasn't in Vietnam to conduct a genocide. They were there to make the Vietnamese people south of the 17th parallel support the non-communist regime in Saigon. Killing a conscription class worth of NV soldiers every year doesn't accomplish that goal, because NV will just send more (remember, the US isn't invading NV, so NV will always be able to send more). Burning towns in SV doesn't accomplish that goal either, as it just drives more South Vietnamese into communist groups.


Because what the Americans were doing, by following Westmoreland's strategy, was not working. The public will support war when the enemy is deemed to be a threat to the nation (eg vs Nazi Germany) or when military action looks to be accomplishing something that the nation deems to be in its interests (I think the best example for this is the occupation of Japan). Piling up bodies in Vietnam was doing neither.

- BNC
China would not intervene unless the United States invaded northern Vietnam, or came too close to the Chinese border, and also, the Vietnam war generating a third world war is unrealistic, whereas in the Korean war that was exactly what what happened, the United States had invaded North Korea, and China intervened, but it did not generate a world war or nuclear apocalypse.

As I said, northern Vietnam keeps sending more and more troops would only result in more and more deaths and defeats, and a country with a small population and limited industrial capacity, they did not have an infinite stock of manpower, and they would be able to beat south vietnam and the united states militarily under any circumstances whatsoever, besides killing soldiers in a war is not genocide.

". Killing a conscription class worth of NV soldiers every year doesn't accomplish that goal, "

As I sayed, the North Vietnamese were unable to win a long war of attrition, they would reach a point where it would no longer be possible to restore casualties, especially if the American army was free to carry out mass bombing in Vietnam of the North and invade the Ho Chi Minh trail

"as it just drives more South Vietnamese into communist groups."

I disagree, if you look at it, the Tet offensive aimed to get the South Vietnamese civilian population to join in the fight against the Americans, which did not happen, because they were scared in their homes while the invaders murdered unarmed civilians who they were part of the government, army, sympathizers of Americans or Christians.

The South Vietnamese people feared communism, so much so that after the victory of North Vietnam, more than 1 million were sent to concentration camps

"Because what the Americans were doing, by following Westmoreland's strategy, was not working"

The aim of the war was to defend South Vietnamese sovereignty. The Americans were killing 10 Vietnamese for every American who died, and the Vietnamese literally lost all the battles they fought, and all of their offensives were a disaster, like the Tet offensive, where they had very high casualties and failed at all goals.

This does not seem to be a failure. They were fulfilling the objective, but the idea of winning the war quickly failed, because the strategy of winning the war by killing enemy soldiers in such a high quantity that they could not replace, would work in a very long term.

The truth, is that the strategy was working, the enemies were having terribly greater casualties, but the victory would come in the long run only, because it was a war of attrition.

The people withdrew from support the war due to pure defeatism and lack of will to fight, something strongly promoted by the entire American left, especially movements like hippies.

The fact is the United States was winning the war in every conceivable strategic and military measure, and the war was only lost in the end, because the army was forced to withdraw from South Vietnam, and the South Vietnamese stopped receiving American support.
 
China would not intervene unless the United States invaded northern Vietnam, or came too close to the Chinese border, and also, the Vietnam war generating a third world war is unrealistic, whereas in the Korean war that was exactly what what happened, the United States had invaded North Korea, and China intervened, but it did not generate a world war or nuclear apocalypse.
During the Korean War, the USSR had, at most, a few dozen nuclear warheads, which weren't really a credible threat. During the 60s and 70s they had thousands. I'm not saying that invading NV automatically means nuclear war, but there is a risk of it. Any sane leadership of the US would want to avoid that risk if they possibly could. Hell, in Korea Truman was quite concerned about the risk of Stalin jumping in.

As I sayed, the North Vietnamese were unable to win a long war of attrition, they would reach a point where it would no longer be possible to restore casualties, especially if the American army was free to carry out mass bombing in Vietnam of the North and invade the Ho Chi Minh trail
When would this point come? 2000? 2050?
The Vietnamese people were at war for the entire period of 1945-1975 save a couple of years here and there. They were doing just fine replacing casualties. Hell, the NVA was probably stronger in 1973 than it was in 1965.

The aim of the war was to defend South Vietnamese sovereignty. The Americans were killing 10 Vietnamese for every American who died, and the Vietnamese literally lost all the battles they fought, and all of their offensives were a disaster, like the Tet offensive, where they had very high casualties and failed at all goals.
Except it didn't really work, because almost immediately after the US left, SV was taken over. For the US to have been 'successful', both by your definition and by the one the US government was using, SV should have been able to hold its own against NV after all those years of aid. It couldn't.

Re Tet, war is politics by another means. Tet was about as big a political victory as you can get for NV. There's more to war than just body counts.
NV's aim was to get the Americans out of Vietnamese affairs - Tet helped achieve that goal.

victory would come in the long run only,
Again, how long? Wars shouldn't need decades in order to be won, especially if you have as crushing a superiority in every field as the United States did. If you do need decades, there's something very wrong with the strategy you are using.

- BNC
 
The idea that the US just lost the Vietnam War because of a few anti-war protests is, to be frank, silly and nothing more than a conservative version of the stab-in-the-back-myth.
 
Hmm. An intriguing premise. Its the POD that is the most contentious though. How would the USA switch from a democratic republic to a military government?

To my mind there are two potential junctures although there are so outrageous that they are strictly ASB territory.

1. The Cuban Missile Crisis accelerates to the point where missiles are fired and Florida is hit. The USA retaliates causing widespread damage to Cuba. This of course leads the USSR to attack. Somehow all out war is averted but political tensions lead to a military coup in Washington.

2. Nixon is impeached but refuses to resign instead declaring a state of emergency. He orders the US forces in Vietnam to hold firm.
 
The reason for the defeat in the Vietnam War was the anti-war movements, when the population and politicians turned against the war, they started to withdraw soldiers and equipment from the country, as well as prevented an offensive in Laos that would have captured the Vietnamese headquarters. in the area, in addition to interrupting the flow of the Ho Chi Minh line.

Funny, I always figured the North Vietnamese had something to do with it.
 
No one has yet mentioned the economic cost of the Vietnam War. The USA spent $168 billion, plus $28.5 billion on aid to South Vietnam. Military expenditure gave rise to budget deficits, resulting in a weaker dollar and rising inflation and interest rates. Economic growth in the USA stalled.

Maybe that was the main reason why the USA was keen to extricate itself from Vietnam in 1973.
 
What you need isn't anything as ASB as a coup, you need to change the narrative around the Tet offensive so it is seen as what it largely was, a complete military failure by the Viet Minh that amounted to their last roll of the dice. Now that isn't going to be easy in itself, its going to require far greater control over the foreign media in Vietnam but if you can stop Tet being seen as a defeat for the US and proof they can't win you might be able to prop up mainstream support for the war.
 
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