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Tue Jul 22, 2014, 01:37 AM

Why America Lost the Vietnam War



Two incidents: the first violent student protest and an ambush that the army lied about, the media lied about... but that was the direct result of pressure for results and a culture that does not allow questioning higher-ranking officers. Both follow events of Oct. 17, 1967 - the Battle of Ong Thanh and the University of Wisconsin protest of Dow (maker of Napalm) recruitment on campus.

I thought this doc was interesting for a few reasons.

1. It highlights issues that are still issues - class-based opportunities and how that forms views of people - the college kids had nice cars, were not looking at going to war, some of them were "other" - i.e. Jewish/New Yorkers, not from Wisconsin. They thought they needed to stop any show of support for anyone associated with the war.

The police - and the kids who went to Vietnam, were working class, did not have an expectation of college after high school - and the privilege of those in college seemed like an insult to the working-class "choices" in life.

2. The anger of the soldiers - at their commanding officers, at the "choices" they didn't have as soldiers - and the anger toward those who were in college who never knew what those soldiers faced.

All this contrasted with what the North Vietnamese thought about the battle, and the truth that is the first casualty of war.

Based upon the book, They Marched Into Sunlight (Pulitzer nominee in 2004), by David Maraniss.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 08:58 AM

1. We Weren't Trying to Win

We do better when we're razed Earth--we lost because we stuck ourselves in the center of a civil war. That is a prescription for disaster, and amounts to being in the center of a shooting gallery from both sides.

And we keep doing it--it was way more clear in WW2--we killed Germans, Japanese, and Italians.

We chose a side in Vietnam, or created two sides in a country with one maybe, or the French did. I think it's pretty clear the South side we'd created didn't have their heart in it, and were more comfortable just going along with whatever form of Communism they would have ended up with, that fighting their relatives in the North. We've mucked up Iraq now, we've released all these factions that were once under at least "some" kind of control. Even Bush's father, and Cheney at the time, realized that--it's why they stopped and left Saddam in power. Better the devil you know.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 09:21 AM

2. We lost for the same reason the British lost that continental fracas circa 1770's n/t

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 10:25 AM

3. Thats not why we lost

 

We lost because

1) We didn't respect the enemy or its abilities in the field. Note: Kissinger referred to North Vietnam as a 4th rate power. McNamara had a "formula" called the body count that he was certain would win the war- it didn't. We lost 58,000 they lost about 2 million and we still lost. We failed to understand that you can't use conventional tactics against guerrilla warriors.

2) We brutalized civilians: See Nick Turse's book Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. If you think My Lai was an aberration, you are mistaken.

3) We could have negotiated Vietnamese independence after WW I but didn't. We didn't need to be in that war.

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Response to kylie5432 (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 02:16 PM

6. I thought that was a strange title for the video

apparently it was on PBS as "Two Days" - and the book that inspired the video is focused more on the humans involved - at the end of the video you see people on various sides in the moment who all went to high school together.

I can't tell you why, exactly, the war was lost except to say it was a product of the era in which it was created, and that era grossly overestimated the power of the soviet military while underestimating the power of a message about self-determination after colonialism.

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Response to kylie5432 (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 08:24 PM

9. Reasons for the loss, we did not kill all Vietnamese, because that's the only way we could have won.

&list=UUcyN-xAU_VN--KWA5ZCZjoQ
John Pilger - Vietnam - The Quiet Mutiny [1970]



Five Marines from the battalion were responsible for the only war crime attributable to the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. On 19 February 1970, in the village of Son Thang-4 just southwest of Danang, a five man patrol from the unit executed five women and eleven children. One member of the team was convicted of premeditated murder.[2]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Battalion_7th_Marines#Vietnam_War
http://web.law.duke.edu/lens/publications/050698
Did Military Justice Fail or Prevail?
The first time I ever heard of Ollie North.
"Assisting the defense team in every way possible was First Lt. Oliver L. North, whose life Herrod had saved some months earlier. Herrod was tried by a panel of seven officers - a colonel, lieutenant colonel, four majors, and a captain(28) - all of whom had combat experience. In North's view, this was advantageous to the accused, because "only men who had served in combat could appreciate the pressures that Herrod must have been under."29)"

The Vietnamese fought to win like Americans would fight if our country was ever occupied.
I was a grunt in B Company 7th Marines. We employed these KT's (killer teams) nightly while I was with the company. We were operating in a free fire zone where all "farmers, crops, civilians and livestock" were considered enemy. The domino theory turned out to be total BS.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 11:03 AM

4. Very powerful film.

 



As a Canadian of draft age in 1967, amidst the police brutality and the MIC, the enemy I remember most despising was Dow Chemical. That fortunately grew to include all their lackeys and that list is still growing.



.

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Response to CanSocDem (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 02:19 PM

7. I thought it was powerful, too

Now, of course, recruitment on campus is expected, and if you happen to live near the campus where the president of Dow chemical studied - there are entire buildings that exist because of Dow's... endowment.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 11:27 AM

5. In the book "We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young", Gen. Moore notes the Vietnamese felt victorious

in that first large battle for Americans in the VietNam war, the battle of IaDrang. It kind of set the model for most battles afterwards, and the entire war. The Americans fought with great efficiency, killing 25 Vietnamese for every American lost, and the Vietnamese retreated. The Americans felt they had won, cleaned up the battleground, then went back to their base. The Vietnamese felt they were giving the Americans space and time for the Americans to retreat. And the Vietnamese then walked back in, took over the vacated battlefield, and claimed victory for themselves. Both sides thought they won. But the Vietnamese ended up in possession of the disputed ground. And the Americans went home.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 02:28 PM

8. America was trying to win Vietnam? News to me. I thought they were just looting the Treasury.

You know, war profiteering, the modern reason for warfare.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Tue Jul 22, 2014, 11:30 PM

10. Thank you for this important document of our era...

It's the same era that would have taken a different turn, had we listened more carefully after WWII. Had we been able to share Jack Kennedy's understanding of imperialism as he experienced it coming out of that war, learning from internationally observing what the hell was going on which we still don't talk about with any real depth.

War is Hell. War is a Racket. The poor always pay. In Vietnam, the price was shared by the draft, and the student deferment. Whoever looked the other way still hasn't heard the message.

They figured a way never to have a draft after Vietnam. It still serves few and industrializes the corporations further. Go ask Dick Fucking Cheney.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Wed Jul 23, 2014, 05:24 AM

11. Marked for later.

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