• how come the US did not reason that Vietnam would be an unwinnable war?

    From a425couple@21:1/5 to All on Sat Nov 28 15:56:43 2020
    Alejandro Jenkins
    Updated November 13
    PhD in Physics, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (Graduated

    After seeing France humiliated in Indo-China, how come the US did not
    reason that Vietnam would be an unwinnable war?

    Robert McNamara, the US Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy
    and Johnson, summed it up clearly during his interview for the
    documentary film The Fog of War, which came out in 2003:

    “In the Cuban Missile Crisis, at the end, I think we did put ourselves
    in the skin of the Soviets. In the case of Vietnam, we didn't know them
    well enough to empathize. And there was total misunderstanding as a
    result. They believed that we had simply replaced the French as a
    colonial power, and we were seeking to subject South and North Vietnam
    to our colonial interests, which was absolutely absurd. And we, we saw
    Vietnam as an element of the Cold War. Not what they saw it as: a civil

    President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara in
    the White House Cabinet Room, 1962. Source: Wikimedia

    The objective of the US intervention in Vietnam was to stop the spread
    of Communism in Asia. It certainly didn’t intend to replace France as
    the colonial ruler of Indochina.

    Bear in mind that, immediately after the end of World War II, the Soviet
    Union had effectively colonized a large part of Europe by installing its
    troops there and promoting the takeover of power by the local Communist parties, which it came to control completely. China had similarly
    established control over the northern half of the Korean peninsula and
    then attempted to take over the whole peninsula by force, only to be
    pushed back by the US-led intervention in the Korean War (1950–53).

    It was not irrational for the US, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to
    see its role in Vietnam as similar to its earlier role in Korea. As
    McNamara noted in later life, however, the problem was that the
    authorities in the US had failed to appreciate that Ho Chi Minh’s drive
    to unify Vietnam under his Communist rule was seen by many Vietnamese as essentially a nationalist struggle against foreign imperialists and
    their Vietnamese allies.

    Ho was far from being a simple tool of the Chinese Communist Party, in
    the way that most Communist leaders in Eastern and Central Europe were
    just tools of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Even more
    importantly, Ho was not seen by many Vietnamese as a tool of the
    Chinese. In The Fog of War, McNamara also relates how he visited Vietnam
    in 1995, after relations between the US and Vietnam thawed with the
    demise of the Soviet Union. Talking about the belief among the military
    and political leaders of the US, during McNamara’s tenure as Secretary
    of Defense, that the Vietnamese Communist forces were the pawns of
    global Communist expansionism in the context of the Cold War, Nguyễn Cơ Thạch, a former Vietnamese Foreign Minister, told him:

    “Mr. McNamara, you must never have read a history book. If you'd had,
    you'd know we weren't pawns of the Chinese or the Russians. McNamara,
    didn't you know that? Don't you understand that we have been fighting
    the Chinese for 1,000 years? We were fighting for our independence. And
    we would fight to the last man.“

    The US could probably have prevailed in fighting off the Communist
    takeover of South Vietnam (as it had prevailed in fighting off the more formidable Chinese army’s attempt to take over South Korea), if it had
    fully committed to the war. But, by the late 1960s, political support
    within the US for intensifying the war in Vietnam had been eroded too
    far. Many ordinary US citizens who opposed Communism had started to
    wonder, quite reasonably, why they ought to keep spending the national
    treasure and sending their young to be killed in order to defend one of
    the sides in a civil war in some poor, very distant country.

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