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I'm trying to summarize my own feelings in my blog. I went to Vietnam in a spirit of adventure, anti- communist but not worried by them. I stayed because I liked the people. In the end I liked them more than the Americans. There were some very good Americans and there were some very bad South Vietnamese. I always maintained it was a civil war fought for the unity of Vietnam. At least by the North. I was never quite sure what the South wanted.
I am always surprised by the lack of history you Americans have. I don't mean the masses, but those who run the country. You seem now, as you seemed then that US force decides the outcome. You never credit an enemy with the same guts you doubtless have. You were also in the opening phaze of the West's inability to suffer battlefield casualties.

Tom Grant

Actually, in the United States, we suffered from a mythology of the guerrilla superman for a long time. Both the Cuban Revolution and the Vietnam War made many Americans fearful that the people's will, the march of history, or some other greater force was going to crush any effort the US government made to fight insurgencies. There was a lot of begrudging admiration behind this sentiment, admitting that enemy guerrillas were willing to sacrifice a great deal to achieve victory.

That being said, the US went into Iraq without a real sense of how long it would take, and therefore how many casualties US troops would suffer over an extended period. I don't have a sound empirical basis for what I'm about to say, but I would bet that, had US leaders given a more realistic appraisal in 2003 of what the Iraq war would cost, the American public would have been willing to shoulder that burden. The argument that we'd win the war "on the cheap" has infuriated many Americans, in part because they question their leaders' ability to understand the Iraq war at all.


Tom, if Bush (and, frankly, the mass media) had laid that out, the American people might have asked embarassing questions, like 'why?'. The whole point of war on the cheap was that this was to be a costless war, from the viewpoint of almost everybody in the USA. Desert Storm II, but with fewer troops and even cooler tech toys. Things like that can be done with little thought, because they're easy and safe. It's like dropping a buck on an arcade videogame, for a few minutes.

T.C. Johnson

There were two events that hurt South Vietnam's ability to hold their ground. The first one was the loss of John Paul Van. Although a civilian, he was the third highest ranking US official in RVN. He was pushing the ARVN to defend and hold their ground, while at the same time helping to weed out the corrupt and inept ARVN officers who weren't up to the task of being good military leaders. His sudden death in '72 in a helicopter crash during a bad storm was a deadly blow to ARVN's ability to defend their country.

The second event that sealed the fate of the RVN was the Watergate scandal, who left President Nixon and his cabinet in a weakened state, thus forcing US support for RVN into the background. Once the US withdrew its air support and pulled its competent MACV advisors out of the country, it was only a matter of time before the NVA invaded the south in a massive effort to overtake the country and they did.

Let it be known that had there been no Watergate scandal at all, RVN just might have held their ground long enough and with our support until the start of the fall of the USSR a little over a decade later, or at least until the USSR became preoccupied with Afghanistan. We will never know what the true outcome might have been but for me I will always believe that the US military defeated the NVA and VC and it wasn't until we pulled out that they were able to overrun the south and take control. We did lose a lot of good people during that war, when a small amount in comparison when measured against the North's loss of well over 1 million soldiers.

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