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LostInParadise's avatar

How would the U.S. have benefited from winning the war in Vietnam?

Asked by LostInParadise (26220points) 3 weeks ago

There was no domino effect. The only communist countries in the area are China and Laos. We seem to get along okay with Vietnam. We trade with Vietnam and travel to it. There has been talk lately about how some companies are moving their operations from China to Vietnam in order to avoid tariffs. Would Vietnam have provided any strategic advantage in terms of dealing with China?

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21 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Since you don’t believe in the “domino effect” there’s no reason to be in Vietnam in your mind.

The powers to be in Washington DC knew there was a “Domino Effect” and that was the reason for being in South East Asia. To block the spread of Communism. Operative word is “block”

elbanditoroso's avatar

Far too many variables. Too much has happened in the last 45 years geopolitically to make any sort of educated guess.

It’s possible that if the US had won in Vietnam, that the Chinese would have felt compelled to react and start a war someplace else. It’s possible that either S Korea (or less likely Japan) would have asserted itself differently. It’s possible that N Korea’s dictator at the time might have acted differently if the US had shown more power.

But that’s all speculation. Between the fall of Saigon in 1974 and now, 45 years later, there have been far too many other things happening in Asia to make any guesses about what could be happening in Vietnam today.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree it’s hard to know, too many variables.

Whether we win or lose doesn’t necessarily impact if we will be friendly and trade with countries many years later. Depends on so many things. We import cars from Germany and Japan, even though we did our best to beat them into the ground during WWII. We use Chinese labor to produce our goods, even though they are communists. Geopolitical relationships are tricky.

I guess maybe we would have “benefitted” by our GI’s maybe having a better welcome home, and we wouldn’t have this overcompensation the last 25 years by making supporting our soldiers a political wedge issue. Democrats and Republicans both value our military, and the people who serve, even if they disagree with some of the military spending. This idea that liberals and Democrats don’t care about our soldiers is ridiculous, offensive, and damaging to the country. Things like taking a knee when the national anthem is playing maybe wouldn’t have been turned into being an act against our people who have served the country.

kritiper's avatar

We would have halted the spread on Communism in that country, which was something we were trying to do the world over.
Also, we wouldn’t be carrying around this shit of not being able to finish a fight.

LostInParadise's avatar

@Tropical_Willie , Are you saying that fighting a losing war helped block the spread of communism?

@JLeslie, How much more welcoming would Americans have been if we had won a pointless war?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The reason for engagement, not the poorly run strategy.

stanleybmanly's avatar

What do you mean by “winning”? Since invasion of the North was not politically feasible for any U S administration, a negotiated settlement was the best we could hope for. And clearly the North was unwilling to accept anything short of complete and total unification of the country. The United States could not agree to open and free nation wide elections which would topple the corrupt and despised Southern regime in a heartbeat. The war was in effect unwinnable from the outset, and the direct result of the profound shortfall in our strategic understanding of the history of the place. The failure to recognize that the struggle was about unification of the country was until Iraq the single greatest strategic failure in the history of this country. And in less than 20 years, the lessons of that catastrophe were erased from our short attention spans to allow our embroilment in Iraq with consequences more devastating and detrimental to our long term future and that of the world than Vietnam could possibly aproach.

ucme's avatar

John Rambo would have become president.

janbb's avatar

The more important question in my mind is have we learned anything about not engaging in pointless wars?

flutherother's avatar

The US inherited an unwinnable colonial war fought against the French. Like the present war in Afghanistan it cannot be won.

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise I think if we had gone in and won quickly America for the most part would have felt they did the right thing, and felt victorious. Whether the war was justified is a different discussion, but we would have had ticker tape parades probably (ugh, I hope not).

As Nam dragged on I think it bred more time for more people to become more and more disgusted by the war.

@janbb One can only hope.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie To your point, the Vietnam War sucked the will to go to war from the American people. I wonder if our nation would have been even more bellicose in the following decades?

elbanditoroso's avatar

@gorillapaws the Vietnam War was lost from the first minute.

1) it was started under false pretenses

2) we didn’t have a coalition supporting the US, pretty much just us

3) there was no clear objective of what it meant to win

4) the war was allowed to continue because it was good business for US industry

What I got out of the whole Vietnam war era is that politicians are craven idiots and were not to be believed. And that you have to be suspicious of anyone eager to start a war.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws That’s an interesting point. So, maybe we were better off, and the world, as a whole? When I was growing up I was told quite often that my generation was lucky to have had so many years of peace. That we were overall clueless about what it is like to be at war.

I was born in 1968. I always took that very seriously that my youth was spent mostly in a lull, where we were fairly void of aggressive actions. I always appreciated that we weren’t at war, that there was no draft, and that we felt relatively safe. When we went to war in the first gulf war, Desert Storm, I was barely believing it was even happening. I knew quite a lot of people with children fighting over there. When we went to Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 I had a lot of friends and peers over there. I still find it somewhat shocking that war happened.

I feel like we put so much emphasis on supporting our soldiers, on honoring their sacrifice, on being proud of those who give their lives, that it’s on the same continuum of the religious beliefs that dying as a martyr will bring your family honor and you will go to heaven. At the same time, I do appreciate the incredible sacrifices made, and I do appreciate the risks our soldiers take, and I do want our veterans given support and help, so it’s kind of convoluted.

The military has a hard time recruiting people. They spend millions on it. It is a HUGE part of the military budget. So, having a culture that practically worships the military is useful for recruiting.

Edit: One extra point. War costs a lot of money, and afterwards it does also whether we win or lose. After Vietnam we let in thousands of Vietnamese immigrants and we gave them special status, probably under asylum, and we gave them money if I remember correctly. I don’t know if or how much we spent to rebuild their country? After WWII we spent all sorts of money helping Germany and Japan.

kritiper's avatar

Yes, we helped rebuild Germany and Japan, but then we were the victors. We did not win in Viet Nam, so why help rebuild it?

JLeslie's avatar

^^Point taken. We still caused a lot of destruction, and we spent a lot of money. Afterwards, we took in a lot of people, I don’t know if people would have gotten out of the country if we hadn’t gone to war? I don’t know if America would have been open to taking in so many people from Vietnam if we hadn’t caused so much destruction. I think it was well over a million people. I’d have to check that.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Aside from the 59,000 Americans and untold hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who died for nothing, the literal millions of wounded and disabled on both sides, and Oh God the money, the great legacy of the Vietnam war remains the undermining of trust in our government. This is true whether you favored or opposed the war. The war rendered the draft untenable, rendering the “defending of the country” to what it in fact had become—a job for the poor, the non slick and those with “nothing to lose”.

JLeslie's avatar

I still can’t fathom that war exists. As a young girl I remember learning about war and it sounded unreal. Like some horrible thing that happens in twisted peoples minds that they make up, and they write down as scary stories. To this day it’s hard for me to fathom.

MrGrimm888's avatar

My father was in the special forces, back in 1964, as a sniper. When the US, wasn’t officially involved. He was granted a letter, that said, he would never have to return. He was pulled back in, in ‘65. He claims that he gave the letter, to a CO, and said here’s my proof, that I don’t have to go back. The CO, tore the letter up, in front of him, and in listed him in the infantry. They needed people, and he was sent back. He was shot multiple times, on ambush patrol on December 24th, 1966, while a Bob Hope thing, was going on.

He spent over 2 years, in Walter Reed Hospital, recovering from his wounds. He was supposed to have his right leg amputated, but declined. He was shot, up his right leg, and hit multiple times in his leg, and abdomen, and chest (the bullets were absorbed, by his vest.)

But he was morbidly wounded, and the guy he was shot with, was too.

He eventually, made a sort of full recovery. His leg, still looks like a mess. Two bullets went right between his tibia, and fibia. Leaving not much left of his calf. Like I said, he was shot all up the right side if his body.

The young man who went to Vietnam, was killed that night. The rest of his platoon, all died, trying to evacuate him. My father was always paranoid, so he had lots of grenades, and extra ammo, which saved his life.

“Winning” the war, was something that the US , hadn’t fully understood. They were loosing a thousand or so troops per week. But they were killing way more NVC troops. So. The decision was made, eventually, to pull out. There were no front lines. No realistic goals, like taking capital cities, or killing more of them, than us. It was an unconventional war, with no real objectives. It was assumed that if we killed enough of the enemy, they would concede defeat. The US, ultimately underestimated the North Vietnamese. They lived on barely any food, and had tunnel networks, that helped them appear, and dissappear.
Before the US, got officially involved, there was a Russian ship, docked, in a major city. This gave the NVC, about 6 months, to prepare for the war. If the US, had been able to hit that port, it would have disabled the NVC, before the war started. But. Bombing was not as accurate as now, and it was feared that an accidental hit, on the Russian ship, would cause war, with Russia. Which is why Russia left the vessel there…

It was a loss, from the start. If you count the number of enemies killed, versus the amount of Americans killed, it was a win. But the VC, kept recruiting villagers, and others, to fight America. There were numerous bad choices made, strategically, by the US, and the VC, were capable of absorbing more damage, than the US expected. You have to give credit to the VC, for their own strategies. They absorbed far more casualties, and endured far greater than the Americans did.

It was ultimately, a war on communism. “How would the US, have benefited from a win?” It would have helped the uninvolved civilian population of Vietnam. It would have been a blow, to communism.
But. The price was too heavy, for the benefit. Civilians, in America, were tired of war, and didn’t support it. Although, in some ways, it was a win, it wasn’t worth the cost of human lives. It will always be remembered for being a quagmire. And should be considered a mistake, to have gotten involved with, in the beginning. It was a catastrophic failure, overall. And sadly, a mistake that the US, seemed to learn little from. As it continues to put itself in similar situations. See Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And to an extent, Iraq, and Syria.

War, is NEVER the answer. As I’ve stated before, I am pleased with Obama, and Trump, with not exacerbating issues, by putting our country, in similar situations. And trying to back out of multiple scenarios, that could have been just as disastrous… The US, has no business, in entering affairs, that are really none of our business. We are not the world police, and should not act, as if we are...

kritiper's avatar

@MrGrimm888 So true. But somebody has to do it. Where would the world be if we had not gotten involved in WWII?? (It’s a rhetorical question…)

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I concede your point. We definitely had to get involved in WW2…

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