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Why did america lose the vietnam war

S was not simply outfought. For more than a decade, the U. Yet, Vietnam fell to the communists.

Why Did the U.S. Lose the Vietnam War?

The absence of a clear explanation is not an accident. None of the institutions that led the U. They would rather its loss be left ambiguous, murky.

Or worse, blamed on others. But in fact, there are very specific, concrete reasons why the U. If we are to ever why did america lose the vietnam war a true peace about the War—and certainly, if we are to ever stop repeating its mistakes and continuing to lose newer wars—it is essential that we understand why the U.

The easiest thing to explain are the policy, or political factors. In earlier pieces, here and herethese were dealt with these in depth. He helped the French, instead. This all but assured that the U. Eisenhower foisted an alien ruler on his new country, a wealthy, Catholic, urban, mandarin from New Jersey, Ngo Diem. The Vietnamese were poor, Buddhist, rural peasants.

Ho Chi Minh took land from the French and distributed it to the people. No such lackey regime could ever achieve political legitimacy. And without political legitimacy, there could never be a long-term solution to the War. Compounding the political failings were the failures of intelligence. The most obvious of these was the confusion of nationalism with communism.

Vietnam was first and foremost a struggle for national independence. The Vietnamese wanted the foriegn occupiers out of their country. The Americans should have understood this. They had once fought a war of national independence to get the foreign occupiers out of their country. It had only fought Korea to a draw in 1953. By perceiving all events through anti-communist lenses, U. The tragedy is that in 1961 the CIA repudiated the domino theory, but it was impossible to reverse the policy momentum that its simplistic imagery had spawned.

An equally important intelligence failing was the confusion of partisan with insurgency warfare. The insurgents were the Viet Cong. This misunderstanding totally undermined U. The more the political situation deteriorated in the South, the more the U.

The greater the Viet Cong hold on the rural population in the South, the more the U. That was the beginning of the end. It cannot go without being said that intelligence reports going to Washington were worse than useless.

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They were profoundly damaging. Everything from battle reports and field-level body counts to situation assessments and reviews of strategic progress were routinely lied about. The reason lay in the incentive structure of the military.

  • An equally important intelligence failing was the confusion of partisan with insurgency warfare;
  • Learn from experts and access insider knowledge;
  • The restriction confining the ground war to South Vietnam did not apply to American aerial bombing;
  • First, the level of economic development of the North was very low, meaning there were few concentrations of useful targets to bomb;
  • Amazingly, none of these conditions applied.

Military officers were rewarded for successful performance of duties, not for failing performance. So, they had a built-in incentive to embellish their reports. Low level lies were routinely rolled up into higher-level lies, all the way up the chain of command. Also, loyalty within the officer corps ensured that contrary voices were forced out of the service.

So, the entire hierarchy of military reporting created false reports of progress. Once begun, it proved impossible to stop.

But it never came any closer, either. The lying was so entrenched it was impossible to even discover until it was too late. And when it was discovered the liars tried to impugn the truthtellers by questioning their patriotism. If political and intelligence failings contributed to the U. Vietnam was, after all, a war. One of the most spectacular failures was the air war.

  1. In other words, bombing would have had to be increased ten-fold to completely shut off supplies from the North.
  2. Intelligence estimates during the War indicated that some 200,000 North Vietnamese young men attained draft age every year, far higher than the rate at which they were being killed. They would rather its loss be left ambiguous, murky.
  3. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. In this clash of national wills, North Vietnam proved to be better armed.
  4. So, they had a built-in incentive to embellish their reports. Yet, Vietnam fell to the communists.
  5. Amazingly, none of these conditions applied. And when it was discovered the liars tried to impugn the truthtellers by questioning their patriotism.

The idea was to interdict supplies from the North from reaching the insurgency in the South. The reasons are clear and were known at the time. First, the level of economic development of the North was very low, meaning there were few concentrations of useful targets to bomb.

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Second, when the air campaign began, the North dispersed even these targets throughout the countryside to protect them from bombing. Third, targets that were damaged were quickly rebuilt. Bridges over rivers were sometimes rebuilt nightly.

In other words, bombing would have had to be increased ten-fold to completely shut off supplies from the North. This was not politically, economically, or even militarily possible.

Thus, it was not even conceptually possible to defeat fighting in the South by bombing the North. The military was unphased. Finally, the fundamental U.

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From the beginning of the escalation, in 1965, the U. For attrition to work, three conditions must apply. First, you must be able to control the timing and terms of engagement. Otherwise, he can simply replace lost troops faster than they are being destroyed.

And third, your own losses, while they may be far lower than those of the enemy, must still be tolerable within your own war-making context. Amazingly, none of these conditions applied. Intelligence estimates during the War indicated that some 200,000 North Vietnamese young men attained draft age every year, far higher than the rate at which they were being killed. Finally, despite killing more than nine enemy soldiers for every American lost, the costs to the U.

As more and more U. This meant tiring the enemy of his will to fight. It meant dragging out the War, harassing the enemy, avoiding serious engagement except where the likelihood of success was high, withdrawing before serious losses were sustained, and counting on the American public to tire of a seemingly endless but unwinnable war.

This is the strategy Vietnam had used to defeat the French. It worked equally well to defeat the Americans. Nixon famously groused to Kissinger that his massively escalated bombings were not working: It could not win the support of the local population. It could not win on the ground. And, after the Tet Offensive in early 1968 demolished the upbeat fiction in the U. The military, which was the lead actor in the War, is quick to blame others for its loss. It was the liberal media that turned the people against the War.

It was the pampered protesters, the college students, who soured the country. These political, intelligence, and military reasons for the U. They are made of the why did america lose the vietnam war combination of ignorance, deceit, and incompetence.

We simply need the clarity of intellect and the courage of will to name them. But steeped as they are in the still more deadly elixir of arrogance, profiteering, and denial, they all but assure that the U. Iraq and Afghanistan stand as examples. That is the true tragedy of Vietnam.

  1. Also, loyalty within the officer corps ensured that contrary voices were forced out of the service.
  2. For attrition to work, three conditions must apply. Also, loyalty within the officer corps ensured that contrary voices were forced out of the service.
  3. The restriction confining the ground war to South Vietnam did not apply to American aerial bombing. Amazingly, none of these conditions applied.
  4. By choosing the strategic defensive, U. Otherwise, he can simply replace lost troops faster than they are being destroyed.
  5. This reactive strategy placed American forces permanently on the strategic defensive. Because of people like you, another world is possible.

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Why did America lose the Vietnam War?

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