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Thread: Did US Soldiers that Died in Vietnam "Die in Vain?"

  1. #16
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    The perception was that the Vietnamese were fighting a communist war, to spread the good word. In effect they were fighting an anti-colonialist war. The US ought to have empathised with them, but were tied up in the doctrine of the domino.

    We can all apreciate that the majority of the US troops were doing their duty, and one can argue, therefore, that they did not die in vain.

    As far as the mission is concerned, and whether that was in any way successful, and not a forlorn hope, one could ask: what would have happened if the US had not become involved after the departure of the French?

    For example: the politics of China were somewhat different in 1954 as compared with 1974.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


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  2. #17
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    I think if someone is going to make the assertion that people died in vain that this must imply that those that didnt die fought in vain. I only know a couple of Vietnam vets and I know they dont think that. On the otherhand.....let say the US and her allies won. Do you think the Vietnamese would say all their ppl died in vain. I dont think so. They died a rather honorable death in their eyes.

    101st Airborne

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    When it comes to perspective, the Vietnam War is like looking through a kaleidoscope.

    'In the midnineties Vo Nguyen Giap participated in discussions held in Hanoi between an American delegation led by wartime U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara and a group of Vietnamese historians, retired generals, and former diplomats. McNamara hoped to examine wartime "misunderstandings" between the two countries and identify possible "missed oportunites" for negotiating an earlier end to the war. An initial exchange between McNamara and Giap revealed a fundamental difference in their historical views of the war:

    MacNamara: "We need to draw lessons which will allow us to avoid such tragedies in the future."

    Giap: " Lessons are important. I agree. However, you are wrong to call the war a 'tragedy'. Maybe it was a tragedy for you, but for us the war was a noble sacrifice. We did not want to fight the United States, but you gave is no choice."


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


  4. #19
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    I don't think they died in vain, however the Vietnam war was a disaster.
    They lost the war and many Americans died that's the only thing that counts.

  5. #20
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    I was watching 'Good Morning Vietnam'. I found the scene were he is among truckloads of GI's who are going to the war, particularly moving.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


  6. #21
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    You know I was watching "Forrest Gump" the other night, and I think the scene of the ambush in which Forrest's platoon is wiped out is as powerful a war scene as any in cinema. I kept thinking about this thread. But I have a problem with these sorts of questions that seek to impose an absolutionist, black-and-white explanation for what is a massively complex, and painful, era.

    I think one has to look at this question on two levels, the macro and the micro. Taking on the "micro" level first, I should have to say that yes, 58,000+ and several hundred thousand (if not millions) of Vietnamese perished in this conflict that was in many ways mutually destructive and has been described as the "war everybody won, and (paradoxically) everybody lost," died in vain. They were ultimately undermined by a cynical political establishment in Washington, DC (the Pentagon Papers clearly show that the war was unwinnable in any conventional sense), as we were undermined by a corrupt, unpopular Saigon regime(s) and a series of politicians that had been essentially the 'collaborators' with the French with little credibility. However, on the macro level, I think one can draw some silver linings out of the dark clouds of US war dead, along with the billions$ tossed away.

    The United States would ultimately win the Cold War, or at least avoid a global nuclear exchange. Did Vietnam ultimately play a role in this? Perhaps. While many conservative US politicians seek to refight the war, and frame it as a national shame in which is almost characterized as a sports contest that we lost, Vietnam showed, the USSR & China, that the US was willing to sacrifice a good deal of its blood and treasure on even fruitless, lost causes. It showed that the US would never abandon more fertile allies such as the ones Europe and south Asia. I think the Soviet perspective, contrary to what many would believe, is that the US also had the genesis of combat hardened army (despite the enormous damage wrought on it by the war) and an experienced officer corp. The US also developed a new age of high tech. weaponry such as laser guided bombs, attack helicopters, and revised, more realistic tactics, which would again serve a a deterrent to potential aggression. So it's all a mixed bag I suppose. But that being said --the US should have extricated itself far sooner that it did...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    The US also developed a new age of high tech. weaponry such as laser guided bombs, attack helicopters, and revised, more realistic tactics, which would again serve a a deterrent to potential aggression. ..
    i have to say this the developing of weaponry by the such way is irrational
    In fact the USSR also developed its AAA-systems. In Vietnam were firstly succesfully appicated the Strela-1 - the soviet analog of the Stingers.
    So the from the military sence this bloody war ( there were 2 millions of perished Nick , not one) was a deadline.You could modernize the wearpon as much as could but the political price were a very hight.
    US loses was a great but not war sence- it was a political loses.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Off topic here, chaps, but surely the causes of the collapse of the former Soviet Union are at least as complex as the issues raised over Vietnam. To say that the US won the cold war, is a sweeping over simplification. Perhaps, an example of post-cold war propaganda?


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    the US should have extricated itself far sooner that it did...
    If it had, the benefits you see in its engagement would have been reduced in proportion to however early it got out.

    Anyway, when should the US (and Korea and Australia) have got out?

    The best time to have got out was before any of us got in. 20/20 hindsight is a marvellous thing.

    With hindsight, the worst time to get out was anywhere before Tet in '68, when it would have left strong VC and NVA forces to attack the SVN forces. As it was, the US, SVN and allied forces mauled the VC and blunted the NVA in and soon after Tet.

    After Tet, the reasons for getting out were political rather than military.

    Paradoxically, if the US etc had got serious after Tet they might have won. Assuming they rejected militarily suicidal ideas like not crossing the DMZ.

    But they couldn't win, because they were fighting for a bunch of corrupt arseholes, just like supporting Chiang and the Nationalists in China in WWII was doomed to suck the guts out of the external forces in support of people not worth supporting who were playing their own internal games with their own and other peoples' lives and money.

    I still think that the Americans who died in Vietnam died in vain.

    This can be argued any number of ways, but here's a clear and simple argument.

    The original and maintained American strategic aim was to maintain the status quo in SVN.

    It, and the crooks and thugs who ran SVN, weren't a status quo worth maintaining.

    To put it in different terms, a cop who dies stopping a crook to protect the community hasn't died in vain.

    A cop who dies protecting a crook because his corrupt superiors have deceived him into doing it has died in vain.

    The Americans who died in Vietnam were like the latter cop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    To put it in different terms, a cop who dies stopping a crook to protect the community hasn't died in vain.

    A cop who dies protecting a crook because his corrupt superiors have deceived him into doing it has died in vain.

    The Americans who died in Vietnam were like the latter cop.
    Just to clarify that point.

    I'm not trying to diminish the individual commitment to duty, the courage, or the sacrifice of the people who died in either case.

    It's just that I think only one of those cases can be regarded as the loss of a life in defence of something good or worthwhile, which qualifies as not dying in vain.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    i have to say this the developing of weaponry by the such way is irrational
    Yes. But sometimes also inevitiable...

    In fact the USSR also developed its AAA-systems. In Vietnam were firstly succesfully appicated the Strela-1 -...
    True, there is little question that the USSR benefited from analysis to tactics and weapons systems on both sides...

    However, the USAF finally discovered that making high-speed nuclear delivery aircraft that lacked maneuverability and versatility was a serious mistake (AKA The F-105 "Thud" Thunderchief). The F-15, F-16, F-14, & F-18 are all direct results of the realization of this sort of inflexibility and simplicity...

    And in a real war, the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces would not have benefit of a worldwide air-traffic control net that would inform them of inbound B-52 flights...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 08-02-2007 at 10:08 AM.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    If it had, the benefits you see in its engagement would have been reduced in proportion to however early it got out.

    Anyway, when should the US (and Korea and Australia) have got out?

    The best time to have got out was before any of us got in. 20/20 hindsight is a marvellous thing.

    With hindsight, the worst time to get out was anywhere before Tet in '68, when it would have left strong VC and NVA forces to attack the SVN forces. As it was, the US, SVN and allied forces mauled the VC and blunted the NVA in and soon after Tet.

    After Tet, the reasons for getting out were political rather than military.

    Paradoxically, if the US etc had got serious after Tet they might have won. Assuming they rejected militarily suicidal ideas like not crossing the DMZ.

    But they couldn't win, because they were fighting for a bunch of corrupt arseholes, just like supporting Chiang and the Nationalists in China in WWII was doomed to suck the guts out of the external forces in support of people not worth supporting who were playing their own internal games with their own and other peoples' lives and money.

    I still think that the Americans who died in Vietnam died in vain.

    This can be argued any number of ways, but here's a clear and simple argument.

    The original and maintained American strategic aim was to maintain the status quo in SVN.

    It, and the crooks and thugs who ran SVN, weren't a status quo worth maintaining.

    To put it in different terms, a cop who dies stopping a crook to protect the community hasn't died in vain.

    A cop who dies protecting a crook because his corrupt superiors have deceived him into doing it has died in vain.

    The Americans who died in Vietnam were like the latter cop.
    You know, there is a theory (which plays into Garrison's JFK Assassination conspiracy theory) that John F. Kennedy was considering withdrawing any significant US support for the Saigon regime after "Pres." Ngo Diem was assassinated in the first of many coups. And that Johnson intensified the conflict only in order to push through his "Great Society" liberal reforms. This was so he couldn't be labeled a "pinko" or soft on communism effectively removing any real domestic political opposition which had been otherwise discredited as latently racist...

    When should we have gotten out? I'd say about 1944-45, when we enabled a (reluctant) French command to reenter Indochina. Because you know, Ho Chi Minh worked for the OSS (CIA forerunner) and was first and foremost a nationalist...

    Or Eisenhower could have just allowed free elections in 1958...

    It is not hindsight, it was lack of foresight...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 08-02-2007 at 10:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 32Bravo View Post
    Off topic here, chaps, but surely the causes of the collapse of the former Soviet Union are at least as complex as the issues raised over Vietnam. To say that the US won the cold war, is a sweeping over simplification. Perhaps, an example of post-cold war propaganda?
    I agree. But didn't the Soviet system really begin to feel its endemic failures by the mid-sixties?

    And aggression was not an option in solving these problems...

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    You know, there is a theory (which plays into Garrison's JFK Assassination conspiracy theory) that John F. Kennedy was considering withdrawing any significant US support for the Saigon regime after "Pres." Ngo Diem was assassinated in the first of many coups.
    Kennedy is usually presented as not understanding that he'd approved the assassination.

    We'll never know.

    We'll also never know how the Diem Catholic suppression of the Buddhists and the Catholic Kennedy's thoughts combined before JFK decided to cut them loose.

    When should we have gotten out? I'd say about 1944-45, when we enabled a (reluctant) French command to reenter Indochina. Because you know, Ho Chi Minh worked for the OSS (CIA forerunner) and was first and foremost a nationalist...
    Or the other Allies should have just treated the defeated Vichy French (as distinct from elements of the French people) from 1940 as the selfish frogs they were, trying to hang on to their navy and colonies while keeping a foot in both the Allied and Axis camps in the hope of coming out of the war intact.

    The French surrender of Indo China to Japan was critical to the Japanese invasion of Malaya and, in turn, to the Japanese conquests of the Philippines etc.

    I think the French have the distinction of being the only Allied nation to collaborate with the enemy; regain a colony they'd surrendered to the enemy; and then promptly lose it to the indigenous people who went on to defeat the most powerful nation on earth.

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    I didn't read all the respones here, so hope I'm not repeating something that was mentioned.

    I think they did not die in vain because you have to look at Vietnam today and see that it's a very successful and prosperous country. The Vietnam war spurred globalization to that region and at the end of the day you have people more interested in their economy and business, not civil wars and war lords.

    Maybe Iraq will be the same some day and the current war is just a catalyst.

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