When you realize objectives, U.S. won Vietnam

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Just ask anyone: The United States lost the war in Vietnam.

This is a horrible lie, and a tragic disservice to every American who served there.

To understand the American victory you must understand why Americans were there at all.

Answer: Vietnam as a nation and the Vietnamese peoples were just not important. Vietnam was only important as the domino triggering world-wide communist expansion. It was too late to save China or Eastern Europe, but Western Europe, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan could be saved. Vietnam became the proxy battleground in the war for Europe and preventing World War III.

PRESIDENT TRUMAN
adopted policies demanding the United States take a stand before the communist Soviet Union and China dominated so many lands and peoples that no coalition could be mustered against them. Truman, focused on his hot war in Korea, allowed the French to fight their own war in Vietnam. Truman’s goal was to block communist expansion in the region but not to get involved in further warfare. His policy was achieved. Under Truman, the United States won in Vietnam.

Eisenhower’s Vietnam policy was low-cost containment to prevent other nations from falling to communism. Robert McNamara explained: “In exchange for mere money and a few Americans in Saigon to offer advice of various sorts, communism was being contained at the 17th parallel in Indochina.” During Eisenhower’s two terms he fought a covert war in Laos, established a U.S. political presence and hegemony over South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and sent advisors into South Vietnam. He prevented dominos from falling, using minimal military effort, meeting his stated policy goals. Under Eisenhower the United States won in Vietnam.

Eisenhower told Kennedy that Laos was the key, and if it fell it was just a matter of time until South Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma would collapse. It was a concern that Laos would spill out in all directions that made this Eisenhower’s priority to Kennedy rather than the handful of U.S. advisors in Vietnam.

As predicted, the Laotian conflict quickly enveloped Vietnam, especially over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, already in 1961 funneling soldiers and supplies into South Vietnam.

KENNEDY INCREASED the U.S. presence in Vietnam, funded the Diem administration, accepted the coup of Diem and intended to increase the number of U.S. advisors on the ground. His policies were implemented and sustained by the U.S. military. No additional dominos toppled. Under a reluctant Kennedy, the United States won in Vietnam.

President Lyndon Johnson found himself thrust into a war he did not want, could not understand and was totally unprepared to handle. Johnson wanted the military to tell him what “winning the war” meant, and then Johnson and company wanted to tell the military how to do it. This was completely backward.

Johnson blundered ahead, increasing troop strength and expanding the war.

In 1965 Johnson sent 150,000 soldiers to Vietnam and they started dying in noticeable numbers. But that is also the year that cut the legs out from under the domino theory. India won its border disputes with both East and West Pakistan, and went in its own independent direction. Instantly 500 million people were off the path to communism and a solid barrier was in place to the west of China and south of the Soviet Union. In Indonesia leftist strongman Sukarno was driven from power and in a violent belch 300,000 Indonesian communists were killed – many of them Chinese. Another 100 million people were removed from the communist path and another solid barrier set in place south of China.

THIS RADICALLY altered international map was not recognized in Washington. The domino theory underlying all Vietnam policy slammed into a wall. At this point, had Johnson and others pulled the plug in Vietnam, the dominos of Laos, Cambodia and perhaps Burma would have toppled, but no more. Instead, because he was weak and indecisive, Johnson escalated the war, but not enough for a conclusive combat victory.

Johnson saw all his fears come true. He looked like an unmanly appeaser; he was distracted from pursuing his dreams of domestic welfare statism; he failed to hold the United States united in prosecuting the war, and he failed to hold onto office. It was total personal failure for LBJ.

But in terms of winning or losing in Vietnam, Johnson achieved his stated goals. South Vietnam did not fall; no dominos fell. He avoided war with the Soviet Union and China. Under Johnson, the United States won in Vietnam.

Richard M. Nixon understood the changed political landscape and knew the world was much safer than it had been in the 1950s and early ’60s. Nixon ran on the platform of “peace with honor” and immediately began to disengage. By the end of 1969, Nixon
had 60,000 soldiers out of the country and had North Vietnam into secret negotiations with Ambassador Henry Kissinger.

Re-elected President Nixon attained a peace agreement, winning peace for the United States and leaving South Vietnam a self-reliant, independent nation in charge of its own affairs. During his time in office South Vietnam was independent and no other states fell to communism. Nixon’s policies were achieved. Under Nixon, the United States won in Vietnam.

GERALD FORD was president when the helicopters evacuated the Saigon embassy in 1975. America had been out of the Vietnam War for two years by then. Under Ford the United States neither won nor lost anything in Vietnam.

There simply is no loss there. When you achieve all your national policy goals and win all the significant military engagements, you have won.

In the future, our most senior elected and appointed governmental leaders must clearly define winning – before the combat starts – and stop asking military leaders to do so after the fighting begins. And thank the warriors-in-arms who won in Korea and Vietnam for a job well done.

(The writer is a lifelong military historian, a lieutenant colonel in the Kansas National Guard and an Iraq War veteran. This is the last of a three-part series.)

Comments (21) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/04/13 - 08:08 am
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Final Victory

Vietnam was a successful delaying action. Henry Kissinger cajoled us to hang on with our containment of Communism because he knew and stated the break-up of the Soviet Union was coming. He also knew the upheaval in China would finally destroy Communism. I remember his words on TV to this day.

I'll add one more victory to the column's list. Go to Vietnam today and see the Nike factories and Coca Cola signs everywhere with people friendly to Americans and you will see the final chapter of Vietnam was another American win.

Jon Lester
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Jon Lester 08/04/13 - 08:14 am
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I hope you don't listen to G. Gordon Liddy, because

Watergate was the real reason why we reneged on our treaty obligations when the Communists regrouped for their final offensive.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 08/04/13 - 09:32 am
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56,000 precious human lives & the communist are in Washington?
Unpublished

56,000 precious human lives & the communist are in Washington?

soapy_725
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soapy_725 08/04/13 - 09:34 am
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If you cannot separate brave soldiers from political action. Sad
Unpublished

If you cannot separate brave soldiers from political action. Sad

soapy_725
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soapy_725 08/04/13 - 09:35 am
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Blind patriotism gives rise to Germany & USSR. Soldiers die.
Unpublished

Blind patriotism gives rise to Germany & USSR. Soldiers die.

Onewhoisane
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Onewhoisane 08/04/13 - 10:04 am
3
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This bogus idea that somehow

This bogus idea that somehow people will be appeased by the argument claiming the United States can declare victory is not only intellectually dishonest, but proof the writer fails as an historian.
Perhaps if the United States goal was to invade a sovereign country (countries if we include the illegal and immoral bombing of Cambodia), kill millions of innocent civilians, rape young women and suffer tens of thousands of own causalities, the United States won.
As Americans, we need to stop trying to make heroes of everyone. We were wrong is Vietnam, wrong in Iraq and wrong in Afghanistan. War just makes you dead.

Riverman1
79017
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Riverman1 08/04/13 - 10:10 am
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Communism murdered more

Communism murdered more people than all the despots in the history of the world combined. It was not wrong to oppose it with force.

deestafford
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deestafford 08/04/13 - 10:27 am
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Before I comment on the column I want to say Onewhisane

has the typical hate-America attitude and commitment of the left and apparently knows little about actual history.

Now as to the column. LBJ was spineless in fighting the war in Viet Nam and try to micromange it and as a result we did not win as we could have particularly after Tet of 68 when I was there. We had the North Vietnamese communists on the ropes and then did not follow up.

Want to know why we had so many pilots shot down over North Viet Nam? The White House had imposed rules of engagement on the air war that required the pilots to fly the same routes at the same attitude and the same time of day for every mission. Knowing this information all the enemy had to do was to sit and wait and throw as much ammunition as possible into the air and our planes would have to fly into it and this is what happened.

The politicians in DC were liars and cowards also. When the "peace agreement" was signed we promised the South Vietnamese we would provide them with logistics support to include ammunition, fuel, and other materiel necessary to fight the North. Well, when the North started attacking with tanks the South asked for the promised support and we refused to give it. We would not even give them fuel for their fighter planes to fight the tanks and ground troops.

Put yourself in the position of the South Vietnamese unit leader on the ground asking for the help to go after the tanks coming at him and his soldiers and you receive the message you are on your own because America went back on its word of promised support.

We refused to give them the promised bullets and other things we promised!!! We left those proud people to fall into the hands of the communists who killed hundreds of thousands and put millions into "reeducation" camps.

You can think the anti-war effort, many of whom now proudly talk about how they marched against the war,(Bob Beckel on Fox is one of those). While those cowards were marching I was fighting in the paddies and jungle having brave soldiers die because these peaceniks were giving encouragement to the enemy. Never will you ever see the "peace" symbol on anything in my house, on my car, or shown by any member of my family. To me it is a communist sympathizer badge.

Maybe, capitalism will put the nail in communism because the US political machine does not have the guts to do it and is failing again as we battle Islamist who are trying to wipe any non-Islamic off the face of the earth.

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 11:09 am
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Thank goodness this is the
Unpublished

Thank goodness this is the last of three columns of day dreaming.
---------------------------------------------------------------

The U.S. involvement in Vietnam goes back to Truman. It does not start with Eisenhower. The U.S. involvement in Vietnam goes back to Truman and his refusal to recognize Vietnam as "free."

It was declared "free" from the French by the Japanese in March, 1945. Before WWII, Vietnam was a French colony.

After WWII, the French tried to regain Vietnam as a colony, but failed (the financial costs of which, were paid for by the U.S.).

Anyone wishing to get a more accurate view of the Vietnam conflict and its causes can do so by reading "Secrets; A memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers." (Especially pages 248-49) by Daniel Ellsberg.

Kennedy recognized that the war could not be won and was trying to get out (some speculate that was one reason he was killed).

Johnson wanted out but was afraid he would not be re--elected if he got out.

Nixon (and Kissinger) sabotaged a peace accord set to begin 12/25/69 and used the lives of American soldiers to further their own political careers (killing more American soldiers for another five years.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

"It was not wrong to oppose it with force."

You volunteered in those wars?

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 11:35 am
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" the typical hate-America
Unpublished

" the typical hate-America attitude and commitment of the left...."

This is an ignorant statement.

Wake up to the fact that American soldiers were (as Bob Dylan sings) "Only a pawn in their game."

USAF 12/62 - 12/66.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/04/13 - 01:14 pm
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Dahreese

Bob Dylan sang it so it must be right? Heh. About service records, yeah, I wish I could have been in the military. I just couldn't meet their standards. Thank you for your service.

validPoint
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validPoint 08/04/13 - 01:27 pm
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War, or Conflict?

Was Viet Nam ever declared to be a war? Many lives were lost. I am not sure of my feelings concerning this, because I suffered a great loss as a result....Anyway, it is good to see the positive comments concerning the matter...no doubt, my husband would smile.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/04/13 - 01:29 pm
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Valid Point, I am sorry for

Valid Point, I am sorry for your loss. God Bless. It was not in vain.

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 01:42 pm
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@Riverman1; I don't want to
Unpublished

@Riverman1; I don't want to mislead.

I was in service during that era, however, I was not in the conflict in Vietnam. I have a few friends who were.

Then, and now, there were/are politicians/high brass/CEOs using such events (and lives) for their own personal gain.

But it's hard as hades to get some folks to understand that - then and now.

Some of them you see on these boards.

chascushman
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chascushman 08/04/13 - 01:50 pm
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" the typical hate-America
Unpublished

" the typical hate-America attitude and commitment of the left...."
dahreese, the statement is absolutely true. The lying, racist, America hating communist in the WH is a good example.

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 02:24 pm
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It's an ignorantly informed
Unpublished

It's an ignorantly informed statement, Charles.

What you can't deal with is the dark side of our history - that this country has not built its wealth on hard work and "free enterprise"/"free market economy" alone, but with the force of its military/economic might.

And it makes conservatives/you mad when that is exposed.

There has been enough exposed about it Charles and you either man enough to deal with it or you're not.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 08/04/13 - 02:51 pm
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Thanks

Dee. Some on here will never want to know what really went on in Nam. For me, Cambodia was just as bad, but not talked about.

corgimom
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corgimom 08/04/13 - 03:43 pm
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They should've skipped the

They should've skipped the Agent Orange and listened to Barry Goldwater, and bombed the mess out of N. Vietnam.

And there would've been a whole lot less loss of American lives.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 08/04/13 - 04:29 pm
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corgimom

This is one time I agree with you 100%. No, Agent Orange should have been spread on every square inch of N. Vietnam. Never near our men.

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 04:51 pm
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"...listened to Barry
Unpublished

"...listened to Barry Goldwater, and bombed the mess out of N. Vietnam."

And started a war with China, if not world war III.

You fellows sound like jail house lawyers; "They can't do this to you, they can't do that to you...blah, blah, blah."

You need to get over this 'we can whip the A's of anybody, anywhere, anytime.'

While China didn't trust the N. Vietnamese, they weren't about to let the U.S. establish themselves a military base right on the Chinese border, either.

And they had "advisors" on the ground and pilots in the air against our guys. That was kept a secret, though, to keep the American people in the dark and not to further divide the nation.

Don't be such tightwads. Go buy and read "The Pentagon Papers" Daniel Elsberg

Also get "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", John Perkins and ""Overthrow" America's century of Regime change rom Hawaii to Iraq"; Stephen Kinzer.

Get some real education.

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 07:05 pm
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A thumbs down on my last post
Unpublished

A thumbs down on my last post above is an example of someone who cannot distinguish fact from fiction. Pure ignorance.

It's 7:00 p.m.

Have a great evening, folks.

chascushman
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chascushman 08/04/13 - 07:28 pm
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"There has been enough
Unpublished

"There has been enough exposed about it Charles and you either man enough to deal with it or you're not."
dahreese, the minds of many on the left have been poisoned by the progressives, Marxist and communist and it has nothing to do with being a man but a product of being brained washed.

freeradical
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freeradical 08/04/13 - 08:14 pm
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U.S. President Giving Russian President Lap Dance

I wish the president of U.S. promising the KGB Murdering

president of Russia how " flexible " he can be for him once he fools the

nation at election was the " horrible lie " you are referring to Mr Roger.

Wake up . We are the last " domino "

Khruschev said it best :

" we will bury you without firing a shot "

And Obama has fulfilled Khruchev's prophecy on his knees and flexible.

By any definition of the term we have lost & freedom's death rattle

is getting louder everyday.

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 08:20 pm
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"dahreese, the minds of many
Unpublished

"dahreese, the minds of many on the left have been poisoned by the progressives, Marxist and communist and it has nothing to do with being a man but a product of being brained washed."

Charles, you and others throw out the "hate America" puff because you are unable to support most of what you say.

You don't want to believe that the fables and myths taught to you in public schools and by the church are just that - (brainwashed) fables and myths.

Before the end of the Iran-Contra hearings, Senator Inouye gave a cryptic warning about the agencies and the personnel involved: “There exists a shadowy government with its own air force, its own navy, its own fundraising mechanism and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.”

Given the whistle-blowing revelations of Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, and Daniel Ellsworth, Charles, guess what?

And please don't come back at me about Obama. I'm already on it - as I was with GWB and before that.

The fact remains you just can't stand the shadowy truth about our country and the hidden agenda and the hidden people who run it, when it is revealed all you can do is whine "You hate America."

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 08:24 pm
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By the way, the writer of the
Unpublished

By the way, the writer of the column above must not have heard;

Conservative Republican, Senator George Aiken"...wisely offered a solution to America's Vietnam quagmire: "Declare victory and go home."

chascushman
6653
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chascushman 08/04/13 - 08:58 pm
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"You don't want to believe
Unpublished

"You don't want to believe that the fables and myths taught to you in public schools and by the church are just that - (brainwashed) fables and myths."
dahreese, I agree 100% 'fables and myths were taught in public schools and by the church'. There were many lies taught about the progressive Woodrow Wilson and the socialist and 3rd worse president ever FDR. The puppet masters like George Soros are pulling the strings for the lying, racist idiot in the WH.

dahreese
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dahreese 08/04/13 - 09:09 pm
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Charles, Obama is just a
Unpublished

Charles, Obama is just a 'speck' in the "issue."

“There exists a shadowy government with its own air force, its own navy, its own fundraising mechanism and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.”

It's always been there, Charles.

And it's running scared at all of the revelations of the whistle-blowers.

Obama isn't the issue.

Your view is too small.

deestafford
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deestafford 08/04/13 - 09:11 pm
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I will stand by my position that the vast majority of peace nick

demonstrators who marched and burned American flags hated America and sympathize with the communists. I saw a tuba in the University of California marching band with the words, "Go NLF, Beat Army" painted on it. In case you don't understand what that means it's "Go National Liberation Front (the Viet Cong), beat and kill US Soldiers in Viet Nam."

It was people like that and Jane Fonda and her irk that gave the communists the will to fight and we lost thousands because of them.

No liberal books and web sites and song writers will never change that. The same people who marched then are the same ones who want America to be taken down a notch today.

People who have not been on the ground and seen how murderous and ruthless the communists were in Viet Nam have no idea of what they speak. Millions of South Vietnamese died as a result of the communists take over in Viet Nam enabled by the sympathizes here on our streets and in the halls of Congress.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 08/04/13 - 09:19 pm
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True

Good column. I agree. So do the overwhelming majority of Vietnam vets. We are glad we had this opportunity to serve our country and would do it again.

Dixieman
12776
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Dixieman 08/04/13 - 09:19 pm
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True

Good column. I agree. So do the overwhelming majority of Vietnam vets. We are glad we had this opportunity to serve our country and would do it again.

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