Botched invasions

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#41
I remember that. Viewing it from the US, we had been in that strange Vietnamese War supposedly fighting Communism, and it was obvious from this that Communism was not monolithic. It also seemed to indicate how strong the Soviet Union was that China was aligned against it, but at the same time that there was a lot of resistance to Soviet world dominance.

I remember commentary at the time, that from the Chinese point of view this was similar to what imperial China traditionally did when less powerful neighboring states got out of line.
It was after the US had left Vietnam, and by 1972 Nixon's trip to China had started to thaw relations between the 2 countries, while the US was trying to extract itself from Vietnam. So while the US might have thought that Communism was monolithic when the Vietnam War started, once the US got involved, US was reluctant just to pack up and go home all of a sudden, and abandon its allies.

I can't help but think there is a lot of spin doctoring about the results of the Chinese invasion by Chinese sources, which is also the kind of thing imperial China did, up coming up with different explanations when things didn't always go their own way. The Chinese have a long history of lying too

They say that their actions were primarily motivated by fear of the Soviet Union, but it seems that it was really to help out their allies in Cambodia, which they failed to do. The Khmer Rouge lost power, and while they continued to exist for some years more, they never really had much control. There was no evidence that Vietnam threatened China, and while the Soviets helped Vietnam, Vietnam policies remained largely independent, they were nothing like the Warsaw back countries, and there was no need to "tie up" Vietnamese troops as claimed. Despite minor border issues and rivalry with the Soviet Union, I see no evidence that the Chinese felt truly threatened. The given explanation might have been just a face saving excuse for the fact that they failed in their primary mission, to save the the Khmer Rouge regime. If they just wanted to keep the Khmer Rouge alive to tie down Vietnamese forces, they didn't need an invasion for it, and the Khmer Rouge survived after the Chinese invasion.
 
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Likes: sparky
Mar 2012
4,405
#42
I can't help but think there is a lot of spin doctoring about the results of the Chinese invasion by Chinese sources, which is also the kind of thing imperial China did, up coming up with different explanations when things didn't always go their own way. The Chinese have a long history of lying too
Except what is being examined here are internal PRC documents before the war as well as Vietnamese documents, you will need to explain what the incentive is in putting in the spin. The fact is, saying Cambodia is the primary reason for the PRC involvement is simply not supported by any primary sources; if it truly was, then you'll expect Chinese sources on PLA operations to be directed at precisely such a strategic purpose and full of such records, but nothing in such documents show that so you'll need more than just your baseless opinions if you want to prove otherwise.

"Existing studies offer a variety of arguments - Beijing's true objectives involved diverting Hanoi's military pressure away from Cambodia and tying down its forces on a second front; Beijing sought to discredit the Soviet Union as a reliable ally in response to a new Vietnamese-Soviet treaty relationship. However, all of these interpretations suffered from a lack of documentation from both the PRC and the SRV."
The New Cold War History Deng Xiaoping's Long War The Military Conflict between China and Vietnam, 1979-1991

As for Chinese have a long history of lying, I would like to see a critical statistical assessment that they have a greater tendency to do that in history rather than just your racist stereotypical opinion. I've cross compared accounts of wars in late Ming Chinese sources with Dutch and Japanese sources, and the later two have far greater tendency at distorting facts. Take the Imjin war for example, Chinese sources at most use extravagant terms to describe a victory, while Japanese sources sometimes outright fabricate great battles that never existed. And if you really want to use history as case samples, when has any imperial Chinese regime ever tried to help out a vassal as its primary strategic interest over its own security? The Qing invasion of Burma resulted in the survival of Siam, but it was certainly not the reason the Qing invaded Burma.


They say that their actions were primarily motivated by fear of the Soviet Union, but it seems that it was really to help out their allies in Cambodia, which they failed to do. The Khmer Rouge lost power, and while they continued to exist for some years more, they never really had much control. There was no evidence that Vietnam threatened China, and while the Soviets helped Vietnam, Vietnam policies remained largely independent, they were nothing like the Warsaw back countries, and there was no need to "tie up" Vietnamese troops as claimed. Despite minor border issues and rivalry with the Soviet Union, I see no evidence that the Chinese felt truly threatened. The given explanation might have been just a face saving excuse for the fact that they failed in their primary mission, to save the the Khmer Rouge regime. If they just wanted to keep the Khmer Rouge alive to tie down Vietnamese forces, they didn't need an invasion for it, and the Khmer Rouge survived after the Chinese invasion.
The Khmer Rouge also doesn't have any bound treatises with the PRC and was certainly not a puppet of China. Why do you think its more realistic that the PRC has more stake at driving out Vietnamese forces in another country than preventing a Soviet alliance against China? Unless of course, you think the CCP did that out of altruism.
Not only is there no evidence that Cambodia was the most important reason for the PRC invasion, even if it was one reason, there is nothing which shows PRC expected the Vietnamese will withdraw from Cambodia right after the Chinese invasion. The PRC did not fail to help out Cambodia, need I remind you that the Khmer Rouge resistance survived as a result of the Chinese invasion in large part because Vietnam sent most of its troops north afterwards and outlasted the Vietnamese occupation in the western frontier of Cambodia. Furthermore, in this whole time the Vietnamese puppet regime was never recognized in the UN, and the Khmer Rouge survived well on the seat of UN until after the Vietnamese withdrawal and the collapse of the USSR.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,216
#44
There must be something about Vietnam that encourages pointless foreign interventions. At least China was only there for a month, unlike the US for years.

I wouldn't classify it as a botched invasion. At the time, China declared victory and withdraw. I agree that it is very common in politics and bureaucracy everywhere not to admit defeat or mistakes. My impression is that in Chinese culture, you usually don't say anything negative. The Chinese withdrawal allowed both sides to save face.
 
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#46
Roman attack upon Africa/Carthage, Battle of Cape Bon, 468CE
Ah yes a monumental cock-up. Bankrupted the ERE state for years and should have been a career-ending move, if not for the strange nuances of politics. Gave the Vandals free reign in the Eastern Med on top of everything else for w while!

Combination of Genseric's brilliance and ferocity, and Basiliscus's falling into his cunning political/military traps. Good debating point though - was Basiliscus incompetent or just not up to facing Genseric (like everybody else)
 
Likes: Talbot Vilna
Sep 2012
9,095
India
#47
Would Dieppe count?
My first thought was, yes, it qualifies. But, it was merely a raid and not a regular invasion. A regular invasion has a strategic aim and requires largescale investment in men, materials, and machinery. Dieppe was more of a probing raid.
On the other hand, Napoleon's invasion of Russia is a clear example. His invasion of Spain also qualifies. Rajiv Gandhi's naval sally on to Srilanka when the Indian naval units carrying a large contingent of soldiers had to turn back with their tails between their legs, after the Srilankan naval units threatened over the loudspeakers that they will retaliate hard, will be a prime example of Indian stupidity in Rajiv Gandhi's time.
 
Sep 2012
9,095
India
#48
I was thinking of Dieppe, too, a prime example of the cruel waste of young human lives, for nothing. But I latched upon the bungled invasion of the Dardanelles in WW I, where 60 thousand allied soldiers were killed for nothing. The allied armies of the British empire had to withdraw from the landing grounds, with tails between their legs. And, of course, there were a huge number of Turkish soldiers killed. But at least they had the satisfaction of dying in defence of their country.
 
Apr 2014
378
Istanbul Turkey
#49
What ? No mention of Dardanelles Campaign in 1915 during World War I. The fiasco that almost finished Churchill's poltical career ? Entante lost six battleships , two destroyers , various other pupport and escort craft and on land more than 250.000 men (British Commonwealth , ANZACs and French) killed , wounded , missing , captured. EDIT : Sorry rvsakhadeo mentioned six minutes before me.
 
Feb 2016
4,358
Japan
#50
While the Dardenelles WAS an abject failure, it’s main purpose was to relieve pressure on the Russians who were hard pushed on their Caucus front.

So while operationally the mission failed all its objectives.
Strategically it diverted Ottoman attention, helped the Russians and succeeded in what it intended to do ... albeit in a costly and humiliating way.
 

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