Has not history shown that the doves were right about the Vietnam War?

Sep 2013
907
Chattanooga, TN
My understanding is that during the Vietnam War, the most common argument that the hawks made for why America should continue its fighting the Vietnam War was the Domino Theory. The Domino Theory said that if the Communists won the Vietnam War, Communism would spread to many other countries. The Domino Theory said that if South Vietnam became Communist, South Vietnam would be like a domino knocking down many other dominos into Communism. The Communists won the Vietnam War.

The Soviet Union was the world's unofficial leader of Communism during the Cold War. The Soviet Union was the world's strongest Communist country during much of the Cold War. The United States defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The Soviet Union lost control of Czechoslovakia and East Germany and other Communist satellites in the Cold War. The only Communist countries that I know of today are Cuba and China. The history of Communism in the 20th Century has been a miserable failure. The economy in Cuba tanked after the Cuban Revolution.

America lost the Vietnam War, yet there is no credible threat that Communism is going to take over the world. Therefore, isn't it fair to say that history has proven that the Doves were right that America should not have continued fighting the Vietnam War?
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
But you're looking at this entirely from hindsight. We know now that America's failure in Vietnam didn't result in the further spread of communism southwards, but during the war nobody knew this for sure, and all other evidence suggested that it would continue spreading.
 
Sep 2013
907
Chattanooga, TN
But you're looking at this entirely from hindsight. We know now that America's failure in Vietnam didn't result in the further spread of communism southwards, but during the war nobody knew this for sure, and all other evidence suggested that it would continue spreading.
Yes; I am looking at this entirely from hindsight. Hindsight frequently allows people in the present to look back at previous controversies in history to see which side was correct.

I've never heard or seen anyone say or write that history has proven that in the Vietnam War, the doves were correct and that the hawks were wrong, so I thought I would bring it up.

If America's failure in Vietnam did not result in the further spread of Communism, doesn't it follow from that that the doves were right and the hawks were wrong?
 
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Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
Yes; I am looking at this entirely from hindsight. Hindsight frequently allows people in the present to look back at previous controversies in history to see which side was correct.

I've never heard or seen anyone say or write that history has proven that the doves were correct and that the hawks were wrong.
I suppose I just don't understand what the point of this post is. No matter what we think of it half a century later, nothing has changed. It all still happened, and the people back then that did what they did based their decisions on what was happening at the time. Us sitting here in 2017 discussing who was right and who was wrong seems like a somewhat pointless endeavour, since in the end it's just our own opinion on it, utterly detached from the reality of what actually happened. Our modern day moral judgements are pretty irrelevant to the actual historical events.
 
Sep 2013
907
Chattanooga, TN
I suppose I just don't understand what the point of this post is. No matter what we think of it half a century later, nothing has changed. It all still happened, and the people back then that did what they did based their decisions on what was happening at the time. Us sitting here in 2017 discussing who was right and who was wrong seems like a somewhat pointless endeavour, since in the end it's just our own opinion on it, utterly detached from the reality of what actually happened. Our modern day moral judgements are pretty irrelevant to the actual historical events.
WhatAnArtist, using your logic, I suppose I just don't understand what the point of any post about history is. No matter what we think of it years later, nothing has changed. It all still happened, and the people back then that did what they did based their decisions on what was happening at the time. Us sitting here in 2017 discussing the events of the past seems like a somewhat pointless endeavor, since in the end it's just our own opinion on it, utterly detached from the reality of what actually happened. Our modern day judgments are pretty irrelevant to the actual historical events.

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I find this type of logic pretty silly. What is the point of this message board if not to analyze historical events? We have the benefit of hindsight in the present. What is the problem of using that benefit of hindsight to better analyze history?
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
WhatAnArtist, using your logic, I suppose I just don't understand what the point of any post about history is. No matter what we think of it years later, nothing has changed. It all still happened, and the people back then that did what they did based their decisions on what was happening at the time. Us sitting here in 2017 discussing the events of the past seems like a somewhat pointless endeavor, since in the end it's just our own opinion on it, utterly detached from the reality of what actually happened. Our modern day judgments are pretty irrelevant to the actual historical events.
Alright, whatever, I'm done with this thread anyway. Bye.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,461
Dispargum
Both the US and the Soviet Union believed their political system to be superior to the other. All they had to do was outlast the other and let the rival system die from within. It seemed a sane policy in the face of Nuclear Mutual Assured Destruction. It turned out to be true from the West's perspective. That's exactly how Communism died - from within. In the meantime, however, the US could not just sit back and let every country on the planet go Communist. The US policy was containment - limit Communism to where it already was but don't let it spread.

You're right about the Domino Theory being a major consideration in American foreign policy during the Cold War. It turned out not to be true in SE Asia, but of course no one could know that until after the war. The Communist leaders of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were much more interested in their own national liberation than in any global Communist agenda. Nearby countries like the Phillipines, Thailand, and Malaysia were not seriously threatened by Communism in the 1970s or ''80s. In fact, Thailand went on the offensive and supported anti-Communist counter-revolutionaries in Cambodia.

And yes, in the early 1960s when the decision was made to get involved in Vietnam, the Soviet Union was the unrivaled leader of world Communism, but by the 1970s, Soviet authority in the world movement was starting to crumble. The Chinese never liked playing backup behind anyone. Czechoslavakia had challenged Soviet power in Eastern Europe. Within a few years of the fall of Saigon, Poland would also start to challenge Soviet authority. But again, in the early 1960s, no one knew the USSR would start to weaken ten years later.

An alternative to the Domino Theory was 'vital interest.' The doves argued that Vietnam was not an important trading partner of the US, did not control any key resources (like oil), did not occupy a key place on the Earth's surface, etc. You might read of people using the Domino Theory in a vital interest argument - 'It's a vital interest of the US to fight Communism wherever it rears its ugly head...'

After South Vietnam fell to the Communists, the US barely noticed. There was no disruption in our trade, in our access to key resources, etc. The biggest impact of the Vietnam War on the US was the national loss of self-confidence and the loss of international prestige caused by the defeat which would not have been issues if the US had not gotten involved in the first place.

So I guess I'm saying that you can't blame JFK and LBJ for not knowing what would happen in the 1970s.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,461
Dispargum
I suppose I just don't understand what the point of this post is. No matter what we think of it half a century later, nothing has changed. It all still happened, and the people back then that did what they did based their decisions on what was happening at the time. Us sitting here in 2017 discussing who was right and who was wrong seems like a somewhat pointless endeavour, since in the end it's just our own opinion on it, utterly detached from the reality of what actually happened. Our modern day moral judgements are pretty irrelevant to the actual historical events.
It's a matter of lessons learned. If there are any future presidents or prime ministers in the forum, or even just concerned citizens, what can we learn from the past to avoid repeating those mistakes?
 
Sep 2013
907
Chattanooga, TN
So I guess I'm saying that you can't blame JFK and LBJ for not knowing what would happen in the 1970s.
I'm not necessarily saying that JFK and LBJ should have been ashamed or punished in any way. But hasn't history proven that JFK and LBJ were wrong?

It seems to me like the historical record is pretty clear that America's involvement in the Vietnam War was a terrible mistake.
 
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robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,169
Lisbon, Portugal
You're right about the Domino Theory being a major consideration in American foreign policy during the Cold War. It turned out not to be true in SE Asia, but of course no one could know that until after the war. The Communist leaders of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were much more interested in their own national liberation than in any global Communist agenda.
The major Communist powers and actors always put the Global Communist Revolution at second place, even the Soviet union.
The USSR was more concerned in protecting and hold what they already controlled, and it's noticeable that they put far more resources and military upgrade in Eastern Europe than in any other region in the world.

People always forget that the USSR also followed a policy of containment, because they also believed that the "Capitalist world" was conspiring into destroying the "progressive world" as they believe it.