How was Vietnam different from other wars

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
9,990
Damned England
Well, the media coverage of Vietnam was initially quite comprehensive, but as soon as public opinion caused outcries- which led to riots in some countries- there was soon a clampdown.

Famous photographer Don McCullin was extremely frustrated because although he shot some of the most iconic photos of that war (and others besides), the only ones used by the mainstream press were the ones of soldiers being decorated, or being visited by senior officers etc, whilst recovering. Positive propaganda. In this interview:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/feb/07/don-mccullin-shaped-war-review

He makes the pertinent remark that modern photographer have no chance of reportage unless they are "embedded" (are you listening, BBC?). That essentially means: they show what they are told to.

In McCullin's day, they could photograph what they wanted, but towards the end, it was a case of censorship by omission. The pattern for our present. But at least back in the '60's, there was a healthy non mainstream media who would show his photos. And who can forget such images as the shellshocked US Marine?
 

skizzerflake

Ad Honorem
Mar 2010
2,141
Baltimore, Maryland
...... The US also badly misunderstood the reality of the political situation in Vietnam. Sure the North were communists as were many in the south, but they were nationalists as well, perhaps more so. They were never going to become part of a massive communist block.
They took the help they recieved from the USSR and China because they had to, but they were never going to subsume themselve to the will of the Chinese....or the USSR.
It's a damn pity that the US couldn't have come to see Vietnam as an asian equivalent to Tito's Yugoslavia.
That was the big weakness of the Cold War mentality. Everything was viewed through blinders that only showed black and white. Viet Nam could only by OK in our eyes if it was an enemy of our enemies and anything that had any stink of communism (whatever communism actually was) had to be our enemy. The great failure was in not seeing that Viet Nam wasn't China or the USSR.
 
Jan 2010
2,974
Incline Village near Lake Tahoe
Male draftees were indiscriminately shanghaied and took the brunt of those killed. All for an unpopular war to allegedly halt communism with a false holy mission brought about by the Gulf of Tonkin debacle.
 
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Son of Cathal

Ad Honorem
Oct 2008
4,311
The Bright Center of the Universe
Male draftees were indiscriminately shanghaied and took the brunt of those killed. All for an unpopular war to allegedly halt communism with a false holy mission brought about by the Gulf of Tonkin debacle.
I so glad Australia wasn't the same
 

skizzerflake

Ad Honorem
Mar 2010
2,141
Baltimore, Maryland
Male draftees were indiscriminately shanghaied and took the brunt of those killed. All for an unpopular war to allegedly halt communism with a false holy mission brought about by the Gulf of Tonkin debacle.
Blaming draftees for the conduct of the war is something we should be ashamed of. In addition, I don't know who did this, but years ago there was a fairly serious job of reporting that indicated that the Tonkin incident was not a debacle, but a fabrication. Interviewed some years later, sailors on the ship that was attacked could not recall being "attacked" and radar operators never saw the alleged N Vietnamese ship. Whatever the truth, it served the purpose of inflaming opinion for a while and providing justification for a big escalation.
 
Jan 2010
2,974
Incline Village near Lake Tahoe
Draftees were not to blame ..!!! and I would never think or assert that they did. The responsibility is set in Congress who never made a legitimate assessment of the President's dubious propositions of War; then impeaching the President at once before even Declaring War. Instead we let the Veterans dangle on the rope upon return, swim in agent orange, take away their weapons and smoke the pot that the adversary was pushing onto them.
 

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
9,990
Damned England
I think Muhammad Ali had it right when he refused to go, stating that white men send lots of black men to fight yellow men who never did them any harm: "No Vietcong ever called me "nigger". Oversimplistic, of course, because most soldiers sent were white, but the principle is good. Soldiers fight best when they understand why they're fighting, best summed up by the song of the WW1 British in France: "We're here because we're here....." ad nauseum. When French citizens towards the end of the war started to insult them and throw stones at them, they even wondered whether they were on the wrong side.... By then, they were fighting to avenge their fallen comrades.
 
Jan 2010
2,974
Incline Village near Lake Tahoe
I think Muhammad Ali had it right when he refused to go, stating that white men send lots of black men to fight yellow men who never did them any harm: "No Vietcong ever called me "nigger". Oversimplistic, of course, because most soldiers sent were white, but the principle is good. Soldiers fight best when they understand why they're fighting, best summed up by the song of the WW1 British in France: "We're here because we're here....." ad nauseum. When French citizens towards the end of the war started to insult them and throw stones at them, they even wondered whether they were on the wrong side.... By then, they were fighting to avenge their fallen comrades.
While I am no fan of the Vietnam War, his "No Vietcong ever called me "nigger" was a racist attack from a spoiled black athlete and a cowardice illegal response to Americans and other Draftees. He was reversed at the Supreme Court because the Government failed to specify which claim were rejected (procedural grounds) and eventually sent back to boxing against Joe Frazier.
 
Feb 2008
6,041
trapped inside a hominid skull
"I would also like to add that the US at this point was probably fightng a "Politically Correct" version of war in 'Nam. The politicians set up strict rules and guidelines for the military to follow rather then letting them get in there and get the job done."
HistoryFreak1912



The situation was the exact opposite.
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre"]My Lai Massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
There were many many more such situations. Also I would not call carpet bombing being politically correct. Two to three times more bombs dropped in Vietnam than fell on Western Europe in WW2.
From the site given in this post.
" Three U.S. servicemen who made an effort to halt the massacre and protect the wounded were denounced by U.S. Congressmen, received hate mail and death threats and found mutilated animals on their doorsteps."
 
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Apr 2018
1
Tucson, Arizona
Actually the War of 1812 was the first war the US lost :D

Okay enough of that....

First of all, Vietnam was doomed for failure it was fought by the French for something like 10 years and French President De Gaulle warned US leaders not to get too involved in the conflict. The North Vietnamese as you stated used guerilla tactics but they also trapped the US forces into very compromising positions by allowing whole divisions into an area then encircling and picking them off one by one. The Bombing by the US was also futile because of the lay of the land as the Viet Cong forces would go underground or take refuge in foliage that wasn't attacked.

The US military command had no experience or concept of Guerilla warfare and thus used conventional methods from WWII as the basis for their operations which failed. It's true the North never actually had huge victories in the conventional sense but they did enough damage over time that US public sentiment turned against the war. The Tet Offensive is a great example of this as the offensive worked early on but by and large it was a failure but Americans seeing the bloodshed and horror of American troops getting killed on top of Walter Cronkite telling the nation how horrible the situation was sealed the US military command's fate insofar as it concerned public sentiment.

I believe it actually was more like a tie due to no land gained nor lost. They failed to invade Boston and it resulted in the Treaty of Ghent. The Battle of New Orleans was also a massive victory. It seems to me more like a stalemate.