US motive for Vietnam war

May 2014
196
Norway
#1
What would be the strategic and economic benefit to a US influenced Vietnam, if the US and their allies had won the Vietnam war?

I have a hard time believing that the US only motive was an ideological fight against communism. What economic and strategic interests did the US have in Indochina during the cold war?

What was the true motive for going to war in Vietnam?
 
Oct 2014
268
Poole. UK
#2
The USA had a true fear of the "domino theory" so if one country fell to communism then it's neighbours would be subdued and fall to the communists. The true motive of going to war was to stop the whole of SE Asia falling under communist control.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,265
Dispargum
#3
The Defense Industrial Complex consisted of 'better dead than red' fanatical politicians, defense contractors, and a generation of military officers who had cut their teeth on WW2 and Korea and who were bored by peacetime routine. ("It's not much of a war, but it's the only war we've got" - annonymous military officer in Vietnam.)

President Lyndon Johnston feared his ambitious domestic agenda would be sabotagd by conservatives in Congress if they could label him as soft on Communism. It wasn't the first (or the last) time politicians went to war just to prove the size of their genitalia.
 
Jul 2016
9,676
USA
#4
The Defense Industrial Complex consisted of 'better dead than red' fanatical politicians, defense contractors, and a generation of military officers who had cut their teeth on WW2 and Korea and who were bored by peacetime routine. ("It's not much of a war, but it's the only war we've got" - annonymous military officer in Vietnam.)

President Lyndon Johnston feared his ambitious domestic agenda would be sabotagd by conservatives in Congress if they could label him as soft on Communism. It wasn't the first (or the last) time politicians went to war just to prove the size of their genitalia.
Did you just regurgitate Norm Chomsky or was that Howard Zinn? :lol:
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,142
Lisbon, Portugal
#5
The motive for going to war in Vietnam has all to do with "the policy of containment" which was the main doctrine of the US foreign policy during the Cold War.
This policy subscribed to a somewhat erroneous idea that every communist movement, guerrilla or political party anywhere in the world was created, controlled and part of the Soviet agenda to somehow control the world.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle:
The Soviet Union didn't at all planned to control or take over the world, even though they believe that capitalism would self-destroy in the near-future and the "all people's of the world" would happily embrace communism.
What the Soviets really wanted to directly control was nothing more of what was the traditional and historical Russian sphere of influence. That means Eastern Europe, Central Asia and parts of the Middle East.

All other communist movements, guerrillas, revolutions that appeared outside of the Soviet sphere of influence were endogenous in nature and didn't have any substantial Soviet involvement until those communists took power of their respective countries. Most of the time the Soviet Union were in a way "dragged" to be involved in those countries, or felt compelled to do it because - believe it or not - the Soviets also applied a policy of containment just like the US.
It's funny to know that during the Cold War both sides were playing on the defense and both believe that each opponent was the agressive one.

The case of Vietnam confirms what I've just said:
The communist movement was largely endogenous and nationalistic, with little Soviet involvement or part of any international conspiracy.
US believed that the Russians were about to turn Vietnam and the entire Asian continent into their courtyard, so the US felt compelled to intervene in that country and teach the communist a lesson and serve as an example of how the communist expansion should be stopped.
 
Jul 2016
9,676
USA
#6
The land we call Vietnam has nearly always been subjugated by foreign rulers. The Viet people (the majority ethnic group) were first occupied by the various Chinese dynasties, then by the French. Following the French Vichy capitulation of French Indochina (which included Vietnam) a local resistance started, partly partisan French, but largely made up of local peasants and they fought back against their occupiers in much the same unconventional way they would continue doing for the next 30 years. This group would morph into a insurgent force called the Viet Minh. Many of its core leaders were pretty evenly split between nationalists, those simply seeking to break free of foreign rulers and puppet kings and create their own republic or parliament style govt. And the communists, who were pretty much in every country in the world at that point.

These Vietnamese guerrillas were fighting the Japanese with American help, in fact the first American casualty to Vietnam happened to an OSS adviser during WWII. By the close of the war the Japanese barely held on to power, despite using every measure of control and violence they could muster (they weren't nice occupiers). Japan lost the war, pulled out of Vietnam, which created a major power vacuum. Then the French got their acts together a bit post-war and decided they wanted their colonies back. But the Vietminh put up a fight about it. And ended up winning the war in a grand victory with the climax being a major tactical victory when they successful encircled Dien Bien Phu, where the French military force guarding the base were forced to surrender.

The US involvement during the war really skyrocketed during this time. France needed to maintain control over Vietnam, namely because it was a natural resource rich nation, namely rubber and petroleum. Part of the Vietminh, taking over more and more of the organization year by year, were the communists, the chief among them with the Nom de Guerre of Ho Chi Minh, someone who contrary to popular history was ALWAYS a fervent communist of the Marxist-Maoist violent revolution variety. The US was trying to form NATO at the time and the French were hold outs; America wanted them military committed to defend W. Germany from a forceful Soviet led unification. But France was playing hard ball negotiating; they wanted American military aid (money and weapons/supplies) to fight in their colonial wars. So we took the side of the French, a very pragmatic and unmoral decision, but one that was seen at the time as the smart decision. Why back a nobody group of part nationalists-part communists, when instead you can back a nation that will help you fight communists. This decision would have lasting consequences.

Militarily France could simply not do what was necessary to properly fight the Vietminh insurgents, who by this point were becoming better and better armed thanks to the Soviet Union and the newly installed communist government of the PRC. France wanted more and more help, going so far in the end to demand the US perform air support, and even having some military officials contemplating using tactical nuclear weapons to break the siege at Dien Bien Phu (talking about a 3-4 kiloton weapon, one or two dropped, which would in fact have utterly destroyed the Vietminh ability and morale to continue the campaign). But we didn't carry through with it, we lacked the political will to fight to the end for victory, to do whatever it takes, another nasty lesson of the American involvement in Vietnam was that we never properly committed, it was always seen as side policy by previous presidents involved (FDR and Truman during and after WWII, Ike during the French-Indochina War, then JFK, LBJ, and Nixon during the American Vietnam War), who had to focus on the true threat, the Soviet Union, at all times, since they were controlling Comintern, a very real conspiracy group to take over the world with violent revolution (the sort that ends with tens of millions dying in single nations).

After the French lost we worked on point as the mediator between the French and Vietminh leaders (the most powerful of which, that had largely usurped and murdered their way into controlling, was Ho Chi Minh's communists, which he was then the unopposed leader chairman of). We settled on breaking the country in half along the 17th Parallel, with North Vietnam, the People's Republic of Vietnam, being temporarily controlled by the communists (whose benefactors were the powerful USSR and PRC), and the friendly Republic of Vietnam set up in the South, with a "democratic" parliament, originally headed by the former puppet emperor but then led by a president, a JFK approved Catholic Vietnamese politician who had been in exile in America (the famous Diem). The deal was that in four years there would be national elections and whomever won would take over the whole country (this was done with the US working on influencing the vote enough to ensure the South would win).

However, it backfired. The elite of the South Vietnamese govt were largely Catholics, while the rest were Buddhists. This was a long term internal conflict, those Vietnamese that had worked with their French overlords had converted to Catholicism as a way of gaining influence and power (they were then seen as "friendly and loyal Viets" by the French). There were long term land ownership issues, as there had been much movement within the nation prior to the Geneva Conference. There were widespread protests, even riots, where the Buddhist monks were lighting themselves on fire and such. And all the while the North Vietnamese are working with the South Vietnamese communists (the NLF, nicknamed the Vietcong (meaning the Viet communists), paying them, supporting them, helping with propaganda, etc.

It didn't take long before widespread nation wide fighting began in South Vietnam, as the South Vietnamese govt were simply not capable of holding the urban areas (part control) and the rural areas (almost no control, which was Communist territory). American State Dept pukes working for Ike realizing this, that their side was going to lose. They canceled the big election once they realized the Communist were going to win (themselves using every dirty trick in the book too). Then once the fighting started the NLF declared war against the South Govt. Ike and his govt, knowing that the overall thread of communism spreading globally, that all revolutions were originating from either Russia or China, supported the South Vietnamese govt (even though it was rather corrupt and incompetent) because of the old "friend of my enemy" adage. Again, morale pragmatism is not the issue. The issue is resolve, more so the lack of it.

By the time Kennedy was president the US military was doing more than just funding them, we now had CIA and US Army advisers training them, embedding with their units and going on missions with them (though technically the advisers were not supposed to fight, that rule was rarely followed). And even that didn't help, because the more we stepped up and supported the South Vietnamese (really doing the bare minimum), then the more Soviet Union or China contributed (both of whom were competing with each other to be the patrons of the Vietnamese communists). Kennedy even okayed a military coup to overthrow and assassinate Diem (though many said that Kennedy was not okay with them killing him, his wife, and her brother). But North Vietnamese grew stronger, Ho Chi Minh's control over his own nation and the South (by controlling the northern communists, he in effect controlled the southern communists). The Vietcong were growing stronger too, being fed by a infiltration route avoided the Demilitarized Zone of the 17th Parallel, instead using neighboring former Indochina lands of Laos and Cambodia (which were supposed to remain neutral). So at this point the South Vietnamese govt is doing so poorly they are about to lose everything if the US doesn't step up. So the US govt, now run by Lyndon Johnson, is looking for any excuse to keep things going. Then they get what could have been a break, could have been exploiting real things for political games, or could have been made up, bogus, faked.

First, the famous Tonkin Bay incident. The US Navy was patrolling VERY close to the North Vietamese shoreline, not really respecting local waters. They'd dart in, spotlight someone and then pull out, like a game of chicken or tag. The North Vietnamese had some patrol boats with torpedos, and supposedly in two separate incidents the North Vietnamese fired torpedoes at US ships. The first was likely real, the second one someone spotted incorrectly which by the time it reached LBJ he'd already went public with it as justification to send in US troops.

The other incident was started when the US decided to start performing air strikes and using helicopters to assist the South Vietnamese. These bases in South Vietnam used to house the jets and helicopters began being attacked by VC. Organic US personnel performing base security didn't have the firepower and ability to stop them. So LBJ authorized a dramatic troop deployment, Marines, the 1st Cavalry Division, and some other units, to insert into South Vietnam, secure the air bases, and perform counter guerrilla operations to protect the South.

The rest is really history. By and large, the platoon, company, and battalion commanders running infantry units within the US Army and Marines, not to mention most NCOs and private soldiers, simply had no real understanding or knowledge as to how to fight an insurgency without simply killing everyone (which is not what the US military did, if we wanted to destroy the nation we could have done it a hundred different ways more effective than what we did).

The US politicians micro-managed the war totally. They restricted attacking the North to a level early on that made the war completely unwinnable. By the time they began attacking the North in ernest they weren't doing enough for long enough. Because ultimately not a single US president involved in Vietnam conflict, all the way back to FDR and Truman, had the guts to truly commit over that conflict. And I wouldn't blame them either.

That extra step needed to break the will of the North Vietnam communists, however it was delivered, could have actually sparked a real shooting war with the Soviets or the Chinese, and that was something nobody in the US govt really wanted, especially since all of those nations, them and US, had ample supply of nukes. We had reason not to bet everything, so we didn't. And for that, in the end, because the VC had been had been supported with an ever increasing number of weapons and supplies nonstop, because the North Vietnamese had been supported nonstop, because they worked together, because their national leaders didn't need to worry about polls or elections (because they were totalitarian govts run by ruthless murdering communists who simply killed anyone who opposed them, "by any means necessary" sort)

Add in that the public opinion about the war was never strong from the get go. Major social issues back home, an anti-war movement that was tied to fashion and being "hip" among the youth, plus a growing leftist movement in the US population that was ultimately being supported by the KGB and Soviet Union, all contributed to a major loss in political will, that curtailed the violent tactics the US military wanted to perform to win the war. And in the end, the Left of American won control of Congress and shoved through enough bills to kill all support for the South Vietnamese govt, even to override veto. And so it was that North Vietnam finally launched a grand enough offensive, led by tanks and conventional infantry, supported by artillery, with real logistics capabilities, finally overthrew the South Vietnamese govt, an act that ultimately led to more deaths than had suffered during all previous 20th century Vietnamese conflicts.

Because communists all ways act like communists, which is synonymous with being murdering totalitarians thugs.
 
May 2014
196
Norway
#7
The USA had a true fear of the "domino theory" so if one country fell to communism then it's neighbours would be subdued and fall to the communists. The true motive of going to war was to stop the whole of SE Asia falling under communist control.
Why would this be a threat to US interests? Who cares if some insignificant country in eastern asia falls to communism?

The US had strong economic interests in latin america and that influenced many of the US actions against small latin american countries. I don't know much about the economic aspect of the cold war, but I suspect economic and strategic interest played a role and not just pure fear of the domino theory.

Later the americans tried to approach China which would invade Vietnam in a short war in 1979 over the war with Cambodia which was China and Vietnam was Soviet influenced.
 
Jul 2016
9,676
USA
#8
Why would this be a threat to US interests? Who cares if some insignificant country in eastern asia falls to communism?

The US had strong economic interests in latin america and that influenced many of the US actions against small latin american countries. I don't know much about the economic aspect of the cold war, but I suspect economic and strategic interest played a role and not just pure fear of the domino theory.

Later the americans tried to approach China which would invade Vietnam in a short war in 1979 over the war with Cambodia which was China and Vietnam was Soviet influenced.
Communism is like Ebola. As long as its out there it can and will spread, and the more it spreads, then the more it suffer. It gets exponentially worse. Since the VERY real repercussion of a communist takeoever is a mass murdering totalitarian govt that will destroy the victim nation's society, economy, and everything else before their utopias destroy themselves and the communist govt falls.

Your claim about the US asking China to invade. That is laughably inaccurate. The Vietnamese were getting a bit too big for their breaches, influencing neighbors (trying to take over patronage and control of Laotian and Cambodian and Thai communists). China staged a show of force as punishment, a limited attack. And it was a complete and total disaster. They tried to fight their way quickly to threaten Hanoi and the Red River Delta area, forcibly replacing the antagonistic communist Vietnamese govt with their own puppet communists. But it turns out that by that point the PLA was a joke while the Vietnamese were some of the most battle hardened people alive.

Chinese and Viets have ALWAYS hated each other's guts. They needed no great reason to reignite their hatred, certainly not the Carter administration which would have been the one who would arrange such an attack based on your false conspiracy theory.
 
Last edited:

Von Ranke

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
6,377
Thistleland
#9
Communism is like Ebola. As long as its out there it can and will spread, and the more it spreads, then the more it suffer. It gets exponentially worse. Since the VERY real repercussion of a communist takeoever is a mass murdering totalitarian govt that will destroy the victim nation's society, economy, and everything else before their utopias destroy themselves and the communist govt falls.
Thank God we had Uncle Sam to sort out these dirty Commies and put a stop to the domino theory playing out in Vietnam.

 
Jul 2016
9,676
USA
#10
Thank God we had Uncle Sam to sort out these dirty Commies and put a stop to the domino theory playing out in Vietnam.

Yeah, all those commies did nothing wrong. They were just innocent little angels...



And its not like the Domino Theory was real, because that would mean if it was real that nations like Cambodia would indeed haven fallen to those same innocent angel commies too, and we know that didn't happen...