Vietnam War - left and right positions then and now

Aug 2012
98
I am curious about what the views were on the Vietnam War with regards to whether or not and why the war was justified.

1) What were the views on this at the time

What was the spectrum of opinion and what was the reasoning. I'm curious to hear any minority opinions besides what the consensus was on the left and the right.

Did paleocons and neo cons differ on it, were there different views on the left etc.

2) Same as 1, but now, rather than at the time

If you can point me to any online sources that answer those questions that'd be great.
 

Pendennis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Re the view of the war now no less a personage than Robert McNamara- the superhawk who led LBJ's policy of involving the USA in the Vietnam War from 1964 onwards , shortly before dying from cancer- said that he regretted the war which he now believed was a major mistake by the LBJ administration.
Thus McNamara vindicated the wisdom of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1960's is rejecting a request from LBJ aide Dean Rusk to send British troops to take part in this squalid and unjustifiable war which many then student activists in Britain like myself opposed and demonstrated against.
Nevertheless, I feel genuine sorrow for the parents of all those young American grunts who died so needlessly for the absurd Domino theory i.e. If we don't stop the Vietcong in the Mekong delta then we will have to top them on the banks of the Potomac..''
Utter bulls***t of course. the war ended with Ho Chi Minh's victory in 1975 and and 43 years later not a single A.K.-47 toting Cong has thus far ever appeared on Pennsylvania Avenue. in Washington D.C. .
In Britain on October 27 1968 there was a massive anti- American involvement in 'Nam demo by students and a gallamaufray of left and liberal Brits aimed at the American embassy in London.
However, I did not approve of certain imbeciles who attached themselves to the demo and were photographed in the British press kicking policemen in the head.(The majority of the protestors were decent people however.
The sheer hypocrisy of claims that those poor grunts drafted to 'Nam were defending 'democracy was exposed in the American magazine 'Newsweek' in 1965 which carried a story that the only undertaker in a West Virginian town -a Caucasian -refused to bury an Afro-American Sergeant killed in 'Nam.
The Afro-American Sgt was from the same town as the undertake who rejected burying him on the grounds that he -the undertaker- did not give his services to Afro-Americans.
Now you know why Muhammad Ali refused the draft and said 'No Vietcong ever called me n****r'
 

Pendennis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
The Vietnam war was never justified.
In 1954 a British Conservative Prime Minster who had vast previous experience of diplomacy as a British Conservative Foreign Minster, Anthony Eden, and French Premiere Pierre Mendes France, successfully brought the colonial war between Ho Chi Minh and the French to a peaceful end via the Geneva agreement of 1954.
Under this deal the French agreed to quit Indo-China as they called Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh was promised that -in July 1956- elections would be held throughout Vietnam to decide who would rule the whole country-American client Bao Dai or Ho .
When American Cold Warrior John Foster Dullies was advised that such an election in 1956 would see Ho romp home to unite 'Nam under his rule Dulles encouraged Bao to renege on Eden's 1954 Geneva agreement so no elections took place in July 1956 and the rest is history.
Thousands of folk died needlessly simply because Dulles and the US State Dept cynically encouraged their South Vietnamese client rulers to break the 1954 agreement.
That's why at the height of the war in the 1960's, Anthony Eden- then retired- called for both sides to revive the 1954 Geneva agreement brokered by himself and the French Premiere.
 

Pendennis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Correction-Eden was British Foreign Secretary in 1954 -he did not succeed Churchlil until 1955 as P.M-. sorry for the homeric nod.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,672
Cornwall
The world was a different place then. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The issue which brought the large protests was actually not about principle but about casualties and difficulties.

If it had all been over in 6 months and 'little N Vietnam' been knocked over as they expected then no one would have batted an eyelid.

The Domino theory seemed OK at the time. Turned out it ended up working in reverse as communism collapsed.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,877
Portugal
I think that in the USA/Western perspective, in the Cold War scenario, providing support to South Vietnam was not only seen as justified but also as desirable. The Communist expansion in the world was real and was seen as a danger. And the Domino Theory was right… only for Laos and Cambodia.

The problem, as most of the times, was the implementation of the support and the strategies followed. Having more than 500 000 US military personal in South Vietnam by 1968 was already a Communist victory, in a Realpolitik perspective, that doesn’t care much with the human consequences, they dragged the US to a swap. And the USA stayed there and with the consequences for many years. Even today I see people from the USA claiming that they didn’t loose the war – can denial be a psychological consequence of defeat?
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,086
Canary Islands-Spain
I totally agree with Tulius, in the context of the Cold War, and in order to keep the balance of power in favour of the US, the Vietnam War was necessary.

The fail was political, the US was unable even to implement a decent agrarian reform and redistribution of land, because of clear ideological constraints. Instead, they based their presence in SV on the support of Catholic oligarchy, great bussyness and high rank military personnel. Thus, in a heavy Buddhist and agrarian country, they lost.

Reform the land, give it to the peasants, promote public education and healthcare for the masses. But then, the US wouldn't be the US.
 
Feb 2017
425
Minneapolis
The Vietnam war was never justified.
In 1954 a British Conservative Prime Minster who had vast previous experience of diplomacy as a British Conservative Foreign Minster, Anthony Eden, and French Premiere Pierre Mendes France, successfully brought the colonial war between Ho Chi Minh and the French to a peaceful end via the Geneva agreement of 1954.
Under this deal the French agreed to quit Indo-China as they called Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh was promised that -in July 1956- elections would be held throughout Vietnam to decide who would rule the whole country-American client Bao Dai or Ho .
When American Cold Warrior John Foster Dullies was advised that such an election in 1956 would see Ho romp home to unite 'Nam under his rule Dulles encouraged Bao to renege on Eden's 1954 Geneva agreement so no elections took place in July 1956 and the rest is history.
Thousands of folk died needlessly simply because Dulles and the US State Dept cynically encouraged their South Vietnamese client rulers to break the 1954 agreement.
That's why at the height of the war in the 1960's, Anthony Eden- then retired- called for both sides to revive the 1954 Geneva agreement brokered by himself and the French Premiere.
I tend to agree with this assessment.
 

David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
. . .
The Domino theory seemed OK at the time. Turned out it ended up working in reverse as communism collapsed.
I have a different take on the domino theory. I was in Vietnam and hated most every minute of it, and opposed the War before, during and after being there. However, in hindsight, the War in Vietnam was message to the Soviet Union and to China that the US and its allies would pay a very large price indeed to keep communism from spreading, even to a country that was not strategically related to its other interests.

Compare the actions of the USSR in Afghanistan, a country which had much more claim to being vital to the USSR, and you can begin to see why the Western Democracies won.
 
May 2013
211
Tir na nOg
One of the big problems was the inequality of the draft. Blacks, the poor and working class kids got sent to Viet Nam. The sons of the wealthy and connected not so much. Think Bill Clinton or George Bush. Bush spent his time in the Air National Guard keeping Texas safe from Oklahoma.