Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

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Futurist
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Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 21 Jan 2021 01:16

Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day? In a 1989 National Review article of his, Peter Brimelow makes this comment:

https://vdare.com/articles/out-of-contr ... hining-lie
It is possible to make a case that U.S. interests did not require intervention in Vietnam. But quite apart from such geopolitical questions, the war posed practical military problems that Sheehan nowhere clearly explains. The peculiar geography of South Vietnam meant that Saigon had not only to defend a frontier eight hundred miles long but had to do so on exterior lines, an almost impossibly difficult task. The obvious solution was either to invade North Vietnam or at the very least to occupy Cambodia and Laos to the Mekong River, establishing the short, defensible frontier along a DMZ extended due west. But Washington refused to contemplate these options. Throughout the war, the North Vietnamese were able to import materiel from the Communist bloc through Haiphong Harbor, transship it down the Ho Chi Minh Trail parallel to the South Vietnamese border, and maintain sanctuaries in Cambodia within fifty miles of their enemy's capital. The United States and its allies were fighting with one arm tied behind their back—a posture they were able to maintain only because the United States' arm was so extraordinarily powerful.
What do you think would have occurred had the US actually taken Brimelow's advice during the Vietnam War? Invading North Vietnam would, I suspect, have likely triggered Chinese military intervention, but the idea of occupying Cambodia and Laos up to the Mekong River is certainly very interesting. This would have prevented North Vietnam from continuing to use the Ho Chi Minh Trail (as well as the Sihanouk Trail), after all. But of course then the US would have also had to deal with insurgencies in both Laos and Cambodia, no?

I'm curious about this topic because both South Korea and Taiwan have managed to survive up to the present-day in spite of them being hungrily eyed at by revanchist states--specifically North Korea and China--whereas South Vietnam failed to survive up to the present-day. So, I'm wondering if there was ever actually any realistic way to change this.

Thoughts?

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jan 2021 02:55

In the case of Korea, the peninsula could be effectively halved, as it was surrounded by water on three sides. It was not practical for large scale incursions from North to South by water without detection and ultimate destruction. So the DMZ made a fairly strong barrier.
In the case of Taiwan, being an island accomplished much the same thing.

Both countries were established during a period of rather weaker Soviet and Chinese military options.

Vietnam was far different. The US needed to defend the northern border, but also the western border with Laos and Cambodia. It was impractical to prevent incursions by insurgents without large scale escalation into these countries as well. Plus the USSR and China were much more capable of using nuclear deterrent sabre rattling to keep the US from doing exactly that.

Finally the political climate had changed. Young Americans were less and less willing to risk death to prop up corrupt or incompetent regimes half a world away. Add to that Nixon using the war as a political springboard.

In general these wars are very hard to win. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria are examples of countries that the US has been involved in. The current result does not reflect the overall military superiority the US has at its disposal today.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 21 Jan 2021 05:36

Americans were also drafted during the Korean War, no? But of course the Korean War lasted less long than the Vietnam War did.

BTW, we actually won our war in Iraq. ISIS only came later, and even then we managed to help the Iraqis defeat them as well. :)

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by paulrward » 21 Jan 2021 06:41

Hello All ;

So many things to comment on, and so little time.......

Mr. MalteseFalcon commented :
In the case of Korea, the peninsula could be effectively halved, as it
was surrounded by water on three sides.
I believe that the definition of a Peninsula is a area of land surrounded on three sides by water......
...Vietnam was far different. The US needed to defend the northern border....
Actually, the US had to defend the entire southern part of Vietnam, as the majority of the citizens of
South Vietnam hated and despised the Puppet Government in Saigon. The Viet Cong didn't migrate from
the North, they were a home grown entity that sprang out of the resistance of the peasant landowners in
the South who were having their private property confiscated by the Saigon Government to enrich a few
wealthy families that were ' connected ' to the ruling clique. The United States joined in the program of
land confiscation, and, as a result, we became the target of the Viet Cong.
Finally the political climate had changed. Young Americans were less and
less willing to risk death to prop up corrupt or incompetent regimes half a world
away. Add to that Nixon using the war as a political springboard.
Historically, Young Americans have NEVER been willing to risk death ( or, as so many did in Vietnam, actually
DIE) to prop up corrupt regimes. If you look at the U.S. involvement in Central America in the 1930s, you
will note that it was mainly conducted by the U.S. Marines, who were volunteers, usually for economic
or social / legal reasons. As the Vietnam fighting escalated, more and more draftees were required to serve,
and, without a volunteer force, it is very difficult to engage in a conflict in which the survival of the nation is
not at stake.

As for Nixon, as much as I hated the little creep at the time, it turns out that, from the moment he took office,
he was reducing the U.S. involvement in SEA at a rate of about 10 K men per month, which was just about the
same rate that LBJ had been increasing it. As a result, since Lyndon spent four years building up the U.S. forces
in Vietnam, Tricky Dick needed that same four years to get the hell out. Which, if you look at a graph of the
troop counts in Vietnam, you will see it was a straight line going up during the LBJ years, and an equally straight
line going down under Nixon.


Mr. Futurist stated :
Americans were also drafted during the Korean War, no? But of course
the Korean War lasted less long than the Vietnam War did.

Yes, but the fighting was more intense, and , initially, there seemed to be a will to win in Korea. However,
after Harry the Haberdasher sacked MacArthur, the U.S went on the defensive, and the morale of the troops
began to decline. In the U.S., you had increasing numbers of young men looking for a way out of the draft,
and many sought to avoid going overseas by enlisting in the National Guard, which did not get called up for
Korea.
BTW, we actually won our war in Iraq. ISIS only came later, and even
then we managed to help the Iraqis defeat them as well. :)
I am reminded of a quote from the Film, ' City Slickers '. Billy Crystal's character asks Jack Palance:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMbqlNGxNUI


Mr. Futurist, that section of the world has often been referred to as ' The Graveyard of Empires '.

And the Day Ain't Over Yet !


Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
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Voices that are banned, are voices who cannot share information....
Discussions that are silenced, are discussions that will occur elsewhere !

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 Jan 2021 16:57

Early on the leaders in the north were very concerned about a US invasion. Their plan was to negotiate a peace treaty if that happened. In the latter half of the 1960s they reach a point where they felt strong enough that sucessfull resistance was possible. So, by 69, 68, or 67 the opportunity was gone. The ARVN failure to close the Laotian route in 1970 suggests that option was also lost in the latter 1960s.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jan 2021 17:04

paulrward wrote:
21 Jan 2021 06:41
Hello All ;

So many things to comment on, and so little time.......

Mr. MalteseFalcon commented :
In the case of Korea, the peninsula could be effectively halved, as it
was surrounded by water on three sides.
I believe that the definition of a Peninsula is a area of land surrounded on three sides by water......
...Vietnam was far different. The US needed to defend the northern border....
Actually, the US had to defend the entire southern part of Vietnam, as the majority of the citizens of
South Vietnam hated and despised the Puppet Government in Saigon. The Viet Cong didn't migrate from
the North, they were a home grown entity that sprang out of the resistance of the peasant landowners in
the South who were having their private property confiscated by the Saigon Government to enrich a few
wealthy families that were ' connected ' to the ruling clique. The United States joined in the program of
land confiscation, and, as a result, we became the target of the Viet Cong.
Finally the political climate had changed. Young Americans were less and
less willing to risk death to prop up corrupt or incompetent regimes half a world
away. Add to that Nixon using the war as a political springboard.
Historically, Young Americans have NEVER been willing to risk death ( or, as so many did in Vietnam, actually
DIE) to prop up corrupt regimes. If you look at the U.S. involvement in Central America in the 1930s, you
will note that it was mainly conducted by the U.S. Marines, who were volunteers, usually for economic
or social / legal reasons. As the Vietnam fighting escalated, more and more draftees were required to serve,
and, without a volunteer force, it is very difficult to engage in a conflict in which the survival of the nation is
not at stake.

As for Nixon, as much as I hated the little creep at the time, it turns out that, from the moment he took office,
he was reducing the U.S. involvement in SEA at a rate of about 10 K men per month, which was just about the
same rate that LBJ had been increasing it. As a result, since Lyndon spent four years building up the U.S. forces
in Vietnam, Tricky Dick needed that same four years to get the hell out. Which, if you look at a graph of the
troop counts in Vietnam, you will see it was a straight line going up during the LBJ years, and an equally straight
line going down under Nixon.


Mr. Futurist stated :
Americans were also drafted during the Korean War, no? But of course
the Korean War lasted less long than the Vietnam War did.

Yes, but the fighting was more intense, and , initially, there seemed to be a will to win in Korea. However,
after Harry the Haberdasher sacked MacArthur, the U.S went on the defensive, and the morale of the troops
began to decline. In the U.S., you had increasing numbers of young men looking for a way out of the draft,
and many sought to avoid going overseas by enlisting in the National Guard, which did not get called up for
Korea.
BTW, we actually won our war in Iraq. ISIS only came later, and even
then we managed to help the Iraqis defeat them as well. :)
I am reminded of a quote from the Film, ' City Slickers '. Billy Crystal's character asks Jack Palance:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMbqlNGxNUI


Mr. Futurist, that section of the world has often been referred to as ' The Graveyard of Empires '.

And the Day Ain't Over Yet !


Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
Most of your comments above were on point. However, I think the first comment on the peninsula definition was a bit patronizing and rude. I was simply trying to point out the difference in physical geography between the two nations, which could lead to a potentially different defense strategy.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Jan 2021 17:16

Futurist wrote:
21 Jan 2021 05:36

BTW, we actually won our war in Iraq. ISIS only came later, and even then we managed to help the Iraqis defeat them as well. :)
Technically the US fought the Iraqis twice. And ISIS managed to develop in spite of this. The end result depends on your definition of victory. Is the country a stable, democratic and peaceful regime? Are Iraqis now pro-West? Will another tin pot dictator emerge from the ashes?

And if the US won their war, why are they still insisting on keeping some troops in the area? (My figures may be out of date, but I think there were still 3000 there in September)

I'm trying to show a distinction between victory (military, diplomatic and political) and a strategic wind down used as political leverage in a tough election year.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 21 Jan 2021 23:09

FWIW, I don't think that Iraq is likely to become a dictatorship in the future. As for keeping a couple thousand US troops in Iraq, it's primarily to guard against the risk of an ISIS resurgence, I believe. Well, that and to keep a closer eye on Iran next door.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Kingfish » 22 Jan 2021 10:24

maltesefalcon wrote:
21 Jan 2021 17:16
And if the US won their war, why are they still insisting on keeping some troops in the area? (My figures may be out of date, but I think there were still 3000 there in September)
Technically for the same reason we won the war against Germany and Japan, yet maintained a significant military presence in both nations long after the surrender docs were signed.

As old despots are eliminated new threats emerge to try and fill the void.

It's a game of whack-a-mole played on a global scale and across all of human history.
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
~Babylonian Proverb

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Terry Duncan » 22 Jan 2021 14:24

Can people please refrain from straying into any comments on modern day events? The site doesnt allow such comments as they can lead to flame wars and ill-feeling.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 23 Jan 2021 03:09

Terry Duncan wrote:
22 Jan 2021 14:24
Can people please refrain from straying into any comments on modern day events? The site doesnt allow such comments as they can lead to flame wars and ill-feeling.
So, nothing after 1988? Or is a different year the deadline for this?

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Terry Duncan » 23 Jan 2021 10:38

From memory it is anything in the last 20 years, though it seems to no longer be in the rules as such.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 23 Jan 2021 21:31

Terry Duncan wrote:
23 Jan 2021 10:38
From memory it is anything in the last 20 years, though it seems to no longer be in the rules as such.
So, in less than a year, 9/11 will be fair game for discussion?

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Terry Duncan » 25 Jan 2021 10:33

Futurist wrote:
23 Jan 2021 21:31
Terry Duncan wrote:
23 Jan 2021 10:38
From memory it is anything in the last 20 years, though it seems to no longer be in the rules as such.
So, in less than a year, 9/11 will be fair game for discussion?
In theory, yes, though of course it all depends on what form that disussion takes and how people behave in it.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 29 Jan 2021 20:40

Terry Duncan wrote:
25 Jan 2021 10:33
Futurist wrote:
23 Jan 2021 21:31
Terry Duncan wrote:
23 Jan 2021 10:38
From memory it is anything in the last 20 years, though it seems to no longer be in the rules as such.
So, in less than a year, 9/11 will be fair game for discussion?
In theory, yes, though of course it all depends on what form that disussion takes and how people behave in it.
Understood.

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