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

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

Post by Futurist » 13 Feb 2021 01:40

maltesefalcon wrote:
21 Jan 2021 02:55
It was impractical to prevent incursions by insurgents without large scale escalation into these countries as well.
What about indeed doing large-scale escalation into these countries as well--especially into Laos, in order to block North Vietnam's access to the Ho Chi Minh Trail?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho_Chi_Minh_trail

Maybe Cambodia's Sihanouk Trail can also be occupied if necessary?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sihanouk_Trail

Such a large-scale escalation would be highly unfortunate, of course, but it could be blamed on the North Vietnamese for using Laos and Cambodia as bases for their incursions into South Vietnam.

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

Post by History Learner » 13 Feb 2021 04:43

South Vietnam surviving is honestly pretty easy, and I think it could be done with no Watergate. Without that event, the Congressional aid cuts that crippled the ARVN won't happen and in 1975 Nixon can unleash the bombers against the NVA's offensive. By the time the North Vietnamese would be recovered enough, relations with China would've collapsed and it would no longer be logistically or geostrategically possible to continue conventional actions against the South.

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

Post by Futurist » 13 Feb 2021 05:09

History Learner wrote:
13 Feb 2021 04:43
South Vietnam surviving is honestly pretty easy, and I think it could be done with no Watergate. Without that event, the Congressional aid cuts that crippled the ARVN won't happen and in 1975 Nixon can unleash the bombers against the NVA's offensive. By the time the North Vietnamese would be recovered enough, relations with China would've collapsed and it would no longer be logistically or geostrategically possible to continue conventional actions against the South.
1. I thought that in 1973 Congress forbade the US President to unilaterally use force (as in, without any Congressional approval) for more than 60 days with the War Powers Act? Am I wrong in regards to this?

2. What exactly makes you think that Vietnamese-Chinese relations are still going to deteriorate as rapidly in this scenario? Wasn't a huge part of the reason for their deterioration in real life the fact that Vietnam invaded Cambodia to overthrow the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge? If so, and if South Vietnam doesn't fall until later or even at all, then the Khmer Rouge are not going to come to power in Cambodia either until later--if at all--no? If so, this would mean that there would be one significant less cause for Vietnamese-Chinese tensions.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 13 Feb 2021 13:51

The collapse of S Viet Nam was not seen as inevitable or even likely at the time. Fitzgerald in his analysis of US involvement in Viet Nam 'Fire in the Lake' was published 1972 & a post 1972 collapse was hardly considered in the final chapters analysis of S Viet Nams future. As a young adult in 1974-75 I was as surprised as anyone by the rapid disintegration of the ARVN. I recall in the latter 1970s Giap & other N Viet Nam leaders quoted that they were surprised as well. They had intended a limited objective offensive, as their forces were considered still to damaged from the 1973 defeat to undertake a large scale campaign. I've never followed on those remarks to test their accuracy.

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

Post by Futurist » 13 Feb 2021 22:24

AFAIK, North Vietnam planned a limited offensive for 1975 and their major offensive for 1976. Their good luck in 1975 made them change their minds and decide to go big and to conquer all of South Vietnam in 1975.

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

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Feb 2021 16:40

Hi Guys,

One commentator said that the US would have done better to attack corruption in its client regimes, in order to give their populations more faith in them, to make them worth fighting for.

It seems widely agreed that Vietnamization of the fight should have begun earlier and more extensively.

But what really killed South Vietnam was the realization, both North and South, that the USA really had deserted Saigon completely.

I remember reading at the time about the progress of the fighting on a day-by-day basis in the Daily Telegraph and recall that the South Vietnamese paras put up a final fight (at Xuan Loc?) even after it was clear that all was lost. Good men wasted,

Cheers,

Sid.

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

Post by Martin_from_Valhalla » 14 Feb 2021 18:06

maltesefalcon wrote:
21 Jan 2021 02:55
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.
Had the US been a dictatorship at that time, South Vietnam could have been proped up till today like North Korea. But hippies spoiled the picture. Such wars are really futile because to win one should start leading the same way of life as locals who turn into partisans with the evry new year. But no one wants to live in jungles or mountains, deserts.

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

Post by History Learner » 16 Feb 2021 22:19

Futurist wrote:
13 Feb 2021 05:09
History Learner wrote:
13 Feb 2021 04:43
South Vietnam surviving is honestly pretty easy, and I think it could be done with no Watergate. Without that event, the Congressional aid cuts that crippled the ARVN won't happen and in 1975 Nixon can unleash the bombers against the NVA's offensive. By the time the North Vietnamese would be recovered enough, relations with China would've collapsed and it would no longer be logistically or geostrategically possible to continue conventional actions against the South.
1. I thought that in 1973 Congress forbade the US President to unilaterally use force (as in, without any Congressional approval) for more than 60 days with the War Powers Act? Am I wrong in regards to this?

2. What exactly makes you think that Vietnamese-Chinese relations are still going to deteriorate as rapidly in this scenario? Wasn't a huge part of the reason for their deterioration in real life the fact that Vietnam invaded Cambodia to overthrow the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge? If so, and if South Vietnam doesn't fall until later or even at all, then the Khmer Rouge are not going to come to power in Cambodia either until later--if at all--no? If so, this would mean that there would be one significant less cause for Vietnamese-Chinese tensions.
1. Yes, as a result of the emerging Watergate scandal. That would be avoided here.

2. The deterioration started in 1975, and pre-dated the Vietnamese invasion.

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

Post by Futurist » 16 Feb 2021 23:21

1. There was already this vote back in 1972:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case%E2%8 ... _Amendment

"The Amendment was defeated 48–42 in the U.S. Senate in August 1972, but revived after the 1972 election."

It narrowly failed but it showed where the political winds were heading in regards to this, no?

2. Why exactly did this deterioration occur, then?
Last edited by Futurist on 16 Feb 2021 23:27, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Futurist » 16 Feb 2021 23:27

Based on the information here, it appears that China and Vietnam had a dispute over some islands (the Paracels) due Vietnam reviving its claim on these islands after unification and also due to Vietnam oppressing its Hoa Chinese minority:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China%E2% ... ietnam_War

However, it's unclear whether a North Vietnam that still didn't have control over South Vietnam would have still claimed the Paracels or oppressed its Hoa Chinese minority as badly as it did in real life. The North Vietnamese weren't morons, after all; they'd presumably know that they'd be much stronger after Vietnam was reunified than beforehand, when they would still be much more dependent on Chinese support.

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

Post by Aida1 » 17 Feb 2021 19:29

History Learner wrote:
13 Feb 2021 04:43
South Vietnam surviving is honestly pretty easy, and I think it could be done with no Watergate. Without that event, the Congressional aid cuts that crippled the ARVN won't happen and in 1975 Nixon can unleash the bombers against the NVA's offensive. By the time the North Vietnamese would be recovered enough, relations with China would've collapsed and it would no longer be logistically or geostrategically possible to continue conventional actions against the South.
This makes a lot of sense.

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

Post by EKB » 23 Apr 2021 05:44

Futurist wrote:
21 Jan 2021 01:16
Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

A better question might be, why did a South Vietnamese state need to exist at all?

North Vietnam did not have an Air Force or Navy that could project power outside of Southeast Asia. The Hanoi regime was never a threat to U.S. national security, its economy, or shipping lanes. There was no legitimate reason to create an artificial country like South Vietnam that was run by a military dictator, propped up by U.S. tax payers.

The decisions made about Indochina by U.S. presidents had nothing to do with common sense. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon simply wanted to avoid looking soft on Communism. They feared that voters might punish them if they appeared to be weak. No American president wanted to be the first on the losing side of a war. Their own personal ambitions and vanity might be laughable, if not for the millions of deaths that resulted in Southeast Asia.

Ngo Dinh Diem was a far better national leader than the military junta that replaced him. The succession of South Vietnamese generals had no idea how to operate a country, including Nguyen Van Thieu who outlasted the others. But he was involved with the murder of Diem and this too damaged his credibility among the people who knew. Some of President Kennedy’s top advisors later admitted that endorsing Diem’s assassination was the worst possible decision they could have made at the time.

The chief economies of South Vietnam, on which the nation could sustain itself, were farming and fishing. Those industries were seriously crippled by the war as refugees flocked to cities for protection, where they opened shops and sold goods to millions of GIs who served in Southeast Asia. When the United States withdrew, the Saigon regime could not, in the middle of a war, throw a switch and restore farming and fishing as the primary means for revenue. The United States therefore managed to ruin the trade and social fabric of the country, as if destroying and defoliating large swathes of rural areas was not enough.

South Vietnam was doomed when it became totally dependent on U.S. financial support and the patience of American voters; essentially a welfare state established by and abandoned by the military industrial complex.

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

Post by Sid Guttridge » 23 Apr 2021 11:41

Hi EKB,

You post, "There was no legitimate reason to create an artificial country like South Vietnam that was run by a military dictator, propped up by U.S. tax payers." If South Vietnam was artificial, so were North Korea, South Korea and North Vietnam.

Secondly, you write, "North Vietnam did not have an Air Force or Navy that could project power outside of Southeast Asia. The Hanoi regime was never a threat to U.S. national security, its economy, or shipping lanes. "

OK. Neither did Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, India or Australia. So, where, if anywhere, would you make your stand?

Cheers,

Sid.

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

Post by T. A. Gardner » 23 Apr 2021 17:42

Yes, S. Vietnam could have survived. The primary thing necessary for that to happen post US direct involvement was that the US continued to supply advisors in small numbers along with military aid to the country. As can be seen, the first time N. Vietnam tried a direct invasion of the South post US, they failed miserably. The second time their invasion was floundering right until S. Vietnam started to run out of munitions and equipment via combat and attrition with the US Congress refusing to fund aid that was by treaty obligated to supply.

That S. Vietnam fell was largely a function of the US Congress refusing to aid the nation post US pullout. Had that not been the case, S. Vietnam likely, almost certainly, could have sustained itself in keeping the North in check. Sure, the South would have continued to have problems politically but over time these were likely to sort themselves out and the situation would have become much like it ended up in Korea.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 24 Apr 2021 01:58

One item not covered here is the advantage the NVA had from some well placed spies within the RVN. Giap & his generals were getting real time information on US & ARVN battle & campaign plans. There were of course other agents at lower levels. There was nothing inevitable about this. Had counter Intel been better many of those could have been nuetralized.

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