Iraq vis-a-vis Vietnam

Discussion in 'Multinational HQ' started by Trip_Wire, Mar 2, 2007.

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  1. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP

    (An Interesting "inside" perspective I had not seen before. T_W)

    These first words from a Retired USAF Officer.

    t's amazing that people like our friend Nancy Pelosi do not understand the rest of the world's obvious perception of the USA's war fighting resolve. Just wait out the Americans.

    They will eventually get tired and there are always sufficient numbers of politicians and antiwar kooks in the USA to cause them to defeat themselves. Sooner or later they will withdraw and we bad guys can have our way. The American public doesn't have the stomach for protracted warfare anymore, and can't learn from history.

    Last night I watched on CSPAN all of the Senate Appropriations Committee's hearings on the Administration's budget supplemental request. Witnesses were Gates, Rice and Gen Pace. The Committee Chairman, "Sheets" Byrd (as Limbaugh calls him because of his former KKK involvement) is absolutely senile!

    Committee members like Hillary used their time in front of the cameras to make dumb statements, berate DOD for important things like the moldy paint in the outpatient dorms at our military hospitals, and then hightail it out of there to go find some other camera to campaign in front of, instead of listening to the serious warnings that the witnesses tried to present. Absolutely disgusting!

    Vietnam War Interview

    What did the North Vietnamese leadership think of the American antiwar movement? What was the purpose of the Tet Offensive? How could the U.S. have been more successful in fighting the Vietnam War? Bui Tin, a former colonel n the North Vietnamese army, answers these questions in the following excerpts from an interview conducted by Stephen Young, a Minnesota attorney and human-rights activist [in The Wall Street Journal, 3 August 1995]. Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of North Vietnam 's army, received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. He later became editor of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of Vietnam . He now lives in Paris , where he immigrated after becoming disillusioned with the fruits of Vietnamese communism.

    Question: How did Hanoi intend to defeat the Americans?

    Answer: By fighting a long war which would break their will to help South Vietnam . Ho Chi Minh said, "We don't need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out."

    Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi 's victory?

    A: It was essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

    Q: Did the Politburo pay attention to these visits?

    A: Keenly.

    Q: Why?

    A: Those people represented the conscience of America . The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor. America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win.

    Q: How could the Americans have won the war?

    A: Cut the Ho Chi Minh trail inside Laos . If Johnson had granted [Gen. William] Westmoreland's requests to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Minh trail, Hanoi could not have won the war.

    Q: Anything else?

    A: Train South Vietnam 's generals. The junior South Vietnamese officers were good, competent and courageous, but the commanding general officers were inept.

    Q: Did Hanoi expect that the National Liberation Front would win power in South Vietnam ?

    A: No. Gen. [Vo Nguyen] Giap [commander of the North Vietnamese army] believed that guerrilla warfare was important but not sufficient for victory. Regular military divisions with artillery and armor would be needed. The Chinese believed in fighting only with guerrillas, but we had a different approach. The Chinese were reluctant to help us. Soviet aid made the war possible. Le Duan [secretary general of the Vietnamese Communist Party] once told Mao Tse-tung that if you help us, we are sure to win; if you don't, we will still win, but we will have to sacrifice one or two million more soldiers to do so.

    Q: Was the National Liberation Front an independent political movement of South Vietnamese?

    A: No. It was set up by our Communist Party to implement a decision of the Third Party Congress of September 1960. We always said there was only one party, only one army in the war to liberate the South and unify the nation. At all times there was only one party commissar in command of the South.

    Q: Why was the Ho Chi Minh trail so important?

    A: It was the only way to bring sufficient military power to bear on the fighting in the South. Building and maintaining the trail was a huge effort, involving tens of thousands of soldiers, drivers, repair teams, medical stations, communication units.

    Q: What of American bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail?

    A: Not very effective. Our operations were never compromised by attacks on the trail. At times, accurate B-52 strikes would cause real damage, but we put so much in at the top of the trail that enough men and weapons to prolong the war always came out the bottom. Bombing by smaller planes rarely hit significant targets.

    Q: What of American bombing of North Vietnam ?

    A: If all the bombing had been concentrated at one time, it would have hurt our efforts. But the bombing was expanded in slow stages under Johnson and it didn't worry us. We had plenty of times to prepare alternative routes and facilities. We always had stockpiles of rice ready to feed the people for months if a harvest were damaged. The Soviets bought rice from Thailand for us.

    Q: What was the purpose of the 1968 Tet Offensive?

    A: To relieve the pressure Gen. Westmoreland was putting on us in late 1966 and 1967 and to weaken American resolve during a presidential election year.

    Q: What about Gen. Westmoreland's strategy and tactics caused you concern?

    A: Our senior commander in the South, Gen. Nguyen Chi Thanh, knew that we were losing base areas, control of the rural population and that his main forces were being pushed out to the borders of South Vietnam . He also worried that Westmoreland might receive permission to enter Laos and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

    In January 1967, after discussions with Le Duan, Thanh proposed the Tet Offensive. Thanh was the senior member of the Politburo in South Vietnam . He supervised the entire war effort. Thanh's struggle philosophy was that " America is wealthy but not resolute," and "squeeze tight to the American chest and attack." He was invited up to Hanoi for further discussions. He went on commercial flights with a false passport from Cambodia to Hong Kong and then to Hanoi Only in July was his plan adopted by the leadership. Then Johnson had rejected Westmoreland's request for 200,000 more troops. We realized that America had made its maximum military commitment to the war. Vietnam was not sufficiently important for the United States to call up its reserves. We had stretched American power to a breaking point. When more frustration set in, all the Americans could do would be to withdraw; they had no more troops to send over.

    Tet was designed to influence American public opinion. We would attack poorly defended parts of South Vietnam cities during a holiday and a truce when few South Vietnamese troops would be on duty. Before the main attack, we would entice American units to advance close to the borders, away from the cities. By attacking all South Vietnam 's major cities, we would spread out our forces and neutralize the impact of American firepower. Attacking on a broad front, we would lose some battles but win others. We used local forces nearby each target to frustrate discovery of our plans. Small teams, like the one which attacked the U.S. Embassy in Saigon , would be sufficient. It was a guerrilla strategy of hit-and-run raids. [looks like a re-writing of history with the benefit of hindsight]

    Q: What about the results?

    A: Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise;. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for re-election. The second and third waves in May and September were, in retrospect, mistakes. Our forces in the South were nearly wiped out by all the fighting in 1968. It took us until 1971 to re-establish our presence, but we had to use North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. If the American forces had not begun to withdraw under Nixon in 1969, they could have punished us severely. We suffered badly in 1969 and 1970 as it was.

    Q: What of Nixon?

    A: Well, when Nixon stepped down because of Watergate we knew we would win. Pham Van Dong [prime minister of North Vietnam] said of Gerald Ford, the new president, "he's the weakest president in U.S. history; the people didn't elect him; even if you gave him candy, he doesn't dare to intervene in Vietnam again." We tested Ford's resolve by attacking Phuoc Long in January 1975. When Ford kept American B-52's in their hangers, our leadership decided on a big offensive against South Vietnam .

    Q: What else?

    A: We had the impression that American commanders had their hands tied by political factors. Your generals could never deploy a maximum force for greatest military effect.
  2. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator


    Hope you don't mind me asking but which comments are yours? Is it just those in brackets?
  3. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP


    Yes, in the brackets. I have seen some of the Vietnam, stuff before; however, not from COL. Bui Tin.
  4. The question of the American people's "resolve" raises a lot of interesting questions regarding who decides what is in the "national interest" in democracy.

    What do you think, Trip? ;)
  5. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP


    What do I think?

    I am very afraid, the many American people have no idea of the problems as well as the 'bloodbath.' that will develope, if the 'Surge' fails and we leave Iraq, like we did Vietnam. All they can think of is bring the troops home.

    I thought the retired USAF officers comments, were spot on. I especially liked his comment on Nancy Pelosi, whom I think is the worst thing to happen to the USA since 911.

    I think that the insurgents as well as Iran, who backs the majority of them, learned well the Vietnam lessons, that the interview with Col. Tin mentions. They are and will use those lessons against us and of course, people like Nancy Pelosi will be right there helping them win!

    I can't stand Sen. Byrd! He should have 'hung it up' along time ago! He is a real buffoon!
  6. Crab and TW!
    Bitch fight....hand bags at dawn

    Get a room, give each other a reach around and call it quits this is getting borning! You both look like a bunch of TW@TS
  7. You could argue that the loss of public support for the war comes down to one of two things:

    1. The public have some to the conclusion that the war in Iraq just isn't worth fighting anymore and that, to use John McCain's phrase, it has been a waste. I don't believe that they don't realize that Iraq will likely implode- I think they either see it as inevitable anyway, no matter what plan the Administration comes up with, or they just don't care.

    2. The Administration has failed to make a compelling (some would say truthful) case for why a) the fight was necessary in the first place and b) why the continuation of the fight is necessary. in other words, it's another aspect of leadership where they've failed. In a war where the goals and values for which one is fighting are abstract concepts far removed from people's day to day lives, all you have to go on to sell the policy is the power of ideas, and one of the key reasons for having a democratic society in the first place is that you have the full and free exchange of ideas and the people get to choose who they think has the better ideas. It doesn't matter how much the USAF officer dislikes the idea, the fact remains that people just weren't buying the story that the Administration and Congressional Republicans were trying to sell to them and they thought they'd give the other guys a try.

    If we throw in the Vietnamese Col's comments, the only way you would be able to counter what happened there (if the leadership can no longer make a convincing case that the war is worth fighting) is to subordinate the will of the people to the goals of the state. At that precise point, you have facism- in the technically correct sense of the word, I'm not using hyperbole.
  8. The administration has done a sorry @ss job in communicating the reasons for our continued stay in Iraq. Having said that, do not confuse news reports and polls indicating a waning resolve for the surge and/or "victory" in Iraq with what the american people really think.

    Case in point; the dems thought they had a "mandate" to get the troops out of Iraq but have yet to actually do anything to that end. Sure they voted in the house on a resolution (non-binding) against the "surge" policy/strategy, but have failed to meet similar agreement in the senate.

    Furthermore, all efforts on the dems part to withhold funding/defund the war, or Murtha's proposed "slow bleed" approach have been shot down in the dem's own caucus before even being introduced as a bill in either house of congress.

    Americans maybe feed up with Iraq, and that it continues to consume our bravest and best, but I don't think the majority of americans want us to leave before it is "won". Won for those I talk too is when Iraq can stand on it's own 2 feet, however long that takes.

    BTW wasn't one of the lessons learned from Vietnam not to have politicians fighting the war, but to let the military do that?
  9. Good post Ctauch. I think the same thing. I hate watching the debates raging on in the house and senate. I hate hearing our democrat leaders bash our president. I agree, he's not the smartest, but this is no way to fight a war. The only thing I heard from them during their debate on their resolution was about how incompetent the president was. What kind of debate is that? Here are my brothers risking their lives for a cause greater than anyone else can imagine, and our leadership is debating on the competence level of our president.

    This war is being run by civilians who have no idea what's going on. And by civilians I mean by regular everyday joes who work 9-5 jobs in factories. Because they believe they know the truth when they watch cnn. A majority of the people back home think wrong. The hundreds of dead iraqi army/ip's we had to carry off because they're willing to run around in nissan pickup trucks by the dozens with no armor plating to keep Iraq free from ruthless leaders and insurgents. And you want to just abandon them? I hear about people talking about "iraq needs to stand up for themselves". You know what? I've seen them stand up for themselves for 2 and a half years. Risking life and limb. Some of what I hear from our representatives makes me sick knowing they have no clue of what we are accomplishing over in Iraq. The only reason they spout off this mumbo jumbo is because they hate our current leader so much, they're willing to risk the lives of our servicepeople who are in harms way.

    That's just my rant. Sorry if it was a bit jumbled and incoherent. I get upset by it sometimes. Knowing our sacrifices were in vain because petty politics got in the way of success.
  10. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP


    Good post!