Vietnam war: surge to disaster

Did America cut and run from Vietnam? Did the Democrats lose the war?

The US dropped more than four times the tonnage of bombs trying to win Vietnam as the allies used to flatten Germany in World War II. At a minimum, over 2 million people were killed including 58,000 Americans. Two and a half million Americans served in Vietnam. This was not cut-and-run, it was digging deeper when in a hole.

Anti-war protests? The most effective anti-war protests were by the US troops who “fragged” (threw fragmentation grenades at) 788 officers. Eighty six officers were killed by their own troops and 714 wounded. This had more impact than the kids with placards. You can’t fight a war that the troops are sick of after ten years without progress.

Did South East Asia go communist and threaten the US? That was predicted. The countries we bombed did go communist, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, but they were no threat. The important ones, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, did not. Most importantly, 30 years later, this is the result of losing the Vietnam war:

Mr. President, and Madam Chi, the reason I’m smiling is because I’m really happy to be here. And so is Laura. … Vietnam is a remarkable country. For decades you had been torn apart by war. Today the Vietnamese people are at peace and seeing the benefits of reform. The Vietnamese own their own businesses, and today the Vietnamese economy is the fastest growing in Southeast Asia. —George Bush, WhiteHouse.com

To prevent this outcome, pro-war extremists think we should have killed more millions and sacrificed more American kids.

But weren’t there bloodbaths when we left? There were. The biggest was in Cambodia where 1.7 million were killed by the Khmer Rouge. Before the US bombing, they had fewer than five thousand poorly armed guerrillas. Years later, a former Khmer Rouge officer, stated “It was because of their dissatisfaction with the bombing that they kept on co-operating with the Khmer Rouge, joining up, sending their children off.” The CIA’s Directorate of Operations, after investigations south of Phnom Penh, reported in May 1973 that the Communists were “using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda.” All told, the US dropped 2,756,941 tons of bombs on Cambodia (slightly smaller than Oklahoma). This is the same amount dropped by the US and Great Britain in the European theatre during all of World War II. Bombing of that magnitude changes a country’s history.

The idea that America should have killed another million or two peasants in North Vietnam to prevent a bloodbath is morally indefensible and a mistake. It would not have brought peace or victory, but only more bloodletting. In Vietnam, surging to win (then it was called escalation) was tried again and again for 12 years (1959-70). Each time, the pro-war extremists thought it was the path to victory.