The Loss Of Saigon

As a Viet Vet I am always having to have the conversation about that war….mostly with people that are too young to know what it was like or from older people that did not go and serve in the country.

Usually I shut down the conversation when I ask if they were in country……if they say no then I point out that how can they have any idea of what happened if they were not there?  That normally makes some upset and they storm off.

Some stay to show their savvy of that war…they read a book or saw a movie so they have a good grasp on the policies of the time…..

Of course the conversation turns to why the war was lost….there is a wide array of reason….but the one that got my attention was the one that believes that it was Congress fault for cutting off funding to South Vietnam……

This article points out the fiscal policy of the day to include the war in Vietnam.

Since partisans have turned the April 30, 1975, Communist takeover of South Vietnam into a political weapon, I’m going to spend the anniversary doing a little myth-busting.

Mel Laird, Richard Nixon’s defense secretary, started the modern myth that “Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by cutting off funding for our ally in 1975” in a 2005 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations.

Laird repeated it two years later in a Washington Post op-ed column in which he wrote “of 1975, when Congress cut off funding for the Vietnam War three years after our combat troops had left.”


15 thoughts on “The Loss Of Saigon

  1. No matter how much we read, or think we know about war, nothing can ever be the same as being there. I never have been, so although I have opinions, I defer to those who were on the ground every time.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. You are to be honored for what you endured over there my brother. I lucked out, having been number 57 in the ‘lottery’, and got into a national guard unit ( what a fucking joke) in 1969. It’s hard not to get really angry and pissed off when the subject of the Vietnam war comes up.

    1. I agree….I volunteered twice for Vietnam….I get angry when people tell me what it was all about and they were in Texas…..chuq

      1. You volunteered…twice??? And I thoughts you wuz smart & stuff.

        Never mind flee to Canada, I volunteered to be born in Canada (with flat, gay, consciously objecting, feet). I also chose not to turn 18 until, not just long after the Fall of Saigon, but well after Vietnam movies started coming out. I watched Platoon in the theatre wearing a hoodie, sunglasses and praying an MP wouldn’t show up to cart me off to wind up like Willem Dafoe did…Or worse yet, Charlie Sheen.

        That’s how intent I was on avoiding the draft.

      2. Yep twice…after the 1st tour I returned home and after 6 months of boredom and seeing just how self-centered and spoiled Americans are I decided to return to where at least I culd feel alive….chuq

  3. You should just ignore those coach-generals. Although I was there at the time, I was not military. So when someone starts ranting like they know what went on and what it was about – I walk away.

  4. Hindsight is 20-20.. and it’s easy to “armchair quarterback”, especially decades later…

    But I just can’t imagine how that 10,000 Day War could end any other way. The French experience should have served as a giant Spoiler Alert!!! But it didn’t. Perhaps the biggest eye-opener of Ken Burns’ Vietnam show was the number of insiders who, despite thinking winning was next to impossible (often from Day 1), still plunged ahead anyway. Why risk the (eventual) fallout for some damn New Jersey shaped jungle on the other side of the world? (Hell, even for Jersey itself?)

    Just like the War On Terra, I just don’t see how the Finish Line ever gets crossed. As long as there was a North Vietnam, there’d be a war. How many See-The-Hill, Take-The-Hill, Then-Abandon-The-Hills were there in Vietnam? Whatever it was, six is probably too many. You haven’t won anything unless you can hold it. And even if you went nuts, stormed & eliminated North Vietnam…You’d just have a super-sized South Vietnam to “pacify”…if not a war with China in the process.

    America could just never win a war of attrition with any waterlogged nation bigger and more stubborn than Holland. No point in blaming the soldiers, or the protesters. The so-called leadership is responsible for the whole debacle…as usual.

    1. Muscle flexing and the cost were lives and a huge waste…Bein Dein Phu should have been an exmple, you are right on that one…..chuq

      1. Through the entire Ken Burn’s Vietnam series, that muscle flexing/macho-pride seemed the overarching theme. “We can’t win, but losing would make us look like losers. So we gotta keep fighting no matter what the cost.” The soldier’s “It was awful, but it made me feel alive” was also a theme in the series and in the ongoing PBS Vietnam Vet interviews (5 minute between-show shorts) they’ve been occasionally running since.

        One of the shows I remember watching as a kid was CBC’s Vietnam: The 10,000 Day War. That’s how I learned about the French there and their demise. I also remember seeing the US choppers pushed off aircraft carriers. That really stuck in my little noggin because it seemed so crazy. “How can you win a war if you shove your choppers into the ocean?” As an adult, I now consider that a metaphor for the entire war.

        Dein Bein Phu was an albatross from the get-go. If I recall, Khe Sanh became “Khe Sanh” mostly because General Westmoreland (was it?) and/or Johnson himself kept hollerin’ “There’s no way in hell I’m going to give the (specific racial slur slips my mind) another Dein Bein Phu on my watch”. And then a couple months after the fighting stopped, the Americans packed up & left it. Another metaphor.

        I can only imagine the kind of skull-fucking those kind of things gave the US troops in the field. All that killing and dying to win an objective you just walk away from? Just hearing about such a battle somewhere else has to fuck with your head. “Am I gonna die for something they just give back next week?” It’s a wonder ANY of you guys came back “normal”. And then the whole country just wants to forget all about you, like you never existed…And then to watch history repeating itself in your “golden years”…

      2. Well, unless you’re like Scully & Mulder’s supposed ex-partner in the “Doctor They” episode who claimed “They’re erasing everyone’s memory of me” (and I AIN’T ruling that out cause MISC Industries is more than willing, if not able)…’s more likely your memory loss is just due to senility. (Ha-Ha!)

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