By now most Americans interested have watched Ken Burns’ documentary of the Vietnam War…..I have read many critiques both pro and con….me? I was there and do not need to be reminded of the stupidity or the insanity…..
But I read a peace in the New Statesman about the film……..
In his own remarks, Mac Owens mentioned an essay by Jim Webb, the decorated Vietnam combat veteran, writer, and former US senator. That essay, “Heroes of the Vietnam Generation,” pairs well with an earlier essay, “Peace? Defeat? What Did the Vietnam War Protesters Want?,” which was also published by the American Enterprise Institute, in 1997. Both are very useful, especially for those who didn’t live through the Vietnam era, for understanding some of that generation’s dynamics.
Webb discusses how it was really the first time in US history when a lot of people argued not going into the military was actually a good thing, and this sentiment has guided how a lot of people look at the Vietnam War. In order to justify not serving in the military at that time, many described the war as unjust, unnecessary, and unwinnable. While I can’t read Ken Burns’ mind, if you look at his documentary The Vietnam War, it certainly seems to support this mentality.
Of course when Vietnam is mentioned or debated there is always the subject of who won that war…..
To bring with that would nice to know what those asking and answering the question what their definition of winning and losing in war really means.
In order to know whether the U.S. lost the Vietnam war or not, it’s wise to go back and see why the Vietnam war started in the first place. Domino theory or containment was usually used as a justification for the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The fact is the U.S. failed to stop the spread of Communism throughout Vietnam which led to its spread to Laos and Cambodia in 1975. However, it is arguable that the effects of the war in Korea and Vietnam that the U.S. had involved in did help the rest of South-East Asian countries such as Thailand and Singapore stay free of communism.
Military-wise, the U.S. arguably never lost any major battles. However, it could not stand the constantly increasing loss of American lives and the economic burden the war carried on its people and was eventually forced to leave Vietnam before the war ended. Without its direct support, South Vietnam surrendered to the North Communists and disappeared from the world map not long later.
In short, in the picture of Vietnam, the U.S. failed to defend South Vietnam against the North Communists and probably lost the war politically rather than militarily as Vietnam was far from the war of major battles. In the bigger picture of containment, the U.S. did achieve their initial goals to a certain extent.
This is a good piece for those interested in a by-gone war that most Americans had sooner forget