The American War in Vietnam: Lessons, Legacies, and Implications for Future Conflicts

By Lawrence E.Grinter; Peter M.Dunn | Go to book overview

3
Lawrence E. Grinter
Vietnam: The Cost of Ignoring the Political Requirements
United States policy failed, and South Vietnam and the United States failed to win the Second Indochina War for three fundamental reasons:
—Under pressure from the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong totalitarian assault, South Vietnam failed to develop both a self-sustaining national defense and an effective, legitimate political system.
—Allied forces were unable to destroy enough communist forces inside South Vietnam or to bring enough pressure against the North Vietnamese heartland to force a basic change in Hanoi's policy.
—The United States failed to adequately sustain its support of South Vietnam in 1974 and 1975, while Moscow and Beijing were prepared to support Hanoi indefinitely.
Thus, the irreducible political requirements of an allied victory in Vietnam were:
—a multidimensional strategy in South Vietnam, based on both population protection and territorial security, which built a popular and enlarging political community linking Saigon to the people while also defending the country
—an allied decision to take the war out of South Vietnam either through a U.S. supported, South Vietnamese invasion of the sanctuaries and North Vietnam, and/or the equivalent of the Linebacker I and II bombing campaigns in 1966 or 1967
—United States congressional and executive support for South Vietnam for however long it took to help that country defend itself

All three requirements of victory in Vietnam were fundamentally political. In each case—South Vietnam's defense and development, the need for an early strategic South Vietnamese/American attack on what became the major source of the aggression, North Vietnam, and the necessity for indefinite U.S. support of South Vietnam—the requirements presumed fundamental, long-term political

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