why did the united states lose the Vietnam War
- LongshirenLv 61 decade agoBest Answer
Whose fault is any military mistake? The US military fought a local war against people who were willing to dedicate generations of their community to defeat the foreign invaders.
The question is "Why Did we lose the Vietnam War?" not "why didn't we win the war". To say we were within 2 years (or 3 or any number) of winning the war is to ignore what happened, and to ignore the gains made by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong during the years we thought we were winning.
It is foolish to say we could have won the war. Look at what happened over the years..
We lied to to our own people, and faked the incident used as an excuse to go to war against the Vietnamese (the Tonkin Gulf Incident, which never happened). We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we dropped in all of WWII. We used millions of tons of Napalm to burn the very civilians who were on our side. We committed war crimes and massacred civilians we were claiming to protect. We fought against people who were willing to wait 2 or 3 generations to have a chance to oppose us, and we failed to understand that.
All of the above is part of the public, historical, record. In the Pentagon Papers, US Military strategists analyzed their own lack of tactical capability and their need to NOT fight this kind of "unwinnable" war.
We lost because we had no strategy, we had no tactical ability to control the populace, we allowed corrupt governments to steal us blind and use our military for their own greedy purposes, and we never had a clear plan to win, to stop the warmaking of the North, to interdict the South Vietnamese (the Vietcong were almost all locals), and to provide a peaceful governing solution to the entire country.
Some of us are angry that lives were lost in vain, but we have hoped that the US could learn a valuable lesson about exporting our culture to people who don't want it. From the other answers here, I guess we haven't learned that yet.
We have made a lot of the same mistakes in Iraq, and worse, in Iraq we are bringing a Christian oriented democracy to a Muslim dominated culture.
This a really basic, strategic mistake.
Oh, yeah. The US never lost any stand up battle with the North Vietnamese regulars, or with the Vietcong. However, that statistic is beside the point. War is not measured by who wins the battles, war is measured by who wins, period. The US did not win.
- 1 decade ago
Well in a sense you didn't - it all depends on definitions. But if you're talking about what happened at the end of the war, South Vietnam lost the Vietnam War and by that stage you were allies but not significant participants. But in the sense that the US withdrew from the war (before the end) without having achieved 'victory' then you lost. On the other hand if the aim of the war was to contain North Vietnam, and send a message to China and the Soviet Union that expansion would be resisted then you achieved your aims (at a high cost though..).
But there is a much better answer. During the Second World War the CIA helped the North Vietnamese fight the Japanese who occupied the country. When Ho Chi Minh declared independence at the end of the war he played the Star Spangled Banner, and incorporated parts of the US Declaration of Independence in his country's new constitution. He was friends with the CIA operatives, and was hopeful of getting support from the US - particularly against the Chinese who were regarded by the Vietnamese as a great threat. But a deal had already been done (between the US, UK and Russia) to hand the country back to the French, who had occupied it before the War. If the US had recognized Ho's government back then there would have been a very different result.
So the answer is that some wars are lost even before they are fought.
- travis_a_duncanLv 41 decade ago
According to historian Robert Leckie we neither won NOR lost in Vietnam. "At no time were we ever incapable" of destroying the enemy. The real failiure in the war was the inability to set up a stable government. The US did manage to enact a treaty garaunteeing territorial integrity before American troops stopped taking an active role in the war. North Vietnam did not conquer the South until after major ground forces had left. In the 1990's the People's Republic of Vietnam paid the 300-some million in debt that the South accumulated during the war, thus officially acknowleging the existence of South Vietnam. Which the North did not do during the course of the war.Source(s): The Wars of America by Robert Leckie Time Magazine Almanac 2000
- sean1201Lv 61 decade ago
The US underestimated the resolve of the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, their southern counterparts. The US thought overwhelming power was enough to squelch the communist movement in the South. The North may not have been pretty, but they were well organized, well trained, and a determined group.
The South Vietnamese government was corrupt and totally out of touch with the people of their own country. The US propped up this government. The government wasn't about the people, but about corruption and the South Vietnamese people knew this.
Right before the Tet offensive in 1968, US commanders in Vietnam told the US Congress it was only a matter of time before the US declared victory. The Tet Offensive proved to the world the US was far from a winning situation. The Tet Offensive was a show by the North and the Viet Cong that the South and even US and South Vietnamese military installations were easy targets and could be infiltrated.
Although the Tet Offensive ,officially, was a losing gamble for the North, it swayed American public opinion of the war and soon most Americans realized it was a losing proposition. Enter President Nixon and the beginning of the end for that war.
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- LaurenLv 44 years ago
2 Sep 1945 - April 1975 and you want half a page? You are aware there were 3??????? or are you a member of the John Kerry Myth Club? SSG US Army 73-82 A time line can be found at below. The other 2 are just myth busters. Chuq Mung Nam Moi (Chuke Mung Num Moyee)
- 1 decade ago
The war was first lost in the press, who turned public opinion, and led to losing the war. The U.S. was probably less than two years away from mopping up the VC and going home victorious.
- 1 decade ago
well it's kind of weird... it's like the Revolutionary War, Britain lost cause they didn't know colonial soil. I guess same goes for the U.S. It ought to be damn difficult to go out in such foreign landSource(s): me....
- Anonymous1 decade ago
They weren't ALLOWED to win it! We shouldn't have been there anyway and they still don't want to call it a "war" but a police action like Korea.
- popeyethesadistLv 51 decade ago
The Chinese were the real enemy. We would still be there if we had not left. Kill all you want of the Chinese. They just make more.
- SophistLv 71 decade ago
We tried to fight an indigenous people who didn't want us there.