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Ethan
15th May 2008, 10:31 PM
For me warfare is one of the most interesting and fruitful topics learn about in history, and there are many questions to be raised, debated, and hopefully answered. We'll be overviewing this through the case of Vietnam.

Vietnam changed the way many people look at war. The Vietnam has previously been ruled over by the Japanese prior to WW2, then they were ruled over by the French, then finally they struggled against us. As far as technology and weaponry goes, we outclassed them in everyway way, shape and form. We burned down their villages, we bombed their capital, we had around 586,000 troops stationed there. By the end of the war the American troop body count was around 50,000 and the North Vietmanese troop body count around 2 million. What does that say? We were statistically "winning" the war. Yet as you all know, what ultimatley ends a war is the surrender of your opponent and their refusal to fight on. We had pumped billions of dollars into the war, and fought for many years, but we simply could not wrestle the North Vietmanese into submission.

The war wasn't so much about who is the most powerful, but rather who has the most powerful will. In the end we threw our hands up in the air, and pulled out. The North Vietmanese rolled into Saigon and that was the end of it. If anything Vietnam showed that there is only a certian time span in which you can wage war. In Vietnam, our troops didn't want us to be there, even many of the South Vietmanese wanted to be there, and most of the people back home didn't want us there. It's extremely difficult to wage a war without morale and public support. Two things we didn't have, which most certianly played a role in the final outcome.

So let me raise these points.

Was Vietnam really an unwinnable war?

What makes a war unwinnable?

On which conditions should a country be able to declare war?

What are the primary determining factors in war?

How does human psychology influence war?

Strants
15th May 2008, 11:38 PM
An interesting topic. What's your stance?

Was Vietnam really an unwinnable war? Difficult to say. If we had bombed them with nuclear weapons, we might have 'won,' or if we would have toughed it out. This also depends on your definition of victory; Vietnam lost 3 to 4 million, the us lost a sixtieth to an eightieth of that. So, as far as deaths go, we 'won.' And because we were in their land, we arguable didn't 'surrender,' we pulled out.

What makes a war unwinnable? Once again, it depends on how you define 'victory.' By your definition, the one with the stronger will will win, if they aren't wiped out.

On which conditions should a country be able to declare war? If another declares it first. I'm a pacifist by nature; if fighting can be avoided, it should be.

What are the primary determining factors in war? See 'what makes a war unwinnabe.'

How does human psychology influence war? Propaganda is a large part of wars. If we believe we are right, we will continue to fight, ditto if we think we can win. If not, moral is severely hurt, and troops will not fight as well.

Ethan
16th May 2008, 2:35 AM
An interesting topic. What's your stance?

I believe that we *could* have won if we changed our military strategy and better prepared our troops for the type of war they would be fighting.



This also depends on your definition of victory; Vietnam lost 3 to 4 million, the us lost a sixtieth to an eightieth of that. So, as far as deaths go, we 'won.' And because we were in their land, we arguable didn't 'surrender,' we pulled out.

Which brings another major question. How do you decide who is "winning" in a war?



Once again, it depends on how you define 'victory.' By your definition, the one with the stronger will will win, if they aren't wiped out.

Not necessarily my definition but the situation in this case.



If another declares it first. I'm a pacifist by nature; if fighting can be avoided, it should be.


What about if your ally is attacked? What if another country is percieved as a threat?



Propaganda is a large part of wars. If we believe we are right, we will continue to fight, ditto if we think we can win. If not, moral is severely hurt, and troops will not fight as well.


True dat.

Strants
16th May 2008, 10:53 PM
Which brings another major question. How do you decide who is "winning" in a war? With a time machine, I guess ;). Seriously, though, I'd have to say by casualties and who's land is being fought on.

What about if your ally is attacked? What if another country is percieved as a threat? If your ally is attacked, you should join their side IF they are in the right. If not, I guess you remain neutral.

Also, I was talking with my dad (who is studying history, so I think is a good source), and was surprised at what I learned. Apparently, Vietnam was divided into north and south. The north was communist, and the leader was popular (Ho Chi Min). In the south, capitalism ruled and the leader was unpopular. The US agreed to elections, but declined when it was obvious the south would lose (the US practically PUT the leader of the south in power, and he was very unpopular). So the north declared war (I guess this is another time war is justified). The US sent in advisors, and eventually, troops. What you need no know is that the north troops wore no uniforms and basically made themselves look like normal citizens, so many civilian casualties resulted, putting the US lower in Vietnam's book. Eventually, when it became clear we could not (easily, without many casualties) win, we left. It's interesting to know the war's history.

Ethan
17th May 2008, 5:37 AM
Also, I was talking with my dad (who is studying history, so I think is a good source), and was surprised at what I learned. Apparently, Vietnam was divided into north and south. The north was communist, and the leader was popular (Ho Chi Min). In the south, capitalism ruled and the leader was unpopular. The US agreed to elections, but declined when it was obvious the south would lose (the US practically PUT the leader of the south in power, and he was very unpopular). So the north declared war (I guess this is another time war is justified). The US sent in advisors, and eventually, troops. What you need no know is that the north troops wore no uniforms and basically made themselves look like normal citizens, so many civilian casualties resulted, putting the US lower in Vietnam's book. Eventually, when it became clear we could not (easily, without many casualties) win, we left. It's interesting to know the war's history.

That's true. If you want to get into specifics we first started secretly bombing when congress approved the Tonkin Golf resolution giving president Johnson free power to attack the North Vietmanese after they showed aggression towards our ships.

Another thing we need to examine is our intentions and our reason for fighting the war. Were we really looking out for the poor old South Vietmanese? Or were we trying deter the Russians? Was Vietnam ultimatley a product of the cold war?

Krug
17th May 2008, 6:18 AM
So let me raise these points.

Was Vietnam really an unwinnable war?

Yes, mostly because we had no reason to be over there. No true reason, unlike the Veitnamese, to fight. They were fighting to reunite their country, a true fighting reason we, on the other hand merely came there to stop communisim. Plus we had too many young guys over there drafted against their will who wouldn't fight, fought half heartedly, or fought while on drugs. Even with our technology, we just couldn't win like that.


[U]What makes a war unwinnable?

It depends on how you fight it, why you're fighting it and who you have doing the fighting. I already explained the last two factors. However for the first one the answer is that we tried to fight Veitnam like WWII. We tried to fight Geurilla war like a conventional war, an Urban War, which is VERY hard to fight, just read about the Battle of Stalingrad, like a conventional war.


On which conditions should a country be able to declare war?

If you ask me, only when a country attacks you, when you're an imperialistic state and you attack a country. That's it, nothing else. It just doesn't seem right to attack a country because of thier ideals.


What are the primary determining factors in war?

Sorry are you asking what are the ditermining factors in declaring war, or winning a war?


How does human psychology influence war?

It influences it greatly, as I said, most of our men out there, were protesters, young guys caught up in the draft, who fought half heartedly, or fought on drugs. It's hard to explain, but all I can say is watch Apocolypse Now, it really goes in to the Psychological factors of Veitnam.

Strants
17th May 2008, 2:43 PM
Were we really looking out for the poor old South Vietmanese? Or were we trying deter the Russians? We COULD have been trying, in a very ineffective, self-benefiting way. But with the evidence? I'd have to say we were selfishly trying to push capitalism on another nation. Capitalism is hardly a bad system, but what we did claiming capitalism as our banner was wrong.

Was Vietnam ultimatley a product of the cold war?
Sadly, yes. I've always thought the cold war was one of the most horrible events in human history. How many second or third world countries were sacrificed, supposedly so the US and Russia would not bomb the entire world? I have to wonder.

ImJessieTR
17th May 2008, 6:57 PM
Was Vietnam really an unwinnable war?
Probably. We used force to introduce a financial ideology. The opponents, like now, will never admit to a loss (actually, I don't think we can either). If we HAD done something to "win" (aka: make it impossible to have the strength to wipe their own behinds, much less pick up a gun), like nuking the whole place til it glowed ...we would have brought in the USSR and China.

What makes a war unwinnable?
Arrogance, lots of disposable cash (according to the leaders involved), and idiocy.

On which conditions should a country be able to declare war?
Defense.

How does human psychology influence war?
First, you have to believe you are better than someone else and weapons will solve the problem. You also have to make diplomacy look like butt-kissing, whereas fighting is time-honored and noble. You need to have friends who benefit financially from making war. You also need to dehumanize the "opponents" until you aren't quite sure if rocks are above them on the food chain. You need to believe that the opinions of the country's leader = the public's opinion. Although many wars are due to monetary greed ... you also need to have very poor math skills, since razing the countryside can hardly be called profitable in the long term. You have to be able to sustain a look of shock when you "save" a population and yet for reasons that elude you ... they hate your guts.

And this rant isn't just about current wars. I've read some very interesting ancient wars, particularly in the Middle East and Asia ... and I realize that idiocy is a very stubborn tradition.

south_viet
2nd June 2008, 12:31 AM
The Second Indochina War was a political defeat. The US simply "got sick of it" and just left. It's a shame we lost the south.

qwerqwer
4th June 2008, 12:24 AM
If we really stuck too it, probably, however, this would have taken the naping of mofst of the forest. If we look historically, the vietnamese are a rural society. in a large forest, they have little need to build a large city. they know how to live in the forest. crops are grown on hills and clearings, yet the forests are their refuge.

vietnam has been known for the use of guerilla warfare from the forests themselves. China, in the 1400's ruled vietnam for about 20 years, yet there was no complete peace. many guerrilla attacks were made from the forests (although the Ming Voyages (CURSE MY GODDAMN TERM PAPER) led to the cutting down of several thousand acres to use as wood.)

Anyway, America would have had to infiltrate the forest themselves before they could fully take over vietnam. in Loas, the CIA had a different tactic - simply hire some anti-commie natives to fight for them. after all, they lived in the forests.

if america burned the whole place down, probably, but that would have been a very bad thing to do.