Friday, March 28, 2008

The Lost War-Vietnam War

The Lost War-Vietnam War

The Lost War

I can still imagine the powerful blasts echoing through my grandfather¡¯s mind as he dove for cover in one of our trenches. The year was 1972 and our great nation of Vietnam was at war with the Yankees, the United States. In the end it was a war that we won even though the Americans argue that it was the other way around. The war was not an easy one to win though. Thousands of lives were lost and millions more were impacted. It all began with the United States intervening in our political relations with the North Side of our country. The Americans though it was right to intervene due to the fear they had of our communist regime. Many people still argue that there were other reasons for declaring war and the Americans bought it all only because they believed they were the best, just like they always do. In fact however, they lost thousands of soldiers as this was one of the bloodiest battles ever and it was one of the major wars that was fought inside a foreign country. While the Americans still argue why it is that they lost the war, we the Vietnamese, clearly understand the faults within the American forces; For one, American forces did not take into account the nature of South Vietnam along with other key concepts like the United States¡¯ military strategy and their ¡°self image,¡± which would all lead to a chain of reactions from the American public.

South Vietnam to the United States was like a center where they could control the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Once the United States had discovered the communist ideas that were being spread in the North, they thought they had enough ammunition to start a war against us. What the United States did not count on though was the weak institutions in South Vietnam. The politics in South Vietnam were full of corrupt diplomats who were working on the inside along with other diplomats who were full of undemocratic ideas. The United States¡¯ beliefs were not supported by all the people in South Vietnam and so even from the beginning the United States had people against them. The government itself failed miserably by failing to introduce major land reforms which would have won the loyalty of the peasants. Peasants were looking for a strong government at the time and since they did not find it within the government in South Vietnam, suddenly communism did not sound that bad. As if the United States did not have enough problems with South Vietnam, they also overlooked the fact that South Vietnam was not a truly independent and viable nation. It was the false creation of French and Americans, interested in controlling and dividing Southeast Asia. This meant that even from the beginning the American government and democratic policies were not accepted by the peasants there which led to even more corruption when the fighting came around. Many peasants even rebelled against the United States rule and used the famous ¡°guerilla¡± tactics that would eventually help North Vietnam win the war.

The United States had been notorious for its military strategies during World War I and World War II. Everyone knew that they had the most up to date weapons and the money to fund a powerful war against any nation. The main idea that spelled out the doom for the Americans was the idea of ¡°overwhelming firepower.¡± They believed that they could easily bomb the enemy into submission. The Americans had a big fault in their ideas though because they relied too heavily on modern technology and their weapons of war. These ideas might have been effective during other wars but that was not the case for this one. The way my grandfather and his country fought was with the use of ¡°guerilla warfare.¡± This kind of fighting included tactics like building huge underground tunnels that were hidden so that they could easily retreat into them, sudden massive attacks followed by the retreat into underground chambers, and using the terrain to trap the Americans into un-winnable situations. With these kinds of strategies, whenever the United States would bomb the Vietnamese all my grandfather would do was run into the secret hideout and he would be safe there along with all his comrades. Once on land the U.S. soldiers were unfamiliar with the terrain which was filled with swamps and many dangerous animals. My grandfather and his men knew the terrain especially well so they knew exactly when to attack the Americans. They usually attacked them while they were in an open view for the snipers or whenever they were walking through terrain which was difficult to move fast in. At night my grandfather and his men would sneak into the American camps and throw grenades into their tents, killing almost all the men. Other guerilla tactics they performed were hiding in trees and shooting from unknown locations so the Americans panicked after all of a sudden their infantries were attacked from nowhere. The Yankees seemed to believe that the response to these ¡°guerilla¡± tactics was to attack through the air and simply bombard our cities with much firepower. However, there search and destroy missions, as they later became known, were not popular with the South Vietnamese and the Americans began to loose support. Suddenly the Americans¡¯ ideas seemed not so smart and many of their men were being killed while the Vietnamese kept coming at full force. Also, with the guerilla tactics being used, a small group of lightly armed Vietnamese could easily surround and kill twice as many Americans by hiding or attacking when they were the most vulnerable. With the South Vietnamese at their heels and their military strategies proven useless, the other thing that got in the way of the Yankees¡¯ victory was their own ¡°self-image.¡±

The United States was feared by many countries because of their powerful victories in both World Wars. The rest of the world knew that the United States were not to be messed with and so countries chose to stay out of their way as a way of protecting themselves. All of these factors ignited¡°arrogance¡± within the United States that they could beat anybody and they were the only all powerful nation. Whenever something was not in their favor, all the U.S. had to do was threaten with a war and the countries would cede. With Vietnam however, Vietnamese people did not cede a thing and instead the United States declared an un-winnable war. The United States believed that the war would easily be won and that it would be over within a matter of months. They thought of us as being inferior and useless Asians who cannot even ¡°open their eyes.¡± Instead we showed them that they were not as powerful as they thought they were and that their military was not as strong as all the other nations believed. The arrogance of the United States led them to believe that our leader at the time, Ho Chi Minh, was the puppet of communist China and that he would eventually lead the rest of North Vietnam into Communism. The United States ignored the history of our Vietnamese people and the views that we had had before. Our past views had never been communist and if the Americans had paid attention to these factors they could have prevented thousands of lives from being lost. In order to make the war reasonable, the government in the United States emphasized the importance for an independent South Vietnam and the American presidents were not honest with the public. Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson did not fully inform the American people of their policies or the reasons for those changes. As the war escalated, the government began to misinform the public and declared that casualties were not as bad as they seemed and that the cause would be worth it in the end. Each president promised victory with a new commitment of soldiers, weapons, and money which caused people¡¯s expectations to be raised. The United States could not loose a war and worse yet, actually declare to the American public that they had indeed waged an un-winnable war all for the wrong reasons. Their once view of themselves as a powerful nation could not be all false propaganda and it was something they did not want to believe. With all of these false advertisements to the U.S. public, some people were not as gullible and support for the war caused a chain of mixed reactions.

As American people were bombarded with propaganda that the war was being won but it would need more time, effort, and money, more and more people began to doubt the American government¡¯s declarations that the war was actually winnable. The people began to ask the government that if they were winning, then why are more soldiers needed and more time is being asked for? Pretty soon protests all over America, especially the capital, began to spring up and fractions against the war were established. What was worse was that all of this was being known by the soldiers and besides their already low morale this just lowered it even more. This decreased the soldier¡¯s chances of winning the war, especially one that was not supported. Even some soldiers began to doubt the whole war and men that were enlisted because of the draft fled to Canada. With our people, the Vietnamese, it was totally vice versa. Our people were strong from start to finish. Beginning with our history, our way of life is to live and die for our country. It was an honor for my grandfather to serve his country and for all of the men beside him. When many died, already many more were waiting in line to fulfill their places. The difference between us and the Americans was that whenever they lost soldiers, their morale was low and they took it into account way too much. The way we did it was that we did not honor the death until the whole war had been won and it was over. This gave our Vietnamese people an edge over the Americans in that our people always fought for our country no matter what and we did not sulk around like the Yankees did. That was too bad for them¡­..

In conclusion, the Americans had too much against them. Their war was not winnable for the various reasons: the South Vietnam situation, their bad military strategy, their powerful ¡°self-image,¡± and all of the negative support that was given by the people. The U.S. had never known defeat and because of that, it was hard for them to accept the fact that they were beaten by a country that was believed to be inferior. Thousands of lives were lost for both sides but the loss was felt much more by the United States. This war might not have had great rewards for both countries but it served a great purpose: the bigger powers might not always be the strongest.

by Anonymous Student



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