When did this country become so divided? Look no further than the Viet Nam War


#1

Currently this nation is in a very bad way. We are deeply divided and the divisions are getting worse. The Democrats are out of control making unsubstantiated allegations against anyone in public office who opposes their agenda and using the power of the courts to intimate and bankrupt their opposition. Democrat leaders like Maxine Waters are inciting their supporters to attack and harass Republican officials in public, and her dim-witted minions are taking up that challenge.

When did all of this really get started? It began during the Viet Nam and has now metastasized into a cancer.

I went to undergraduate school from 1967 to 1971. During that period, a lot of my peers got radicalized. The “rock star professors” were the leftists who opposed the war. Those guys were the people who had the most influence the young minds. At the same time many of my peers were going to anti-war rallies. There they met the really radical students who were committed leftists, and members of the “old left.” These were mostly funny little Socialist Worker and Communist Party men in bad suits who could not believe the amount of support that was falling their laps.

Many of those young minds got into “government service” or teaching. They continued to spread the leftist contagion until it now is the dominant force on college campuses. From the new newly minted teachers who get the young kids started early on the leftist path to the college professors who seal the wall, the leftist disease is rampant.

I opposed the Viet Nam War, but for the “wrong reasons.” I thought the country was not worth the treasure we wasted on it, and that the corrupt South Vietnamese leadership was only with us so long as they could soak up more American dollars. I thought the Viet Nam War was the best bargain the Russians and the Chinese ever got. For short money they divided the United States in the ‘60s and ‘70s and they are still collecting the benefits from it today.

The rot in the United States is coming from within, from our education system. The education system has poisoned our political structure and the news media. I can see them gaining complete control within the next decade. The seeds were planted by the Viet Nam War, and the leftist forces are getting far more benefits from it than they could ever have imagined.


#2

I don’t disagree, Sendgop. I was IN Vietnam while you were in college and I can tell you that, by in large, the Vietnamese people that I met and interacted with were decent people who just wanted to live their lives free to do whatever they wanted to do in order to survive and they KNEW that the communists in the North would NOT allow them to do that. The so-called “news media” in the U.S. aided and abetted those leftists in academia to which you refer. In particular, Walter Cronkite, the self-styled “most trusted man in America.” He literally lied, almost daily, about what was going on there in order to convey the idea that WE were the aggressors killing innocents when the exact opposite was the real truth. The Verona papers revealed that EVERY “anti-war” group in the U.S. was secretly funded by the KGB! I’m virtually certain that included many communist “professors” on our college campuses.


#3

This is literally the thesis of Jonathan Haidt as to how the Universities became so much more left-wing bent since the 90s, and he has the data to back it up:

He’s also carefully tracking how it is Gen Z is becoming the most “Delicate” generation ever.(spoilers: ubiquity of social media is a large part of it.)


#4

I attended Stanford for 9 years - from The end of 1961 to the end of the decade. I share sendgop’s view on this. I had a front row seat to the Berkeley insanity - hell, it was bad enough at Stanford.

It is my opinion that many of the radicals of the '60s, who disrupted nearly every campus, stayed in school on a student deferment, became profs and have been instrumental in the hiring of leftist faculty. There is no other way to explain the radicalization of our universities, their campus culture and their typically having about 85%+ leftist faculty.


#5

Do you blame Kennedy and Johnson for their ham-fisted way of fighting and escalating? The repeated practice of losing men while fighting to take a hill and then abandoning the hill to the enemy disheartened a lot of soldiers. (Also, the Vietnamese and the Chinese hated each other for thousands of years but they were working together against the US until Nixon talked with China.) Or do you blame Nixon for not cutting and running sooner?

Our family was very patriotic and anti-communist, so we thought that meant we had to be very pro-Vietname War. But in recent years I’ve wondered what the right thing to do really was.

If we had to be there, I wonder if there shouldn’t have been an effort to encourage all US soldiers in country to learn the Vietnamese language and culture and to talk to the locals at every opportunity. That might have reduced recruitment by the Viet Cong. And might have either helped the soldiers (and the families back home) understand what they were fighting for, or helped encouraged us to get out sooner.


#6

If the U.S. media had just told HALF of the truth about what the VC and NVA were doing to the South, there would have been a MASSIVE outcry by Americans to DESTROY the government of Hanoi. American troops would routinely give out mosquito netting when first entering a village in the hinterlands. With the netting came steel “T-bars” used to hold the netting up and allow movement inside it. I went into a small village in the Central Highlands south of Pleiku in 1965 shortly after the VC had been through on one of their “recruiting” trips…meaning conscription. The mayor advised his young men to stay at home and NOT go with the “recruiters.” The VC beat the mayor’s wife to death with one of those steel rods, raped and murdered his daughter-in-law, and killed his 6-month-old grandson by spitting him on a bayonet and laughingly, toss the baby from soldier to soldier from bayonet to bayonet. A few weeks later, I encountered a UPI “correspondent” in Saigon at a bar. I told him what I’d seen and asked why the media wasn’t reporting that stuff to the American public. Amazingly, his reply was, “Oh, that stuff happens here all the time. It’s only ‘news’ if it’s something RARE!”


#7

IMHO - Even if what you describe is totally accurate, PD - and I know many such atrocities took place - sending nearly 50,000 of our best young people half way around the world to Viet Nam to their death in a war in which our leaders were never committed to win was morally bankrupt. I thought that at the time and I think it today.

The after-effects of the caustic division/counter culture which were, at least in part, given birth by this war - a war predicated on the simplistic “Domino Theory” - are with us to this day.


#8

The “domino theory” may have been “simplistic”, but it was ACCURATE, Doc. Vietnam became a communist country as did Laos and the communists are fast at work on Thailand as this is written!


#9

Laos was a lost cause long before we arrived. But, the point is - I would not want my son or daughter sacrificed to a land most Americans couldn’t find on a map and for our political class not committed to win. For our forces the war turned into a police action conducted under absurd rules of engagement and, all the while, under conditions under-resourced. We were concerned China would become directly involved, so we held back. We should be all in or all out. Our leaders decided half in was the way to go - as a consequence, it cost 50,000 of our kids their lives, 100,000+ maimed/wounded and ended by us fleeing the country with the North Vietnamese regulars hot on our heels. In our haste to leave, we abandoned many Vietnamese who assisted us to be dealt with by the North. This is not a knock on our military in any way. It IS a knock on our leadership.

Others are welcome to disagree - that’s fine. However, my commentary is how I viewed our action. I feel very badly for those who lost loved ones in this debacle and those brave souls who fought in the action only to return home to be spit on. As far as I’m concerned, the entire episode was a disgrace from start to finish. Noble intent is rarely enough to overcome a lack of commitment.


#10

The “domino theory” was hog wash. If had been true, the fall of South Vietnam in 1975 should have been catastrophic to our interests, but it wasn’t. The truth is the Vietnamese have more to dislike about China than we do. Yes, they both operate under the communist system, but old nationalistic animosities still hold true. The Vietnamese have fought wars with China, and the Soviet Union fought wars with China.

During the war the thing that most Vietnamese wanted more than anything else was to do away with foreign domination of their country. They were sick of the French, and all the Americans offered them was a string of dictators who bled the country and the U.S. dry for their own selfish reasons. The last leader of Sourth Vietnam left with a plane load of gold, probably stolen from U.S. taxpayers, which he used to live it up in Hawaii.

Ho Chi Mein was a communist, but he was a nationalist as well. That made him a hero to the Vietnamese people who were sick of western domination.

Come to think of it, we weren’t too happy with the British when we gave them the door. We replaced their form of the government with one which was just as radical as communism in the late 1700s. The difference was, of course, our system led to freedom, which the communist system often leads to poverty and concentration camps. Still it appears that the Vietnamese brand of communism has served them better than it has in most parts of the world. Given that, I’m very comfortable with leaving them to their own devices.


#11

I agree that it was the morons in the Democrat Party that cost us so many lives in Vietnam. There is no real question about that. Those two idiots, Johnson and McNamara were actually picking targets to bomb from WASHINGTON D.C.!!! We were told, while flying along the Cambodian border that if we took fire from across the border, WE COULDN’T SHOOT BACK!!!, an edict that was regularly ignored, by the way. “Hot pursuit” was meaningless and our aircraft often wound up bombing empty road intersections because while there MIGHT have once been a military target there, by the time the intel got back to D.C. and was relayed to the aircraft, the target was often long gone! I still say that we COULD have won that war if the leftists back home had ALLOWED it, but doing so would have betrayed their instructions from the Soviets and their funding would have dried up. A lot of those youngsters, under the urging of their professors, decided to either stay in school on Dad’s dime and/or the government’s, or use their educations to move into the media, government or the schools. All three careers offered similar benefits—they all paid pretty well for a minimum of difficult labor, and all were union-protected which made it very difficult to be fired. Lastly, all three offered an opportunity for them to change the course of history for the country. When you have “journalism” students professing that their main reason for going into journalism is to “make a difference”, instead of to inform the public, you know you’re in deep do-do.


#12

The domino theory was anything BUT “hogwash.” It was a real concern at the height of the Cold War. Remember we were only a couple of years removed from the one event that brought us the closest to nuclear war that we’d ever been–or have been since. Most patriotic Americans believed that it was imperative to halt the spread of soviet-style Marxism. They were financing and fomenting insurrections in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and SE Asia and putting DOWN rebellions in Eastern Europe…often very viciously. They were also financing the anti-war movement–almost in its entirety–in the U.S. and Europe. The Soviets, in 1969, financed a “Peace Conference” in Helsinki to which none other than William Jefferson Clinton was invited. He didn’t attend, beyond having a few drinks in the Helsinki Airport with an old college professor and instead flew on to Moscow in the dead of winter as a “tourist” where he stayed for a week before motoring out through Eastern Europe, staying one night in Prague at the home of one of the co-founders of the Czech Communist Party before crossing into West Berlin and on back to London where he was a “Rhodes Scholar.”


#13

You are correct that we had interests in the Americas and Western Europe, but what happened in Southeast Asia did not matter. Johnson and his idiots never looked at the big picture. They really did think that they could police the world, but not even the U.S. could do that. Instead they got involved in a civil war that not no significant bearing in our interests. It was a tragic mistake, and over 50,000 young Americans paid for it. We are still paying for it as I said earlier.


#14

“No interest?” Sorry Sendgop, but that’s nonsense. For decades, what was known as “French Indochina” was viewed as the “rice bowl” of Southern Asia. Control of that region by Marxists would have done what Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” did to millions of Chinese…starvation on an epic scale. It most assuredly WAS in our interest to stop the spread of Marxism…especially militarily. What’s happened in Vietnam since is ample proof that intervention was advisable. The idiot Democrats just went about it completely wrong.


#15

A rice bowl?

That is a pretty poor excuse for sending over 50,000 Americans to their deaths over a tiny country that was of little signficance in the world scheme.

But, have your way. Let’s say that we took territory and held it and then went right on up to North Vietnam and captured it. About the only Asian success story that we have had when the fundamental war-like culture of nation was changed was post World War II Japan.

Do you think we could have duplicated that in Viet Nam? Do you think that the Chinese would have stayed out of the war under those conditions, or would have been like the Korean War? A stalemate.

The architects of our Vietnam policy will defend their actions until they are dead, but it doesn’t change the facts. The war was a waste; the goals were never properly defined; and the strategy was close to nonexistent.

And, yes, Vietnam was not worth the cost. The Vietnamese didn’t want us there, and without the support of the population, winning such a war could only be achieved with a scorched earth policy and a significant rebuilding process. No one in the American government and only a minority of the American people were prepared to do that.


#16

Oh, BS. Tell it to the South Koreans how un-beneficial we’ve been to THEIR economy! For that matter, tell it to Taiwan and even India, even though neither were recipients of our aid militarily. Take a look sometime, at a night-time satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula. You can tell PRECISELY where the DMZ is located and, except for Pyongyang, there is virtually NO light in the north. That’s not accidental and it’s not because the NoKo’s are paranoid.


#17

To make all of that work, you would have needed to have done a much better job on the PR front, and we didn’t do it. I have no argument with you over the many failures of Communism. The question was did we look like a colonial power in Vietnam to the locals? Sadly we did.


#18

Were you THERE? I WAS, and I assure you that the locals did NOT view us as an “occupying colonial power.” The people of Nhatrang, Qhinhon, Pleiku and surrounding villages in 1965 WELCOMED us with open arms because they’d been plagued by the depredations of the VC. In 1968, the people of Saigon, Bien Hoa, Long Binh, Cu Chi, and surrounding villages viewed us likewise. Quit parroting the leftist BS that was put out by the likes of Cronkite, et al.