Re: Why did the U.S. remain in Vietnam?

Paris Commune (
Tue, 5 Nov 1996 10:25:06 -0500

At 06:50 PM 10/31/96 -0500, you wrote:
>Hi there,
> I am a sophomore at the College of William and Mary and I am
>writing a 20 page research paper about Vietnam. I am trying to figure
>out a puzzle. Why did America remain involved in the war when there
>seemed to be many reasons to withdraw (i.e. protest at home, military
>defeat, casualties, etc.). Was the sole reaon to remain in battle to try
>and stop communism? Or were there behind the scenes politics? Or did
>America just not want to appear weak to the rest of the world? If anyone
>has any insights or arguments for either side, I would appreciate them.
>Thank you very much!
Although I can't specifically cite any specific references, I can tell you
one thing: There were many MANY reasons for powerful people in America to
advocate the war in Vietnam. If you look at it, Vietnam was a really
pointless and unwinnable war. Our troops were draftees, sent to boot camp
and then expected to fight effectively 8,000 miles away from home in a land
that was completely foreign to them. Before the Vietnam War, few people
could even show you where the country was on a map! We were up against a
closely knit and organized native population that excelled at jungle warfare
and had an almost ingrained hatred of Americans. True fact: in WWII, when
American and British pilots were in training, they were warned about flying
over Vietnam (then called Annam). If a pilot went down over Annam, he was
urged to surrender to the Japanese before allowing himself to be taken by
the hostile Vietnamese natives(technically our allies in that conflict).
They just didn't like us over there.
Of course, take a look at the military budget in 1967-68. More than
billion was poured into our "national defense". In 1949, by contrast, it was
less than $10 billion. War pays big time, and the government and big
business knew it. Recall Eisenhower's closing address as president: "We
must guard against the unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by
the military industrial complex." How right he was. Vietnam was impossible
to win, and our government didn't even send troops in with a direct plan of
action. No clear goals, inept leadership, indecisive politicians took on a
seasoned guerilla army that fought the Japanese and the French before we
even showed up. The Viet Cong were ready and waiting because after all, they
had never really had their own country before 1975. Vietnam is a direct
result of the military industrial complex. Business prospered all over,
because war industries create an incredible amount of revenue. This leads
one to ask a question: Can capitalism work without having a war every 20-30
years to speed economic growth? Is imperialism the end result of a
capitalist system. Thoughts to ponder. I hope that I was of help.

>Amy Sutton
>The College of William and Mary

Fritz V. Wilson
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. USA