Why The U.S Failed 1: The People In Vietnam

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  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 06-04-14 20:25

winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnames

winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnamese people - the decisive factor

  • US unable to win hearts & minds of Vietnamese
  •  Giap said Hanoi won as it waged a peoples' war - total war every man won child mobilized
  •  thousands U.S experts felt too little was done to win hearts and minds
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winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnames

winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnamese people - understanding the Vietnamese

  • most vietnamese rice growing peasants lived communal villages - mud huts no water/electricity - U.S soldiers couldn't concieve 'people' living like this - alienated often treated as sub-human
  •  Comms. won over peasantry offering fairer land reform
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winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnames

winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnamese people - "They are all VC"

  • war made US soldiers dislike people they supposed to help - made difficult to win the war - clear example Pinkville/My Lai massacre March 1968 - 340 unarmed civs killed by US troops
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winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnames

winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnamese people - The U.S high-tech war

  • U.S firepower focused more on S.V than N.V
  •  while searching for VC U.S killed many civilians - neither ARVN or U.S took responsibility for civ deaths
  •  U.S bombing obliterated 5 towns with pop 10,000+
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winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnames

winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnamese people - Life In Saigon

  • perpetual fighting+bombing drove 1/3 peasants out of countryside into towns/cities - many put in camps bad sanitation+disease
  •  many peasantas lived off U.S soldiers
  •  Saigon became unsavoury - drugs in bars hotels became brothels beggars targetted U.S troops
  •  war destroyed social fabric of S.V - American soldiers vastly rich in comparison to peasants
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winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnames

winning the hearts and mins of the South Vietnamese people - The Saigon gov.: corruption and 'democracy'

  • peasants often politically apathetic - main concern = survival
  •  Washington's democracy for Vietnam was meangingless
  •  biggest political tradition of Vietnamese was hatred of foreigners
  •  Ky's gov. corrupt+adverse to reform
  •  Johnson insisted Ky run democratic elections - Ky's candidate Thieu only got 37% of vote
  •  Thie fled April 1975 and stole millions dollars of gold
  •  unpopularity of Saigon regime perhaps main reason for failure
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Communist determination

  • inspired by Comm+Nationalism - VC won admiration from US troops
  •  Vietnamese always struggled to exist - constant struggle caused unusual patience in face of adversity - explained Hanoi refusal to negotiate
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The HCM Trail

  • both sides knew Trail vital to Comm. war effort
  •  men+materials came south injured went north
  •  1959-64 Giap's porters carried most of war material down trail - never a signle route multiple branches
  •  50,000 women employed to repair trail
  •  vehicles+trail camouflaged with foliage
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Communist ingenuity

  • ingenuity+preparedness vital
  •  areas controlled by Saigon gov. had web of Comm. informants and organisations that controlled and motivated people
  •  Comms. had tunnels VC could hide in
  •  Hanoi was full of concrete holes with thick covers to protect from bombs - when siren sounded pop could vanish - ingenuity vital for US failure
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US in Vietnam - American disunity

  • Marines not keen to follow Westmoreland army orders
  •  green berets caused antagonism
  •  U.S distrusted ARVN
  •  soldiers served 365 days marines 13 months - short term service = lack of unity = low morale/performance
  •  disagreement with tactics caused indiscipline
  •  army officer only 5 months front line - too little to know men
  •  many soldiers didn't agree with war - confused why in Vietnam
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US in Vietnam - trying to fight a comfortable war

  • desire to keep soldiers comfortable major cause for defeat
  •  many soldiers never fought
  •  every week thousands went to R&R
  •  159 basketball courts 90 clubs 85 volleyball courts 71 swim pools 40 ice cream shops when US left
  •  unreality/disorientation
  •  Westmoreland said this only way to get troops to fight
  •  1/4 soldiers caught STD's
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US in Vietnam - Search and destroy

  • very hard to find guerrillas
  •  1967 CIA report 1% of 2 million ops. conducted 65-67 made contact with enemy
  •  6.5 civilians killed for every 1 VC
  •  guerrillas went elsewhere upon hearing helicopters etc
  •  hard to wipe out guerrillas when they come from another "state"(N.V)
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US in Vietnam - reliance on superior technology

  • bombing a favorite tactic of Johnson
  •  N.V HCM trail and S.V villages heavily bombed
  •  bombing failed damage N.V morale and stem flow HCM trail
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US in Vietnam - The wrong strategy

  • Mcnamara later admitted US tactics were wrong - said unwise to use high tech war of attrition against guerilla force that never considered giving up
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