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Why did the US fail to save South Vietnam from Communism?

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The US failed to save the South from Communism due to many interconnected reasons. America did not have the ordinary Vietnamese on their side, and like the French and Japanese before, they were seen as ‘foreign occupiers’. Furthermore, America faced much controversy over the war within its own borders, and therefore was fighting a war unpopular to its own people and the people which they tried to ‘save’. Militarily the US failed to stop guerrilla warfare and committed many atrocities against the Vietnamese people. Ho Chi Minh (the leader of the North Vietnamese) on the other hand was a person supported by a lot of the Vietnamese (including many in the South), because he gave the people what they wanted, which were to rid the country of foreign occupiers once an for all, and to give the normal person land.

The biggest plausible reason the US’s failure to save communism, was because the people were not on their side. Day after day more and more Vietnamese joined the North, and America was gradually left on its own. This was because America supported the Diem regime in South Vietnam, a catholic repressive government system, and a puppet state to America. For example the Diem regime refused to allow other religious practice other than Catholism. It seemed very obvious why America failed to gain the support of the people when they were allies with the government of Diem. Nowadays in Iraq (though not as big of a war as in Vietnam), a similar situation has occurred where the majority of the Iraqi people are against American occupation, mainly because of cultural reasons such as, religion, race, lifestyle etc. America could and probably would have had a much better chance of winning the Vietnam War if they had the support of the populous.

Since 1887 Vietnam was occupied by the French, the Japanese and finally the Americans. The Vietnamese people were tired of being ruled by people that did not share the same qualities as they did. For example their religion was significantly different from the US, America being predominately Christian and Vietnam being predominately Buddha. America was seen as an imperialist country, fighting only because they were much ‘stronger’. A Vietnamese reporter named Lai Chou ling said that no matter how big America is, they will never be able to control the majority, for it is the majority that will eventually rid this country of its foreign occupiers.

America couldn’t have possibly saved the Vietnamese from communism simply because they didn’t want to be saved, and much preferred living under the communist regime of the North. Furthermore another reason why they were seen as imperialists was because a lot of Vietnamese were forced to move away from their original home (home to where there parents, and grand parents were buried and so on). This further angered the Vietnamese because they did not have many options, only to abide by the rules of the country’s new “leaders”. The Vietnamese people simply couldn’t care less if a communist regime from their own cultural ideas was in power, as long as it was not another rich foreign country fighting for what was clearly not theirs.

As the war progressed America faced similar hostility from the public at home. People were tired of seeing the war progress, a war that was unpopular with the Vietnamese people, a war that had no clear sign of ending, a war which imposed a drafting system (In which most were minority groups, and people who were not in college) where a lot of the more economically active families were able to escape the system, and finally a war where thousands of Americans died for what ended out to be no reason at all. Protesters outside the White House held signs up such as LBJ! LBJ! How many kids have you killed today? Moreover America’s biggest anti-war protest took place in Washington DC where hundreds of thousands of people protested about many issues to do with the war (e.g. The drafting system, the pentagon papers, which in turn created a lot of the publics cynicism towards the government, etc ) for days on end. With this sort of hostility faced at home and abroad it was only a matter of time before the US had no other option than to withdraw.

Militarily America simply was never trained for such an extensive guerrilla war. Though the North was terribly out numbered and suffered many more casualties than America (Vietnamese casualties were (both North and South) over 2 million, and American casualties numbered 56,000). However even though the casualties were different by a big amount, most of the war was fought on ground by infantry units. America could only call in air strikes occasionally, and the jungle’s rugged terrain made it impossible to use tanks to fight their battles. Furthermore America guerrilla tactics seemed unmatched to that of the Vietcong. Even America’s elite soldiers, the Green Berets (today’s equivalent of the Delta Force or the British SAS) were sent to help the South against the North, however their training in America proved non valuable against the guerrillas and eventually, were forced to pull out. Though the military of the US seemed impregnable against guerrilla attack forces, the sheer geography of rural Vietnam proved much different.

The US military, along with the help of the media, were very badly portrayed. After stories of how American troops reportedly raped all the women of a village and then killed the rest of its inhabitance leaked out, huge outrage all around the world was voiced. The British (who were against the Vietnam War) were appalled by this and questioned the American military infrastructure; wondering how such crimes could be committed especially when it was against the people they were there for in the First place. From a US military POV one could say that this was justifiable under the circumstances. This was because the villagers were “supposedly” supporting the North Vietnamese. However such claims true or false could not support this point of view simply because America is the so called bearer of freedom, and personal rights. Once these bad atrocities were made public, the Vietnam War was not supported within the US or in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh was the light at the end of the tunnel for the Vietnamese. He was seen by many as a popular, caring leader that gave the ordinary person what they had wanted from the beginning, a Vietnamese leader. Under his communist ideas he insured the ordinary person land (not just the select few). People were willing to fight and die for him, because it was an actual cause. Furthermore it was his popularity and guerilla tactics that saw him to victory.

In conclusion America clearly failed to save the South from Communist occupation. This was due to many reasons, many of which were triggered by the US. America was clearly the unpopular side in the war and could not over come the North because of the lack of support from the South. Even the American public, towards the later years of the war, were very against the American Government’s objectives, and were seen as enemies of the State. Ho Chi Minh on the other hand was highly supported within Vietnam and thus these reasons state why Vietnam could not and would not be saved from Communism.

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