Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

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EKB
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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by EKB » 24 Apr 2021 03:52

Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Apr 2021 11:41
Hi EKB,

You post, "There was no legitimate reason to create an artificial country like South Vietnam that was run by a military dictator, propped up by U.S. tax payers." If South Vietnam was artificial, so were North Korea, South Korea and North Vietnam.

Hello Sid,

As someone else mentioned, the South Korean peninsula is defended with much smaller resources because of the geography.

You must realize the U.S. conflict in Southeast Asia was a proxy war. British Minister Anthony Eden did not see much upside to starting another conflict with mainland China, which grew stronger with every year that passed. He was worried about the U.K. lease on Hong Kong island. He knew that Chinese and North Vietnamese leaders despised each other, but formed a temporary alliance because of the mutual interest to eliminate French and American influence locally. The Peking government shipped a steady flow of modern arms and sophisticated equipment to Hanoi and also sent several hundred thousand troops to act as advisors and technical support.

There was a possibility that Thailand might fall to a China-backed Communist regime which would more directly concern border states like British Malaya. Add to the mix, the post-World War II economic conditions in the U.K. and it’s not difficult to understand why Eden and his successors were not eager to atagonize Red China.

Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Apr 2021 11:41
Secondly, you write, "North Vietnam did not have an Air Force or Navy that could project power outside of Southeast Asia. The Hanoi regime was never a threat to U.S. national security, its economy, or shipping lanes. " OK. Neither did Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia

If other governments want to waste money on nation-building shenanigans, better them than us. Wagering on South Vietnam was akin to Manchester United hiring a striker who cannot score a goal, then rewarding his ineptitude with 20 years of lucrative contracts.

Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Apr 2021 11:41
So, where, if anywhere, would you make your stand?

Not in Vietnam, according to General Matthew Ridgway, U.S. Army Chief of Staff in the 1950s. He lobbied strongly against sending American troops to French Indochina after the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Ridgway’s warnings proved quite prescient when they were ignored ten years later. He wrote:

“However futile it might have been to stand and fight in that spot, still, the gallantry of the hard-fighting French garrison did capture the imagination of the world. Soon I was deeply concerned to hear individuals of great influence, both in and out of government, raising the cry that now was the time, and here, in Indo-China, was the place to "test the New Look," for us to intervene, to come to the aid of France with arms. At the same time that same old delusive idea was advanced that we could do things the cheap and easy way, by going into Indo-China with air and naval forces alone. To me this had an ominous ring. For I felt sure that if we committed air and naval power to that area, we would have to follow them immediately with ground forces in support.

I also knew that none of those advocating such a step had any accurate idea what such an operation would cost us in blood and money and national effort. I felt that it was essential therefore that all who had any influence in making the decision on this grave matter should be fully aware of all the factors involved.

To provide these facts, I sent out to Indo-China an Army team of experts in every field: engineers, signal and communications specialists, medical officers, and experienced combat leaders who knew how to evaluate terrain in terms of battle tactics. They went out to get the answers to a thousand questions that those who had so blithely recommended that we go to war there had never taken the trouble to ask.

How deep was the water over the bar at Saigon? What were the harbor and dock facilities? Where could we store the tons of supplies we would need to support us there? How good was the road net how could supplies be transported as the fighting forces moved inland, and in what tonnages? What of the climate? The rainfall? What tropical diseases would attack the combat soldier in that jungle land?

Their report was complete. The area, they found, was practically devoid of those facilities which modern forces such as ours find essential to the waging of war. Its telecommunications, highways, railways all the things that make possible the operation of a modern combat force on land were almost non-existent. Its port facilities and airfields were totally inadequate, and to provide the facilities we would need would require a tremendous engineering and logistical effort.

The land was a land of rice paddy and jungle particularly adapted to the guerrilla-type warfare at which the Chinese soldier is a master. This meant that every little detachment, every individual, that tried to move about that country, would have to be protected by riflemen. Every telephone lineman, road repair party every ambulance and every rear-area aid station would have to be under armed guard or they would be shot at around the clock.

If we did go into Indo-China, we would have to win. We would have to go in with a military force adequate in all its branches, and that meant a very strong ground force an Army that could not only stand the normal attrition of battle, but could absorb heavy casualties from the jungle heat, and the rots and fevers which afflict the white man in the tropics. We could not again afford to accept anything short of decisive military victory.

We could have fought in Indo-China. We could have won, if we had been willing to pay the tremendous cost in men and money that such intervention would have required a cost that in my opinion would have eventually been as great as, or greater than, that we paid in Korea. In Korea, we had learned that air and naval power alone cannot win a war and that inadequate ground forces cannot win one either. It was incredible to me that we had forgotten that bitter lesson so soon that we were on the verge of making that same tragic error.

That error, thank God, was not repeated. As soon as the full report was in, I lost no time in having it passed on up the chain of command. It reached President Eisenhower. To a man of his military experience its implications were immediately clear. The idea of intervening was abandoned, and it is my belief that the analysis which the Army made and presented to higher authority played a considerable, perhaps a decisive, part in persuading our government not to embark on that tragic adventure.”

SOLDIER: The Memoirs of Matthew B. Ridgway, 1956.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 26 Apr 2021 02:01

EKB wrote:
23 Apr 2021 05:44
Futurist wrote:
21 Jan 2021 01:16
Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

A better question might be, why did a South Vietnamese state need to exist at all?

North Vietnam did not have an Air Force or Navy that could project power outside of Southeast Asia. The Hanoi regime was never a threat to U.S. national security, its economy, or shipping lanes. There was no legitimate reason to create an artificial country like South Vietnam that was run by a military dictator, propped up by U.S. tax payers.

The decisions made about Indochina by U.S. presidents had nothing to do with common sense. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon simply wanted to avoid looking soft on Communism. They feared that voters might punish them if they appeared to be weak. No American president wanted to be the first on the losing side of a war. Their own personal ambitions and vanity might be laughable, if not for the millions of deaths that resulted in Southeast Asia.

Ngo Dinh Diem was a far better national leader than the military junta that replaced him. The succession of South Vietnamese generals had no idea how to operate a country, including Nguyen Van Thieu who outlasted the others. But he was involved with the murder of Diem and this too damaged his credibility among the people who knew. Some of President Kennedy’s top advisors later admitted that endorsing Diem’s assassination was the worst possible decision they could have made at the time.

The chief economies of South Vietnam, on which the nation could sustain itself, were farming and fishing. Those industries were seriously crippled by the war as refugees flocked to cities for protection, where they opened shops and sold goods to millions of GIs who served in Southeast Asia. When the United States withdrew, the Saigon regime could not, in the middle of a war, throw a switch and restore farming and fishing as the primary means for revenue. The United States therefore managed to ruin the trade and social fabric of the country, as if destroying and defoliating large swathes of rural areas was not enough.

South Vietnam was doomed when it became totally dependent on U.S. financial support and the patience of American voters; essentially a welfare state established by and abandoned by the military industrial complex.
Do you think that South Vietnam could have survived had the Diem brothers managed to avoid assassination?

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 26 Apr 2021 02:04

EKB wrote:
24 Apr 2021 03:52
Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Apr 2021 11:41
Hi EKB,

You post, "There was no legitimate reason to create an artificial country like South Vietnam that was run by a military dictator, propped up by U.S. tax payers." If South Vietnam was artificial, so were North Korea, South Korea and North Vietnam.

Hello Sid,

As someone else mentioned, the South Korean peninsula is defended with much smaller resources because of the geography.

You must realize the U.S. conflict in Southeast Asia was a proxy war. British Minister Anthony Eden did not see much upside to starting another conflict with mainland China, which grew stronger with every year that passed. He was worried about the U.K. lease on Hong Kong island. He knew that Chinese and North Vietnamese leaders despised each other, but formed a temporary alliance because of the mutual interest to eliminate French and American influence locally. The Peking government shipped a steady flow of modern arms and sophisticated equipment to Hanoi and also sent several hundred thousand troops to act as advisors and technical support.

There was a possibility that Thailand might fall to a China-backed Communist regime which would more directly concern border states like British Malaya. Add to the mix, the post-World War II economic conditions in the U.K. and it’s not difficult to understand why Eden and his successors were not eager to atagonize Red China.

Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Apr 2021 11:41
Secondly, you write, "North Vietnam did not have an Air Force or Navy that could project power outside of Southeast Asia. The Hanoi regime was never a threat to U.S. national security, its economy, or shipping lanes. " OK. Neither did Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia

If other governments want to waste money on nation-building shenanigans, better them than us. Wagering on South Vietnam was akin to Manchester United hiring a striker who cannot score a goal, then rewarding his ineptitude with 20 years of lucrative contracts.

Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Apr 2021 11:41
So, where, if anywhere, would you make your stand?

Not in Vietnam, according to General Matthew Ridgway, U.S. Army Chief of Staff in the 1950s. He lobbied strongly against sending American troops to French Indochina after the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Ridgway’s warnings proved quite prescient when they were ignored ten years later. He wrote:

“However futile it might have been to stand and fight in that spot, still, the gallantry of the hard-fighting French garrison did capture the imagination of the world. Soon I was deeply concerned to hear individuals of great influence, both in and out of government, raising the cry that now was the time, and here, in Indo-China, was the place to "test the New Look," for us to intervene, to come to the aid of France with arms. At the same time that same old delusive idea was advanced that we could do things the cheap and easy way, by going into Indo-China with air and naval forces alone. To me this had an ominous ring. For I felt sure that if we committed air and naval power to that area, we would have to follow them immediately with ground forces in support.

I also knew that none of those advocating such a step had any accurate idea what such an operation would cost us in blood and money and national effort. I felt that it was essential therefore that all who had any influence in making the decision on this grave matter should be fully aware of all the factors involved.

To provide these facts, I sent out to Indo-China an Army team of experts in every field: engineers, signal and communications specialists, medical officers, and experienced combat leaders who knew how to evaluate terrain in terms of battle tactics. They went out to get the answers to a thousand questions that those who had so blithely recommended that we go to war there had never taken the trouble to ask.

How deep was the water over the bar at Saigon? What were the harbor and dock facilities? Where could we store the tons of supplies we would need to support us there? How good was the road net how could supplies be transported as the fighting forces moved inland, and in what tonnages? What of the climate? The rainfall? What tropical diseases would attack the combat soldier in that jungle land?

Their report was complete. The area, they found, was practically devoid of those facilities which modern forces such as ours find essential to the waging of war. Its telecommunications, highways, railways all the things that make possible the operation of a modern combat force on land were almost non-existent. Its port facilities and airfields were totally inadequate, and to provide the facilities we would need would require a tremendous engineering and logistical effort.

The land was a land of rice paddy and jungle particularly adapted to the guerrilla-type warfare at which the Chinese soldier is a master. This meant that every little detachment, every individual, that tried to move about that country, would have to be protected by riflemen. Every telephone lineman, road repair party every ambulance and every rear-area aid station would have to be under armed guard or they would be shot at around the clock.

If we did go into Indo-China, we would have to win. We would have to go in with a military force adequate in all its branches, and that meant a very strong ground force an Army that could not only stand the normal attrition of battle, but could absorb heavy casualties from the jungle heat, and the rots and fevers which afflict the white man in the tropics. We could not again afford to accept anything short of decisive military victory.

We could have fought in Indo-China. We could have won, if we had been willing to pay the tremendous cost in men and money that such intervention would have required a cost that in my opinion would have eventually been as great as, or greater than, that we paid in Korea. In Korea, we had learned that air and naval power alone cannot win a war and that inadequate ground forces cannot win one either. It was incredible to me that we had forgotten that bitter lesson so soon that we were on the verge of making that same tragic error.

That error, thank God, was not repeated. As soon as the full report was in, I lost no time in having it passed on up the chain of command. It reached President Eisenhower. To a man of his military experience its implications were immediately clear. The idea of intervening was abandoned, and it is my belief that the analysis which the Army made and presented to higher authority played a considerable, perhaps a decisive, part in persuading our government not to embark on that tragic adventure.”

SOLDIER: The Memoirs of Matthew B. Ridgway, 1956.
Extremely informative! Thank you!

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by EKB » 26 Apr 2021 07:35

Futurist wrote:
26 Apr 2021 02:01
Do you think that South Vietnam could have survived had the Diem brothers managed to avoid assassination?

The only possible route to securing a future for the Saigon government: China and Russia would need to stop interfering with the development of South Vietnam and dial down the armed build-up of North Vietnam.

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 02 May 2021 01:15

EKB wrote:
26 Apr 2021 07:35
Futurist wrote:
26 Apr 2021 02:01
Do you think that South Vietnam could have survived had the Diem brothers managed to avoid assassination?

The only possible route to securing a future for the Saigon government: China and Russia would need to stop interfering with the development of South Vietnam and dial down the armed build-up of North Vietnam.
That makes sense. BTW, why exactly was South Vietnam so incompetent, anyway?

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Re: Was there any realistic way for South Vietnam to survive up to the present-day?

Post by Futurist » 02 May 2021 01:21

EKB wrote:
24 Apr 2021 03:52
There was a possibility that Thailand might fall to a China-backed Communist regime which would more directly concern border states like British Malaya. Add to the mix, the post-World War II economic conditions in the U.K. and it’s not difficult to understand why Eden and his successors were not eager to atagonize Red China.
The Cold War-era Thai government was always considerably more competent than the South Vietnamese government (or, for that matter, Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang government in mainland China pre-1949), correct? Or am I wrong about this?

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