The Shame of Vietnam

The U.S. loss of the Vietnam war was shameful in several ways.

The first was that the most powerful nation on earth, the U.S., could have been defeated by North Vietnam, called by Lyndon Johnson “a raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country.” As I’ve noted before in these pages, “we were baffled when, time after time, we set out to attack the enemy but found that he’d decamped before we got there. We never understood the North Vietnamese fighting strategy, summed up by Mao Tse Tung: ‘Enemy advances, we retreat. Enemy camps, we harass. Enemy tires, we attack.                   Enemy retreats, we pursue.’

“It’s telling that we won every major battle we were able to engage in during the war, but for the first time in our history, we lost the war. “

The second way the loss was shameful was our abandonment of our South Vietnamese allies during the fall of Saigon in April 1975. That desertion was personal to me. Some 2700 South Vietnamese soldiers worked with my organization. I was evacuated safely, but they were left behind to the mercies of the conquering North Vietnamese.

The third was our helter-skelter flight from Saigon as the North Vietnamese closed in on the city. The U.S. ambassador, Graham Martin, refused to accept the evidence I gave him from intercepted North Vietnamese radio communications that we were about to be attacked. He never did call for an evacuation. By the time he was countermanded from Washington, the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city.

I fear that history will show that the U.S. is vain enough not to learn by its mistakes. Our withdrawals from Afghanistan, Iraq, and, most recently, Syria threw honor and trustworthiness to the winds.

3 thoughts on “The Shame of Vietnam”

  1. I would say that equally shameful was the willingness of both Johnson and Nixon to continue the war for years at a high cost in lives and dollars for political reasons even though both understood (and admitted to advisors) that it was unwinnable.

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