Why America lost Vietnam war?

Updated: 8/19/2023
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14y ago

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Although the US committed enormous resources and defeated the communists in tactical engagements time and again, there was a lack of will to do the things that have to be done to win a war: Go on the offensive, advance into enemy territory, seize the military initiative, and so forth. In Korea, the US advanced all the way through North Korea to China at one point, although it was later forced back. The communists worried that the US might do this again, so they had an incentive to keep the truce. In Vietnam, treaties were signed, but the fighting went on. Eventually, US public opinion tired of an endless, defensive war. Congress ordered an end to direct US military involvement in August 1973. US financial aid to South Vietnam was cut off in August 1974 and Saigon fell to the communists in April 1975.

History of US InvolvementAlthough many wars are fought over strategically important territory, this was not the case in Vietnam. US policymakers felt that if the US pulled out of Vietnam, Moscow would shift its resources to another conflict. The prestige of the U.S. was at stake, the loss of which might result in a "domino effect" of communist takeovers across southeast Asia. Fighting simultaneous wars in Vietnam and the Middle East seems to have overtaxed Moscow's resources, forcing a withdrawal of Russian combat troops from Egypt in 1972.

Peace treaties for Vietnam were signed in 1954 and 1973. But the communists weren't motivated to follow either one because they weren't worried that the US would ever advance across the 17th parallel into North Vietnam. This is because the US was following a strategic doctrine called "containment." The idea of containment developed from a misreading of the Korean War. It was believed that China invaded Korea in 1950 because US forces had crossed the 38th parallel into North Korea. In fact, Mao publicly announced his intention to intervene on Oct. 1, 1950 in response to the Inchon landing, a week before US forces crossed into North Korea. In the 1964 US presidential election, President Johnson defended containment and argued that Goldwater's focus on victory would lead to nuclear war.

The Vietnamese communists suffered devastating loses in the Tet offensive of 1968. But instead of pressing its advantage against a weakened enemy, the US began to withdraw its forces, a policy called "Vietnamization." This again reflected the influence of containment doctrine. As the war dragged on without result, it gradually lost public support. Polls show a steady, gradual decline in support, and no dramatic shift in response to Tet or any other episode.

In the 1972 presidential election, Democrat George McGovern ran on slogan, "Come home America." Although Nixon was easily reelected, McGovern's campaign made Vietnam an intensely partisan issue. It became difficult for Democrats in the US Congress to support continued US military involvement. A U.S. defeat would humiliate Nixon, a Republican.

After a peace treaty was signed in January 1973, South Vietnam made major advances. Hanoi returned POWs and for a time almost everything the US had fought for was achieved. But in March 1973, Congressional leaders told Nixon that they would not support further US military involvement even if the communist side resumed its aggression. Nixon concluded that Vietnam was a lost cause, although the military situation was otherwise favorable at this point.

The threats made in March became law when Congress passed the Case-Church Amendment, which ended direct US military involvement in Vietnam as of August 1973. The end of the US bombing campaign led to a vast increase in the weapons and supplies sent down the Ho Chi Minh trail. The oil shock in October 1973 hit the South Vietnamese economy hard and increased costs for the South Vietnamese military. In the 1973-74 dry season, Saigon lost the territory it had gained in the previous dry season. Instead of increasing US financial aid to compensate for the increased costs, Congress voted to cut aid in August 1974, leaving South Vietnam to fend for itself. Because the aid cutoff happened in the midst of Watergate, the scandal is sometimes blamed for the defeat in Vietnam. The aid cut off revived the hopes of the Soviets, who then poured resources into North Vietnam. From a strictly military point of view, the decisive battle of the war was Phuoc Long in January 1975. After this defeat, South Vietnamese morale collapsed and Saigon fell on April 30, 1975.

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12y ago
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13y ago

Flow of men/material couldn't be stemmed. War couldn't be isolated due to geography/communist superpowers.

The USA was not beaten by the Communists in Vietnam. For example, in December 1972, American B-52s were bombing North Vietnam and there was very little North Vietnam could do about it. The USA gave up on the inept and corrupt government of South Vietnam. South Vietnam was unable to defend itself, as South Korea has since 1953.

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14y ago

1. Couldn't isolate the war from communist infiltration

2. Couldn't use nukes

3. Couldn't invade North Vietnam

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14y ago

Too long and bloody.

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Q: Why America lost Vietnam war?
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Did France loose the Vietnam war?

Yes. Vietnam was a French colony. They lost a Vietnam War and were thrown out of Vietnam before America tried to win a war in Vietnam. America also lost a Vietnam War.

What was the result of the Vietnam war with the Americans?

America lost

Has America lost the Vietnam war?

The communists conquered the Republic of South Vietnam on 30 April 1975.

What side did the Us help in the Vietnam war?

?........the Vietnam war was a war between north and south Vietnam and America. America was trying to defend south Vietnam from the north invading and controling their territory. so America was on the side with south Vietnam

Did the Vietnam War make America Stronger?

The Vietnam War made America stronger.

What was lost in the Vietnam war?

The Republic of South Vietnam.

Who was America defending during the Vietnam war?

America was defending Vietnam.

What was the America public view of the Vietnam war?

The Vietnam War=the military draft!

What were the costs on Vietnam war?

The costs for America in the Vietnam war was $140 billion

Why did Lyndon B. Johnson lose support of Middle America?

In a phrase: The Vietnam War. America was becoming more and more ambivalent about Vietnam, seeing it as an "un-winnable" war, and then Walter Cronkite did a special report on it from Vietnam. Cronkite's conclusion was pretty much that it was essentially a dead heat that was going nowhere, and Cronkite was known at that time as "The most trusted man in America". After watching the report, Johnson said: "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost America".

Who did not support the Vietnam?

Most of the hippies and liberals did not support the Vietnam. that's why we pulled out of Vietnam during the war. we did not pull out in world war one and world war 2 because america was geared in for the war, but Vietnam, not all of america was in for it.

Did US when the Vietnam war?

We didn't win the war, HOWEVER, with the anger of the people in America and tons of riots we left, when we left South Vietnam fell shortly to the communists. Though many say we just lost.