June 21, 2004


It is the longest war that US had ever fought and eventually lost. I happened to read a small book on Vietnam war, which my friend Naveen had got it home. It just had a 10 page description & analysis about this war (a very interesting one to read...) The best part of it is to learn the reasons why the Americans lost the war, and the lessons that they learnt from it.

The war was basically between the communism-favored North Vietnamese and the Republic favoring South Vietnamese. US obviously supported the South Vietnam by supplying enough fighting equipments and the war lasted for 25 years before US accepted defeat. The North Vietnam was supported stongly by both Soviet Union and China (the 2 strong Communist forces). USA had its piece of share in the war to protect people from communism, which was a noble cause. Just to tell you about the US military efforts and the intense of the war, let me quote some analysis from the book...

US warplanes dropped three times more explosives on North & South Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos than were dropped by all combatants during the world war II. This amounted to 15 million tons of explosives. The US dropped more tonnage of hanoi and haiphong during the Christmas Campign of 1972 than Nazi Germany did on Great Britain between 1940-1945. The US spent $120 billion on the war.

I am sure that you would now like to know 'why they failed to win?'. Read the below one!

The policy of greadual escalation was wrong. Once commiteed, the United States should have launched massive air attacks on North Vietnam, as was belatedly done during the Christmas season of 1972. Moreover, politicians and military officers imposed too many restricted fire zones, handicapping ground operations against the Viet Cong. The US should have also blockaded Cambodia and Laos, cutting off Communist supply lines, and perhaps invaded North Vietnam. The aim of the war is to win...

Lets see what did USA learn from its failure. This info is from the concluding para in the book...

However rich and powerful, the United States was incapable of imposing its will upon a determined, albeit much weaker foe. The American experience in Vietnam demonstrated the limits of national power in an age of international diversity and nuclear weaponry.

I guess... it is because of this lesson, that USA decided to adhere to its limits and did not dare to get involved in solving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. The good part of it is the lessons learnt by USA,... but the bad part is the terrible blood & life loss in the war.