Troops Home Now

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Thu Jul 24 14:59:30 MDT 2003


Chris Brady wrote:

I think Stan Goff is doing a terrific job.


The movement can only come from inside the USA.
You know why.
Just read the Pentagon Papers to see whether an
antiwar movement puts any pressue on the US Government.

Peace.
Out.

Response Jim C: Well put.

I believe that first and foremost it was the unity, determination,
heroic--and quite calculated--sacrifices, strategic/tactical genius, guiding
theory, history, leadership, discipline and quality of forces among the
Vietnamese that was the primary reason for U.S. losses in Vietnam. When I
hear someone say that the Tet Offensive was a "defeat" for the Vietnamese,
suffering an estimated 70,000 soldiers lost, I just want to puke. When Pham
Phan Dong was interviewed by Wilfred Burchett after the Tet Offensive and
was asked if he was confident the Vietnamese would ultimately win, Pham Phan
dong answered with something like: It is certain we will ultimately win and
drive the Americans and their puppets out. In the west you think in terms of
days and months, in terms of easy victories with little or no sacrifices,
whereas we think in terms of decades and stages and necessary sacrifices
towards strategic objectives; we will win it is certain. The Tet Offensive
revealed the lie that the war was about a separate "nation" supposedly
"invading" a separate "nation" and revealed that the majority of the
fighting forces of the Vietnamese up until Tet were indigenous to the
"south." It showed the Vietnamese capable of launching systematic and
coordinated attacks against over 100 towns and cities and against 33 out of
44 provincial capitals simultaneously such that no area could be regarded as
a "safe" rear area; it revealed that the nature--and measure of success--of
the war was not about the conventional notions of "victory" like taking and
taking/holding territory, body count etc but rather was about "hearts and
minds"--willing and committed ones not terrorized ones--keeping the enemy in
permant disarray and demoralization, using contradictions within the enemy
camp etc. In strategic terms, in my opinion, the Tet Offensive was a
critical and decisive success.

Secondly, there was the malaise, incompetence, arrogance, lack of
determination, lack of realistic objectives, dysfunctional weapons/doctrines
(in the context of Vietnam and its social/natural environment), lack of will
to fight, outright cowardice (in some cases), dope, booze, unwillingness to
make necessary sacrifices, gross inequalities, lack of effective strategic
doctrine/orders of battle, lack of purpose, pampering etc on the part of and
among US, allied and ARVN forces that was, in my opinion, critical.

Thirdly, according to the Vietnamese and inside documents of the U.S.
government, the anti-war movement, particularly after more "mainstream"
elements joined it when their kids came home in body bags to small places
like Podunk Iowa where everyone knows everyone, that gave impetus to the
Vietnamese, exacerbated contradictions and morale problems within US and
allied forces, caused more questioning about and revelations of the true
nature/origins/interests favored of the war even in the bought-off
"mainstream" press; it also caused Johnson and Nixon to take public
positions that compromised what they were doing and planning covertly and
forced them into negotiations with compromised bargaining power.

Fourthly, there were the long-run and mounting costs on the U.S. economy,
foreign alliances, social institutions, confidence in government,
militaristic ideology etc.

I remember a debate something like this one in the 1960s between Bring the
Troops Home Now versus Victory to the NLF. It was said that the latter
slogan was in effect calling for more deaths of U.S. troops versus the
former which effectively "supported" U.S. troops (and thus appealed to wider
segments of the U.S. population) by demanding their return to relatively
safer areas--home. It was thought that the vast majority of U.S. and allied
troops were "victims" themselves in need of support and recall from a war
they could not win and in which they could only get slaughtered and maimed
physically and emotionally. It should be noted, that over 80% of all U.S.
forces that served in Vietnam were volunteers (only about 7% served in "the
bush" in direct combat) and that not all by any stretch were "victims" in
the sense that there were some who were out-and-out glory hounds, criminal
psychopaths, rapists, thugs, conscious/willing agents of imperialism and/or
types driven by the "Audie Murphy syndrome"--nothing like a war to turn a
"nobody" into a "somebody".

Jim C.


Jim C.



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