The Czar does not maintain that the war was unwinnable nor that the war was pointless (the Czar agrees with the Volgi’s analysis), but that the effort may have been futile from the start only because the support structures were not in place to maintain any objective.
Three Presidents fought the war for three very different reasons, of course. The reasons herein are grossly over-simplified, but reduce mostly down to:
- Kennedy never foresaw Vietnam, and probably dismissed it initially as anything of importance. This is understandable in context, since it was not nearly as initially complicated as it later became. Kennedy, however, saw Vietnam as an opportunity to win one against Communism…not so much a refutation of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, but a continuation of Berlin and the Cuban missile crisis. For him, it was became a symbol that America was against communism no matter how cold or hot the war. Beyond this, we see, Kennedy did not really emphasize any effort to change a backsliding of the country into a pro-communist regime that pre-dated his own administration. Like coming into a poker game late, after your hand is dealt, and paying more attention to the sandwich tray than the betting…you probably will not win.
- Johnson clearly saw Vietnam as a battleground, and if he did not do so immediately, Tonkin changed his outlook. However, LBJ was more than pulled by many competing but related factors: his goal for a limited, colder effort, the Viet Cong’s gambit for a protracted war, the public expectation that their lives would not be disrupted as with previous wars—thereby requiring a shortening of military resources—committment to stopping Soviet and Chinese aims, and his heartache over his villification by protestors. All these factors diverted LBJ from picking one military strategy and maintaining it (although Rolling Thunder is not given nearly the credit it deserves in punishing the North). As with any effort to make everyone happy, there is risk for major catastrophe. Johnson could have won the war, but his inability to make a specific, tough stand doomed his efforts.
- Of course, Nixon saw the war as a political opportunity. The war was a reason to re-engage with the Chinese, put in political roadblocks to stymie the Soviets, rebuild American prestige worldwide, and get America herself refocused on more important domestic issues. The war was also a great lever to oust the once glorious Democrats from office, which Nixon readily did with his not-entirely-secret plan. Ironically, Nixon was most suited to actually win the war, for he saw it as something more than a political show of power, and certainly understood the need to use military effort, rather than busines process redesign, to get there. Unfortunately, this should have been in place almost ten years sooner: Nixon had little chance of recapturing all that had been lost to date.
Neither Nixon nor Kissinger subscribed to the largely Democratic-party domino theory by 1969 (Dallek, 115), for although Laos officially became Communist in 1975, it was effectively overrun with communists since the 1950s. In some respects, it was already a Communist wasteland that happened to have a monarchy in power. Further, Cambodia was also suffering under a growing Communist cancer (just as badly as Vietnam, really) at the same time. A domino theory of course assumes that each topples the next in order in an uncontrolled chain reaction: the plain truth was that Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia were imploding together.
Rather, the real fear was that Thailand would be next, with potentially the British colonies (Singapore, Hong Kong, India, etc.) following soon after. As we know today, that did not happen although some nail-biting was justified (particularly in the case of India).
Your Czar never knows if the Volgi, our resident historian (and much better trained), will agree or disagree with these addenda (and his reasons for doing so will always be sharp), but felt the record should be clear on the Czar’s analysis.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.