August 25, 2007

Vietnam

There has been a lot of talk this week about what would happened if the U.S had helped South Vietnam resist the North Vietnamese offensive of December 1974 with airstrikes. The Spring 1972 North Vietnamese offensive had been defeated by a combination of South Vietnamese soldiers and American air power, with few American deaths (only 300 were killed in Vietnam in the entire year of 1972). In the wake of Watergate, however, the now-dominant Democratic Congress didn't want to help any more, and South Vietnam quickly collapsed, along with anti-Communist governments in neighboring Cambodia and Laos.

Today, with American air power so unchallenged, it seems strange that the Democrats didn't want to allow air support of the South Vietnamese. After all, a couple of decades later, a Democrat President got involved in an internal dispute of negligible significance to America, and bombed Yugoslavia into ceding control of its internationally-recognized Kosovo province, at minimal cost in lost aircraft. The number of planes lost to enemy fire in both Iraq wars has also been tiny.

But, the American advantage in air war was much less overwhelming in the 1970s. We lost 3,322 fixed-wing aircraft in Vietnam, perhaps the majority of that number to enemy fire. During Operation Linebacker I in the middle of 1972 that helped defeat the North Vietnamese armored invasion, 104 US planes were lost in combat. Airmen who survived being shot down often became prisoners (in effect, hostages). Years of negotiations had been required to get the POWs back in early 1973, so there would have been reluctance to follow a policy that would have created new POWs.

So, providing air support was nowhere near as painless as it seems now.

There then followed a half decade of Soviet advances around the world, in contrast to the stability of the strategic balance that had endured during most of the Vietnam War. I'm a big believer in the truism that people love a winner and hate a loser, and losing in Vietnam made the U.S. look like a ... loser.

Fortunately, the Soviets wasted their treasure on useless new Third World allies like Ethiopia, while letting a puppet state that really mattered -- Poland -- go to hell.

Luckily, the Communist dictatorship of united Vietnam proved relatively non-insane, and Vietnam today is a pro-capitalist dictatorship, which the U.S. would have found perfectly acceptable back then. But the Hanoi regime was dedicated to communism and wouldn't give it up no matter how many Tennessee Valley Authority-style dams LBJ offered to build for them. So, war seems to have been completely pointless on both sides. Of course, from the point of view of the Communist Party members, while they may not be communist anymore, their party still hold a complete monopoly on political power. (Interestingly, the Vietnamese dictatorship, unlike, say, the Chinese or Burmese dictatorships, is almost never criticized abroad these days.)

On the other hand, the batting average of East Asian communist countries at being non-insane is quite bad. If Vietnam, Laos, and (possibly) Mongolia behaved less horribly than expected, Cambodia, China, and North Korea were even crazier than imagined. The most obvious analogy for American leaders in the 1960s for Vietnam was Korea, where we had lost 33,000 men to keep the northern communist regime from overrunning the southern capitalist regime.

Whether the Korean War was worth the cost is seldom discussed these days. (Of course, almost nobody ever talks about the Korean War at all.) Today, 57 years after the start of the Korean war, young South Koreans are about half a foot taller than their cousins in North Korea. Ironically, fighting to a draw may have proved the best outcome for the U.S. in the Cold War, because the emerging economic chasm between the two Koreas provided a salutary lesson in the superiority of capitalism over communism.

Why the Vietnamese War proceeded so differently from Korean War is another topic of little interest today. I suspect one important difference was that Korea was a peninsula, so that after the war, the U.S. could adequately defend against another North Korean invasion across the border, which is only 238 km long. In contrast, South Vietnam had long borders with the hapless neutral countries of Laos and Cambodia, which North Vietnam abused as staging grounds.

Second, Korea had been colonized by the Japanese, whom America defeated, not by white men. In Vietnam, America's racial and political ties to the French former colonial masters were detrimental.

Third, North Korea relied upon regular army units for its invasion, which the U.S defeated at Inchon and North Vietnam had to be bailed out by a million Chinese communist regulars. In contrast, the Hanoi regime artfully mixed irregular and regular forces. When the Viet Cong went on the offensive in 1968, they were largely wiped, but the use of irregular tactics normally annoyed and frustrated the Americans. After most American troops were withdrawn, Hanoi shifted to regular warfare (including tanks) for its 1972 and 1974-75 offensives. Presumably, Hanoi learned from communist mistakes in the Korean War.

This Cold War history, however, has mostly academic relevance to today's struggle with Islamic extremists. The Soviet Union was a vast country with a vast military, and erratic but sometimes impressive technological capabilities. Its communist ideology could win converts among the elites of foreign countries on its own.

In contrast, Islam has virtually no appeal to anyone above the lowest orders of society if they weren't born into a Muslim family. There is no single Islamic superpower to provide direction to the squabbling Muslim states, and most of these governments are more or less averse to the extremists. Even taken together, all the Muslim states in the world have only a small fraction of America's military might. For example, there is no Muslim aircraft carrier. Technologically, Pakistan is 50 years behind America in the development of nuclear weapons, and the rest lag even farther.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

60 comments:

tommy said...

Why the Vietnamese War proceeded so differently from Korean War is another topic of little interest today. I suspect one important difference was that Korea was a peninsula, so that after the war, the U.S. could adequately defend against another North Korean invasion across the border, which is only 238 km long. In contrast, South Vietnam had long borders with the hapless neutral countries of Laos and Cambodia, which North Vietnam abused as staging grounds.

The North Koreans had been provided with tanks, heavy equipment, and bad advice by the Soviets. Like almost everything the Soviets ever touched, the war for the Norks turned to shit. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, North Korean Communists had actually infiltrated the South and recruited lots of guerrillas in rural areas. (The Communists weren't as easily contained as you might have imagined.) Unfortunately, the North Koreans decided to forgo a full-fledged guerrilla war in the early stages of the conflict in favor of a more conventional approach that involved charging in with tanks. Needless to say, that turned out to be a disaster.

This was hardly the first time the Soviets bungled things for Asian Communists. Early on during the Chinese Civil War, the Communists made the mistake of taking advisers sent by the Kremlin seriously a few times, invariably with disastrous results. (Believe me, you have to really suck to lose to a strategist as awful as Chiang Kai-Shek.) The Chinese quickly wised up and ignored the Soviets.

Ho Chi Minh was also much less reliant on (and less friendly with) the Soviets and didn't make the mistake of trying to fight the West using conventional methods.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious, Steve, did you ruin A Con for me because I've made it known I'd prefer it had we not been flooded with Asian immigrants from any country? If so, does this mean you fight immigration from Latin America so that the US can be inundated with even more Asians?

You will never be great unless you give up being petty. Stick that in your fortune cookie.

bjdouble said...

If we had simply pulled out of Korea like we pulled out of Vietnam, Korea would probably look alot like Vietnam today, and would not be nuclearized. By the way, there's a statue of MacArthur in a beautiful little park on a hill overlooking the port of Inchon. When I visited, I was the only person there.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it is that Islam has only two combative advantages, fanatacism and the ability to make tons of babies.

The latter is the dangerous characteristic for the West until our leaders stop allowing Islam to spread to our welfare states, and we get off oil and thus bankrupt Islam. We have "made" Islam a threat ourselves largely.

dearieme said...

Typo: you don't mean "North Vietnam had to be bailed out".

Sampiero said...

The muslim regular armies are nuts but Islam has a dreadful weapon that the West has been neglecting for the last 30 years: fertility. The former President of Algeria (Boumediene) said to the French: we will conquer you with the belly of our wives. Looking at the current situation of Europe, he was not far from the truth.

dougjnn said...

That's the best short summary and analysis of the end of the Vietnam war that I've ever read - by far.

The one important consideration that you don't get into is the degree of corruption of the South Vietnamese government and military, and how that compares with their S. Korean counterparts during that conflict.

I suspect the S.Vietnamese were more corrupt during the fighting, but I don't know. There was a fair bit of that in S.Korea as well, I believe. I think the S. Korean military was more given to summary brutality than massive corruption during the conflict, when it mattered, however.

Norman Podhoretz said...

But,uhm,w're STILL invading Iran,right? And Syria? (giggle)

David Davenport said...

…We lost 3,322 fixed-wing aircraft in Vietnam, perhaps the majority of that number to enemy fire. …

… and mostly over North V.N.

… During Operation Linebacker I in the middle of 1972 that helped defeat the North Vietnamese armored invasion, 104 US planes were lost in combat. Airmen who survived being shot down often became prisoners (in effect, hostages). Years of negotiations had been required to get the POWs back in early 1973, so there would have been reluctance to follow a policy that would have created new POWs.

But if American airmen happened to be shot down over South Viet Nam in 1974, they wouldn’t necessarily have been taken prisoner by the enemy, would they?

So, providing air support was nowhere near as painless as it seems now.

Who says or said that providing air support to South Viet Nam in 1974 would have been painless? That’s a phony, red herring argument.

David Davenport said...

North Viet Nam’s -- or make that "North Viet Nam's" -- air defenses:

http://www.vva.org/veteran/0606/Ukraine.html

At the end of 1964 and beginning of 1965, the government of the USSR decided to respond to the request of the DRV to create an anti-aircraft missile force. By the end of January 1965, all the preparations were completed, weapons systems were selected, and the first group of Soviet advisers was scheduled to fly to Vietnam to conduct reconnaissance on February 1-2, 1965. However, this plan failed.

The problem was that all arms, equipment, and food shipments were carried out through China, which at the time was in the middle of its cultural revolution. The USSR, headed by Leonid Brezhnev, and China, headed by Mao Tse-Tung, were on hostile terms. This tension led to direct armed conflict on Damanky Island on the Amur River. Vietnam was pressured by its dependency on China and obediently followed Chinese policy. Jumping ahead ten years, this “friendship” ended with the Chinese invasion of Vietnam. However, by this time, Vietnam was no longer dependant on others for protection, and China was forced to retreat.

The Soviet plan of sending a brigade of 12 missile batteries, a radio-engineering battalion, and two regiments of fighter-interceptors was flatly rejected by the Chinese. The Chinese insisted that the Soviet Union supply only military hardware without personnel. The Chinese would supply the combat crews and would train the Vietnamese. The Soviet Union rejected this proposal.

The problem was resolved after a visit to Hanoi by the Soviet Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Alexey Kosygin. The Vietnamese persuaded the Chinese to accept an alternate plan. This plan called for the Soviet Union to organize and manage training centers in Vietnam, supply arms and equipment, bring missile sites into operation, and train the Vietnamese missile crews. The time required to train a missile regiment was initially four months. It later was shortened to two and a half months. According to Soviet regulations, a training facility should have had a staff of 75 specialists; however, due to Chinese demands, this number was reduced to 36.






Who were the Soviet soldiers who took part in combat operations in Vietnam? There were small groups of sailors who cleared ports and rivers of mines, explosive specialists, pilot advisers who trained the Vietnamese on Soviet aircraft, and instructors who trained aviation engineers and technicians. The majority of the Soviet contingent, though, consisted of air defense officers: missile officers, specialists from the radio engineering corps, missile maintenance technicians, repair officers, staff officers, and political officers or commissars, as they were called in Vietnam. Soviet specialists never went below the 17th parallel into South Vietnam until after the consolidation of the country at the end of 1975.

The first specialists to arrive in Vietnam were officers of the training centers, who already were experienced in training (tactical, missile firing, technical) combat crews in the Soviet Union. This training culminated with strict testing and live firing on test ranges.

These men were followed by the missile regiments, which arrived along with the military equipment sent from the Soviet Union. They were given Vietnamese soldiers and officers, who mirrored all positions on the crews from commander to private. After an intensive training that lasted from 2-4 months, a regiment would begin combat operations, consisting of 1-2 batteries using ambush tactics. In 1965-66, all missiles were launched by Soviet crews with duplication by the Vietnamese. If the launches were successful, only then would the Vietnamese be able to launch. Soviet specialists formed regimental groups, consisting of 12-17 advisers, and worked in the batteries only when necessary. The technicians worked very hard, primarily at night, preparing and maintaining the missile systems.

Air defense batteries operated, as a rule, from ambush locations. These locations were in almost inaccessible terrain. Worse yet, the sites had to be cleared, thereby eliminating the natural cover provided by the jungle and making them difficult to disguise. Soviet officers tended not to use the positions chosen by the Vietnamese beforehand. These sites already had been discovered by the SR-71 and U-2 aircraft, reconnaissance drones, as well as by South Vietnamese spies.
After launching one or two missiles, batteries would quickly pack up their equipment and hide in the jungle, because once American reconnaissance was conducted, positions were bombed. If false launch sites were in the immediate area, strikes often were made on them. It was then that the anti-aircraft artillery and machine guns, as well as the detachments of the local militia, got involved in the action. American losses from concentrated AAA and small arms fire were great. The Vietnamese always verified shoot-down claims and searched for downed aircraft to collect serial numbers. On occasion, these searches caused them to penetrate across the border into Laos. They then tried to determine who shot the aircraft down. Was it air-to-air (extremely rare), air defense missile forces, air defense artillery, machine gunners, or the peoples’ volunteers?

There were occasions when an aircraft was downed by a missile at high altitude, and during its fall it was fired upon by everyone and would be torn apart. It was impossible to determine if a missile struck because it was riddled with holes. In the end, credit always went to the Vietnamese peoples’ volunteer army. It was, after all, a “people’s war.”

The air defense missile forces rarely were able to witness the results of their firing since most launches were conducted at targets 7-30 kilometers away from a battery’s position.

The combat operations of the air defense forces in North Vietnam had little in common with the war in South Vietnam. We did not fire from cannons or machine guns. We did not rush into the attack, and we did not sit in defensive fighting positions. We did not even have personal weapons. We never looked into the face of our enemy, unless we happened to meet on roads or in interrogations. The latter was often done behind a curtain.

This was the first war fought with modern technology. On one side were the most modern and advanced aircraft in the world, loaded with electronics, radio equipment, anti-radar missiles, laser-guided bombs, and jamming equipment. These aircraft were flown by well-trained, experienced, bold, and courageous pilots, confident in their futures and always aspiring to fulfill the missions given to them by their commanders.

On the other side were the first Soviet anti-aircraft missile systems, at the time not perfect, but which later became the best in the world, carrying missiles shipped thousands of miles. At the screens and helms of these missile-guidance systems sat young Soviet officers and their Vietnamese students. These opponents were clearly worthy of each other. Had they instead fought together, they could have defeated any foe.

Why did the Soviets have so much respect for the American pilots? First, there was the fact that Americans were concerned about their fallen comrades. Many times our officers witnessed Americans trying to rescue a downed pilot, pulling him from the sea or from the dense jungle. If a pilot ejected, the Americans blocked the area, doing all they could to rescue him by helicopter.

We do not have reliable and detailed information about the attempted helicopter rescue in the vicinity of Son Tay, outside of Hanoi. Unfortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful because information was somehow leaked, and the prisoners were transferred to different facilities prior to the American raid. But this attempt caused us to respect the Americans.

To the American pilots’ credit, they never violated agreements not to bomb certain objectives, places where Soviet specialists and diplomats were located. The North Vietnamese, on the other hand, held prisoners of war near the presidential palace, near the Hanoi electrical power station, in factories, and around military academies to prevent strikes on them.

American pilots behaved with dignity, even during interrogations. We could tell they knew that behind them stood a superpower. They knew their families were taken care of and that they would not be persecuted and exiled to Siberia, as was practiced with returning Soviet prisoners of war following World War II. Probably, American pilots adhered to the same principles as the officers of the Russian pre-revolutionary army: “Life to the Motherland, Heart to the woman, Honor to nobody.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The first contact of the Kharkiv veterans of the war in Vietnam 1965-75 took place in 1999, when representatives of the US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA (USRJC) traveled to Kiev. These representatives were led by James Robert Bishop. The purpose of their visit was to learn what we knew about the possibility of American pilots taken to China or the USSR, the treatment of POWs by the Soviet and Vietnamese servicemen, interrogations of American pilots, details of American aircraft shoot downs, and if we knew about possible burial sites of Americans. The meetings were very tense. Shortly before the Americans’ arrival, NATO began bombing the capital of Yugoslavia. Our veterans remembered the years at the beginning of World War II and the bombings they endured in North Vietnam.

After several years, our meetings with the USRJC and Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office recommenced with the arrival of MSG Michael Lunini and James Connell. We helped them search for documents and organize meetings with veterans and the leadership of the Air Force University.

We were then visited by Robert Maras, Chairman of the VVA’s Veterans Initiative Task Force, and Margaret Porter, VVA’s Director of Communications and editor of The VVA Veteran. Since our first meeting, we have developed a strong and close relationship with these and other representatives of VVA. Their visits were made possible with the assistance and support of VVA President John Rowan.

They gave us the latest edition of The VVA Veteran (we enjoyed reading the article by Margaret Porter about their journey to Ukraine), information concerning veterans’ organizations in the United States, pamphlets on meetings with veterans, a collection of poems written by veterans entitled Landing Zone, and Sen. John McCain’s book Faith of my Fathers. We have known about this pilot and his history for a long time. We are now reading in our newspapers about his possible candidacy in the Republican Party for the post of President of the U.S.A.

We familiarized ourselves with the literature they provided us on the structure, organization, and functions of Vietnam Veterans of America. Indeed, America is a wealthy nation and can give such worthy provisions to support its Vietnam veterans. We were amazed by the great care and warmth shown to the veterans, the wide network of medical and rehabilitation centers, and organized assistance in such areas as housing, employment, transportation, medical equipment, and monuments in Washington and in other states.

It is obvious that this organization is well managed and operated. Nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten. Veterans are remembered and respected. Nobody says to them, “We did not send you to Vietnam,” as we are often told.

Our country, Ukraine, became independent only 15 years ago. We are only beginning to work our way toward a fair and successful society, in which our children and grandchildren will live. Friendship between our veterans’ organizations will help our future generations better understand each other.

We ask American Vietnam veterans to accept our wishes for happiness, health, and many long years of life.

////////////////

"Soviet specialists never went below the 17th parallel into South Vietnam until after the consolidation of the country at the end of 1975."

beowulf said...

I imagine the fear of more POWs was the reason Congress wouldn't support air power in Vietnam.

This perhaps would have been a good time to use mercenaries. The Flying Tigers business model, if you will (though preferably with non-American pilots). We could hire, train, equip them and pay them an absurd amount of money to provide air superiority and close air support for ARVN forces. But if they got shot down over North Vietnam, well they'd save themselves some grief by disabling the ejection seat.

Of course, the only North/South road capable of handling an armored invasion was Highway 1 (running down the coast from the DMZ) We could have put Navy battleships, cruisers and destroyers right off shore and plunked anything that moved down the Highway with very little risk to US life (and no risk of sailors taken prisoner).

Anonymous said...

Vietnam and Korea were too of the useless and stupid ever fought by this country.

Neither had anything to do with the security of the USA. Both were started and dragged for domestic political reasons. That Americans are always willing to off and fight some meaningless war in some 3rd world country has always amazed me.

No doubt south korea is better off because of our intervention. Whether it was worth 1 million dead Koreans, a couple hundred thousand dead chinese, and 33,000 americans is doubtful.

Bill said...

Sometimes I wonder whether you are testing us here, becasue there is a very clear answer to why we didn't have the airpower to support S. Vietnam in 1974, and I'd think you'd already know it:

Our entire airborne logistics system was transeferred to the Middle East in late 1973.

Operation Nickel Grass during the Yom Kippur War made use of, as Nixon demanded, "anything that can fly" to resupply Israel, which was losing the war.

The strategic focus shifted to the Middle East, Vietnam was neglected, and Hanoi was soon overrun by the NVA.

So there you go.

daveg said...

Clearly, we would have been better off leaving Korea as well. So would the Koreans, but particularly the North Koreans.

The current situation in viet nam is far preferable to Korea. We don't spend a dime in Viet Nam, and there is no North Viet Nam creating problems for us around the world.

And Cuba would probably be better if we didn't take such a hard line as well, but at least we are not spending huge amounts of money in Cuba.

Anonymous said...

Steve --

This is why you should not comment on military matters. There are some howlers of mistakes here.

It is true that in very stupid engagements over fixed targets heavily defended by SAMs and "protected" i.e. in China airfields the US lost considerable amount of aircraft and men. But tanks and trucks in columns are inviting and terribly vulnerable targets. SAM sites are not mobile and moving a tank column even in WWII against US airpower was suicidal. Dems openly embraced defeat of the US and North Vietnam's victory as "good for us" and morally proper. James Webb has/had on his website embarrassing comments by say, Sen. Chris Dodd from 1975 celebrating North Vietnam's victory.

Secondly, the Korean war was NOT "won" by the Inchon landings. Instead the Pusan perimeter held, the over-extended North Koreans broke, and were chased back up the peninsula by the Army while the Marines landed at Inchon and uner MacArthur, took the totally useless Seuol instead of blocking Kim Il Sung's remaining forces retreat back up to North Korea. Various see-saw engagements occurred until WWI style trench warfare "stabilized" around the former border and each side backed away from nuclear engagements.

You are of course DEAD WRONG about Islam's appeal. Islam wins many converts particularly among Europeans who have no religion in the post-Christian age. It also appeals to those dreaming of being a "big man" since it's complete system of life is based on tribal chieftancy which has been the default mode of human existence since the dawn of cities and agriculture. No single superpower means a distributed, tribal means of attack (think Vandals, Visigoths, Saxons, Franks, Jutes etc against the Roman Empire) from all quarters, with nearly limitless manpower. No aircraft carriers means no obvious targets, and nukes in shipping containers can destroy a city quite nicely with no means of retaliation.

Muslims from Qutb to Osama to Khomeni to Ahmadinejad have "bet" on the West's paralysis and weakness, the inability to retaliate to provocations and have predicted victory along the lines of the overthrow of the Byzantines. Who had better stand-up militaries but lacked the internal will to fight and no counter to tribal raiding styles. Aside from the US no Western Country has any significant military. The Royal Navy is smaller than Belgium's Coast Guard. Absent US military protection Spain could be reconquered in months by Morocco by tribal raiders.

Even primitive weapons in skilled and determined hands can defeat a technologically superior enemy who lacks will. Lapu-Lapu slaughtered the Conquistadors in the Philippines, with machetes coupled with careful study of the armor's weak points (basically at the joints, arms, knees, etc). Nuke say, NYC, DC, Boston, Chicago, and LA via shipping container and have a non-State organization with no obvious bases or under a Pakistani or Iranian nuclear umbrella issue demands and the US might possibly comply. Certainly both Obama and Hillary would probably just surrender to the demands.

If you are not as a nation ready and seen as ready to use weapons to deter attack the weapons are useless. Obama and Hillary both have "ruled out" nuclear weapons in response to attacks on the US so the advantage to the undeterred attacker is huge.

You are right though about the Cold War being of little use to the current problem: how to deter partnerships of non-state actors and weak or compliant states from nuking US cities for various tribal demands when we are seen as weak and easy pickings (from 1979 onwards, basically).

David Davenport said...

No doubt south korea is better off because of our intervention. Whether it was worth 1 million dead Koreans, a couple hundred thousand dead chinese, and 33,000 americans is doubtful.


The Korean War was also about saving Japan from the Reds. Domino theory, etc.

Viet Nam discredited the domino theory, you say? How do you that Soviet endeavors in Afghanistan, Africa, and central America in the 1980's were not encouraged by the Red takeover of South Viet Nam?

And there's also Cambodia after 1975.

Anonymous said...

A rather typical bias from a white male like Steve. Vietnam was a good war and the Democrats lost it, but Yugoslavia was a bad war because? the Democrats won it. How did Vietnam have more to do with US interests than the Balkans? Why were the Balkans an internal dispute and Vietnam not?

Both were worthless wars the US had no business getting involved in.

Anonymous said...

It is not at all obvious that the US lost the Vietnam war. Vietnam was effectively destroyed by the US. After the war, Vietnam was economically strangled by the US.

The choice the US gave Vietnam was this: pursue a free market pattern of developement-which gaurantees a underdeveloped third world economy- or The US will destroy Vietnam. The US destroyed Vietnam.Vietnam eventually "choose" the free market model of development. The Corporatons and are very happy with the outcome.

The same thing happened in Nicaragua. The Bush/Reagan adminstrations gave the people of Nicaraugua the following choice:vote for our guy or we will kepp torturing and killing Nicaraguan families through the contra proxy army. The bloodshed was too unbearble for the people of Nicaragua and the voted for the US candidate for president. Nicargua, another free market sucess story, has been brought back into the kennel of grinding poverty and undervelopment .

The US waged a war of aggression against Vietnam. Vietnam was invaded by the US in 1963. Vietnam like Nicaraua posed no threat to the US.

The architects of the Vietnam war should have been sent to the Hague to stand trial for war crimes. Henry Kissinger was nearly arrested in England six years ago and very likely would have been sent to the Hague to stand trial for crimes against humanity. Kissinger has to be very carefull these days when he lands in foriegn airports.

It is interesting to note that the same criminals who destroyed nicaragua are now involved in the destruction of Iraq(think Elliot Abrams)

Why would anyone want the US to win Vietnam, Nicaragua and...Iraq.

David said...

Whether it was worth 1 million dead Koreans, a couple hundred thousand dead chinese, and 33,000 americans is doubtful.

It was worth it (to paraphrase Madeleine Albright)!

A lot of guys got to strut around, wonk around (we're doing that even now), use cool tools, kick ass, fight the monster, create legends and tell stories, live the warrior dream, and cash in (either literally or in terms of self-pity) afterward.

I'm reminded of a chilling comment made by an embedded journo in Iraq (sorry, don't have a reference). He said: "Looking into the eyes of these young men as they prepared to initiate a major assault, I realized there won't be peace on earth anytime soon."

(My comment applies less to the soldiers than to the old mad men and pencil-necked geeks sitting in the Pentagon, getting off on the waste and destruction much more than drafted Johnny Gung-ho ever did.)

Read Fred Reed on what war is.

Anonymous said...

Steve, how many reader comments have you had to decline to post on this topic? Are all the crazy Vietnam vets inundating you? When I wrote a pretty tame and rational article on Vietnam for a local newspaper back in the 80s, I got a death threat plus long rambling incoherent screeds that seemed unable to make any point except the larger point that I had put my foot in it. All from "Vietnam vets."

Have those people died off now, or are they still crazy after all these years?

Bill said...

Oops. I made an error. Saigon, not "Hanoi" was overrun by the NVA (of course).

Here's another funny little anecdote from Nickel Grass:

EL Al, the Israeli national airline, provided a hospitality suite at the airport for the MAC crews while a bus staffed by pretty El Al flight attendents met each airplane to offer sandwiches and soft drinks to the enlisted crewmembers who remained with their airplanes during the off-loading process. Each crewmember was presented with a key-chain medallion as a momento of their participation.

(The Israeli gratitude, though undoubtedly genuine on the part of the population as a whole, ended on a sour note. After the airlift was over, EL AL presented the United States with a bill for the goodies it had "given" the MAC crews. The Jewish personnel among the MAC crews and support personnel who served at Lod were highly offended when they learned the news!)


Haha. Suckers, just like Nixon.

An Irritated Briton said...

"The Royal Navy is smaller than Belgium's Coast Guard."

NO IT ISN'T.

Someone (quite probably you Anon. 8/25/2007 3:09 PM) has said this before on iSteve and it was rebutted by someone.

The Royal Navy measured by either total number of ships or tonnage is much greater in size than the Belgian Navy let alone the Belgian Coast Guard if such an organization actually exists.

The Royal Navy is at present the second largest navy in NATO as determined by combined displacement of the fleet, a fleet that currently consists of ninenty one commissioned ships some of which are (small) aircraft carriers.

Oh and unlike Belgium we actually have submarines.

"Absent US military protection Spain could be reconquered in months by Morocco by tribal raiders."

That's ridiculous and I don't just mean the sentence itself. You honestly believe that?

jack strocchi said...

Steve Sailer writes:

North Korea relied upon regular army units for its invasion, which the U.S defeated at Inchon and North Vietnam had to be bailed out by a million Chinese communist regulars.

Isnt the use of North Vietnam (emphasis added) a typo? I think it should read "North Korea" or just be deleted. This is because the most significant communist regular army bailout in an East Asian communist war was the Chinese PLA's intervention to assist the North Koreans, esp the bloody battles around the Choisin reservoir. The PLA also helped the NVA later on, but mainly through the use of labour battalions.

Otherwise, this is a brilliant summation of post-war East Asian military history. On a par with War Nerd.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:09 has convinced me that the U.S. is on the edge of being conquered by the Muslim hordes. We are in mortal danger! Stay tuned for the Moroccan invasion of France, followed by rowboats full of jihadis landing on U.S. shores!

David Davenport is more sane, but still unconvincing that e.g. the possible loss of Angola to marauding Cubans in the late 70s posed any threat whatsoever to U.S. security.

I can always count on internet comment threads for at least a few posts that make me despair for our future...middle-aged American white men and their war fantasies pose a much greater threat to this country than Islam does.

MQ

Anonymous said...

Also, Steve, this paragraph is problematic:

"There then followed a half decade of Soviet advances around the world, in contrast to the stability of the strategic balance that had endured during most of the Vietnam War."

This paragraph falls into the Risk model of international relations, where you assign some kind of abstract points for every nation on "your" side. That has nothing to do with reality. You ignore the fact that the Soviet "advances" of the late 1970s made the Soviet Union weaker, not stronger. Most notably in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the withdrawal of the U.S. from Vietnam freed up troops and increased our moral authority. That made us more, not less, able to resist any Soviet efforts in core areas like Europe. In contrast, the "loser" disadvantage you posit is totally hypothetical and you present no proof whatsoever for it.

In general, like a lot of your stuff, your writing on Vietnam is a war between your sentimental attachments to old conservative loyalties you grew up on, and your own intelligence and ability to see the obvious truth. On the central question -- would the "loss" of Vietnam seriously threaten the security of the United States -- liberals were obviously right and conservatives obviously wrong. You're too smart not to see that at some level, but you can't resist trying to piss your old liberal enemies off by trying to insist on some fragment of the old hawk orthodoxies.

MQ

Steve Sailer said...

MQ:

My next paragraph is:

"Fortunately, the Soviets wasted their treasure on useless new Third World allies like Ethiopia, while letting a puppet state that really mattered -- Poland -- go to hell."

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, there is a typo in "Third, North Korea relied upon regular army units for its invasion, which the U.S defeated at Inchon and North Vietnam had to be bailed out by a million Chinese communist regulars."

As we all know, it wasn't North Vietnam that had to be bailed out by a million Chinese communist regulars, it was North Carolina.

Steve Sailer said...

Bill says:

"Our entire airborne logistics system was transeferred to the Middle East in late 1973."

Okay, but isn't one of the features of airborne logistics systems that they can then be transferred elsewhere? I mean, that's why they're airborne as opposed to, say, wheelbarrow-borne, right?

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:37 --

Vietnam was central in the Cold War strategy: contain Communist states within their spheres and don't let them advance. Absent constant Russian-Chinese competition over Vietnam, the SE Asian takeover could have threatened both Malaysia (which had seen a decade long struggle against Chinese communists) and Indonesia (which saw a few years struggle against the same). With either outright annexation via Chinese conquering Armies down the Malay peninsula supported by naval and air power, or subversion. Lacking 20/20 foresight and perfect knowledge, it was just as much a risk to let North Vietnam take over the South.

At risk was the Straights of Malacca where most of the Oil from the Persian Gulf passes through to Japan or the US or Australia. This was not a trivial concern.

Also crucial in the world of Mutual Assured Destruction was signalling of resolve. It was fairly known what the capacities of each side were, from satellites and overflights, but not what the intent was. Policymakers were well aware of the dreadful result when Hitler and Tojo were both convinced that Western Powers at key points would not act. Acting in Vietnam signalled willingness to fight and deterred, say, a takeover of West Berlin or West Germany. Which must have been tempting for a cash-strapped Soviet Union which had to pay out all sorts of subsidies to keep it's empire going.

Reagan beat Gorby simply by being much better placed to handle low oil prices. With low prices from friendly Saudis pumping the stuff out like crazy, the Soviets could not pay their various pals in Eastern Europe OR their Army and essentially collapsed in slow-mo. Of course they could have also launched a war of aggression but little understood until much later was how thoroughly Stalin and his successors wiped out anyone with initiative in the Soviet Union except a few people in the KGB and mafias.

Anon 7:09: The struggle in Nicarauga was between "our" gang of thieves and caudillos and "their" gang of thieves and caudillos. Over who would rule the Hacienda. While it's probably unimportant, I'll back our thieves over theirs. There's not a dime's worth of difference between Somoza and the Ortega family of thieves. Same in Vietnam come to think of it, though the aspects cited above made it more important. Bad news though to abrogate the Monroe Doctrine. Weakness invites attack not compassion.

-----
He said: "Looking into the eyes of these young men as they prepared to initiate a major assault, I realized there won't be peace on earth anytime soon."
-----

File that under "duh." Unlike most clueless, terminally middle-upper class sheltered idiots, the soldiers understood that human nature has remained the same, but technology brings the third world (even absent mass migration) right into our cities and elsewhere (and vice-versa). The middle-upper class "safety" is an illusion and always has been. Most adults (but not privileged idiot Multi-Culti PC journalists) realize that. "If you wish peace, prepare for war." Human nature has not changed that much.

Rich next to poor has never been a happy state of affairs. And technology makes the US (rich) right next door now to the poor.

Anon 10:44: does it matter if Spain is conquered by Morocco? I'll note you can't rebut that fact (it would be easy absent US military force to do it). US policy makers have held that hostile powers dominating Europe are most decidely NOT in our interests and fought two World Wars and one Cold War to prevent that.

This is reality. Deal with it as an adult or retreat into childishness.

"Furthermore, the withdrawal of the U.S. from Vietnam freed up troops and increased our moral authority. "

This is laughable MQ. We saw a decrease in military spending per GDP, and "moral authority" does not exist. Any more than Santa Claus. Vietnam convinced Khomeni (rightly) that Carter would do nothing in response to the Embassy hostages (itself an act of war). There is no such thing as Moral Authority. Nations act in their own interests out of fear, greed, and ambition. Nothing more.

Liberals are clueless and stupid about the use of military force. So too is Brecher (he's certain to be wrong, make book on it). Like everything else it has it's limitations but within it's sphere is dominant. Military force got Tibet for China. It ended the Rwandan Genocide. It got Saddam (briefly, absent US force) Kuwait and out of his war debts. It got India an independent Bangladesh instead of East Pakistan. Liberals don't understand military force, think Nuclear Weapons are a magic wand negating everything else (the Egyptians attacked in 1974 and threatened in 1967 Israel despite Israel having nukes ... Dayan was within hours of using them too in 1974 until the tide miraculously turned.)

More to the point Liberals are opposed at every turn to military force because as the priests they are they fear sharing power with the soldier more than defeat by an enemy. That's the danger of a priest caste -- as bad in it's own way as a warrior caste.

Even old tech can kill you. When not if the Iranians have Soviet missile tech from say, 1965, most of our cities will be in range of their missiles. Of course Liberals want to kill Missile Defense because ... "weapons are bad, m'kay?"

Anonymous said...

For those who disbelieve that Islam was and is a threat to the US interests in Europe, take a look at Tigerhawk's excerpt from Richard Zack's the Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805.

http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2007/08/rape-of-san-pietro.html

The enslavement of about a thousand men and women in 1798 by Tunisian Pirates. Muslim slave-taking of Europeans ran astonishingly late in the Med, as late as the 1830's. Only with US example did the Europeans finally put a stop to it. In 1839 two French frigates ran aground in Algiers harbor and the local ruler had 109 men and officers beheaded. In response the French levelled the place and invaded, ruling it until 1962.

Lesson: until the late 1830's Muslim pirates raided the Spanish, French, and Italian coastlines with impunity taking slaves. It was only stopped by invading the homelands of the Pirates and putting them under European rule.

I am only shocked that Muslim pirates have not raided and taken slaves already. Absent the US Navy there is simply no one to stop them. And it's been done so often before. THAT racket had run since AD 700 or so. Little known outside Italy was the bizarre, three-sided struggle for Sicily among Muslims, Vikings (!!!) and Italians.

daveg said...

Anon 10:44: does it matter if Spain is conquered by Morocco?

Morocco is conquering Spain right now - via immigration! The kind of immigration encouraged by the Neocons and guys like you!

This whole vietnam debate is doing a great job of exposing these neocon wannabe's for the nut jobs they are and have always been. They are trying to argue the pro-war Viet Nam as the model for success!

Can you believe it?

Getting out of Viet Nam was the best foreign policy decision we every made. It was good for both the US AND the people of Viet Nam (for the most part). Any harm that came to the people of Viet Nam was caused primarily by our original involvement.

You really need to think if this is the kind of logic and, more importantly, JUDGMENT you want to follow.

Are their policies are really consistent with US safety and well being? I have to say absolutely not.

Steve Sailer said...

By the way, at the peak in 1967, there were 170,000 Red Chinese troops in Vietnam. A little under 1500 were killed.

Bill said...

Okay, but isn't one of the features of airborne logistics systems that they can then be transferred elsewhere? I mean, that's why they're airborne as opposed to, say, wheelbarrow-borne, right?

Not exactly. It's the US Army/Air Force after all -- many thousands of people, machines and jobs are involved. Anyway, logistics whether by air or sea flow as though through a pipeline (this is on my mind because my water-main just sprung a leak). You open up another pipe and the pressure falls, ie fewer supplies/time. You open up a really big pipe, like Nickel Grass, and a lot of S. Vietnamese generals suddenly find themselves running out of ammo, which as you recently wrote is used prodigiously in wars. Fuel and spare parts factor in as well.

It doesn't even have to be for a long time, because the situation in war is so fluid that a temporary disruption in supplies can become a permanent disadvantage, which it did.

General George Brown, Chief of Staff of the Air Force at the time, was furious over Nickel Grass, so it was actually quite a contentious issue at the time.

Brown, not the most politically astute man, began to make comments about the Israel lobby shortly afterward, and was dragged through the mud for a while:

UNITED STATES RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL

"[13.] Q. Mr. President, Barry Goldwater has said that he agrees with General Brown in the sense that Israel is a military burden of the United States and that we may deplete our own armories to supply Israel and that we may give Israel too many arms, too much arms. Is Israel a burden in your opinion, and will we deplete our own arms in giving Israel arms?

PRES: [...]Now, you have to look at the broad picture when you look at the States and Israel's military circumstances. At the time of the Yom Kippur war, the United States came immediately to the aid of Israel with substantial military hardware, military equipment. We drew down from our reserves in Western Europe, in the NATO forces, U.S. hardware that was sent to .Israel. Now, that was not an irreparable situation in NATO because in the interim, from 1973, we have virtually made up that drawdown. But for a period of time, one could say that the immediate needs of Israel in a crisis were a burden to the United States."


Ford was not telling the truth here. As you can see from all accounts of Nickel Grass, the equipment came not from NATO stocks, but from the stateside supplies, needed for Vietnam, hence Brown's anger. He is trying to make it appear as though America simply transferred supplies from Europe to Israel, which was not the case, and would have been unthinkable given Soviet forces in the Europe at the time.

Logistical support did play a part in the fall of S. Vietnam, but there's obviously more to it than that. Like I wrote before, the strategic focus shifted to the ME, and pressure for that had started well before the Yom Kippur War, which just forced the issue onto the stage. Kissinger played a big role in this, and I think, although I can't say for sure, that the trip to China indicated the beginning of the implementation of this shift, whether Nixon knew it or not.

I believe it was right about this time that neo-conservatives and their movement began to come of age.

Anonymous said...

"Secondly, the Korean war was NOT "won" by the Inchon landings. Instead the Pusan perimeter held, the over-extended North Koreans broke, and were chased back up the peninsula by the Army while the Marines landed at Inchon and uner MacArthur, took the totally useless Soeul instead of blocking Kim Il Sung's remaining forces retreat back up to North Korea. ".

Hard to find more historical misstatements in one sentence. No doubt the fellow has read some crap book on the Korea War written by someone like Eng prof Weintraub.

1) Inchon won the Korean war for us. That is to say the war against NK to prevent them from taking over SK. The Chinese-US oonflict of Nov 1950- June 1953; was as MacArthur called it a "different kind of war.

2) The taking of Seoul was essential not only political and pychological reasons but more importantly to cut railroad lines to the rest of south Korea. Once, the RR lines were cut the NK around Pusan had to retreat. And possession of Seoul was also necessary for our advance northwards.

Given the small number of troops at Inchon and large amount of rough terrain it was never possible for us to have sealed off the Korean peninsula and cut off all NK troops. Leakage could not be prevented.


3) The Pusan counterattack after Inchon failed (sept 16-Sept 19 1950) Its only after NK troops around Pusan began to retreat that the Pusan breakout ocured.

Anonymous said...

Bill,

Kudos to you for creativity. That's the first time I've seen Israel blamed for the fall of South Vietnam.

A couple of little problems with your scenario though: The Yom Kippur War happened in October, 1973, and was over in about a month. Assets flown into Israel came from the United States and Europe for the most part, not one of our massive bases in Asia supporting the Vietnam War. And the North's final invasion of South Vietnam didn't start until more than a year the Yom Kippur War was over.

rast said...

Off topic comment:

I'm sure Steve could have a field day with this idiotic article on low unemployment in Montana. No, it isn't satire.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070825/D8R820QO0.html

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The owner of a fast food joint in Montana's booming oil patch found himself outsourcing the drive-thru window to a Texas telemarketing firm, not because it's cheaper but because he can't find workers.

...

John Francis, who owns the McDonald's in Sidney, Mont., said he tried advertising in the local newspaper and even offered up to $10 an hour to compete with higher-paying oil field jobs. Yet the only calls were from other business owners upset they would have to raise wages, too. Of course, Francis' current employees also wanted a pay hike.

"I don't know what the answer is," Francis said. "There's just nobody around that wants to work."

...

For years, the resort has imported dozens of workers from Eastern Europe who often come as much for the summer recreation opportunity as the money. This year, however, that wasn't enough and so for the first time the resort also sent recruiters to a high school job fair, said spokeswoman Greer Terry. It only helped a little.

...

He said the problem is compounded by the fact that employers, accustomed to paying relatively low wages, have been slow to increase salaries. Montana wages have historically been among the lowest in the country, and still rank near the bottom. The silver lining for workers is that wages are now growing at the third-fastest rate among U.S. states.

...

"The squeeze is on. You get into these 2 percent and less unemployment rates and you're moving into a seller's market with the seller being the worker," Swanson said.

Officials worry the razor thin labor market could bind economic growth, although there has been no indication of that yet.

"One of the reasons we are seeing the lower (unemployment) rates is we are starting to see more investment in our economy. It's like finding an undervalued stock," said Tyler Turner, Montana's economic development chief.

...

But questions remain about how long the West can weather the problems that come with low unemployment.

"The hardest thing is to keep the economy growing at a strong rate when you have a low unemployment rate," he said. "Take a company that wants to expand. Where is the next worker going to come from?"

Anonymous said...

Steve: my point is that there is no "fortunately" about the Soviet focus on places like Ethiopia or Afghanistan rather than Poland or Europe. As I see it, they simply did not have the military power, the resources, or the influence/moral credibility to hold on to Europe. The Russians considered a military response to Solidarity, but knew they couldn't afford it. I don't think we dodged a bullet because of Russian mistakes, we fundamentally had the Russians in a box already. Vietnam had nothing to do with that.

Anon 11:31 presents us with more evidence of insanity:

"does it matter if Spain is conquered by Morocco? I'll note you can't rebut that fact (it would be easy absent US military force to do it)."

According to the latest data, Morocco spends less than $3 billion annually on its military, while Spain spends about $16 billion. Furthermore, Spain is a member of the EU, which collectively spends $293 billion annually on its military and includes two nuclear powers. If the U.S. vanished from the earth tomorrow, the EU could easily defeat all of the Arab/North African powers combined. In fact, it would be *easier* for Europe to defeat the Arabs without the U.S., because most Arab money and equipment comes from the U.S.

"This is laughable MQ. We saw a decrease in military spending per GDP, and "moral authority" does not exist. Any more than Santa Claus"

Military spending per GDP isn't what win wars, the absolute size of the military wins wars.

Also, moral authority not only exists, it is extremely important. At least as important as military might. You don't seem to know much about military history or strategy, but a rather famous general once said "the moral is to the physical as three to one"...no liberal he!

"There is no such thing as Moral Authority. Nations act in their own interests out of fear, greed, and ambition. Nothing more."

Nations act in their own interests, so they fight hard and violently against foreign powers they do not trust to respect their interests in a reasonable way. "Soft power" refers to the moral credibility that leads other nations to believe that you will reasonably accomodate their legitimate interests, and they can trust you to negotiate and cooperate in good faith. It is much cheaper and easier for all concerned to be able to cooperate and settle things peaceably rather than fight wars.

"Liberals are clueless and stupid about the use of military force."

Wrong, liberals are realistic and knowledgeable about the use of military force. In particular, liberals understand the limitations of military force, as revealed in e.g. WWI, also in all the various colonial-type wars waged since WWII (Algeria, Vietnam I and II, Afghanistan, etc.), and in the Cold War, where the Soviet Union was not defeated by direct application of military force. Violent force is extremely risky, expensive, uncertain, breeds resistance, generally involves immoral levels of civilian causalties in order to work, fails more often than it succeeds, and even when it does succeed has unpredictable consequences.

"Military force got Tibet for China. It ended the Rwandan Genocide. It got Saddam (briefly, absent US force) Kuwait and out of his war debts. It got India an independent Bangladesh instead of East Pakistan."

The first two cases involve some of the smallest, poorest countries on earth, lessons are limited. You might as well point to the successful U.S. invasion of Panama. Gulf War I was only "successful" (partially so), because the planners understood the limits of military force and did not drive on to Baghdad. India's problems with Pakistan are in no way solved.

In general, very few large-scale strategic problems are solved by the application of military force, although force may be some part of the answer. (For example, force in can buy time or deter aggression until political or social evolution causes the problem to fade. This is usually most effective in a defensive or deterrent posture). The major exception this century was the problem of Hitler, which was solved by aggressive war. But Hitler only rose to power because of the misguided resort to war that occured in WWI. If the West had been wiser and more peaceful in 1914, Hitler and Stalin would both likely have stayed minor street thugs.

A sober and realistic assessment of our experience this century will tell you much about the limits of war as a solution to human problems. The problem is that many self-styled conservatives today seem have psychological problems that lead them to sentimentalize war and violence, and to desparately wish their own country would engage in more of it. I think that this has to do with feeling insecure in their masculinity. Perhaps their own feelings of powerlessness create an unconscious identification with violence. It wouldn't be so interesting, except that some of them have managed to take power in this country.

MQ

David Davenporrt said...

On the central question -- would the "loss" of Vietnam seriously threaten the security of the United States -- liberals were obviously right and conservatives obviously wrong.

Isn't it also obviously right that the "loss" of Israel wouldn't seriously threaten the security of the US?

A yes or no answer to this central question, please.

:0\ ?

David Davenport said...

Regarding Korea and China and Japan and potential dominos falling:

“…Despite a ban on offensive capabilities, both Japanese and U.S. planners say the only effective ballistic and cruise missile defense of Japan must include the ability to penetrate enemy air defenses to strike missiles before they can be launched. …”


Ares
A Defense Technology Blog


Japan's Raptors on the Radar

Posted by David A. Fulghum at 8/1/2007 11:24 AM


The unstated rationale for selling F-22s to Japan is to build a cruise and ballistic missile defense in conjunction with the U.S., say U.S. Air Force and aerospace industry officials. The F-22’s advanced active, electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar is necessary to detect small, stealthy targets in flight or to pick out ballistic missile launchers on the ground. With the idea of insisting on the F-22, but knowing that it may take time to push through the U.S. bureaucracy, Japanese planners have decided to upgrade its F-15J Eagles with AESA radars to extend their operational life. That would at least start laying the foundation for a cruise missile defense of Japan. It will, however, take the F-22’s air-defense evading stealth capability to go after ballistic missile launch sites.

Despite a ban on offensive capabilities, both Japanese and U.S. planners say the only effective ballistic and cruise missile defense of Japan must include the ability to penetrate enemy air defenses to strike missiles before they can be launched. Hawks, Patriots and Aegis air defense ships aren’t enough to stop all the ballistic and low-visibility cruise missiles, military and aerospace industry officials say.

Some of them also contend that non-stealthy aircraft can’t penetrate an integrated air defense if it includes double-digit surface to air missiles like the Russian-designed SA-10, SA-20 and SA-22. ( But why does the a/c have to be manned? – DD. ) An air force must at least have the capability to attack the launch sites “to put an offensive ballistic missile capability at risk,” a senior Air Force official involved in the debate says. “You’ve got to get out in front of [cruise and ballistic] missile launches. Otherwise, some are going to get through.”

Japan is now reordering its priorities and will accelerate upgrades of its F-15Js. The 200-odd Eagles ( Betcha didn’t know Japan has that many F-15’s. Japan arguably has a better equipped Air Force than the entire European Union, including the UK. Or should I say, the EU provinces formerly known as UK? ) also will stay in service longer, according to a budget plan that is clearly designed to allow the country to later renew its push for F-22s, despite the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s decision last month to maintain the export ban. …


http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs...1-9ca89286e819
dominoes

Israel wants F-22's also, I read.

Bill said...

Bill,

Kudos to you for creativity. That's the first time I've seen Israel blamed for the fall of South Vietnam.

-anon


Well then you haven't seen much. It wasn't just General Brown; Nixon said it too:

"I'm the director of the Nixon Library and thus the promulgator of the analysis of the tape opening that Timothy Noah quotes.

Here's what I noticed about the NY Times article: It neglected to mention a principal source of RN's frustration about the Jewish community, which is plenty clear in our analysis and the tapes themselves: Many of the same folks who wanted the U.S. to support Israel against her aggressive foreign enemies did not particularly want the U.S. to support South Vietnam against hers."


Why would the Israel lobby be against supporting S. Vietnam at the time? Because they wanted the material support to go to Israel, obviously.

A couple of little problems with your scenario though: The Yom Kippur War happened in October, 1973, and was over in about a month. Assets flown into Israel came from the United States and Europe for the most part, not one of our massive bases in Asia supporting the Vietnam War. And the North's final invasion of South Vietnam didn't start until more than a year the Yom Kippur War was over.

-anon


The NVA used the US diversion of supplies from Vietnam to the ME to build their own stockpile, and when the balance was clearly in their favor, they made their move.

So yes, the orthodox (paleocon) historical view is that support for Israel undermined the Vietnam war effort.

I don't know why people see this as a moral judgment call -- it's just what's been documented. Perhaps supporting Israel was more in our interest than supporting S. Vietnam at the time. Why don't you make an argument for that instead of denying historical facts?

Anonymous said...

Isn't it also obviously right that the "loss" of Israel wouldn't seriously threaten the security of the US?
You are not asking me but since Israel is a huge thorn in America's side, costing both money and international good will, from my paleocon perspective, the loss of Israel couldn't be more welcome.

I admit, seeing myself as awfully conservative, I don't get warmongering conservatism. All you need is a stockpile of nukes, some statements to the effect that you will use them if seriously threatened, and then you can go about your business. MAD (i.e. mutually assured destruction)=peace. It's analagous to ever man having a gun, with civility ensuing. Vietnam was a serious waste of time and money and all kinds of western nations got stuck with Asiatic "refugees" who never went home. If war is going to be used as apolicy instrument then let's see some actual benefit. Is this too much to ask?

Anonymous said...

Bill,

You are engaging in sophistry. You claim to have demonstrated something when you clearly haven't. You haven't demonstrated that the brief airlift to Israel in October of 1973 led to the fall of South Vietnam in the Spring of 1975.

The orthodox, conservative, view of history is that it was the Democratic Congress (elected in a post-Watergate landslide in '74) that led to the fall of South Vietnam, by cutting off American military aid and banning American air support in the face of the North Vietnamese invasion. The orthodox, liberal, view of history is that South Vietnam would have fallen anyway, even if Congress hadn't cut off American aid, and that, in any case, the war wasn't worth fighting.

So far, you are the first person I have seen claim that it was the October 1973 airlift to Israel that doomed South Vietnam; your theory -- unsupported by any evidence that this airlift denied South Vietnam of military equipment it would have received otherwise before it was invaded by the North over a year later -- isn't "orthodox" at all. It's dubious.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't it also obviously right that the "loss" of Israel wouldn't seriously threaten the security of the US?"

You talk like America has any say in the matter. The "loss" of Israel? Here's a reality check:

Israel/Diaspora controls the US Congress outright.

Israel/Diaspora controls the fundraising of both the Democrats and Republicans national and local operations.

Israel/Diaspora controls at least 80% of the US media.

Israel/Diaspora controls the software architecture of the US phone system.

Anyone who disputes these facts of modern life is a clumsy liar. It all adds up to CONTROL over the future of USA on any and all issues relating to Israel. It is up to them to decide when the "special relationship" is no longer worthwhile. Not you, pal.

Anonymous said...

If a superpower wants to remain a superpower and retain its respect then it occasionally needs to actually use that power. That was especially the case during the Cold War, where - like it or not - we were engaged in an actual, legitimate life-or-death struggle with aggressive, evangelical Marxism.

Vietnam, Korea, and even tiny Grenada proved we were willing to go the distance to thwart Marxist expansion. The problem that arose in Vietnam was that elites were only willing to risk the lives of the plebe's children, not their own, in said defense.

Mark said...

Re: Off topic comment on Montana wages:

Why is it suddenly the government's obligation to provide businesses with labor at whatever price the business wants to pay? Businessmen, God bless us, have the right to try to make a profit. That doesn't give us the right to dictate the price we pay for labor, anymore than I have the right to walk into Mr. Montana McDonald's owner's establishment and demand a Big Mac for 10 cents.

I happen to believe that I could make a killing in the market if I could sell 10,000 square foot McMansions for $10,000 a piece. My business plan calls for buying them at $2,000 a piece. I know I'd sell millions of them and put every other real estate company out of business. Now if only that damned government would get off its big fat arse and provide me with the product I need at the price I want to pay!

I don't know much about Mr. Montana McDonald's owner, but I do know one thing: he expects a helluva lot more than $10 an hour for his own efforts. If he has to close up shop for lack of access to dirt-cheap labor then don't expect me to feel any guilt. And trust me: I won't.

tommy said...

Technologically, Pakistan is 50 years behind America in the development of nuclear weapons, and the rest lag even farther.

Of course, it isn't like much has changed in nuclear technology in the last few decades.

Bill said...

Bill,

You are engaging in sophistry. You claim to have demonstrated something when you clearly haven't. You haven't demonstrated that the brief airlift to Israel in October of 1973 led to the fall of South Vietnam in the Spring of 1975.

-anon


OK, now you've made your claims. I've backed mine up with citations detailing historical facts. Where are yours?

And you say I'm engaged in sophistry...

Typical.

The orthodox, conservative, view of history is that it was the Democratic Congress (elected in a post-Watergate landslide in '74) that led to the fall of South Vietnam, by cutting off American military aid and banning American air support in the face of the North Vietnamese invasion.

Too bad you didn't comprehend the documents I posted. Just who did General Brown and Nixon blame for the congressional cut-off?

[...] your theory -- unsupported by any evidence that this airlift denied South Vietnam of military equipment it would have received otherwise before it was invaded by the North over a year later -- isn't "orthodox" at all. It's dubious.

I already posted some of the evidence, and there is plenty more. Why don't you use logistical statistics to tell me how insignificant Nickel Grass, the biggest airlift in history until the Gulf War, was?

I'll be waiting, but not holding my breath...

PS I could have used access to private academic databases to make an even better case, but I judged this unfair considering that most people here probably do not have access to them.

Not A muse'd said...

How did a discussion of the dreaded Vietnam war turn to Israel and neocons?

Isn't it possible to reject misguided Israeli policies without giving up Israel? I'm surprised to see such all or nothing thinking in the group of high IQ men that post on iSteve. Think of the neocons as annoying, demanding women who will do anything to get their way. Stop feeling inferior cause they got Ivy League degrees and you didn't. I mean come on, the neocons are easy targets for demoralizing jokes about nerds, geeks etc. Break them down! Bend them to your will!

(Also, was glad to see that Steve isn't sampling me quite as much as usual. I feel like a Matt Groening style muse for Steve. And let me say I did not ask for the job nor do I get paid anything for being the source of constant derision and mockery that fuels what passes for creative genius in Steve. Steve, you reek. )

As for the rest of you wimps. Go stand up to the neocons and stop this gloom and doom about the death of Israel there being no other solution, blah, blah, blah...

Meanwhile, I'm desperately searching for a nice poet to inspire that way Steve will be blocked from sampling me. It's a cosmic law. Beware Steve Sailer. You will be struck by lightning if you continue to annoy me!

Anonymous said...

MQ --

Funny, I find your comments evidence of insanity. Morocco has a population of 33 million, most crammed into impoverished cities on the coast. Median Age: 24 years. Population growth 1.53% annually. Fertility rate 2.62 children. Population below the poverty line: 19%. The lowest 10% of household income consumes 2.6% of resources, the highest 10% consumes 30.9%. GDP per capita is $4,600.

Spain's figures: Population 40 million. Median age: 40 years. Population growth: 0.11%. Fertility 1.29 children per woman. Population below the poverty line: 19% (though this may be skewed by African/Moroccan immigrants). Lowest 10% consumes 2.8% of resources, Highest 10% 25.2%. GDP per capita is $27,400.

Now, I don't know about you but that paints a picture of really, really poor people dominated by a Carlos Slim-like elite right across the Straights of Gibraltar from really, really rich and OLDER people who can't fight back. Easy pickings.

Absent the US "police force" there is nothing to keep Morocco from simply raiding into Spain as they've always done. Just like what happened in LA during the riots when the police sat around out of PC fears. I don't see any Korean shopkeepers among the Spanish.

Spain and the EU may outspend Morocco on military spending (most of which is disguised social welfare not money for an effective military) but so what? Spain and the EU are made up of old men and women. Who lack the will or manpower to defeat coastal raiders using civilian vessels and speed boats. If the US vanished tomorrow into some time warp, Spain would be conquered shortly thereafter. They have a minor navy that's less than Britain's. Which is less than the BELGIAN COASTGUARD. NATO can't and couldn't even deal with Serbia and the Balkans. US Airpower had to bail them out. Dutch "peacekeepers" were afraid of the Serbs and surrendered their guns and sold out the inhabitants of Srebenica who they swore to protect as a sanctuary / refugee city. Even Ratko Miladec's rag-tag militia can make the Euros run or surrender.

You are right about the EU and Spain having the wealth to build a military to defend themselves. Eventually. If they have enough time. And the will. To stop spending on social welfare programs. None of which are in any evidence.

There is no moral authority. Napoleon, Yamamoto, and Rommel all bet on "fighting spirit" backed by "moral authority." And came a cropper. Bet on the side with the most guns and better commanders. "Soft Power" was tried and found wanting in: the Balkans, Rwanda, Lebanon, the Congo, Darfur, Europe circa 1936-38, and many other places. A total failure always.

This is where you fall down (completely) and show your lack of experience with the world beyond your cubicle. Making a deal with say, a man like Zapatero who has led a comfortable middle class existence his entire life is a far different affair to making a "deal" with say, Ahmadinejad or Saddam. The latter rose to political power by killing people. Lots of them. Up close and personal. Ahmadinejad also is alleged to have done so. A "deal" with them is what you give them now before they kill you later and take everything. You are not making a deal with another nation's duly elected representative, rather a ruthless and rapacious absolute monarch. This betrays a basic lack of understanding of human nature.

Liberals are of course clueless about military force. It almost always works against weak and unprepared opponents. Military force is why Israel, despite massive manpower, material, and territorial disadvantages still exists. Military force ended the Muslim raiders on the Med. Military force got India only one border with Pakistan, not two. Military force ended the ICU/Somalian assaults on Ethiopia. Military force won Eritrea it's independence.

"If the West had been wiser and more peaceful in 1914, Hitler and Stalin would both likely have stayed minor street thugs."

This is more Liberal clap-trap. A fantasy of human nature "re-engineered" not to have basic conflicts over power. The War was inevitable based on the mobilization systems and alliances. The carnage completely avoidable if generals had studied Cold Harbor and the Wilderness, and also Sherman's war of maneuver and war-fighting resource destruction (which killed almost no one but left the South's armies without food or anything else).

Liberals make the mistake of not understanding basic human nature. They certainly don't BELIEVE anything they say. They live in gated communities, far from poor black men who they view (rightly) as a violent threat to their existence.

The Japanese certainly don't believe in Liberal clap-trap. Seeing the US defense umbrella erode and North Korean/Chinese threats they are rearming like crazy.

Israel? Steyn noted that Hafez Assad predicted that like Vietnam, the US would abandon Israel and it was just a matter of waiting out the "weak" and easily beaten US. As Putin said after Beslan, the weak get beaten and "we were weak." Israel's destruction would certainly confirm beyond doubt that Lewis's assessment of the US is correct: a weak and unreliable ally, an inconsequential enemy.

Anonymous said...

How did a discussion of the dreaded Vietnam war turn to Israel and neocons?

Because it's so much fun to talk about the Jews. As Sartre once observed, anti-semites are what they are because they enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Steve, yes how about an "update" post on the Israeli ownership of the US telephone software system and the trapdoor software line-tapping capabilities.

I put the word update in scarequotes because there likely won't be any actual news updates on the issue. But how about a reminder for readers that, yes, Virginia, there is a massive memory hole in the USA, and indeed the most critical pieces of information are flushed down it.

Anonymous said...

"As Sartre once observed..."

There is nothing quite as darkly amusing as a quote from a devout Marxist employed to deny the existence of Jewish power.

Anonymous said...

Israel/Diaspora controls the US Congress outright.

Israel/Diaspora controls the fundraising of both the Democrats and Republicans national and local operations.

Israel/Diaspora controls at least 80% of the US media.

Israel/Diaspora controls the software architecture of the US phone system.


If this is true, then why are we adding untold numbers of Muslim immigrants (many being counted as "white" by the census) to our population. I've gotten in a minor argument by encouraging a Jewish guy to be an immigration restrictionist because the logical outcome of Muslim immigrants gaining political power is cessation of our tacit approval for everything Israel does.

I'm sorry, Jews have plenty of influence in this country but if they were running things as you say, there would be minimal immigration from Muslim countries.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing quite as darkly amusing as a quote from a devout Marxist employed to deny the existence of Jewish power.

I wasn't denying the existence of Jewish power, I was making an observation about the anti-semites on this site, who can bend any thread into a discussion about the Jews.

Bill said...

Because it's so much fun to talk about the Jews.

-Anon


Speak for yourself.

I usually avoid writing about Jews, because, to be quite honest, I'm sick of the subject. There is no middle ground, honesty is rewarded by partisans on both sides with condemnation, and one is guaranteed to be called names. This comment thread is a case in point.

But the US strategic focus on the Middle East began precisely during the era Sailer wrote about in this post. The events of the 1973 Yom Kippur War set a standard that remains in place: massive US assistance to (and unconditional support of) Israel. I have posted evidence that not only a chairman of the JCS, but two presidents during this time period considered Israel a burden.

How could one argue that the overwhelming logistical, political, and financial support Israel received at the time could have done anything other than cause Vietnam to be neglected?

Vietnamese generals were running out of ammo in 1974. Meanwhile, we were airlifting thousands of TOW missiles to Israel (many of these were later sold to Iran during Iran Contra), missiles that would have slaughtered PARVN's tank columns during the offensive of 1975.

The US spent $2.2 billion resupplying Israel for Nickel Grass alone. Meanwhile, Vietnam was receiving $700 million per year.

Could it possibly be that America's choice of priorities might have influenced the course of events, or would that be "dubious"?

David said...

Anonymous 8/25/2007 3:09 PM, you said:

Blah blah war, blah blah bomb, blah blah kill.

Sir, they that live by the sword die by the sword. Defend yourself; but to go looking for monsters to destroy is only to raise hell. Starting trouble in other people's backyards on the fevered theory "I'd better do it to them, before they do it to me!" is a major source of conflict and war.

What is this apparent compulsion of yours to meddle, meddle, meddle in all the world? Ever heard of leaving people alone?

Or are you unable to help it, believing yourself "called" to be "a light unto the nations"?

Look out - there's a Nazi behind that tree! Ha. Just kidding.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:15

* Morocco invading Spain like the LA riots? (speaks for itself)

* Poor young Muslims wilding on elderly European men and women despite the vast BELGIAN COASTGUARD? (larger than a combined UK and Spanish Armada?)

* Rommel relied on moral authority in war? (forced suicide by Nazi’s for alleged treason)

* Bet on the side with the most guns and better commanders…”Soft Power” was tried and found wanting? (American Revolution, Algeria, Vietnam, Colonial British Afghanistan, Soviet Afghanistan, Kashmir, US Afghanistan)

* A “deal” with Ahmadinejad or Saddam is what you give them now before they kill you? (Saddam was/Ahmadinejad is about to kill us?)

* Ahmadinejad is a ruthless and rapacious absolute monarch (Iran is the most democratic country in ME unlike most of our allies there)?

I guess to neocon ideologues everything can be made to look like a nail when you wield America’s military hammer without cost or consequence.

SN said...

anon 11:38:
"I'm sorry, Jews have plenty of influence in this country but if they were running things as you say, there would be minimal immigration from Muslim countries."

No - most of the Jewish elite in the USA has a profound commitment to non-discriminatory immigration *including Muslim immigation*. It's a big mistake to think that people always act in their own rationally perceived self interest.

TabooTruth said...

I have been to both North and South Vietnam and notice a large climactic difference and skin tone disparity between the two. Is there a possibility of an IQ-gap between North and South Vietnamese that can shed light on the inability of the South to defend itself?

Anonymous said...

The Muslim lack of aircraft carriers is irrelevant: Islam is a demographic threat, not a military one. Demography is destiny - if you love your country, then love your wives (and throw away the birth control!).