View the H-Diplo Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-Diplo's November 2004 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-Diplo's November 2004 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-Diplo home page.
The parties that actually decided to fight the war, beginning in 1965, were the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese on the one hand, and the United States on the other. The Communists at that time enjoyed the support and encouragement of China; the Soviets, as every study has shown, would have much preferred that the war had never taken place, although politics within the Communist bloc forced them to provide massive assistance once it got going. The South Vietnamese did not decide to fight the war. As a matter of fact, it was a great contribution of George McT. Kahin to have shown that the reason for the "revolving door governments" from November 1963 until June 1965 was the inability of the American government to find a leadership that would agree to fight the war. I confirmed that Nguyen Khanh had to be eased out of power before Rolling Thunder began and the Marines landed, because, as all the Americans realized, he had decided to become the "Sihanouk" or "Souvanna Phouma" of South Vietnam, and push for neutralism rather than war. After a brief, failed experiment of civilian rule under Quat, who didn't seem to want a huge American ground commitment either, we turned to military rule, which continued through 1975. In the one real election held in 1967 Thieu got less than 40% of the vote and the leading peace candidate came in second. The ARVN remained a very shakey military instrument throughout the war. David Kaiser Judith Klinghoffer writes: "The idea that the losing side is responsible for all the death and destruction caused by war seems curious. After all, the Vietnamese, too, had a decision to make and a harder one. They "decided" to sacrifice a million of their citizens, not to mention wide scale destruction of their land to prevent a Korean type outcome. I wonder whether given a choice the Vietnamese people would have opted for it then or whether they still believe it was worth it. Clearly, the US leaders decided that they better find a "cheaper" way to win the Cold War."