Vietnam: The Longest War

In June of 1968, I got up at 5:00am on a Monday morning and took the oath of enlistment in the US Army, at Logan Airport in Boston Massachusetts. Flew out that day and arrived at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Three days later I was told I couldn’t be in the Army because my eyes lacked sufficient peripheral vision. For a while I fought it, but eighteen days later I was discharged. I say that to make it clear that I had and have no animosity to those who enlisted, or were drafted, and fought in Vietnam. At the time I thought we should be there, to protect South Vietnam from Communist aggression.

The statistics are important, and I’ll list them at the end. But first I want to discuss matters I think are far more important:
1. Why did American troops go to war in Vietnam?
2. Should America have gone to war in Vietnam?
3. What evidence is there related to the answer of that last question?
4. What lessons are there for the present and future?
5. Did we have a choice?

America was sending “advisors” to Vietnam as far back as 1950. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy were responsible. President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) not only continued that role, but turned Vietnam into a definite stand against “Communist aggression”. (That was a phrase often heard when I was a teenager.)

How and why did Johnson get us up to our neck in Vietnam? I believe there are three reasons.

First, the public reasons, which looking back I believe are based on logic and knowledge of history. This is a powerful, persuasive, appealing speech by LBJ explaining his reasoning. It’s important if you want to understand what many Americans believed at the beginning of the Vietnam War:

Second, there apparently was a personal reason. A college professor of mine, quoting from an interview with LBJ, said that LBJ confessed that he “was terrified of what would happen to me and to my administration if I appeared soft on Communism.” He claimed he had nightmares about violent American public reaction if he did appear soft on Communism. He wanted to protest his own power, position, and privileges. Remember, this was a time when “Better dead than Red” was a commonly heard sentiment. The Korean War had reinforced that feeling.

Third, the supernatural reason. As a Christian, I believe that the devil is active and powerful in world history at the international level. I believe that he is constantly trying to establish the one-world government for the antiChrist. Too complicated to get into why here. Just sayin’. There is more to history than we can see clearly, more even than the various conspiracy theories.

In American legal language, events have a “proximate cause / causes” and a “precipitating event”. The foregoing are the “proximate causes”, the reasons why we got into the Vietnam War. If not for those reasons and beliefs, we would not have gone to war in Vietnam.

But the “precipitating event” was “the Tonkin Gulf Incident”. Here’s a very good brief description of the alleged incident and the swift, completely one-sided response of both US Houses of Congress: HISTORY

Two US destroyers in the Gulf Of Tonkin reported that they had been attacked. Retaliation, “teach ’em a lesson”, etc., and escalation began. Unlike Desert Storm, the US did not send “overwhelming force” nor have a thorough, well-planned strategy. And there was something else … from that link:

Unspoken during the Congressional debate over the resolution was the fact that the commanders of the U.S. destroyers could not state with absolute accuracy that their ships had actually been attacked on the night of August 4, nor was any mention made of the fact that the U.S. destroyers had been assisting South Vietnamese commandos in their attacks on North Vietnamese military installations.]”

So a war was begun with deceit and lies, prosecuted half-heartedly from a strategic point of view, and ended in grief, tragedy and disaster, without achieving the desired result.

( I highly recommend this site for a VERY brief, easily understood overview of the effects of the Vietnaw War on America.)
The United States had entered the conflict in Vietnam as the world’s superpower following its decisive victory over the Axis powers in World War II, but left Vietnam with a humiliating defeat, shockingly high casualties, American public sharply divided and its leaders uncertain of what lay ahead in foreign policy. The nation’s longest and most debilitating war – the only war the U.S. ever lost, had far-reaching consequences and impact on most aspects of American life from the economy, culture to domestic politics and foreign policy … the real cost of the conflict was its impact on the economy … huge spending on the war in Vietnam led to an increasingly unfavorable balance of trade, which contributed to an international monetary crisis and threat to U.S. gold reserves in 1967-68. That threat was seen as convincing evidence that the U.S. could no longer afford the war…”

Hmmm … in 1971, Nixon had inherited the mess. One of his actions was to take US currency off the gold standard … so now we can finance wars easily and endlessly, as long as other nations play the game, because our money is “fiat money”. In other words, it’s valuable because the Federal Reserve says so. What an amazing but of course totally unrelated event. Nothing to see here; move along…

The War Powers Act, lowered voting age, end of the draft … good or bad, however you see them, all these potent changes resulted from the unsuccessful, catastrophic Vietnam War. This nation was turned upside down and inside out and nothing would ever be the same again.

Wars have a habit of doing that to nations. Maybe we should stay out of more of them.

A common explanation for our involvement was, “If we don’t fight Communism in Vietnam, we’ll have to fight it here.” A common assumption was that China was a highly aggressive, expansionist Communist nation which intended to force the world under Communist domination. And had the ability to do so, if not opposed by “the world’s only superpower”. (That would be the US.)

Are those assumptions correct? Is China still the same aggressive, expansionist, fanatically Communist nation? Because if so, in my opinion, we had no choice about whether to confront Chinese (and Russian) Communists. Vietnam was probably one of the worse places and ways to do it, but it had to be done, given that those assumptions about China were correct. In my opinion, the answer is YES! Here is evidence. Unfortunately, this evidence points to not only the correctness of those assumptions, but to the fact that China is making giant strides toward dominating a large part of the world under Communism.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative: if you choose “Read Full Report” at the bottom, there’s a map of plans and accomplishments so far: The Heritage Foundation

From that article: “China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) defines the BRI as a ‘systematic project’ that ‘aims to promote the connectivity of Asian, European, and African continents and their adjacent seas.’ It claims the BRI will ‘set up all-dimensional, multi-tiered and composite connectivity networks, and realize diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development in these countries.’ ”

The stated intentions are so noble,how could anyone suspect domination? SIX DAYS AGO: REUTERS

Chinese international students are a huge presence on Australian university campuses, and nowhere more so than at the University of Sydney. Their exact number is hard to pin down; the university is very proud that it draws students ‘from over 130 countries’ but quite coy about the distribution of their nationalities. However, estimates suggest that Chinese students make up nearly one-quarter of Sydney’s student body … The institution’s reticence is perhaps unsurprising at a time when Australia’s main public broadcaster is reporting on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence on campuses – not to mention the country’s parliament holding hearings into CCP infiltration of student organisations and its newspapers screaming that Australian sovereignty is ‘under threat’ from CCP influence.”

The ultimate effect of losing the Vietnam War may be that we will soon be saying, “Good morning, Vietnam” to the Communist ghosts of Vietnam.

Or we might have to go to full-theatre nuclear war. And I think the Chinese and every other nation on the planet recognize that possibility. That means, I think, that our enemies, being realistic, will prepare to deal with that threat pre-emptively. Electro-Magnetic Pulse bomb. Some other time we might discuss specifically and in detail what that would do to us. If it doesn’t happen before we can.

Vietnam War: active participation 1964 – 1973 NINETEEN YEARS.
American involvement in Vietnam began as early as in 1950 when President Truman sent military advisors to aid the French in the First Indochina War while its direct involvement lasted from 1964 until 1973. The Vietnam War is still commonly considered as the longest war that the U.S. has ever involved in its entire history.

Troops involved: per The United States War Dog Association
8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964 – March 28, 1973).
3,403,100 (Including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the broader Southeast Asia Theater ( Vietnam , Laos , Cambodia , flight crews based in Thailand and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).
Peak troop strength in Vietnam : 543,482 (April 30, 1968).
Total casualties: 58,202 (Includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties). Men who have subsequently died of wounds account for the changing total.
61% of the men killed were 21 or younger.
11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.
Of those killed, 17,539 were married.
303,704 were wounded: 303,704. 153,329 were hospitalized.
75,000 were severely disabled. 23,214 were 100% disabled. 5,283 lost limbs. 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.

Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than Korea. In the Mideast, it’s head injuries and permanent brain damage from the concussion of IEDs. Every theater of war has it Horror Stars.

Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII.
Missing in Action: 2,338
POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity)
As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees.
66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII).
Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.


To all our troops, past, present and future, Thank You! God bless them and keep them safe.  We’ll be wearing RED until they All come Home.

Have a safe and blessed Friday all!

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