My answer to How do Americans view “Vietnam war 1964-1973” today?
Answer by Ken Larson:
Image: “Truth in Media”
Please allow me to tell you how I feel today by rephrasing your question: What Could the USA have done to win the Vietnam Conflict and What Does this Tell Us About Current and Future Wars?
Vietnam was not a declared war. It was a setup by the Military Industrial Complex (MIC).
I was there as a combatant and a US Army Intelligence Base Development Planner, working with Philco Ford CAGV, Pacific Architects and Engineers, Leo Daley and other huge corporations resident in the country supplying American occupation and making billions.
The Vietnam Conflict was an incursion; one of the first setup by the Military Industrial Complex and the "Best and the Brightest" in the Pentagon.
"David Halberstam's book offers a great deal of detail on how the decisions were made in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations that led to the war, focusing on a period from 1960 to 1965 but also covering earlier and later years up to the publication year of the book.
Many influential factors are examined in the book:
• The Democratic party was still haunted by claims that it had 'lost China' to Communists, and it did not want to be said to have lost Vietnam also
• The McCarthy era had rid the government of experts in Vietnam and surrounding Far-East countries
• Early studies called for close to a million U.S. troops to completely defeat the Viet Cong, but it would be impossible to convince Congress or the U.S. public to deploy that many soldiers
• Declarations of war and excessive shows of force, including bombing too close to China or too many U.S. troops, might have triggered the entry of Chinese ground forces into the war, as well as greater Soviet involvement, which might repair the growing Sino-Soviet rift.
• The American military and generals were not prepared for protracted guerilla warfare.
• Some war games showed that a gradual escalation by the United States could be evenly matched by North Vietnam: Every year, 200,000 North Vietnamese came of draft age and potentially could be sent down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to replace any losses against the U.S.: the U.S. would be 'fighting the birthrate'
• Any show of force by the U.S. in the form of bombing or ground forces would signal the U.S. interest in defending South Vietnam and therefore cause the U.S. greater shame if they were to withdraw
• President Johnson's belief that too much attention given to the war effort would jeopardize his Great Society domestic programs
• The effects of strategic bombing: Most people wrongly believed that North Vietnam prized its industrial base so much it would not risk its destruction by U.S. air power and would negotiate peace after experiencing some limited bombing. Others saw that, even in World War II, strategic bombing united the victim population against the aggressor and did little to hinder industrial output.
• The Domino Theory rationales are mentioned as simplistic.
• After placing a few thousand Americans in harm's way, it became politically easier to send hundreds of thousands over with the promise that, with enough numbers, they could protect themselves and that to abandon Vietnam now would mean the earlier investment in money and blood would be thrown away.
The book shows that the gradual escalation initially allowed the Johnson Administration to avoid negative publicity and criticism from Congress and avoid a direct war against the Chinese, but it also lessened the likelihood of either victory or withdrawal"
The Vietnam incursion was not the last of it type. Its intent was not to be won, but to make money for the Military Industrial Complex.
Others incursions, such as those in the Middle East, have followed the same pattern as the tax payer goes into hock for generations.
War is a racket.
Wars cost money, treasure and make millions for corporations.
A quote many years ago from Major-General Smedley D. Butler: Common Sense (November 1935)
" I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service as a member of our country's most agile military force—the Marine Corps. I have served in all commissioned ranks from a second lieutenant to major-general. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers, In short I was a racketeer for capitalism
Thus, I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place to live for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in…. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American Sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras "right" for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded honors, medals, promotion. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents. War Is A Racket"
THE VIETNAM WAR – THE COSTLIEST TO DATE
It's been 40 years since the U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, and yet payments for the conflict are still rising.
Now above $22 billion annually, Vietnam compensation costs are roughly twice the size of the FBI's annual budget. And while many disabled Vietnam vets have been compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss or general wounds, other ailments are positioning the war to have large costs even after veterans die.
Based on an uncertain link to the defoliant Agent Orange that was used in Vietnam, federal officials approved diabetes a decade ago as an ailment that qualifies for cash compensation — and it is now the most compensated ailment for Vietnam vets.
The VA also recently included heart disease among the Vietnam medical problems that qualify, and the agency is seeing thousands of new claims for that condition.
If history is any judge, the U.S. government will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next century as service members and their families grapple with the sacrifices of combat.
An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records found that the government is still making monthly payments to relatives of Civil War veterans — 148 years after the conflict ended.
At the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, more than $40 billion a year is going to compensate veterans and survivors from the Spanish-American War from 1898, World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the two Iraq campaigns and the Afghanistan conflict. And those costs are rising rapidly.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said such expenses should remind the nation about war's long-lasting financial toll.
"When we decide to go to war, we have to consciously be also thinking about the cost," said Murray, D-Wash., adding that her WWII veteran father's disability benefits helped feed their family.”
With greater numbers of troops surviving combat injuries because of improvements in battlefield medicine and technology, the costs of disability payments are set to rise much higher.
THE IRAQ WARS AND AFGHANISTAN
So far, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the first Persian Gulf conflict in the early 1990s are costing about $12 billion a year to compensate those who have left military service or family members of those who have died.
Those post-service compensation costs have totaled more than $50 billion since 2003, not including expenses of medical care and other benefits provided to veterans, and are poised to grow for many years to come.
The new veterans are filing for disabilities at historic rates, with about 45 percent of those from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking compensation for injuries. Many are seeking compensation for a variety of ailments at once.
Experts see a variety of factors driving that surge, including a bad economy that's led more jobless veterans to seek the financial benefits they've earned, troops who survive wounds of war, and more awareness about head trauma and mental health.
Recent events involving US war "Interventions" and the incredibly out of control nature of the Military Industrial Complex have demonstrated their danger, their folly and their contribution to the largest national debt ever to grace the face of the earth.
Alternatives to war in terms of scientific advancement not only are required, but are in progress. The war makers are broke and operating on world credit subject to world approval.