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KnightErrant

Perhaps the stability of Vietnam is caused by the decisive end to the war - they won, while the unstable nature of Korea is caused by the unsettled nature of the war - fifty years of truce without peace. I haven't done any sort of historical research on the question, but my off-the-top-of-my-head theory postulates that the less decisive the war's conclusion the less stable the subsequent peace. If this theory is accurate, then it is better to definitively win (or lose) then to muddle through with a draw.

GK

Perhaps, but Vietnam still could have become a place very hostile to the US to this day, but it has not.

Part of the reason for this could be because China also invaded Vietnam in 1979, and they too lost and had to retreat. This prevented Vietnam from becoming a nuclear weapon client state of China like NK has. So it might have more to do with who is friendly with China vs. who is not.

usnjay

There are two lessons from Vietnam that should be applied to today. The first is that a misguided Congress, inappropriately responsive to the most vocal group, can literally snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The military never lost a single battle in Vietnam, the failure was entirely political.

The second is that local wars of proxy can change the course of a region. In the mid 60’s China was pouring arms, training & money into pro-communist groups throughout Asia, as far away as Mozambique. Most countries in the region were going communist or fighting communist groups intent upon taking over their governments by force.

Vietnam prevented this. We lost the battle to American socialists, but we won the war. Asian countries which were headed communists were able to resist and become free countries. Asia today is an economic powerhouse which, combined with America, is responsible for most global wealth.

In 30 years when Iraq and Egypt are free democracies the biggest leftist complaint on Iraq is that they are taking our jobs, and shouldn’t we enact trade tariffs against them?

regards,

Kosha

Very true - that the impact of such major military and/or political moves will continue for decades, and not merely months or years, afterwards.

Given the current extremely partisan environment in the U.S., however, and the world with polarization of popular opinion only continuing...this begs the question of how suitable the global political environment of the next decade will be in terms of couching the impending impacts of mid-east on the world in said decade(s) to come.

Maybe the fact that democrats continue to vote in majority for keeping our troops in, patriot act, etc is a sign that politicians are not as partisaned as the public is, though time will tell if this is really true. The changing economic landscape of US supporters (Europe vs. India, etc.) will also play a role.

On another note - I see you fixed the browser header in your blog, which is good, and also changed your color scheme to blue (any reason why? Just curious).

Now that it's primarily white and blue, maybe you can add in some red as well - would be very appropriate.

Shannon  Love

The key differences between Vietnam and NK may simply lay in time and luck.

Communism only got full sway over Indochina in 1975 leaving only 15 years until the end of the cold war for the corrosion to take effect. Communism ruled NK from 1945 and only began slipping into la-la land in the late 60's. Perhaps Vietnam simply didn't have enough time.

Luck in the leadership also play a part. Kim il-Sung ruled for decades and left sons to take his place. Ho Chi Min died two years after reunification and left no heirs.

In Indochina had fallen to the communist in the mid-40's. (Which would have happened without resistance from the West.) The outcome could have easily have looked like NK. For that matter, Cambodia did slid off the rails in the record time. The Khamer Rouge ruled for only 7 years. What is they had ruled for 50?

Jimmy J.

My take on this is quite different than yours.

I wonder why we do not continuously point out the difference between North and South Korea and trumpet the reason the South succeeded while the North cannot even feed its people. Could there be a better example of the contrast between Communism and a free market economic system?

In my opinion Kim Il Jung is a two bit hoodlum who is intent on blackmailing other countries into giving him enough resources to keep his regime in power. He acts tough, but in the end he is not ready to die and he knows he would die quickly if he actually attacked another country. I do not consider him to be more than a big bluffer. The U.S. Navy would make short work of the North Korean peninsula and would not have to use nukes to do it. I believe Kim knows this. But as long as he can get people to stand at attention when he talks tough he's going to do it.

As far as Vietnam goes, I agree with usnjay. Our long involvement there exhausted both the USSR and China's resources such that, after the North won, they spent time rebuilding their own resource base. In addition, the frenzy of killing that occurred in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos created an exhaustion and a turning inward so that there was no energy left to try to spread Communism to Thailand or Indonesia as had been widely expected.

Though our loss of political will in Vietnam is often called a military defeat, it was not. In fact our long involvement and sacrifices actually depleted Communist resources such that the so-called "Domino Effect" did not happen.

I also agree that, although Vietnam is relatively friendly at this time, when you are dealing with a Communist country you never know when that could change.

William

You are neglecting some fundamental factors of the situation in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist first, a communist second.

He started out, with American assistance no less, fighting the Japanese during WWII. After that, he moved onto the next occupation: the French. Finally, when we came in, he turned his attention towards us.

His ideology was communism, which to hyper-paranoid America earned him a nine year war, but his primary goal was uniting his nation and freeing it from foreigners.

Thus North Vietnam was run by an extremely popular government waging a war of national liberation... vs. South Vietnam, where there was a very unpopular, very corrupt dictatorship propped up by an American army (which, by the way, committed atrocities to make anything that has happened under Bush look like a picnic).

There was going to be a referendum before the war began on who should run the country, the southern gov. or the north. We stopped it from happening because we knew our people would not win.

In Korea we were fighting the armies of true communism: China & the USSR. In Vietnam we were fighting the guerillas of national liberation.

In Korea we picked the right fight. Unfortunately the other communists did as well, so we had to settle for half (lest we went on to WWIII). In Vietnam we picked the wrong fight, and by settling for nothing are now gaining everything (We've had our experiences with US supported dictatorships... remember how Iran turned out?).

Charles Rostkowski

Remember, we went into Vietnam to prevent the domonos from falling. When JFK drew that line in the sand and reenvigorated the Special Forces (Green Berets) he hoped he could stop communist expansion along the Pacific Rim. (Read JFK's innaugural speech in its entirety) It was costly (as are all wars for freedom) but JFK's strategic vision succeeded. Also during the 15 years of conflict Russia (China was then occupied with its internal "cultural revolution") had to expend large amounts of treasure and resources to keep the North Vietnamese in the field and therefore had less for the world revolution in other areas. They had, for example, to use Cuban surrogates for efforts in Africa during those years. So when the smoke cleared in 1980 the Pacific Rim countries were so strong economically, so capitalist oriented, they were no longer were easy pickings for the world revolution. I'm sure at that moment JFK looked down and smiled; the dominos stood. The Vietnam war was a victory both militarily and strategically. And millions upon millians of Asians are now much better off for its occurance.

chris

why is it we should have pushed further and sustained more casualties when we could have simply refrained from starting the war?

the reason korea is so unstable is because of the military presence of the united states and their nuclear policy of deterrence there, which has fueled a radical dictatorship in the north.

the reason vietnam is stable is because after the fall of saigon, we weren't there. the alternative line is that we so defeated vietnam that it was reduced to a blank state, that the government's ability to launch socialism was totally stymied and the only possible result was a barter capitalism unhindered by a larger state.

GK

chris,

But today, the 70% of the population of the Korean Peninsula that is South Korea is as wealthy as Western Europe, is a democracy, and far wealthier than VietNam.

VietNam may be better than NK, but SK is far more prosperous, and free, than VietNam.

Jenney Ellis

i like this site a lot.

chanel outlet

Luck in the leadership also play a part. Kim il-Sung ruled for decades and left sons to take his place. Ho Chi Min died two years after reunification and left no heirs.

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