Deluded American Generals in Vietnam
The administration of FDR spent billions arming the communist Soviet Union in order to help defeat Germany, and by 1953, the Eisenhower administration was spending billions to help a bankrupt France preserve its colonial possession in Indochina from communist takeover. The US News & World Report of July 31, 1953 states: “The French Government is serving notice that the United States must put up another 200 million dollars for war in Indochina or expect the Communists to take over that country, and, perhaps, the whole of Southeast Asia.”
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Deluded American Generals in Vietnam
“In July of 1963, nine years after the debacle at Dienbienphu, Denis Warner, the Australian journalist, told me how astounded he was to find the American generals in South Vietnam deluding themselves with the same false optimism the French generals had professed during the first Indochina war.
Warner . . . had just returned from a trip through the villages and rice paddies of the Mekong Delta south of the capital. Warner noted sadly that the Saigon government’s position was crumbling there just as rapidly under the hammer blows of the Vietcong guerillas as the French position in the Tonkin Delta in North Vietnam had eroded under pressure from the Vietminh insurgents in 1952.
On his return to Saigon, however, Warner had been shocked to hear the American generals assure him with the same false self-confidence the French had shown, that they were winning the war in the Delta. They had cited similarly meaningless statistics on the number of guerillas supposedly killed and on the number of fortified hamlets that had been supposedly built. “I’ll bet I could dig out my old notebooks and find almost identical statements by the French,” Warner said.
The enemy was no longer called the Vietminh. They were now know as the Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists), but they were the same black-clad little men, lean and hardened by years of warfare, determined to finish the revolution they had begun against the French in 1945 and to unite Vietnam under their rule. At home in the United States, most Americans, just as the French before them, were too preoccupied with their own lives to become interested in a war in a small Asian country thousands of miles away . . . Many probably didn’t even know where Vietnam was.
Listening to the Americans one got the impression that the French had fought badly and deserved to lose. In any case, they said, the French had been attempting to maintain an outdated colonial system and thus were doomed to failure. They, the Americans, knew how to fight wars, since they had defeated the Nazis and the Japanese and had bludgeoned the Chinese Communists to a stalemate in Korea. They were also fighting for democratic ideals and deserved victory, since Communism is bad and Democracy is good.
The Americans, however, did not know that the French Expeditionary Corps had usually fought with more bravery and determination than the Vietnamese government troops they were arming and advising. The Americans also forgot that many Vietnamese peasants saw little difference between the corrupt and brutal administrators of the Ngo family regime the US was trying to preserve and those who had plagued them during the earlier French days.
Like the French before them, the Americans placed their faith in classic Western military axioms and in practice sought a conventional military solution . . . [and] overwhelm the Vietcong with their vast amounts of money and materiel, their thousands of advisors, and the helicopters, fighter-bombers, armored vehicles and artillery batteries they were pouring into the country.
I remember with what confidence Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara assured us . . . ”Every quantitative measurement we have shows we’re winning this war.”
(The Battle of Dienbienphu, Jules Roy, Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1963, pp. xi-xvii)