May 28, 2016

Just Thinkin'

I just finished reading one of the better novels I have read. Matterhorn is a novel of Vietnam. How accurate the portrayal is, I will leave to those who were there. The story is compelling in any case.

I am a student of history. I particularly like military history. The Vietnam War has long left me perplexed. I am certain I have not studied enough, but I fail to understand the rationale behind not directly attacking the North. The Vietcong was virtually eliminated after the 1968 Tet Offensive, so the US could have easily moved the offensive North. Why didn't we attack Hanoi and flush the Communist leaders? Why didn't we launch a strong campaign across the DMZ? The North Vietnamese would have been forced to bring the troops out of Laos and Cambodia to protect from this invasion. What was the purpose of a war of attrition with no military objective beyond killing as many of the enemy as we could find? Did we really believe the USSR or China would go to nukes over a shithole like Vietnam?

I am not alone in my skepticism over the tactics and strategy of our efforts in Vietnam. The classic war novels of the era echo the futility and waste of the efforts of a generation of Americans. Coonts, Berent, and Marlantes are just a few who have raised these questions.


Anonymous said...

It was clear from the beginning the US had no interest in invading the north. The Viet-nam war was used as a training ground in case the cold war turned hot. Why else set a one year limit to the tours? A place to test new equipment such as attack helicopters, limited war-fare experiments. Blame the hippies, the free love movement, liberal protests, but those were just side shows. It was clear to us in country what was happening, and became clearer the longer I stayed in the military.

James Old Guy

Ed Bonderenka said...

Also, perhaps no nukes, but a conventional proxy war, which is what Vietnam was, with Russia would have escalated if we invaded the north.
Mining harbors and bombing the capitol were dangerous enough, and may have shown that the concerns over escalation with Russia were groundless.
It just erks me no end that after securing the peace, a Democrat Congress gave it all away at the expense of the dead we left there, and the wounded who came home.
Funny, I enlisted in the Air Force to avoid Vietnam only to have so many of my comrades-in-arms go there.

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