What are the lessons of Vietnam?

@dickkell (403)
United States
March 24, 2007 7:46am CST
We hear a lot of talk about the Iraq war being another Vietnam and all the lessons we supposedly learned from the Vietnam era. I don't want to discuss Iraq here, but I do want to know what are the lasting lessons we learned or should have learned from Vietnam?
1 person likes this
5 responses
@Nickiek (86)
• United States
26 Apr 07
Vietnam and Iraq are two completely different animals, but the lessons learned? The Vietnam war came on the heels of McCarthyism and after World War II. America purged her intelligence community of anyone that could have possibly understood the kind of culture and political landscape that was Vietnam. If any lesson should have been taken from that experience it is that America went into that situation without fully understanding the political or cultural landscape that was Vietnam. Know your enemy! We didn't understand that there were different kinds of communism or the power of Nationalism, or the willpower of North Vietnam's people to resist our brand of Democracy. I think if we had better intelligence at the time, we probably would never had entered that conflict. One other point should be made here, America backed a government in Vietnam that was ineffective and hardly representational. Much the same way as we are backing a government in Iraq that is ineffective and non representational. The important consideration is that America should support governments that truly reflect the values and cultures of their people, not just a government that reflects our values. This is not to say that we should support Governments that are tyrannical either, but there has to be some kind of give and take there.
@cher913 (25861)
• Canada
30 Mar 07
I am a history freak and very interested in vietnam. I am not American (Canadian!!) and almost believe all along that it was a war that could not be won. It was fine when troops were sent there to police the area during the 50's but as the war escalated. It is almost as if even the south vietnameise didn't want the americans there, at that point, they were truly fighting a losing battle.
@xfahctor (14126)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
26 Mar 07
Yes, its true. Iraq has been called another vietnam. However here are great differences that are beyond the scope of this thread for now. As for lessons learned? I dont think the general populaous learned the lessons or has forgotten. Here is what i take from it. Number one, whne the ones doing the fighting and shedding blood come home, wether you supported the policy or not, thank them dont spit on them. Number 2, Go in with enough force and gear to get the job done properly early on. Number 3, large protests and constantly belittling the effort on the home front encourages the enemy (that is directly from a former north vietnamese commander) Number 4, dont leave before the job is done. Number 5, DO NOT allow people from this country to go to the enemy's country to pose for pictures with them for the world to see. Number 6, report the posative news of the war as wwell as the negative. Number 7, work with the local leaders in the country and find out what the needs of those communities need. Number 8, forget what the rest of the world thinks if you honestly and truly believe you are right. Number 9, dont rely on the U.N. for too much. Number 10, WHEN POSSIBLE, count on your best allies for help, and be prepared to learn who your true allies are and who are your fair weather friends.
@fizzytom (753)
• Maribor, Slovenia
26 Mar 07
I wish that the US had learned that the USA are not the world's police. I wish they had learned that fighting a war that doesn't really concern you should only be done with the express agreement of the people that elect you.
• United States
25 Mar 07
Lesson 1 when you send your troops to help another country, make sure you are wanted by at least 51%or more of the people you want to help. Lesson 2 Have the u.S. troops be only a fraction of the troops that are doing the fighting, i.e. have only enough troops to help train the local armies and to help out. Don't have the U.S. troops be the main army of the fighting. Lesson 3 If you are going to start a war miles and miles away, make sure why we are fighting it and tell the public the truth about why U.S. lives will be losed.Lesson 4 Have at least 60% of the U.S. public baehind starting the war. Lesson 5. Don't start a war just because big business wants it, Lesson 6 When the U.S. public says it is over and it can't be "won", bring the troops home.Lesson 7 When Johnny and Jane come marching home make sure they will have their medical needs met. No homeless and sick vets.