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The United States came into a civil war between the citizens of North and South Vietnam which had been going on for centuries. Considering the vegetation, and the style of fighting the US did not have what it needed to be prepared.

Tactically, the US did quite well in a military sense-- winning the majority of the battles fought. America did not lose in that respect.

The defeat came as a political fall out. Bowing to anti-war pressure from home, the media damaged the war cause beyond repair, hence the early American withdrawal came in 1973. The Republic of Vietnam and the South Vietnamese did not want to fight or defend their country. They were invaded on April 30, 1975 in what is known as the Fall of Saigon.

If the United States would have stayed the course and fight, the war would have been a guaranteed victory strategically. A lesson learned.

Also to the last part of the question. The reason the American forces did not have what they needed to fight with was because of all the political pressure back home. Also the lack of willingness by the politicians, to allow them to use all of there assets and to fight the way there commanders would have preferred.

Also to be considered is the role of the western media in turning American military victories into propaganda victories for the Communists, in enabling them to "win" the war, which war itself was tragic for both sides.

Underlying the importance of such is the often quoted exchange between Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr. and his North Vietnamese counterpart, Colonel Tu. During one of his liaison trips to Hanoi, Colonel Harry told Tu, "You know, you never beat us on the battlefield," Colonel Tu responded, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

The success of the propaganda war has seemed enigmatic to many. "If there is to be an inquiry related to the Vietnam War, it should be into the reasons why enemy propaganda was so widespread in this country, and why the enemy was able to condition the public to such an extent that the best educated segments of our population (that is, media and university elite) gave credence to the most incredible allegations." (Final Report - Chief of Military History - U.S. Government)

British "Encounter" journalist Robert Elegant stated,

"For the first time in modern history, the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and television screens - never before Vietnam had the collective policy of the media sought, by graphic and unremitting distortion, the victory of the enemies of the correspondents own side."

The most manifest example is this regard is seen as being the portrayal of the TET offensive, in which western media was charged with inspiring and aiding the propaganda war of the communists.

"The Tet Offensive proved catastrophic to our plans. It is a major irony of the Vietnam War that our propaganda transformed this debacle into a brilliant victory. The truth was that Tet cost us half our forces. Our losses were so immense that we were unable to replace them with new recruits." (Truong Nhu Tang - Minister of Justice - Viet Cong Provisional Revolutionary Government - The New York Review, October 21, 1982)

The reality is the US decimated the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong; the latter not really being a true fighting force than a terror group, massacring women and children regularly to spread fear among South Vietnamese. The mission of the US and its allies was to contain North Vietnam and keep them out of South Vietnam, not topple the Communist regime. As the conflict dragged on into years, this came to be seen by the American populace and others as an exercise in futility. Meanwhile, the idea that a small, third-world country in Southeast Asia becoming a Communist state would be any type of threat to Democracy became increasingly seen as an illusion. The fact that the US won every battle and enemy body counts remained disproportionately high could not gloss over the destruction being broadcast into American living rooms on a nightly basis, eventually galvanizing public opinion against the war.

It's virtually, if not completely impossible for a invading foreign army using conventional large group tactics to win a complete (political/military) victory when engaging an enemy using guerilla tactics. The difficulty is compounded when you factor in the realities that the war is conducted on the enemy's home terrain, and he can make himself pracitcally invisible by blending in with the civilian population whenever he needs to. Just ask the British in the American War of independence or the Russians in Afghanistan in the late 1970s how much they enjoyed trying it.

The United States & Allies, could NOT stop the communist flow of men & materials into South Vietnam. WITHOUT WIDENING THE WAR with Laos and Cambodia, and risking possible intervention of Red China (which did happen during the Korean War 1950-1953) and/or the Soviet Union. We were able to isolate Korea during the Korean War because it was located on a Peninsula. Vietnam was NOT a peninsula. These conditions made the war un-winnable.

Because the communist supply of men and material could not be isolated, as had been done during the Korean War (Korea was a peninsula). Laos & Cambodia would have had to been drawn into the war, in order to stop the enemy flow. The Communist Superpowers, may have had some say about that form of action. Red China DID enter the Korean War after we invaded North Korea. The US wanted to avoid Communist Superpower intervention at all costs.

Couldn't risk intervention from communist superpowers if we widened the war. Red China DID enter the Korean War when we got too close to their border in 1950.

The truth is that after the Tet offensive the North Vietnamese army was looking beaten, and had the Americans fought on then a victory for them would have followed. However, public opinion back in the US was increasingly hostile towards the war, so it was decided that US troops would be pulled out to leave the South Vietnamese army to fight the war. The North Vietamese army took advantage of this and gradually took over the entire country.

The US did win the Vietnam war. Technically Vietnam was never officially a war, In fact The US didn't even declare war. The United States sent troops over to assist the South Vietnamese forces in the fight against the North Vietnamese Communist forces. Statistically the US lost less soldiers than that of our enemies and won more battles. Most US casualties in Vietnam were not during actual battles but during patrols and recon missions and were due to the notorious traps and clever ambushes of the North Vietnamese. Nearly every soldier I know that served in Vietnam (including my grandfather who served on the Navy's river patrol boats in Vietnam and spent over 30 years in the US Navy) pridefully says we won the Vietnam war and it was the media back in the states that skewed what truly happened and that in combination of the hatred of the war by the American people who pressured the American politicians to pull out or risk further renomination. The United States could have stayed in Vietnam and completely wiped out the Communist regime but the combination of the pressure from the American people and the constant negativity from the media forced our country's government to make the decision to pull out.

1. Couldn't isolate it (like was done in Korea).

2. Couldn't invade the North (like was done to Germany).

3. Couldn't use nukes (like was done to Japan).

The atomic age.

1. No nukes allowed

2. No invasion of North Vietnam allowed

3. No expansion of the war allowed to destroy/occupy the Ho Chi Minh Trail

Technically, the USA bombed the North Vietnamese back to the peace talks using the B-52 bomber in December 1972. The USA gave up on South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, because those 3 countries were led by corrupt governments, and the USA could not do it all by themselves. The USA was not beaten by the Communists in 1975, we just gave up on South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

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Q: Why couldn't the US win the Vietnam War?
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What did the Tet Offensive show American people?

It seem to prove that America was not winning in Vietnam. Apex


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How did the role the American media played in the Vietnam War.


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hearts and minds


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Their main weapon was persistence.


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Because the US government had no policy on how to win the war.


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because there was no clear way out so we bailed.


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