69 million page views

Vietnam and Israel: an improper comparison

Reader comment on item: The Six-Day War: Personal Recollections
in response to reader comment: Nam & Israel

Submitted by Michael S, Jun 12, 2017 at 14:58

Albert E.,

The BIG difference between the Arab-Israeli Six Day War and the Vietnam War, is that the Israelis were in a desperate fight for their national survival; but American involvement in Vietnam was of debatable importance.

To say that the war in Israel was about protecting a "socialist/kibbutz lifestyle" shows an insulting ignorance of the incredible suffering of the Jewish people in World War II, directly attributable to the fact that they had no country of their own, nor army to defend it.

US President Eisenhower got us involved in Vietnam in a minor way, helping out the temporary government established in South Vietnam when the French left. In 1956, a referrendum was to be held in a reunified Vietnam, to choose the country's government and leaders. The Bao Dai government in the south knew they would lose such a referendum, so they didn't hold it, resulting in military infiltration and insurgency from the Communist north.

President Kennedy sent Green Beret advisors to Vietnam, to help establish the "strategic hamlet" program. Just a month before he got killed, Kennedy ordered the beginning of the withdrawal of all 1000 troops there.

"1964 – North Vietnamese patrol boats attack the Maddox. A second reported attack, which almost certainly did not occur, provides LBJ with Congressional approval for war powers in Vietnam. LBJ re-elected in a landslide."

-- https://www.maryferrell.org/pages/Vietnam_War_Timeline.html

By the time I joined the Army (as what I saw as the only alternative to being drafted), in 1969, the new US President NIxon had been elected on an antiwar platform. By this time, there were over 500,000 US troops in Vietnam, and they were being SLOWLY withdrawn. By the time Nixon completed the withdrawal, some 5 years later, tens of thousands more US citizens lost their lives fighing a war we had no intention of winning.

The Vietnam War was "bad", only in that it was indeed a war, and ALL wars are "bad". They result from the worst of motivations, and are carried out with both sides making deadly miscalculations. The Vietnamese Communists suffered over 500,000 dead, and lost most battles. Today, they are struggling to become competitive as a capitalist country, while still hobbled by a Communist government. The US attempted to draw a "red line" against Communism, but failed. Years later, our Communist enemies lost a similar war in Afghanistan, then collapsed internally. Calling a "winner" or "loser" in the war is complicated and uncertain; but one thing is certain:

The war served as a lever to divide Americans against one another. In that sense, the war, in RETROSPECT, had contributed to a bad situation; and our de facto loss there was probably the reason our President was pressured into resigning over a trifling matter. Americans were not upset, because Nixon had tried to cover up to a minor crime his friends committed; they were furious at him because he had bungled the war.

The Israelis, on the other hand, did not bungle their war; because they were united in their struggle for national and ethnic survival. That is why their war turned out "good".

The ONLY thing the Vietnam war had to do with the war in Israel, is that both took place at the same time, under the Johnson Administration. It was thanks to the US President's complete absorption in the SE Asian war, that he was unable to "help" Israel with military intervention. As things turned out, we can all thank God that the US stayed out of it.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)