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To what extent was the US' decision to withdraw from Vietnam in 1973 the result of military defeat?

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To what extent was the US' decision to withdraw from Vietnam in 1973 the result of military defeat? The US' decision to withdraw from Vietnam was a result of many different aspects. This includes: military defeat, strength of North Vietnam, significance of Tet offensive, media attention and domestic pressures. Although these reasons may have led to the decision to withdraw from Vietnam, it can be argued that to a certain extent the main decision was military defeat. The following will analyse why this brought about the decision to withdraw. The military defeat was due to many reasons, one of which was the fact that Westmoreland relied too heavily on conventional methods of warfare and did not understand the nature of a guerrilla war. As the French showed in Diem Bien Phu that a conventional war would not win the war but the US military failed to appreciate its significance. The French had no plan to combat guerrilla tactics instead they alienated the native population with their own policies. In addition to this, tactics such as operation "rolling thunder" and "strategic hamlets" failed because it was ineffective against an agricultural country that had few specific industrial and military targets. ...read more.


Moreover the guerrilla tactics used were effective in combating the opponents as they harassed opponents into confusion and exhaustion; abandoned towns and avoided frontal attacks; the tunnels were well hidden in underground bunkers which contained workshops, kitchens, hospitals and store houses, this was connected by a network of narrow tunnels and booby trapped to kill US soldiers. In addition to the effectiveness of guerrilla tactics the North Vietnamese were determined to fight for their independence. This is mainly because the Vietcong were strongly motivated and they believed passionately for their cause and independence. Plus they were backed by the Soviet Union and China moreover Ho's declaration of independence of the democratic Republic of Vietnam attracted massive support. This reason is less important than the previous two factors because if only the US soldiers understood the reason why the North Vietnamese were gaining support to strengthen their hold, then it may have been possible to win the war and not have to withdraw from Vietnam. In addition the significance of Tet offensive displayed to the Northerners that they are close to victory because US military cannot do anything to win. On the other hand, the media attention turned people against the war. ...read more.


Others opposed the war because USA was seen supporting a corrupt regime which would not win. In addition the invasion of Cambodia and the killings at Kent State University in 1970 put pressures on congress to limit the powers of presidents and committing troops to Vietnam. This led to the decision to withdraw from Vietnam because the US presidents wanted the support of citizens during elections and in order to get this support the presidents had to take into account their views. This factor is less crucial than the earlier factors because all the factors combined together led to the decision to withdraw. Moreover it concluded that the military cannot use any sort of tactics to ensue victory therefore this also added to the decline in support thus the decision was taken to withdraw. In conclusion, the US' decision to withdraw from Vietnam can be seen as a result of the combination of all these factors. However, the main factor being military defeat. This is because from the start it was clear that the military didn't understand the correct methods to follow and this increased further problems and finally the decision was taken to withdraw when the US government realised that the war could not be won. ...read more.

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