Why did America lose the War in Vietnam?

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Why did America lose the War in Vietnam

In America, the Tet Offensive was deemed a huge success in preventing the Vietnamese from rising up in 1968. However, within five years, President Lyndon Johnson had announced that he was withdrawing from Vietnam and would not stand for re-election. This stark reversal in fate could have been caused by a number of reasons; the most important being that the Americans did not succeed politically or militarily in Vietnam. The reason for this was both the internal and external cost the war had on America. The internal elements are to do with the fact that the United States lost the public support for the war because of the number of casualties, mistaken government policies and the activist of the anti-war movement. The external costs have to do with the nature of the war itself which required guerrilla tactics which the soldiers were not trained in and the mistaken assumptions that the United States carried into the war. These assumptions included the American notion that they were fighting against Communism, obeying the idea of the domino theory, rather that the independent struggle by the Vietnamese which it actually was, and it was for this reason that America lost the war in Vietnam.

One reason why America lost the war was that the soldiers carried with them strong preconceptions on how to fight; fierce head on battles with a clear definition of who the enemy were, as all their previous battles had been. America had very high morale before this war as they had intervened in both the two World Wars and the Korean war, and this continued America’s reputation of never having been defeated militarily. So when America thought that Vietnam might become communist (the domino effect), they thought that they could repeat their previous victories and liberate the South from the communist North. However, in Vietnam there was Guerrilla warfare, in which the soldiers had no training. This caused fatal flaws in both the strategy and policy. The nature of the American army was very ineffective because of the terrible morale, horrific conditions and heavy drug-taking which occurred. Also vastly unreported was the frequent ‘fragging’ of officers which caused heavy unrest. The one-year tour of duty deprived units of experienced leadership. As one observer noted "we were not in Vietnam for 10 years, but for one year 10 times."
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The Americans found it very difficult to fight in Vietnam as despite the fact that they outnumbered the Vietnamese (both the Vietcong and NVA) by at least 3:1, they did not know who they were fighting against as there was no way to distinguish between a civilian and a soldier. While the North Vietnamese fought in the more conventional manner, the South Vietnamese, in order to overcome this great disadvantage, stayed invisible, hiding in the trees and only appearing to fight against small groups of soldiers. They also deployed booby traps to injure and sometimes kill soldiers without ...

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