Although it has been many decades, for those who lived through the tumult of the Vietnam War, passions have not cooled.  To say that the conflict tore the country apart is an understatement.  As President Kennedy eloquently stated in his inaugural speech, the torch had indeed passed to a new generation and in the process America fundamentally changed.


Both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson sought easy solutions to the complexities of international strife and their political and military incompetence uncovered an even more fundamental moral bankruptcy whose consequences resonate even today.   Basically they led us down the garden path down and America lost not just her way but her innocence.


Kennedy (left) and Johnson (right) campaigning for election in 1960 before the failure of their Cuban invasion.




Republican President Eisenhower who had led the successful Normandy invasion in WWII knew the perils of assault from the sea and had staunchly resisted all urgings to invade Cuba.  Eisenhower also drew the line at introducing troops into Viet Nam for the final six years of his eight year tenure after the defeat of the French in 1954.   But unfortunately beginning in 1960, the US elected several untested democrats to the Presidency.


Image result for picture Eisenhower D-Day

General Eisenhower (left) and Churchill (right) during the successful D-Day invasion 1944.


The Vietnam War began in 1961 after President Kennedy’s reckless invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs using a motley assortment of unprepared dissidents.   Basically he promised US support and then reneged in the heat of battle abandoning protégées to their fate.  This perceived ineptness emboldened Soviet aggression bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war with the “Cuban Missile Crisis”.  For the first and only time, the US went to “Def-Con2” one step away from the holocaust and military commanders on both sides only avoided the use of prepositioned nuclear munitions by the narrowest of margins.  So Kennedy sought to repair his reputation by introducing US combat forces into South East Asia.


Kennedy’s concept of a war winnable in small battles by elite Special Forces interjected us into the quagmire of South East Asia blood feuds but now energized by much larger Cold War realities [1].  And President Johnson’s escalation of a guerilla war duplicating the tactics of WWII, micromanagement from literally the other side of the world, and attempts to bribe North Vietnamese leaders with “pork barrel politics” in a manner that had always worked for him in the US Senate were ill considered failures.






Political Party

Term of Office

Troops In Vietnam (thousands)





less than 1

No Change




1 -> 23





23 -> 536





536 -> 1





1 -> 0




So in 1968, the Republican President Nixon was elected and given the daunting task of cleaning up the mess.  Nixon ended United States ground combat operations but rather than abandoning an ally, bolstered South Vietnamese forces with support levels previously reserved for American forces.  And in the blink of an eye, democrats switched from a reluctant support for resisting Communist aggression to virulent opposition.   Even though President Nixon had removed all US troops during his first term in office, American antiwar activists in Congress were not content.  What especially angered the liberals was that South Vietnam, now well-equipped and fully mobilized, had successfully withstood large scale Communist assaults in 1972 without US ground troops and demonstrated every sign of being able to survive.


By 1972 with the Paris Peace Accords, nearly all US troops had departed.  So in blatant violation of prior agreements, the Communists thought to take advantage of a perceived weakness.  They launched a massive invasion supported with unprecedented aid from the Communist bloc.  Shifting from gorilla to conventional war, more than 3000 North Vietnamese tank crews had been equipped and spent half a year training at the Soviet armored base in Odessa, Russia [2].


The resulting tank battles in South Vietnam dwarfed anything the world had seen since WWII on the steppes of Russia and were greater than even the Israeli-Arab conflict in the Sinai in 1967.  But the well equipped ARVN (South Vietnamese Army) aided by US airpower decisively defeated this country wide assault and never looked more secure.  One telling statistic was that South Vietnam over two months at the peak of the conflict from May through July of 1972 was able to add 84,000 fully trained and equipped replacement soldiers more than compensating for losses [2].  So many volunteered for elite airborne divisions, they had to be turned away.


In angry response to US and South Vietnamese competence on the battlefield, liberal democrats tried to excuse their prior criticisms and attempted sabotage of Nixon’s policies whose successes now so well framed their own ineptitudes.  To cast themselves as the true party of peace, democrats forced passage of the “Case-Church” amendment in June, 1973.  This supposed act of statesmanship and moral courage telegraphed the lack of both to the world.  Basically the democrats, without asking for concessions unilaterally promised the Communists that in their next invasion attempt, the US President would now be forbidden by law from providing the air support that had worked so well in 1972.


Presidents Ford (left) and Nixon (right) just before liberals came to power and sabotaged Viet Nam.


But by late 1974, emboldened by Nixon’s resignation the democrats went further by opposing any funding of the free societies of Cambodia and South Vietnam.  Unfortunately, it was only this material support which had enabled a defense against external Communist aggression.  Their expressed purpose was to not just abandon these allies but to actually help "liberate" their populations from the oppression of free market capitalism to bring about the long delayed “domino effect” of Communist expansionism.  And so Communist influence spread with murderous effect into the highlands of Vietnam against the “montagnards”, into Laos, into Cambodia (Khmer Rouge), and in scattered attacks in northern Thailand.  The tide only turned when President Nixon’s earlier rapprochement with China freed its leaders from a slavish dependence on Soviet influence and in 1979 finally led them to resent Russian dominance of a newly unified Vietnam.


To assist these communist gains, the new democrat majority in 1974 cut funding for South Vietnam in half to $700 million [3].  And in addition the democrat caucus voted to end all support thereafter.  The supplies already in the pipeline extending into 1975 were to be the very last.  In that same year Communists doubled their funding for North Vietnam to $1.7 billion [4].  The South Vietnamese army went on shortened rations and more than half their equipment was unusable for lack of spare parts, ammunition, and fuel.  On the communist side, massive armored losses were replaced and training exercises in Russia improved.  Large numbers of Soviet 130 mm artillery pieces, superior to anything in the US inventory, were lavishly dispensed to North Vietnamese forces and were later able to dominate the battlefield [5].  While the North Vietnamese slightly outnumbered the South in 1972, they now embarked on a crash program to double their ground combat forces with the best equipment the Soviet Block could provide while troop levels in the South necessarily remained static.


In January of 1975, President Ford begged the democrats for $300 million for Cambodia and South Vietnam which was half of what had been approved the previous year.  Instead the majority democrat caucus in Congress eliminated entirely the military budget of Lon Nol in Cambodia which had been gaining ground over the Communists over the last five years (1970-1975) of Republican support.  Within only several months, stocks of ammunition were exhausted and the right wing free market government collapsed.  The new left-wing Communist leaders then began the transformation of Cambodia into an idealized Communist agricultural collective attempting to reset history to the famous “year-zero”.  The immediate effect was the massacre of more than 1/3rd of the entire population with ruthless emphasis on anyone able to read.


The democrat caucus also voted to enforce their previous threat and ended all future material aid to South Vietnam [6].   Without fear of US airpower and noting the severe decline in the South’s military effectiveness, at this point and only at this point, did the Communists think the time was right for another armored invasion [7].  By then the South Vietnamese were only able to field 13 poorly fed and equipped divisions compared to the 22 well supplied armored divisions of the invading North Vietnamese [8].  In short order every active duty and reserve solder in the South had been committed to the fight.  Despite being outnumbered two to one, the South Vietnamese were initially able to hold their ground in numerous unsung and truly heroic defensive actions.


The final breakthrough only occurred when the Communists launched the 6 divisions they had been holding in reserve in their Cambodian sanctuaries.  This pre-positioning of troops along with upwards of 18 months of supplies gave them immediate access to all sections of the exposed flank of South Vietnam and against which Saigon had no further resources to oppose.



Contrary to liberal expectations, at no point was there any internal uprising in the South but rather panic as literally millions of South Vietnamese civilians took to the roads to escape the Communist onslaught.  To feed the panic, Communists, as a matter of policy, shifted artillery fire onto these human rivers.  Left wing ideologies never had a problem sacrificing a few for the greater good.  In countless stories of unimaginable tragedy, South Vietnamese soldiers to the very end desperately tried to locate parents and wives and children to lead them onto the dubious sanctuary of South China seas.




Thanks to the democrat “Case-Church” amendment in June, 1973, American air-power which had overwhelmingly defeated Communist armored forces earlier was now forbidden by US law.   Unfortunately it was only this threat especially after its success in 1972, which gave pause to North Vietnamese plans for a resumption of full scale conventional armored warfare [9].   And unlike earlier invasions which had uniformly failed, the “spring offensive” by Soviet-supplied massive armored forces in 1975 was finally successful.  And this was in spite of the million man army fielded by the South in 1975 which by then lacked anti-tank weapons and in addition ran out of conventional ammunition.


The abandonments of South Vietnam was not, as a liberal press would have one believe, in the withdrawal of US ground combat forces.  South Vietnam more than succeeded largely on its own from 1972-1975.  Nor was it in a lack of will to endure sacrifice on the part of the American electorate.  American draftees risked their lives to retrieve wounded buddies, pilots remained on station providing air support while running out of fuel and with severely damaged aircraft, and more often than not American units took causalities to protect civilians.   And despite the rare exception, the US Military greatly assisted the local population with time and energy and resources.   Nor did the civilian population show any desire for left wing government.  In the final days, not one of the million or more civilians fleeing the violence ran to the Communist side.


Rather, the war was lost in the US Congress where feckless liberal politicians sought transient notoriety by supporting the enemy side and claiming a quixotic moral superiority all the while ignoring the eventual blood bath after the war.  And the world was gifted with images of more than one million “boat people” trying to escape the new “worker’s paradise” by fleeing onto the unforgiving expanse of the open ocean.




1.      In numerous speeches and writings, President John F. Kennedy strongly and clearly and consistently advocated for a massive troop increase in Vietnam up until the very day of his assassination in 1963.

a)      Interview with President Kennedy, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, September 2, 1963 by CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite.

“But I don’t agree with those who say we should withdraw [from Vietnam].  That would be a great mistake.  … No, I believe it [“domino theory”], I believe it.”

b)      Interview with President Kennedy, September 9, 1963 by NBC News Anchor Chet Huntley.

If you reduce your aid, … you might have a situation which could bring about a collapse.  Strongly in our mind is what happened in the case of China at the end of World War II, where China was lost—a weak government became increasingly unable to control events.  We don't want that.”

c)      Remarks at the Breakfast of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Texas 22 Nov. 1963, the night before he was assassinated.  “We must persist [in Vietnam].”

2.      “All Quiet on the Eastern Front”, page 45-46, edited Anthony T. Bouscaren, Devin-Adair, 1977.

3.      After the 1974 elections, the democrats held a 61 to 39 advantage in the Senate (sufficient to stop all Republican filibusters) and a 291 to 144 advantage in the House of Representatives.  In 1974 immediately after President Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal, Democrat Representative (GA) Flint reduced the expected $1.6 billion support for South Vietnam to $1.0 billion.  Democrat Senator (MA) Ted Kennedy managed to eliminate the stockpiling of ammunition for South Vietnam, South Korea, and Thailand entirely.  It was only this reserve that permitted a rapid response in the event of another massive armored invasion by North Vietnam as was so effectively employed to defeat such forces in 1972.  Democrat Senator (WI) William Proxmire then managed to reduce the final amount to $700 million (a reduction to $500 million was only narrowly defeated) unbelievable stating that “By limiting our military assistance we do signal ally and adversary alike that it is time to negotiate (for peace).”   The utter absurdity of this democrat mantra was that North Vietnam in that same year had doubled their ground combat forces in their Cambodian sanctuaries and had infiltrated more than 250,000 NVA regulars into the South.  Within six months in early 1975, the North Vietnamese launched an invasion of 22 combat divisions with massive armored forces into the South helped by a 2 to 1 advantage in manpower, a ten to one advantage in armored forces, and more than a ten to one advantage in prepositioned supplies in Cambodia.

4.      “New York Times” by Leslie Gelb, March 20, 1975.

5.      The Soviet 130 mm artillery piece outranged the best counterparts in the US Army, specifically the 105 mm and 155 mm guns, by more than six miles effectively rendering them useless.

6.      The vote of the democrat caucus in Congress to end ALL aid to South Vietnam was well noted by the Communists.

a)      “New York Times”, March 20, 1975 by Leslie Gelb reported on a captured Communist document noting this monumental shift in the balance of power.

b)      “Hoc Tap”, January, 1975, Official Journal of the North Vietnamese Communist party, noted

“… the intensity of firepower and amount of mobile equipment of the puppet troops has decreased markedly … bomb and ammunition reserves have decreased and that they are encountering great difficulties in fuel and maintenance …”

7.      In 1974, considering the reduction in US aid, Party Secretary of Communist North Vietnam Le Duan wrote “The Americans have withdrawn, … this is what marks the opportune moment.” as quoted in “Nixon, Ford, and the Abandonment of South Vietnam”, by Edward J. Lee, McFarland and Company, p. 105 (2002).

8.      In 1972, South Vietnam could field 13 combat divisions compared to 14 for North Vietnam.   In the remaining three years, with lavish support from the Communist side, the North was able to add an additional eight divisions wholly in violation of the Paris Peace accords while the South held static at 13 for lack of support.   Or as Robert D. Heinl, Jr. noted (“All Quiet on the Eastern Front”, page 61.)

“Manpower was not a limiting factor for either side”

9.      “Betrayal in Vietnam”, by Fanning.