Why did the USA lose the Vietnam War?

  1. They underestimated the tenacity and organisation of the VC and NVA
  2. Despite dropping more tonnage of high explosive on Vietnam than the whole of WW2, the Americans could not stop the movement of troops or supplies to the south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
  3. The North Vietnamese conducted conducted a ‘Peoples war’ in which everyone played a part (“If the truck is stuck, tear down the walls of your house”)
  4. At first, most Americans supported the war. By 1970, the PEACE MOVEMENT had support from all sections of society and no government could ignore it.
  5. After 1969, there were deep questions about the efficiency of US troops. There was a serious drugs problem; desertion rates were high and morale low. Many troops were ‘time-servers’, i.e. counted the days until the tour was over.
  6. The US never really understood the culture of the Vietnamese people. Coca Cola, chewing gum, Biros and Dayville’s ice cream could not buy off their ancient beliefs.
  7. America was not prepared to keep losing high numbers of casualties for such limited progress in a difficult jungle war, for which they were not suited.
  8. The strength and resourcefulness of the VC ,for example the high complex CU CHI tunnel system the US never shut down.

Return to homepage