Quotes from the Viet Nam War

"By committing its regular forces to a cause which had previously been cloaked in the guise of an internal war, Hanoi dramatically altered the entire thrust and scope of the conflict. It was a key command decision. Indeed, it may well have been the key command decision of the entire war." --Brigadier General Dave Palmer, Summons of the Trumpet

"As military professionals, it was our job to judge the true nature of the Vietnam war, communicate those facts to our civilian decision-makers, and to recommend appropriate strategies. [T]hat was the first strategic question and the most comprehensive. It is indicative of our strategic failure in Vietnam that almost a decade after our involvement the true nature of the Vietnam war is still in question. There are still those who would attempt to fit it into the revolutionary war mold and who blame our defeat on our failure to implement counterinsurgency doctrine. This point of view requires an acceptance of the North Vietnamese contention that the war was a civil war, and that the North Vietnamese regular forces were an extension of the guerilla effort, a point of view not borne out by the facts. --Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr. On Strategy, 1982

"Like us, Hanoi had failed to win the 'hearts and minds' of the South Vietnamese peasantry. Unlike us, Hanoi's leaders were able to compensate for this failure by playing their trump card--they overwhelmed South Vietnam with a twenty-two division force."

--Lt. Col. Stuart A. Harrington, Silence Was a Weapon, 1982

"It was not until after their conquest of South Vietnam that they revealed (e.g. General Dung's Great Spring Victory) the true nature of the war. Their smoke screen was so effective that we were blinded throughout the course of the war to the point of view that the majority of our analyses focused on the revolutionary war and the Viet Cong"--Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr

"The National Liberation Front was not...a viable, autonomous organization with a life of its own; it was a facade, a "front," by means of which the DLD (the North Vietnamese Communist Party) sought to mobilize the people in the South to accomplish its ends, and to garner international sympathy and support."

--George Allen (former CIA analyst) interview with Summers.

"Applying the test of cui bono (for whose benefit) it can be seen that the real losers of Tet-68 were the South Vietnamese Communists (the Viet Cong) who surfaced, led the attacks, and were destroyed in the process...Just as the Russians eliminated their Polish competitors [with] the Warsaw Uprising [in WWII], the North Vietnamese eliminated their southern competitors with Tet-68. They thereby insured that the eventual outcome of the war would be a South Vietnam dominated and controlled, not by South Vietnamese Communists, but by North Vietnamese." --General Weyand, 1976

"None of the people's wars of the sixties did very well, including the one in Vietnam. Vo Nguyen Giap himself has admitted a loss of 600,000 men between 1965 and 1968...Moreover, by about 1970 at least 80% of the day-to-day combat in South Vietnam was being carried on by regular [NVA] troops...Genuine black-pajama southern guerrillas had been decimated and amounted to no more than 20% of the communist fighting forces." --Prof. Chalmers Johnson, 1973 (!)

"From 1949 to 1967, the US government used twenty-two separate objectives to be met by fighting in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese had one. From 1949 to 1962, "to resist communist aggression; from 1962 until 1968 the emphasis was on counterinsurgency; after 1968, the emphasis was on preserving the integrity of American interests."

--Prof. Hugh M. Arnold, Asian Affairs, 1975

"It seems to me the worst possible concept, militarily, that we would simply stay there, resisting aggression, seems to me that [the way to "resist aggression" is to] destroy the potentialities of the aggressor to continually hit you...When you say, merely, "we are going to continue to fight aggression," that is not what the enemy is fighting for. The enemy is fighting for a very definite purpose--to destroy our forces..."

--General Douglas MacArthur, 1951 (!!!)

"We are not trying to 'defeat' North Vietnam. We are only trying to cause them to mend their ways" --General Maxwell Taylor to the Senate in 1966

"If the enemy is to be coerced you must put him in a situation that is even more unpleasant than the sacrifice you call on him to make. The hardships of the situation must not of course be merely transient--at least not in appearance. Otherwise the enemy would not give in but would wait for things to improve..." --Baron Von Clausewitz, On War, 1750s (!!!)

"The greatest contribution Vietnam is making--right or wrong is beside the point--is that it is developing an ability in the United States to fight a limited war, to go to war without the necessity of arousing the public ire." --Robert S. MacNamara, Sec. Defense

"By focusing on counterinsurgency, we forced ourselves to place the emphasis on the internal problems of South Vietnam, while the enemy was fighting the Indochina war and who used Laos and Cambodia with impunity...The myth of their neutrality gave North Vietnam an immense tactical and strategic advantage that plagued us throughout the war." --Summers

"A neutral country has the obligation not to allow its territory to be used by a belligerent. If the neutral country is unwilling or unable to prevent this, the other belligerent has the right to take appropriate counteraction." --The Hague Convention, 1907