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  • Vietnam- America's biggest failure  after Afghanistan. But we're betting  

  • there's plenty you didn't know about  this very controversial conflict.

  • 50. The roots of the conflict began long  before America's involvement, with the  

  • French colonization and exploitation of VietnamDuring World War II, Ho Chi Minh rose to power by  

  • forming the Viet Minh, which fought to repel the  Japanese invaders. After the Japanese withdrew at  

  • the end of WWII, Ho Chi Minh fought to depose the  puppet emperor set up by the French government.

  • 49. French backed southern forces were defeated  at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954,  

  • leading to a treaty that split Vietnam along the  17th Parallel and the end of French colonial rule.

  • 48. In 1956 the two countries would holdnational vote determining if the nation would  

  • be reunited as one- however, the French-backed  Ngo Dinh Diem pushed the emperor out of power  

  • in South Vietnam and refused to accept  a reunification under Communist terms.

  • 47. In 1955, the Europeans sold the United  States a bunch of crap infamously known as  

  • the 'domino theory', stating that  if one nation fell to communism,  

  • others quickly would too. The British exploited  American fears to get them to interfere in Iran  

  • and re-establish British control of the  oil industry there, and the French used  

  • Americans to back up their colonial ambitions  to reunify Vietnam under their indirect control.

  • 46. With American money, training, and  equipment, Diem cracked down on communist  

  • supporters in the south, arresting, torturing  and executing as many as 100,000 people.

  • 45. The American-backed brutal regime in the  south directly created the Viet Cong insurgency,  

  • and drove many of the population to  directly support anti-government rebels.

  • 44. The rising insurgency only led to more  brutal crackdowns by the government, with  

  • more mass incarcerations, summary executions  of suspected communist sympathizers,  

  • and the torture of prisoners. 43. Many members of the rising  

  • insurgency were not necessarily pro-Communist, but  simply wished to overthrow Diem's brutal regime.

  • 42. By 1959 the National Liberation Frontmade up of both communists and non-communists,  

  • was waging open war against  the South Vietnamese military.

  • 41. At the start of the 1960s, President John  F. Kennedy dramatically ramped up American  

  • support for Diem's regime, sending even more  military advisors, money, and equipment. The  

  • US equipment and money was Diem's only lifelineand without it his regime would have collapsed.

  • 40. The term Viet Cong was coined in 1960,  

  • standing for Vietnam Cong-sanor Vietnamese Communists.

  • 39. In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy sent  

  • attack and transport helicopters to South  Vietnam along with 400 US special forces,  

  • authorizing direct military action  in Vietnam for the first time.

  • Now that we've reached the start of  direct American involvement in the war,  

  • you may be surprised about the facts behind key  people and incidents throughout the conflict.

  • 38. Ngo Dinh Diem was a catholic, and heavily  favored pro-catholic stances which made him an  

  • outcast in the overwhelmingly Buddhist stateHis increasing disapproval with the people and  

  • alienation from them eventually led the United  States to back a coup by his own military to  

  • remove him from power, resulting in his death and  the establishment of yet another brutal dictator.  

  • This would lead to a cycle of unpopular  US-backed dictators that oppressed the people  

  • and fueled the Viet Cong insurgency. Perhaps nothing about Vietnam is  

  • as controversial as Agent Orange though. 37. Agent Orange was actually being used by the US  

  • two years before its official involvement in  the war. A defoliant, the chemical compound  

  • was supposed to destroy the vegetation that  provided cover and food for Viet Cong rebels.

  • 36. Operation Ranch Hand was America's  efforts to deny rebel forces food and shelter,  

  • and made use of millions of tons of herbicides  to defoliate a whopping 3.1 million hectares  

  • of forest. Agent Orange would be the most  popular of the herbicides used, and traces  

  • its history back to the British who used it  in their guerilla war against Malaysia rebels.

  • 35. Operation Ranch Hand is estimated to  have affected as many as 3 million people,  

  • with an estimated 1 million people disabled or  suffering severe health problems. The American  

  • operation directly led to the UN passing United  Nations General Assembly Resolution 31/72,  

  • and the Environmental Modification ConventionThe resolution prohibits the use of environmental  

  • modification techniques by the military or  hostile actors that can cause long-lasting harm  

  • or damage to individuals by the  modification of the environment.

  • 34. Exposure to US herbicides led to a massive  surge in deformities in children long after their  

  • use was ended in 1971. The most common symptoms  included mental disabilities, cleft palate,  

  • gross deformities, and extra fingers and toesThe use of Agent Orange and other herbicides  

  • nearly tripled the risk of deformities for babies  in Vietnam as compared to the rest of the world.

  • 33. US soldiers were told the herbicides were  harmless, andnot to worryabout potential  

  • exposure. Despite this, soldiers began to suspect  the herbicides were directly responsible for the  

  • growing number of miscarriages and birth defects  back home. In 1977, veterans began to sue the  

  • US government, but by 1993 only 486 victims had  been compensated, despite nearly 40,000 claims

  • Agent Orange was tragic, but one leader felt  personally betrayed by America's hypocrisy

  • 32. Ho Chi Minh was personally devastated  after hearing news that the US was entering  

  • the conflict in support of the French. He had  studied American history and its Declaration of  

  • Independence, and was confident that  if America entered the war at all,  

  • it would do so on behalf of the people fighting  to free themselves from a colonial oppressor.

  • 31. After the end of World War II Vietnam  was briefly independent, with Ho Chi Minh  

  • as president. In a nod to the United States, he  used part of the Declaration of Independence in  

  • his own independence speech, quoting, “All men are  created equal. The Creator has given us certain  

  • inviolable rights, the right to life, the right  to be free, and the right to achieve happiness.” 

  • In Vietnam death was around every  corner, but two world leaders  

  • would meet the same fate within weeks. 30. President John F. Kennedy and South  

  • Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem were both killed withinweeks of each other, and both were assassinated.

  • 29. Kennedy allegedly wanted all  US troops out of Vietnam by 1965,  

  • and instead sought to support a non-communist  South Vietnam through financial means and the  

  • training of its military by US advisors. His  strategy revolved around using strategic bombing  

  • to force the North to end its hostilities against  the south and support of the Viet Cong movement.  

  • Aside from this however, Kennedy had no  clear idea of how to actually leave Vietnam-  

  • mirroring the US's involvement in  Afghanistan nearly 50 years later.

  • 28. The US fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin  Incident to gain support for entering the war.  

  • While the original August 2nd attack against the  US destroyer Maddox really happened, the follow-on  

  • naval battle of August 4th which directly led to  the US entering the war never really happened.

  • 27. Well, it sort of happened- though it  was completely one-sided. Bad weather left  

  • the Maddox and an accompanying destroyer with  only radar and sonar to establish enemy targets,  

  • and both claimed intermittent targets they were  sure were North Vietnamese torpedo boats on the  

  • attack. For four hours the destroyers fired on  these targets- which were later revealed to almost  

  • certainly be weather phenomenon and anxious sonar  operators mistaking natural sounds as enemy ships.

  • 26. As news of the attack reached WashingtonCongress began drafting the Gulf of Tonkin  

  • resolution which would allow the President to use  all force necessary to end the spread of Communism  

  • in south-east Asia. Several senators however  raised issues with the report, and asked for  

  • more time to investigate the incident and confirm  US naval vessels had actually been under attack.  

  • They were ignored and the rest is history. Vietnam's real tragedy however was the  

  • fundamental misunderstanding of Asian  culture and politics by the west

  • 25. Fears of a Soviet-Chinese-Vietnamese alliance  which would throw the west out of Southeast asia  

  • were largely unfounded and a result of ignoranceThe Vietnamese and Chinese people were allies of  

  • necessity only, and had simmering tensions  that have lasted for centuries. There is no  

  • indication that had the North been allowed to  unify the country under communist rule that a  

  • follow-on takeover of south-east asia and its  fall to Soviet control would have ever happened.

  • 24. The US was foolishly painting  all communists with the same brush,  

  • assuming they would be bonded by a common ideology  against the west. This is especially tragic in  

  • light of Ho Chi Minh's initial affections  for the United States, and the fact that  

  • years later Communist China would turn from the  Soviet Union and embrace relations with America

  • During the war, even communist  allies were hardly friends

  • 23. The North Vietnamese were supplied  with equipment from the Soviet Union,  

  • which was shipped to them through  China. The Chinese took advantage  

  • of the situation by swiping Soviet made  weapons and replacing them with cheap  

  • Chinese knock-offs. This directly led to  the deaths of untold thousands of Northern  

  • soldiers as their weapons fell apart or  malfunctioned in the middle of a battle.

  • 22. To make sure the Chinese didn't swipe  

  • sensitive and high-value systems  like radars and air defense missiles,  

  • Soviet advisors were not only dispatched to assist  the North in setting them up, but to babysit the  

  • equipment on its trip through China and ensure it  wasn't stolen and replaced with inferior copies.

  • 21. Most Viet Cong fighters cared little for  Communism, and simply wanted to overthrow a  

  • southern government they saw as brutal, ineptand corrupt. The accusations were largely true,  

  • with the south funneling money to the large  cities and all but ignoring the countryside.  

  • Extra-judicial arrests, torture, and  seizure of property were common amongst  

  • the laundry list of petty dictators  that kept popping up in the south.

  • 20. Troubled by accusations of extreme torture  by the South, several American senators paid  

  • a visit to a South Vietnamese prison and were  shocked to discover the infamous 'tiger cages',  

  • holes in the ground with barred openings up  top where prisoners were kept. They witnessed  

  • direct evidence of torture despite southern  officials attempting to hide it, but upon  

  • return to the US were fearful of growing anti-war  sentiment and chose to remain silent about it

  • These next facts about the  Viet Cong may just startle you

  • 19. Most Viet Cong fighters were as  terrified of the jungle as the Americans.  

  • Few Viet Cong actually came from jungle  regions, and were largely inexperienced  

  • surviving and living in thick jungle. Tiger  attacks were also so frequent, that men would  

  • routinely disappear without a trace in the middle  of the night. Snakes and diseases carried by rats  

  • and mosquitoes were also extremely commonmaking life miserable for a Viet Cong rebel.

  • 18. Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops were  astonished when meeting Black American soldiers,  

  • whom they had heard rumors  of but assumed were a myth.

  • 17. Many Viet Cong were more afraid of living  in the haphazard tunnel networks they built  

  • than of American bombs. The tunnels were built by  amateurs, and suffered from many extreme dangers.  

  • Poor ventilation could lead to asphyxiation, and  shoddy construction would trigger collapses that  

  • could kill dozens of men. When it rained, if  a tunnel wasn't properly constructed it could  

  • lead to flash flooding, and venomous spiderscentipedes, and snakes were a constant concern.

  • 16. Despite the constant threat of  death, Viet Cong tunnel complexes  

  • could be stunningly large. Some had entire  armories, barracks, kitchens, and hospitals,  

  • with multiple entrances and emergency escapesWhile the US tried many tactics to destroy  

  • these tunnels and their occupants, the only tried  and true method was the use of 'tunnel rats'. 

  • To take on the Viet Cong tunnelsthe US had only one weapon

  • 15. Tunnel rats were an all-volunteer force. They  also had to be shorter than average to maneuver in  

  • the cramped quarters, and were armed only with  a knife, flashlight, a sidearm and a gas mask.  

  • The tight quarters made it impossible to  effectively use a rifle, and a grenade  

  • would threaten to collapse the tunnel and bury  both friendly and enemy soldiers. Many times the  

  • fighting resorted to brutal hand-to-hand combat  at extremely close and very tight quarters.

  • 14. To defend themselves, the Viet Cong  booby trapped many of their tunnels.  

  • Tunnel rats would often face pitfall traps  with sharpened bamboo stakes at the bottom,  

  • covered in excrement so as to ensure infectionOther times a tunnel rat would trigger a trap that  

  • dropped venomous snakes or centipedes on them  from above. Tunnels could also be engineered  

  • to easily flood certain sections with either gas  or water, drowning or asphyxiation tunnel rats.

  • 13. The infamous tiger traps built by the Viet  Cong and depicted in books and tv were often not  

  • meant to kill or maim American soldiers, but to  destroy marauding tigers that were a direct threat  

  • to the safety of jungle-dwelling Viet Cong. When it comes to atrocities in Vietnam,  

  • the US unfairly gets all the blame. 12. Despite the United States and South Vietnam  

  • holding blame for war crimes, the North was  notorious for targeting civilians in its attacks-  

  • specially hospitals and medical areas. Both NVA  and Viet Cong forces also frequently engaged in  

  • the slaughter of villagers, for the exact same  reasons as the South and the US- not knowing if  

  • they were pro-American or communist sympathizers. Now you'll be surprised to learn  

  • about the weapons of Vietnam. 11. When the US first entered Vietnam in force,  

  • American infantry was immediately overwhelmed  by superior NVA firepower. Still using the M-14  

  • rifle, US troops withered under the blistering  fire of the AK-47. The M-16 was fast-tracked  

  • into development, leading to serious problems  with the first few iterations of the weapon.  

  • To make matters worse, the weapon had  been falsely billed asself-cleaning”,  

  • which is not only absolutely ludicrous, but led  to massive malfunctions from fouled weapons.

  • 10. US troops hated the M16 so much that  they would steal AK-47s from dead enemy  

  • soldiers and hoard their ammunition. US  special forces especially loved the AK-47,  

  • as it allowed them to confuse enemy soldiers  under fire from the distinctive sounding weapon.  

  • This led many troops to not fire back  for fear of a friendly fire incident,  

  • giving US special forces a massive advantage. As bad as troops had it on the ground,  

  • Vietnam was not the Air Force's proudest moment. 9. The North Vietnamese Air Force was objectively  

  • superior to the US. America's top ace  only had six kills by the end of the war,  

  • with North Vietnam's top ace having nine killsThe US only had five aces in the entire war, while  

  • the NVAF had 17. Only US overmatch in equipment  and numbers allowed it to win the air war.

  • 8. US fighter pilots were wholly  unprepared for the war in Vietnam's skies,  

  • and were being shot down at an alarming  rate as the war began. This was largely  

  • because traditional dogfighting tactics were  no longer being taught to US fighter pilots,  

  • in preference for the use of high tech long-range  air to air missiles. The skyrocketing casualties  

  • amongst American aviators led to the  establishment of the Top Gun program,  

  • which focused on teaching dogfighting  techniques and remains to this day.

  • 7. The US lost a whopping 3.744 planes,  

  • 5,607 helicopters, and 578 UAVs  during the course of the war.

  • 6. One US plane was so terrible that it  forced the US Air Force to immediately  

  • retire it shortly after the start of the  war. The F-105B Thunderchief lasted only six  

  • years before being pulled off frontline  service. The plane performed so poorly  

  • that it remains the only US aircraft ever  retired for being so terrible at its job

  • But the US proved a tactical  genius in at least one area

  • 5. The Vietnam War saw the first widespread use  of the helicopter to directly support infantry.  

  • The US literally wrote the book on air assault  operations in Vietnam, with the widespread use  

  • of air-inserted infantry, often catching  enemy formations completely off guard.

  • 4. American forces were rarely ever defeated  during the entire conflict, winning almost  

  • every battle they engaged in. Despite this, the  US lost the strategic war, proving that tactical  

  • victories are meaningless without political  ones. A lesson the US still hasn't learned.

  • 3. America sabotaged its own chances  at winning the war even from the onset.  

  • Massive bombing campaigns that crippled  North Vietnam were often canceled out  

  • of fear of prompting a Soviet or Chinese  counter-invasion. While the US's goals was  

  • to cripple North Vietnam without directly  destroying it so it would negotiate peace,  

  • North Vietnam simply used the lull between  bombings to rebuild and consolidate its forces.

  • 2. North Vietnam was the most dangerous  place on earth for a pilot during the war.  

  • The nation had thousands of anti-aircraft  batteries supplied by the Soviet Union.  

  • Despite this, electronic countermeasures employed  by American B-52 bombers kept them largely  

  • safe from enemy SAMs, and American 'Wild  Weasels'- planes tasked with directly  

  • destroying AAA sites- helped suppress  enemy defenses for other air assets.

  • 1. Had the United States ever sent ground  forces to secure the Ho Chi Minh trail,  

  • the Viet Cong movement would have completely  collapsed. Out of fear of expanding the  

  • conflict though, the US relied on raids and air  assets to bomb the expansive Ho Chi Minh trail,  

  • which ran through Laos and Cambodia. These  would prove to be largely ineffective  

  • in stopping the flow of manpower  and supplies into South Vietnam.

  • Now go watch 50 insane cold war facts that will  shock you, or click this other video instead!

Vietnam- America's biggest failure  after Afghanistan. But we're betting  

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Everything You Didn't Know About Vietnam War, But Should

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    Summer posted on 2021/11/08
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