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  #1  
Old 11-19-2009, 09:47 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Did Vietnam halt the spread of Communism?

I have read various takes on the issue and will freely admit I don't know enough on the topic to make an informed judgment. Some seemingly informed authorities say that the Domino Effect was a myth and that had there been no war* in Vietnam then not only would no more nations have been taken over by Communists than were anyway, but that Cambodia likely would not have succombed to Pol Pot. Other writers say that it was directly because of our involvement in Vietnam that other nations did not fall and indirectly the reason the USSR ultimately collapsed of complete exhaustion in the late 1980s. Still other sources I've read speculate that without Vietnam there would possibly have been a war between the USSR and China.

I defer to the judgment of those better read than myself (I've read Karnow's book, Fire in the Lake, a couple of bios of Ho Chi Minh and many articles and websites but nothing truly definitive). What do you think would have been the result had U.S. involvement in Vietnam had decreased or ended in the early 1960s?



*Note: I'm well aware it was not a war officially, though for the purposes of this thread feel free to use war, conflict and other terms interchangeably (unless of course you're discussing it not being a war).
  #2  
Old 11-19-2009, 09:55 PM
XT XT is offline
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My (uninformed) opinion on this is that it did more harm than good. Without the US getting involved so heavily in Vietnam I think that the USSR would have run out of gas even earlier. Also, I suspect there was a chance that had the US sided with Uncle Ho and against French colonialism, there is a possibility that the North and South could have been united without massive bloodshed, and the US could (possibly) have had an ally, or at least a neutral...instead of an enemy. I don't see how that could have helped the USSR or Communist Chinese.

As to a potential war between the USSR and China, I don't see how our involvement in Vietnam would have effected that, but I admit I'm no expert on the subject. I lived through the Vietnam war as a teen ager, so it's hard to be unbiased on the subject...and having lived through it, I was in no hurry to do any deep research on this painful period.

-XT
  #3  
Old 11-19-2009, 10:03 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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Originally Posted by xtisme View Post
Also, I suspect there was a chance that had the US sided with Uncle Ho and against French colonialism, there is a possibility that the North and South could have been united without massive bloodshed, and the US could (possibly) have had an ally, or at least a neutral...instead of an enemy
And it would have helped the US in terms of moral authority. Vietnam helped frame the Cold War in terms of being a conflict of Western Imperialism versus the oppressed people of the world. Not that it was the only conflict that contributed to that interpretation of matters.
  #4  
Old 11-19-2009, 10:13 PM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
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(As in Watergate) follow the money.

The Soviet Union collapsed for economic reasons. Their currency was almost worthless in the international economic community (at a time when globalization was taking root). Supporting proxy wars only drained them to a far greater degree than the proxy wars supported by Western countries.

If you are going to realize delusions of global grandeur you have to have the blessing of the international bankers. They are the ones that decide whether the checks are going to get cashed.
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:13 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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I've never understood the resistance to the domino theory. We pulled out of southeast asia in 1975. After we did the nations of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all became communist.

Ironically the communists in Vietnam eventually overthrew the Cambodian communists in 1979. However Laos and Vietnam are still technically communist nations.

From what I know of it, 'communism' is an umbrella term for a variety of rebellions for a variety of reasons. Some communist insurgents were economic, some are nationalistic and anti-colonial, some are idealogical, some are anti-dictatorship. Pol Pot was idealogical, the Vietnamese were nationalistic, the Chinese and Russian were probably economic. That is my impression.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 11-19-2009 at 10:15 PM.
  #6  
Old 11-19-2009, 10:14 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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IIRC, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma went Communist anyways, so it's hard to see the Vietnam war as being particularly successful in preventing the spread of communism in the region. Malaysia had already squashed it's communist party revolution before Vietnam began, so that basically leaves Thailand as the only place you can even begin to argue was saved by the Vietnam War.


I think xtisme has the right idea, if the US had it to do over again we should've sided with nationalists like Ho Chi Minh against the French and other Colonial powers in the area. Once we let the Communists become the pro-indigineous/anti-colonial power, we put ourselves on the wrong side of history, and made it inevitable that at least part of SE Asia would end up Communist.
  #7  
Old 11-19-2009, 10:24 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
IIRC, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma went Communist anyways,
Burma never really went Communist. Are you talking about Ne Win?
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:34 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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Burma never really went Communist. Are you talking about Ne Win?
Yea. Here's wikipedia:

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Between 1974 and 1988, Burma was effectively ruled by Ne Win through the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP),[38] which from 1964 until 1988 was the sole political party. During this period, Burma became one of the world's most impoverished countries. The Burmese Way to Socialism[39][40] combined Soviet-style nationalization and central planning with the governmental implementation of superstitious beliefs.[40] Criticism was scathing, such as an article published in a February 1974 issue of Newsweek magazine describing the Burmese Way to Socialism as 'an amalgam of Buddhist and Marxist illogic'.[41]
I don't know much about it, but that certainly seems pretty Communist sounding.
  #9  
Old 11-19-2009, 10:35 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Are you talking about Ne Win?
Is that the new microsoft OS?
  #10  
Old 11-19-2009, 10:35 PM
Dick Dastardly Dick Dastardly is offline
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If they'd have looked at history they'd have seen that China and Vietnam had spent the previous thousand years constantly fighting wars, huge periods of nonstop war. Sure enough, five years after we got kicked out they started another one with China. So it was just a total screwup.
  #11  
Old 11-19-2009, 10:41 PM
ExTank ExTank is offline
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I'd say the USSR was circling the drain, and then they blew out the bottom of the bathtub by going into Afghanistan.

I think the U.S. loss in Vietnam encouraged the Soviets to try their luck somewhere else (multiple proxy wars) and then into direct involvement in Afghanistan.
  #12  
Old 11-19-2009, 11:28 PM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
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Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
IIRC, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma went Communist anyways, so it's hard to see the Vietnam war as being particularly successful in preventing the spread of communism in the region. Malaysia had already squashed it's communist party revolution before Vietnam began, so that basically leaves Thailand as the only place you can even begin to argue was saved by the Vietnam War.


I think xtisme has the right idea, if the US had it to do over again we should've sided with nationalists like Ho Chi Minh against the French and other Colonial powers in the area. Once we let the Communists become the pro-indigineous/anti-colonial power, we put ourselves on the wrong side of history, and made it inevitable that at least part of SE Asia would end up Communist.

That's pretty much the Reader's Digest version. Ho was a nationalist. After all, he was a sous-chef in a Boston hotel. He didn't hate America, he wanted our support.

That being said, Vietnam claims to be a "communist" country but it isn't. Free enterprise reigns supreme within certain constraints. Vietnam is nothing like Cuba or North Korea. Goods and services are readily available. The Vietnamese are motivated by capitalistic principles and, for the most part are non-political.

As Vietnam exists today, millions (billions?) of America dollars and about 58,000 American lives were spent so that the Vietnam government could make the place safe for Citibank, Visa, American Express, Intel, all of the Japanese manufacturing corporations, tourists, and everybody else.

If the USA had "won" there would still be a presence of American troops, the place would be unsafe for tourists and there would be the threat of insurgent uprisings.
  #13  
Old 11-19-2009, 11:46 PM
hansel hansel is offline
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I've never understood the resistance to the domino theory. We pulled out of southeast asia in 1975. After we did the nations of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all became communist.
The communist revolutions in Cambodia and Laos started organizing in the 60s and were openly in revolt before the U.S. pulled out (or seemed about to pull out). It's hard to credit the American presence in Vietnam with preventing communism in those countries when they were well on their way, revolution-wise, when the U.S. began to withdraw.

Arguably, it was infighting amongst the various communist parties of SE Asia that delayed their actual revolutions until the 70s.
  #14  
Old 11-20-2009, 01:04 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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My (uninformed) opinion on this is that it did more harm than good. Without the US getting involved so heavily in Vietnam I think that the USSR would have run out of gas even earlier. Also, I suspect there was a chance that had the US sided with Uncle Ho and against French colonialism, there is a possibility that the North and South could have been united without massive bloodshed, and the US could (possibly) have had an ally, or at least a neutral...instead of an enemy. I don't see how that could have helped the USSR or Communist Chinese.
I don't know if we should have favored the communists. But I think we'd have been better off supporting the Geneva Accords of 1954. We should have supported the principle of democracy and a national election even if a communist victory would have been the likely result. We needed to recognize the difference between an indigenous communist movement like Vietnam's and an imposed communist regime like the ones in Eastern Europe or Afghanistan. After that we could have worked on turning Vietnam into a neutral power rather than a Soviet or Chinese ally - a goal which probably would have been supported by Hanoi.
  #15  
Old 11-20-2009, 03:51 AM
Dissonance Dissonance is online now
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A major problem with the Domino Theory is that it was an outgrowth of the perception that communism was monolithic and any group calling itself communist was Communist with a capitol C and taking its orders from Moscow. Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist first and a communist of convenience. His goal for Vietnam was driving foreign dominance out and self rule of the country, or ruling the country under himself, whichever you prefer; he wasn’t a particularly savory character but he wanted Vietnam for the Vietnamese, not Vietnam for the Communist bloc. The Viet Minh received US support during WW2 as they were fighting the Japanese who had taken Indochina from the French. With the end of WW2, Ho Chi Minh made a very overt attempt to continue receiving US support, including heavily referencing the US declaration of independence in his speech declaring the independence of Vietnam when WW2 ended. Roosevelt and Truman both distained imperialism, but with the fall of the Iron Curtain the reality was siding with Ho wasn't in the cards. Doing so would have completely alienated the French and heavily unsettled the UK and other western European nations with colonial holdings when rallying support against Communism seemed far, far more important. Vietnam received very little notice; no one in the US in 1945 would have imagined its future importance.

With the world going bi-polar, Ho took his backing from communism. The folly of the Domino Theory and monolithic Communism is made pretty clear by the fact that communist Vietnam went to war with its communist neighbors China and Cambodia very soon after the end of the Vietnamese War over ethnic and nationalistic issues.
  #16  
Old 11-20-2009, 09:22 AM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
IIRC, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma went Communist anyways, so it's hard to see the Vietnam war as being particularly successful in preventing the spread of communism in the region. Malaysia had already squashed it's communist party revolution before Vietnam began, so that basically leaves Thailand as the only place you can even begin to argue was saved by the Vietnam War.
The argument can be made that while those countries did indeed fall to Communism, the reason why it stopped there was because the Soviet Union was so drained financially that they couldn't sponsor any further expansion of Communism. It's certainly a plausible argument, because it wasn't until the 1970s that things began to unravel for them in a big way, and Afghanistan finally closed the door on Soviet expansionism.

Of course, it's a lot more complicated than that. If you read some books about Vietnam it strikes you that the United States ended up escalating a war that few really wanted to be a part of, and nobody can tell you with any certainty why it happened.

The whole thing was a big mess, really.
  #17  
Old 11-20-2009, 09:50 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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I think a lot of people in this thread are either ignorant of certain bits of history or are deliberately ignoring it to suit their worldview.

First, this notion that we should have supported Ho, or that Ho was a nationalist. He wasn't a thoroughgoing nationalist really, and he was always a committed communist in his political life. He was a founding member of the French Communist Party in 1921. He worked variously with the Comintern and the Chinese Red Army before returning to Vietnam and organizing the Viet Minh.

So whether he wound up with a larger or smaller area under his control, he was going to organize it along Stalinist lines. History shows that he did just that, and we can't ignore that simple fact.

Nor can we look at Vietnam today, which is relatively prosperous, and conclude that this is how the communist governments of Vietnam since 1976 and North Vietnam even earlier always ran things. The fact is that the party old guard was run out of power in the mid-1980s after years of economic mismanagement and political repression. Prior to this were the years of the boat people and the reeducation camps, which I don't think many here will defend. And even with these reforms Vietnam isn't free by Western standards - it is a one-party state with significant censorship, persecution of religious minorities, and imprisonment or harassment of regime opponents.

All of this doesn't touch on whether the Vietnam War was or wasn't a good idea, or whether it had an impact either way on the spread of communism. But at least we should refrain from telling falsehoods or comforting myths while we have this debate.
  #18  
Old 11-20-2009, 10:09 AM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
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I've never understood the resistance to the domino theory. We pulled out of southeast asia in 1975. After we did the nations of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all became communist.
This "confirmation" of the Domino Theory should be considered along the same lines as all those sports theories like, when the Redskins win their last home game before an election, a Democrat is always elected; or when the stock market goes up in a year, the American League always wins the Series, or whatever. One event really doesn't have a causative effect on the other.

In Asia and Africa, the appeal of communism has to be considered as directly related to decolonization and the imbalance of relationships with Western powers. To simplify, if you live in a country that you feel didn't benefit under colonialism, who are you going to want to align yourself with: the Western bloc that perpetrated the colonialism, or the Eastern bloc that offers a revisionist political and economic system? The idea that the US could step in and militarily stop the external infiltration of an ideology is a massive red herring: it isn't so much about the people of Vietnam or Angola wanting the Soviets in, it's more about them wanting the West out.

There's more to it than that, of course.

Oh, and Vietnam had nothing to do with preventing a war between China and the USSR. It was just a different issue.
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Old 11-20-2009, 10:29 AM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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This "confirmation" of the Domino Theory should be considered along the same lines as all those sports theories like, when the Redskins win their last home game before an election, a Democrat is always elected; or when the stock market goes up in a year, the American League always wins the Series, or whatever. One event really doesn't have a causative effect on the other.

In Asia and Africa, the appeal of communism has to be considered as directly related to decolonization and the imbalance of relationships with Western powers. To simplify, if you live in a country that you feel didn't benefit under colonialism, who are you going to want to align yourself with: the Western bloc that perpetrated the colonialism, or the Eastern bloc that offers a revisionist political and economic system? The idea that the US could step in and militarily stop the external infiltration of an ideology is a massive red herring: it isn't so much about the people of Vietnam or Angola wanting the Soviets in, it's more about them wanting the West out.

There's more to it than that, of course.

Oh, and Vietnam had nothing to do with preventing a war between China and the USSR. It was just a different issue.
But you just upheld the domino theory. The people in these nations were anti-colonial and were anti-western. And once the west left the region and was unable to repress those urges those nations went communist within a few months.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 11-20-2009 at 10:29 AM.
  #20  
Old 11-20-2009, 10:34 AM
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But you just upheld the domino theory. The people in these nations were anti-colonial and were anti-western. And once the west left the region and was unable to repress those urges those nations went communist within a few months.
The domino theory proposed that Communism wouldn't stop there, but would continue to take over the world. Remember the 1950's "World Domination" map that claimed Communism would complete the conquest by 1973 and was on schedule?
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Old 11-20-2009, 10:37 AM
adhay adhay is offline
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My (uninformed) opinion on this is that it did more harm than good. Without the US getting involved so heavily in Vietnam I think that the USSR would have run out of gas even earlier. Also, I suspect there was a chance that had the US sided with Uncle Ho and against French colonialism, there is a possibility that the North and South could have been united without massive bloodshed, and the US could (possibly) have had an ally, or at least a neutral...instead of an enemy.

-XT
More than just a possibility. Our record there was shameful, but then, what's new?

You're also right that it spread "communism" by making Soviet intervention attractive in a number of places. Our problem with Vietnam was that it was a popular socialist nationalist govt ... a very bad example to developing countries looking to shake off colonialism and also a bad example to the American electorate. In spite of Roosevelt's pledge to Ho of post war self-determination, we militarily and politically supported the continuation of French colonialism as a good antidote for nationalism.

When the French finally proved not up to the task in spite of our deep involvement, we took it over ourselves. We denied them nationwide free elections promised in the Geneva Convention Agreements which we refused to sign and in 1956, set up our own little Diem. The story goes on from there. See this Vietnam timeline
from 1945 on.
  #22  
Old 11-20-2009, 10:46 AM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
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But you just upheld the domino theory. The people in these nations were anti-colonial and were anti-western. And once the west left the region and was unable to repress those urges those nations went communist within a few months.
Eisenhower was the first to speak of the consequences of "falling dominoes." Losing an Asian countries or a few to communism would mean:
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But when we come to the possible sequence of events, the loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following, now you begin to talk about areas that not only multiply the disadvantages that you would suffer through loss of materials, sources of materials, but now you are talking really about millions and millions and millions of people.

"Finally, the geographical position achieved thereby does many things. It turns the so-called island defensive chain of Japan, Formosa, of the Philippines and to the southward; it moves in to threaten Australia and New Zealand.
That didn't happen.
  #23  
Old 11-20-2009, 12:13 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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I can tell you it is generally accepted by the Thais that the Vietnam War saved them from communism. After Vietnam fell, then Cambodia and Laos, the Thais were getting more than a little nervous, especially considering the inroads made in northeastern Thailand by the local Communist Party. Even into the 1980s, there were parts of the Northeast the government dared not go, because they were communist strongholds. I can remember this.

(Ho Chi Minh stayed in the Northeast from mid-1928 to late 1929. The house he lived in has been designated a historic site, and there are fully grown trees he planted himself. Geographically, much of northeastern Thailand is actually closer to Hanoi than to Bangkok.)

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all fell after the US pulled out, but Thais credit the US with keeping the tide at bay long enough to improve much of the infrastructure of the Northeast -- building roads and hospitals, introducing electricity -- and maybe take some of the attraction away from the communists. This has always been the poorest part of Thailand.

The Thais really do credit the US with this, although these days it tends to be the older geenration. Younger folks may not be quite so aware of it anymore. But it helps explain why Thailand has always been such a pro-American place. They liked Bush just fine.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 11-20-2009 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 11-21-2009, 12:47 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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I have never been to Thailand and I know that the flesh industry is a major human rights topic and there's a lot of poverty, but from what I've read it seems that it is to some of the other Southeast Asian nations something like the U.S. is to Mexico and central/South America and the Carribean- a much richer and more stable country that people flock to legally and illegally to escape the hellholes they live in. Is this the case?
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:03 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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In Vietnam: The Necessary War (which is well worth reading for many different reasons) Michael Lind argues it was a war worth fighting even if it could not be won and even if the South Vietnamese regime was not worth fighting for -- because of the global implications. It was but one theater in the Cold War. In the '60s and '70s, the Western and Communist blocs were fighting for the allegiance of the non-aligned Third World countries; that was essentially a political battle, a battle of perceptions. It was far from clear, at the time, which side represented The Future. If the Communist side appeared stronger at a crucial moment, that might lead to a "bandwagon effect" which would swing more and more countries around to their side, success feeding on success. The Vietnam War was necessary simply to shore up American/Western credibility, to make clear we would not give up easily. You might disagree that that was strictly necessary, you might even disagree that the Cold War as a whole was worth fighting or worth winning, but it is at any rate a very well-reasoned thesis and not to be rejected out of hand.
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:32 PM
PrettyVacant PrettyVacant is offline
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Few countries grow organically from a pre-industrial revolution state to the market economy without first washing socialism/communism through the system. It seems as necessary to the process as oligarhy is the proto-capitalism stage of economic development.

All those countries in SE Asia were already communist - including Vietnam. Proping up one artificial, discredited regime after coup after coup merely legitimised what the US did for domestic consumption only.

The people never believed in the *governments" of the south, what they stood for or what they offered up - at least no where near what they did the 'other side'.

So, like Kabul and President Karzai then - not hearts and minds so much as culture, history and way of life.

Last edited by PrettyVacant; 11-21-2009 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 11-22-2009, 04:17 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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I have never been to Thailand and I know that the flesh industry is a major human rights topic and there's a lot of poverty, but from what I've read it seems that it is to some of the other Southeast Asian nations something like the U.S. is to Mexico and central/South America and the Carribean- a much richer and more stable country that people flock to legally and illegally to escape the hellholes they live in. Is this the case?
Pretty much, although it's not the MOST stable and prosperous country in the region. Hands down, that distinction goes to Singapore, a fully modern country. I believe Singaporeans don't even need visas to visit the US; that makes them, Japan and Israel the only Asian nations the US does not require visas for.

And Malaysia is much more stable -- Thailand's had many military coups over the decades, the most recent one three years ago, and it feels like we're sitting on top of a powderkeg right now -- while Malaysia has had none. Of course, you had a strongman in charge for a long time, Mahathir, be he was genuinely popular among much of the populace. Malaysia is possibly more prosperous than Thailand, too.

As for the flesh trade being a "human rights" issue, there is a lot -- and I mean A LOT -- of misreporting going on -- some of it intentional to sell a story, some of it sincere but misguided -- and I personally know quite a few bargirls who can't stand the "do-gooders," so to speak, and wish they would just mind their own business. What "problems" there exist are limited to the wild border regions and the brothels that service the lowest paid of the locals.
  #28  
Old 11-22-2009, 12:01 PM
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The domino theory really isn't about military but poltical will, though at the time few people realized this.

The US got out of Vietnam when the North and South signed an agreement. The North broke the agreement and invaded. Congress, just getting over Watergate was in no mood for anything, much less to put money or troops back in.

The South's government thought the USA would come back, at least with money or supplies, which didn't happen. Even the North Vietnamese were take aback at how quickly they made gains

There was no political will. This example could also apply to after WWII. While Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria were certain go Communist, the Hungarians and especially Czechoslavakia had a real chance to be democracies. But the allies showed no political will to help Hungary which went Communist and after Czechoslavakia went Communist, there was an uproar, 'cause that shouldn't have been.

Then later came wars in Greece, and Truman stepped in with the Truman Doctrine and Greece didn't go Communist, although that didn't translate to democracy.

This showed where there was will Communism could be halted and that is what started this domino theory.

The issues got clouded 'cause a lot of these places, it wasn't so much about Communism it was about decolonization. Ho Chi Min expected the American to be on his side. Indeed Stalin was greatly able to play off Churchill against FDR and Truman because America was so anti-colony. As Churchill remarked without our colonies Great Britian goes from a world class power to a second or third rate power.

Would Thailand went Communist? I think there is a chance that if Ho Chi Min got into control of all Vietnam earlier Communism would've taken root in Vietnam, Cambodia and Loas, and we may have seen the Vietnam War taking place in Thailand.

America would've had interest in not letting the Thais fall, and the British had a beaten a war in Malaysia and Indonesia with Western backing got rid of Sukarno who was definately a pro communist.

So the domino theory showed, if you had the political will you could takes steps to stop it.

I think without Vietnam it was more likely that we would've seen other proxy wars elsewhere. Perhaps the Soviets would've supported Katanga (unlikely but...) or Biafra in their bids to be independent African nations with proxy wars lasting much longer.
  #29  
Old 11-22-2009, 09:05 PM
athelas athelas is offline
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Lee Kwan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore and a highly respected political thinker, believes that Vietnam bought time for non-Communist governments in SE Asia, which at the time were weak and fighting domestic communist insurgencies themselves, to get their act together so that communist demands would be less pressing. The dangers of a communist takeover in Singapore and Malaysia was certainly nontrivial at the time; in fact Lee's party had to hitch its wagons to the Communists temporarily in order to get anything done at all. Reading his memoirs gives a quite frightening picture of their political strength and ruthlessness.
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Although American intervention failed in Vietnam, it bought time for the rest of Southeast Asia. In 1965, when the US military moved massively into South Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines faced internal threats from armed communist insurgencies and the communist underground was still active in Singapore....Standards of living were low and economic growth slow. America's action enabled non-communist Southeast Asia to put their own houses in order. By 1975 they were in better shape to stand up to the communists. Had there been no US intervention, the will of these countries to resist them would have melted and Southeast Asia would most likely have gone communist.

Last edited by athelas; 11-22-2009 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:14 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
Would Thailand went Communist? I think there is a chance that if Ho Chi Min got into control of all Vietnam earlier Communism would've taken root in Vietnam, Cambodia and Loas, and we may have seen the Vietnam War taking place in Thailand.

America would've had interest in not letting the Thais fall, and the British had a beaten a war in Malaysia and Indonesia with Western backing got rid of Sukarno who was definately a pro communist.

So the domino theory showed, if you had the political will you could takes steps to stop it.
Yes. Again, the communists did already have de facto control of a good chunk of northeastern Thailand. The government pumping a lot of infarstructure money into the area -- no doubt a lot of it American money -- helped squelch the communists.

Many American air bases were in northeastern Thailand, too. They flew out, bombed North Vietnam, then returned for the cocktail hour. In fact, until very recently, there was still an active VFW post in Nakhon Ratchasima, site of a huge American base. It may still be there too, but I've not heard of it for a while. The members were all US servicemen who settled in the area after the war. I remember it having quite a good restaurant. For the servicemen stationed anywhere in Thailand, the war was a picnic.

And there was a large contingent of Thai troops fighting in Vietnam, too. Older hands than myself have told me when local singers in Bangkok crooned Beatles tunes, which were very popular in Thailand, they changed the lyrics in "A Day in the Life" from "The English army had just won the war" to "The Thai army had just won the war" to raucous applause.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 11-22-2009 at 09:18 PM.
  #31  
Old 11-22-2009, 09:20 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
As for the flesh trade being a "human rights" issue, there is a lot -- and I mean A LOT -- of misreporting going on -- some of it intentional to sell a story, some of it sincere but misguided -- and I personally know quite a few bargirls who can't stand the "do-gooders," so to speak, and wish they would just mind their own business. What "problems" there exist are limited to the wild border regions and the brothels that service the lowest paid of the locals.
Well, I think it's well-established that there is a lot of "white slavery" nowadays -- in Europe, in India, in Africa -- so it's not surprising that sex businesses everywhere get tarred with the same brush; and, of course, people are always ready to believe the worst of a Third World country like Thailand, even if it is a place where prostitutes are practically respectable.
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:51 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
Well, I think it's well-established that there is a lot of "white slavery" nowadays -- in Europe, in India, in Africa -- so it's not surprising that sex businesses everywhere get tarred with the same brush; and, of course, people are always ready to believe the worst of a Third World country like Thailand, even if it is a place where prostitutes are practically respectable.
Yes, they even have their own informal union here, the Empower Foundation. And I know a reporter who covers child prostitution in Southeast Asia, and he can't stand the organizations in Thailand. The situation has been cleaned up so much here that they only exist to keep getting funding. And of course, Westerners keep on giving.

The difference between the sex trade in Thailand and, say, neighboring Cambodia is like night and day. There, it truly is dismal. But you're right, it's all just "Southeast Asia" to most folks.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 11-22-2009 at 09:51 PM.
  #33  
Old 11-23-2009, 01:51 PM
Damuri Ajashi Damuri Ajashi is offline
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Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
I've never understood the resistance to the domino theory. We pulled out of southeast asia in 1975. After we did the nations of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all became communist.

Ironically the communists in Vietnam eventually overthrew the Cambodian communists in 1979. However Laos and Vietnam are still technically communist nations.

From what I know of it, 'communism' is an umbrella term for a variety of rebellions for a variety of reasons. Some communist insurgents were economic, some are nationalistic and anti-colonial, some are idealogical, some are anti-dictatorship. Pol Pot was idealogical, the Vietnamese were nationalistic, the Chinese and Russian were probably economic. That is my impression.
If we had won in Vietnam do you think that Cambodia and Laos would have become capitalist societies? Would they have halted their march towards communism or are you saying that we would have had a launching pad for even more wars in Cambodia and Laos?

There has been another incarnation of the domino theory in our recent foreign policy. When we invaded Iraq, it was based on the idea that democracy could domino throughout the middle east if we won Iraq the same way we thought communism would domino throughout southeast asia if we lost Vietnam.

I don't know that our war in Iraq has caused its neighbors to embrace democracy any more than they would have without the Iraqi war.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:48 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Let's change the terms of the hypothetical a little: Under the Geneva Accords, Vietnam -- all of it, North and South -- was supposed to have internationally supervised national elections in July 1956. But it was clear Ho Chi Minh would win in a landslide, so Eisenhower blocked it.

If Ike had allowed the elections to go forward and Ho had led the new national government, the war would have been avoided; but how would that have affected the prospects of Communist movements in other countries in the region?

And, under those circumstances, would Ho's 'Nam have been a Soviet (or Red Chinese) ally, or non-aligned, like Tito's Yugoslavia, or even U.S.-friendly?

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 11-23-2009 at 05:49 PM.
  #35  
Old 11-23-2009, 06:13 PM
adhay adhay is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
Let's change the terms of the hypothetical a little: Under the Geneva Accords, Vietnam -- all of it, North and South -- was supposed to have internationally supervised national elections in July 1956. But it was clear Ho Chi Minh would win in a landslide, so Eisenhower blocked it.
Thanks for the summary.
Quote:
If Ike had allowed the elections to go forward and Ho had led the new national government, the war would have been avoided; but how would that have affected the prospects of Communist movements in other countries in the region?

And, under those circumstances, would Ho's 'Nam have been a Soviet (or Red Chinese) ally, or non-aligned, like Tito's Yugoslavia, or even U.S.-friendly?
When Communist is a synomym for anyone who'd like to have a say in the distribution of his resources, a successful Vietnam might well have led SE Asia into our friendly orbit. Had we told the French to kiss off, honored Roosevelt's pledge of self-dermination and rewarded their service against the Japanese with some rebuilding aid, we'd have had a good and influential friend in the area. imo
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Old 11-23-2009, 11:22 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by Damuri Ajashi View Post
If we had won in Vietnam do you think that Cambodia and Laos would have become capitalist societies? Would they have halted their march towards communism or are you saying that we would have had a launching pad for even more wars in Cambodia and Laos?
I think Laos probably would not have become communist. The insurgents were too heavily dependent on North Vietnam. Cambodia, though, is a tough call. The Khmer Rouge were a complete wild card. US resources would have been freed up from Vietnam to try to address them, though.
  #37  
Old 11-24-2009, 12:51 AM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Originally Posted by Damuri Ajashi View Post
If we had won in Vietnam do you think that Cambodia and Laos would have become capitalist societies? Would they have halted their march towards communism or are you saying that we would have had a launching pad for even more wars in Cambodia and Laos?

There has been another incarnation of the domino theory in our recent foreign policy. When we invaded Iraq, it was based on the idea that democracy could domino throughout the middle east if we won Iraq the same way we thought communism would domino throughout southeast asia if we lost Vietnam.

I don't know that our war in Iraq has caused its neighbors to embrace democracy any more than they would have without the Iraqi war.
The war in Iraq if anything probably slowed democracy movements in Arab nations At the very least, 2 neighboring nations which had insurgent democracy movements that had been fighting for over a decade did not see their governments overthrown and replaced with democracies within a few months of the Iraq war like we saw in SE Asia.

Cambodia went communist within a week of the US pullout. Laos went communist due to Vietnamese intervention within a few months. I don't know what would've happened had we stayed. I do not think the war in Vietnam was really winnable. We had been there for 17 years and we got involved after the French gave up after 8 years.

However I do think we were keeping a lid on anti-colonial and nationalistic communist insurgencies, and once we left those movements had the power to overthrow 3 governments within a few months. I do not think we could've won but like Siam Sam is saying maybe the US and French kept other nations in the region propped up enough to be able to deal with communist insurgencies on their own.

I think Vietnam is more or less a capitalist society now. From what I know of them they are more communist in name only, their economic system is more western.

Seeing how the USSR doesn't exist, Vietnam being a communist nation doesn't really phase me. The desire to roll back communism was (to my understanding) a desire to deprive the USSR of political allies (and to protect the economic interests of corporations).
  #38  
Old 11-24-2009, 12:56 AM
sqweels sqweels is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
The Vietnam War was necessary simply to shore up American/Western credibility, to make clear we would not give up easily. You might disagree that that was strictly necessary, you might even disagree that the Cold War as a whole was worth fighting or worth winning, but it is at any rate a very well-reasoned thesis and not to be rejected out of hand.
Even if this is correct it doesn't exactly slap down the anti-war movement of that era, who saw all those guys drafted and sent thru the meat grinder not to defend the US from any serious threat of invasion but for the sake of political posturing on the world stage.

As for the Cold War, you know that it wasn't exactly a war and wasn't exactly fought and wasn't exactly won because the Soviets didn't exactly surrender to us.
  #39  
Old 11-24-2009, 10:40 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
We had been there for 17 years and we got involved after the French gave up after 8 years.
More like 25 years. US military advisers arrived and set up shop in 1950.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 11-24-2009 at 10:42 PM.
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