Understanding the Vietnam War
A good place to start in understanding the diabolical nature of the American government, and how easily misled it's media and opinion leaders are, is to study the American war in Vietnam. Today the American public knows the war was lost, and that many at the time thought that the war was "wrong," though they can't clearly articulate why it was less noble than other American wars.
The simple truth is that the architects of the American intervention in Vietnam prosecuted the war with utter ruthlessness in a near genocidal way to prevent the region from falling into communist hands. And in order to do so they had to fabricate a totally untrue narrative to get the public and their opinion leaders to support the whole mess. So lets look at what actually happened and how those who brought it about sold it to the public by creating a phony narrative.
Vietnam was a feudal society in which most people lived a simple farmers, working land owned by absentee owners living lavish lives in the cities. For these surfs there was no hope of any improvement whatsoever...none, and for them the ideology of communism was irresistible. Once exposed to communist ideas pretty much every person in the rural villages wanted to become a communist, but not because they wanted the collectivism of Stalinist Russia or China. What they wanted was to throw off the oppression of the aristocratic landlords and own the land themselves - they wanted to be entrepreneurs.
That is the simple reason why pretty much all patriotic Vietnamese became communists, and therefore it was the communist Viet Mihn which fought with fierce dedication to throw out the French by 1954. And it didn't hurt that the ruthless French imperial exploitation there [with collaborating Vietnamese aristocrats and bourgeousee] fit precisely the Marxist explaination of imperial capitalist exploitation.
Of all the places on earth Vietnam was the one where conditions made 90% of the population embrace Marxism pure and simple for their own perceived interests of national self-determination and economic freedom and opportunity. It was no wonder that Ho Chi Min himself admired these traits so greatly in the American myth that when he first established the independent Vietnamese government after the defeat of the Japanese there in 1945 that his first public speech was to repeat the American Declaration of Independence.
However his independent Vietnamese state didn't last long, as the US and other powers grudgingly supported the return of the imperial French to the place, which also included Laos and Cambodia. Thereafter the US supported the French in their hopeless effort to beat back the total mobilized efforts of the entire southeast Asian population against them. The French left in 1954 in an agreement settled upon in Geneva, the Geneva Peace Conference, and there was to have been popular elections in the south to determine what party would rule there and if they would join with the communist north under Ho Chi Min.
Well....to anyone at all who knew the public mood in the south that was a given - the communists in the south were about 90% of the population. The few people who weren't communists were the landed aristocrats and catholics who were anti-communist for religious reasons. To make thing more dramatic C.I.A. conducted a psychological warfare program of black propaganda to scare the catholics living in the north that their new communist leaders would butcher them - causing them all to flee for their lives to the south. In actually the north did experience a brief reign of terror. Zealous communists in the rural areas were savage towards anyone owning land, and they cooked up phony charges of criminality against landowners everywhere in which they were brutally killed. That's par for the course anywhere communism was conducted.
But as for the south the US installed a catholic zealot as President, No Din Diem, who with his brother Nu turned the south into a terror state in which all known communist party members were tortured to death or otherwise murdered. The purpose was to frighten everyone from becoming communist, however with nothing much to lose this strategy didn't go very far. The Diem brothers found that no amount of torture and killing was working. The communists were looking forward to winning at the election of 1956 determined by the Geneva Agreement, so the US and Diem cancelled the elections. With no other option for simple survival the communists reluctantly resorted to armed revolution. When the revolution started in the south the communists there had no support from the north. The communists in the south had to obtain their own weapons, and often villages formed their own communist governments without any direction or much support from other communists anywhere. It's hard for Americans steeped in their own war propaganda to understand but it was the villagers themselves who wanted to become communists because it was their only hope of improvement - they were not coerced or terrorized into supporting communist fighters of the south, the Viet Cong, or National Liberation Front as they called themselves. Nor is it true that the people in the villages were caught between the NLF and the anti-communist government of Diem, or those which followed after his demise in the American-sponsored coup of 1963. The villagers were not non-political simple farmers who just wanted to be left alone. They were dedicated and loyal communists pretty much to a man, or woman or child.
By 1963 the Diem brothers clearly realized that nothing they could do would prevent a communist victory. They faced the same near-universal public contempt that the public directed against the French, and it was clearly a hopeless situation. Then the outlook of north Vietnam changed regarding the communists in the south, who began receiving material support from the north. Despite the Diem's efforts at controlling the countryside by corralling villagers into "hamlets," [fenced camps] armed conflict escalated everywhere outside of the cities. Diem's military of conscript and criminal soldiers and assassins had no motivation to fight [except for the money the convicts were paid for their services] so the communists prevailed in every action.
With the death of President Kennedy those in the military and intl agencies who favored that the US take over the war had no barriers to their goals. Kennedy's doctrine in the third world was to deny the communist powers these countries by seeking neutralist solutions. To Kennedy as long as places like Brazil, Indonesia and India were not puppets of the Russians or Chinese he would not disturb or intervene to overthrow their governments or subject them to other actions. This was a tremendous shift away from Eisenhower, and CIA had adopted an intense culture of intolerance for non-aligned and neutralist governments. In my opinion this is why CIA and the military assassinated him. When Johnson became President he reverted immediately to the Eisenhower practice of overthrowing non-aligned regimes and replacing them with far right governments which were usually criminal in nature but agreed to support the CIA's goals of suppressing any neutralist or socialist elements in their mists. This brought about a strange situation for many CIA officers, as many were highly-educated socialists themselves who found themselves assassinating and torturing fellow socialists pretty much everywhere in the third world. CIA policy was to tolerate only far- right, conservative, traditionalist regimes which of course were very unpopular and therefore had to maintain themselves in power by terrorizing constitutionalists, democrats, socialists and others. The Norwegians and Germans and Dutch could of course have socialist governments but the Brazilians and Indonesians could not.
Throughout 1963 Diem's position became weaker and more hopeless, and American leaders ignored that his unpopularity was because of his brutality [which they denied to all] and therefore settled upon the theory that he was unpopular because of heavy-handedness toward the Buddhists, which did actually lead to a particular crisis. American leaders settled on the idea the Vietnamese military, whose officers were Buddhists rather than Catholic, were the answer. Therefore the White House and State Department sponsored a coup against Diem. Within the US military and CIA there was division however, as many US military officers and CIA personnel had personally loyal relationships with the Diem brothers and could not conscious such a betrayl against them. As it was however those within the US military and CIA which were willing to cut the Diem's throats proceeded with the coup advocates in State and the White House. The result was that the Diem brothers were murdered and a military Junta seized power. In the streets of south Vietnamese cities the public celebrated as they knew it was only the Diems and their zealous brutality explained the terror state which had been imposed upon them.
As these things happen there wasn't any understanding beforehand between anyone in the US government and the coup leaders as to what they would actually do when they took power. Once they did they of course did what anyone would do in their situation when faced with an unconquerable insurgency - they told the Americans they intended to negotiate with the communists and seek an end to the fighting, hopefully a neutralist solution could be found. At that time the French abruptly sought to intervene by advancing themselves as the offices by which a neutralist solution could be reached which might head off a total war. This of course was extremely unwelcome to the Americans. The new Junta leaders by informing the Americans that they intended to prevent a war and seek neutralism sealed their fate. CIA and the US military immediately set in motion plans to replace that government also, and of course even those new Junta members also weren't crazy enough to seek what the US wanted - a military solution only in which the communists would be defeated. So once again the US put together yet another coup, and finally everyone left in the south Vietnamese military got the message that the only option the US would tolerate was a war and anyone in a south Vietnamese government seeking compromise would be disposed of. That's how the Vietnam war happened. It happened only because the US after Kennedy insisted that it happened, and this was completely against the wishes of the officers of the south Vietnamese military. The final government of Thu and Nugyen Cao Key knew that if they didn't continue with the war that they would be disposed of or even killed by the Americans.
So did the American strategy work? Of course not. The US leadership who were aware that 90% of the public were loyal communists never told the American public or soldiers serving in the US military that this was the case. Instead Johnson and the Pentagon and CIA leadership fabricated the story that south Vietnam wanted to be capitalist and was being assaulted from north Vietnam in an effort to turn them communist by force, such as what actually happened in Korea. Not knowing any different millions of American servicemen went to Vietnam thinking that the Viet Cong were terrorizing the villages into submission to communism when that was the opposite of the truth. In fact the communists had a parallel government operating everywhere in the countryside with the villagers, who were hoping the south Vietnamese Junta in Siagon and their rampaging soldiers and American allies would all die and go to hell. That was the situation. Was it any wonder when American soldiers would be distressed when they found indications in the villages that people there were supporting the communists and lying to the contrary? To American soldiers who had been brainwashed into believing that the Viet Cong were a minority of terrorist evildoers what were they to think when they would run across ordinary Vietnamese who unmistakably supported them?
As the war continued through the Johnson Presidency there was no progress in meeting any of the Americans goals, and all this was contrary to what the public was told. As Americans are when they're told something will work and it clearly doesn't they start to become skeptical, about the tools if not the goals. The costs and the apparent unimportance of the distant place caused support to collapse in the same way it did in Korea. As support waned Johnson continued to repeat the false narrative that we were coming to the aid of an embattled small ally when in fact that was the opposite of what was going on.
Two thing did happen however which gave the US some success. One was the US sponsored coup in 1965 in Indonesia next door in which the neutralist President Sukarno was finally ousted, a long-time CIA goal. The military Junta which succeeded Sukarno wasn't the relatively benign kind found in south Vietnam however. The Indonesians being as they are they have never been bothered by mass killing, and so the solution their Junta chose, along with CIA and the White House and State Department, was to simply kill anyone either in their communist party or anyone who might be. The result was that easily over a million villagers and others were slaughtered by the military and their death squads of criminal convicts and others. This destroyed any chance of Indonesia ever becoming even neutralist any time in the future.
The other factor of success was the CIA's programs of rooting out and killing the communists running their parallel government in the countryside. The "Phoenix" program and many other such efforts employed irregulars, criminals and others to torture out of people the names of communist government members, who were then tortured and killed. This tactic not only decimated the communist "infrastructure" but also terrorized everyone else from participating, and so it was the old and reliable tactic of mere terror which pretty much destroyed the communist government in the south. This may have "pacified" the south in one manner, but it didn't mean that the military dimension was solved. Bands of Viet Cong fighters still were able to conduct ambushes and set mines and traps which were the cause of most American casualties. In addition north Vietnamese regular army troops also began fighting in the south, and it was they who also brought about large numbers of American casualties such as at the seige at Khe Song near the border with north Vietnam.