Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vietnam Thesis- Part VIII

The men in Vietnam in 1969 saw first hand how overmatched the ARVN was, and how there was no way for them to stave off the North without U.S. support. Lieutenant William Bentley knew, like many of his fellow soldiers, that for the war to be deemed a success the South would have to win out, and it could not do it with fewer American troops. “The government was fully perpetuating the lie of the righteousness of our cause, our imminent victory...Anyone who had a brain could see that the politicians’ pacification plan wasn't working and that once we left, the South Viets would be "duck soup" against the VC and NVA.” These remarks, show that the soldiers saw the Nixon plan as deeply flawed, and while most were preoccupied with staying alive, they knew how it looked good on the outside, but that it was really just done with smoke and mirrors. The basis for Vietnamization was to provide the Vietnamese with the know how and equipment to fight the war without a major U.S. presence. 

Nixon’s actions painted a rosy picture that the war might be over soon but according to Lt. Bentley it was not as it seemed, “How many times did we have to take the same ground and then give it back so it would look good on the pacification maps and then have to go in and take it back again? Troops will fight all day and all night if they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If they can't see that light, morale suffers greatly and the troops feel betrayed.” Betrayal became a regular emotion among troops as the war dragged on.

Statistically, Nixon’s plan looked good, and the American people at home became convinced that the war was not far from over. Joseph Morrissey, a Staff Sergeant wrote, “I think the 70’s will see a lot of things changed for the better.” Other soldiers were not as sure, writing home to tell their families the truth about the flawed Vietnamization policy. Marine Archie Biggers wrote of his reality, “The people in Washington setting policy didn’t know what transpired over there.” The new initiatives were turning out more disillusionment than before. Even though, “The average soldier (with the American army) is too busy trying to stay alive to get into opinions,” Lt. Bentley said of the soldiers’ thoughts on Nixon’s policies, “we knew the war strategy was deeply flawed.” Knowing what they knew, soldiers still continued to do their duty for the government, even though that government was oblivious to the reality of life as a soldier in Vietnam.

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