Post Archive: Future Looks Bleak in Vietnam

In 1962, a Post author concluded that the South Vietnam was doomed.

U.S. Marines and South Vietnamese forces in 1992
 USMC Archives from Quantico, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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In 1962, a Post author predicted that U.S. efforts there were bound to fail.

It is difficult to see how Vietnam can buy the time it must have. Although the U.S. is bolstering this overdrawn military bank account with a massive dose of modern equipment and noncombatant manpower, many of the U.S. military men here fear that this has come too late. In the end, the South Vietnamese (ARVN) forces may be better equipped; it may get better tactical advice from the additional American advisers; it may find that American helicopters give it the mobility to double its kill rate; but the division will still be no more than 8,000 men covering a hopelessly vast battlefield.

When the Communists are ready to move on ARVN strongholds, other Viet Cong units will strike elsewhere to tie down the remainder of the army. In such a case, Vietnam’s only salvation will be American troops. From there, one can picture another Korea, or the start of World War III.

This article is featured in the January/February 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: USMC Archives from Quantico, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Eisenhower notwithstanding, JFK was getting lousy advice from his Joint Chiefs; all of which were strict adherents of the “domino theory”–one country falls to communism; they all fall; which by 1962 some big but retired guns (Gavin, MacArthur, Ridgway) did not adhere to. Neither was the CMC, Gen. Shoup, a believer in the domino theory, but at that time (1962) CMC was NOT a member of the JCS. LBJ was not terribly enthusiastic about combat troops in S. Vietnam, but after the 1964 election, he just had to prove that he could be just as anti-communist as Goldwater.

    Some years later, now-retired Gen. Shoup put it bluntly before a Senate committee panel on Vietnam: Victory would only be accomplished by invading–not just bombing–N. Vietnam, & that no general or politician was willing to do.

  2. It’s great to be able to read the original article so conveniently here online. Having done so just now, it was clear Mr. Schanche was right about getting further mired in Vietnam with further involvement there. The time was coming when the military industrial complex would start drafting young American men to go over there.

    JFK knew what a deep rabbit hole this would be, having discussed it with IKE before he left office. He told Kennedy to beware of the military industrial complex when it came to Vietnam. They knew LBJ (as President) would go along with their plans to keep an ‘undeclared war’ going there indefinitely. Elaborate plans were arraigned and put into motion before the end of the following year to have their biggest obstacle removed, permanently.


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