The Importance Of Will
An excerpt from this paper:
...It was the notion of gradualism and retaliation, one more turn of the screw. I personally thought it would be a token of U.S. resolve, and a sample of what we could do. I really thought it would impress them. I now think it just infuriated them. And we just kept doing it. We did more and more and more and more, up until the Cambodia invasion and the mining of the harbors and the B-52s over Hanoi, and it was never enough. We never quite grasped the fact that the North Vietnamese intended to win. Regardless.
I figured out recently that if the North Vietnamese put up a memorial like the one we have on the Mall, and it was adjusted for the relative populations of our country and theirs, the one in Hanoi would have 7 million names on it. Just soldiers. Interesting, isn't it? The North Vietnamese lost about 500,000 dead, and the VC 300,000. That's 800,000. And we lost 58,000.
Of course, the ARVN lost a lot, too. But the North Vietnamese main forces lost up to 40 percent of their troops every year. That's enormous. It's unbelievable. I didn't think they'd be able to keep their soldiers fighting, given the casualties we were inflicting. I should have known better. In World War II I fought in a unit with casualties like that. The 90th Division had 25,000 casualties in just eleven months, so I should have known.
When you step back-and I didn't have these thoughts while I was there - you see the difference between a country that's fighting on its own terrain for its survival, and a country that's sending its forces halfway around the world to "contain" Communism. We asked a lot of sophistication from our public and our troops-maybe more than the country was able to give. I don't think Americans can be expected to support a long, inconclusive war...
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The converse applies, as well.