View Full Version : Senator James Webb in 2000

08-25-2007, 08:54 PM
28 April 2000 - History Proves Vietnam Victors Wrong (http://www.jameswebb.com/articles/wallstjrnl/vietvictors.htm) – Senator James Webb (D-VA), Wall Street Journal.

... While it is correct to say that the American people wearied of an ineffective national strategy as the war dragged on, they never ceased in their support for South Vietnam's war effort. As late as September 1972, a Harris survey indicated overwhelming support for continued bombing of North Vietnam (55% to 32%) and for mining North Vietnamese harbors (64% to 22%). By a margin of 74% to 11%, those polled agreed that "it is important that South Vietnam not fall into the control of the communists."

The 1973 Paris Peace Accords, which earned both the American and North Vietnamese negotiators the Nobel Peace Prize, are largely ignored by present-day commentators. If we were to treat these accords as a binding international agreement between two still-existing governments, Hanoi would be held accountable for having taken South Vietnam by "other than peaceful means," and for failing to uphold its promise of internationally supervised free elections.

The humiliating end result of the communists' final offensive in early 1975 is usually placed on the shoulders of a supposedly incompetent South Vietnamese military. Little mention is made of the impact our "Watergate Congress" had on both its inception and success. This Congress was elected in November 1974, only months after Nixon's resignation, and it was dominated by a fresh group of antiwar Democrats. One of the first actions of the new Congress was to vote down a supplemental appropriation for the beleaguered South Vietnamese that would have provided $800 million in military aid, including much-needed ammunition, spare parts and medical supplies.

This vote was a horrendous blow, in both emotional and practical terms, to the country that had trusted American judgment for more than a decade of intense conflict. It was also a clear indication that Washington was abandoning the South Vietnamese even as the North Vietnamese continued to enjoy the support of the Soviet Union, China and other Eastern bloc nations. The vote's impact was hardly lost on North Vietnamese military planners, who began the final offensive only five weeks later, as the South Vietnamese were attempting to adjust their military defenses.

Finally, the aftermath of Saigon's fall is rarely dealt with at all. A gruesome holocaust took place in Cambodia, the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. Two million Vietnamese fled their country -- usually by boat -- with untold thousands losing their lives in the process. This was the first such Diaspora in Vietnam's long and frequently tragic history. Inside Vietnam a million of the South's best young leaders were sent to re-education camps; more than 50,000 perished while imprisoned, and others remained captives for as long as 18 years. An apartheid system was put into place that punished those who had been loyal to the U.S., as well as their families, in matters of education, employment and housing. The Soviet Union made Vietnam a client state until its own demise, pumping billions of dollars into the country and keeping extensive naval and air bases at Cam Ranh Bay...

Steve Blair
08-26-2007, 12:10 AM
But he's of course MUCH wiser now...especially since he's in Congress....:wry:

08-26-2007, 03:33 PM
Let's be fair. Sen. Webb was one of the first and most articulate voices arguing against invasion, specifically warning against the dangers of occupation. Indeed, I doubt Jim Webb would ever have run if not for that stance and the way the Iraq War has deveoped.


This was before OIF I.

Other than the flippant criticisms of our "failure" to take Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, one sees little discussion of an occupation of Iraq, but it is the key element of the current debate. The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years. Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade and stay. This reality was the genesis of a rift that goes back to the Gulf War itself, when neoconservatives were vocal in their calls for "a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad." Their expectation is that the United States would not only change Iraq's regime but also remain as a long-term occupation force in an attempt to reconstruct Iraqi society itself.

The connotations of "a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad" show how inapt the comparison is. Our occupation forces never set foot inside Japan until the emperor had formally surrendered and prepared Japanese citizens for our arrival. Nor did MacArthur destroy the Japanese government when he took over as proconsul after World War II. Instead, he was careful to work his changes through it, and took pains to preserve the integrity of Japan's imperial family. Nor is Japanese culture in any way similar to Iraq's. The Japanese are a homogeneous people who place a high premium on respect, and they fully cooperated with MacArthur's forces after having been ordered to do so by the emperor. The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam. Indeed, this very bitterness provided Osama bin Laden the grist for his recruitment efforts in Saudi Arabia when the United States kept bases on Saudi soil after the Gulf War.

Also, right after 9/11/01:


The key elements of a new doctrine seem obvious. We must retain our position as the dominant guarantor of world-wide stability through strategic and conventional forces that deter potentially aggressive nations. We must be willing to retaliate fiercely against nations that participate in or condone aggressive acts, as well as non-national purveyors of asymmetric warfare. But we should take great care when it comes to committing large numbers of ground forces to open-ended combat, and we should especially avoid using them as long-term occupation troops.

08-26-2007, 03:43 PM
But he's of course MUCH wiser now...especially since he's in Congress....:wry:

I'll also have to chime in as a Webb defender. He has been consistent on Iraq since the beginning. He himself is a decorated Marine veteran, pulitzer prize winning writer, and his son served in Ramadi with 1/6 Marines last year while I was there. He believes in military service as a duty and not as a platitude. Much more than any of the administration cheerleaders, most all of which had better things to do when their country called to serve - today or yesterday. Like Zinni, he had the fortitude to oppose the war from the beginning.

We're better off with people like him in congress than without. I don't fully agree with all his statements on Iraq, but we are better with his type in the senate. Only McCain in the current senate has comparable military credintials.

Plus I like his books....

08-27-2007, 01:41 AM
Webb has excellent military credentials and has been involved with the defense establishment at a deep level, but I believe a few guys equal his time in the mud cred - Sen. Daniel Inouye earned the MoH (http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/citations_1942_nisei/inouye.html), and Sen. Chuck Hagel saw plenty of combat as an Army grunt in Vietnam.

It does say something that there are so few men like these in the Senate.

08-27-2007, 02:11 AM
Webb has excellent military credentials and has been involved with the defense establishment at a deep level, but I believe a few guys equal his time in the mud cred - Sen. Daniel Inouye earned the MoH (http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/citations_1942_nisei/inouye.html), and Sen. Chuck Hagel saw plenty of combat as an Army grunt in Vietnam.

It does say something that there are so few men like these in the Senate.

Yeah, I forgot about those two. Of the four mentioned, three have called for withdrawal,IIRC.

08-27-2007, 03:02 AM
28 April 2000 - History Proves Vietnam Victors Wrong (http://www.jameswebb.com/articles/wallstjrnl/vietvictors.htm) Senator James Webb (D-VA), Wall Street Journal.
The Congressional cuts to funding the South Vietnamese army were not fundamental in its loss of the war. Large amounts of US ammunition and military equipment were being sold to the enemy; US aid to the South always meant more for the VC and North Vietnamese too. But that's also a minor issue in that long war. The main reason Saigon failed to survive was that the South Vietnamese government was never able to create a viable "country" that worked, especially in the countryside, where 80% of the population lived. The Saigon government was actually at war with its own rural population, which fought Saigon to the end. It was a civil war, a political war, that the US forces could not, of course, win for the Saigon regime. The US went to war there for geo-political reasons, failing to understand that the Vietnamese had made their choice about who to support, back in the thirties. If we'd cared much about the Vietnamese, we would have prevented the French from colonizing it; especially, we would have blocked the French from re-colonizing Vietnam after World War II. You can't liberate a country that's already fought and won its war of liberation, in this case against the French.

Ken White
08-27-2007, 03:53 AM
the fate of South Viet Nam. Our ineptness in the prosecution of that war for the first seven years built the coffin and the 1970-73 efforts while great and productive were not enough to turn around the US domestic malaise. I got all over the country, all four corps and the rural population did not want to fight Saigon or anyone else -- they just wanted to be left alone to get on with their lives. The war was never going to be 'winnable' but a far more satisfactory outcome could have been attained were it not for the politicians and possibly the Army's early screwups.

Perhaps had FDR been alive, that ardent anti-colonialist would have not helped the French. FDR died and the French got back in and like us, tried to fight a European war in the rice paddies. Didn't work. Perhaps Eisenhower should not have signed the mutual defense treaty with the South. He did. Perhaps the brothers Kennedy should not have decided to boost the US economy and give us an idealistic cause -- so idelaistic that they had little clue what they were doing. However, they did. Lyndon shouldn't have tried to boost his own and his party's credibility by escalating. He did.

You are correct that the US did not understand the geopolitics involved -- I just wanted to point out that there was a great deal more to it than that and that four administrations were involved.

John T. Fishel
08-27-2007, 12:30 PM
has not been mentioned. It was the total withdrawal of US air support. After Tet 68 the VC never mounted an effective offensive operation. Rather, all enemy offensives were conducted by the NVA - a regular conventional army. The 1972 offensive was largely defeated by the ARVN with US help - primarily air support. The 1975 offensive was conducted by the NVA with tanks etc against an ARVN with no US support. Needless to say that President Thieu did not help himself with some of his later political moves such as terminating elected local governments but what was decisive in 1975 was the conventional NVA attack against a RVN standing alone.

08-27-2007, 12:49 PM
I would add that in addition to air support, the U.S. also withdrew the experienced advisory corps that in fact provided most key ARVN leadership above the company level.

Of course the NVA fought without any air support at all, but given the record of the VNAF perhaps they were better off, given the VNAF's propensity to bomb its own side.

James H. Wilbanks' book is excellent (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/customer-reviews/0700613315/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_top/104-5610957-7891905?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books#customerReviews)on the failure of Vietnamization.