People are still asking “What went wrong in Vietnam”? It is hard to justify the war, since veterans didn’t like the war, the public didn’t want it, and sure as hell the Vietnamese people didn’t like the war. Lives were lost on both sides, and the only thing that America got from the war was negative reputation from its citizens.
Many believe that bombing of North Vietnam was the biggest mistake Americans made. In the post-war era, Americans are still trying to figure out what happened, what went wrong, and absorb the lessons from the military intervention.
Many believe that the blame for losing the war goes to the people in the Congress, with the U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once writing in a secret memo that “in terms of military tactics, we cannot help draw the conclusion that our armed forces are not suited to this kind of war. Even the Special Forces who had been designed for it could not prevail”. He addressed the letter to then president Gerald Ford.
Another US official, the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara wrote that the “achievement of a military victory by U.S. forces in Vietnam was indeed a dangerous illusion.”
The United States and Vietnam fought for 10 years, from 1965 to 1975. The result was more than 3 million American citizens serving in Vietnam, with more than half actually seeing combat. By the end of the 10 year war, more than 150,000 Americans were wounded, almost 60,000 lost their life, and more than 20,000 were permanently disabled.
During the 10 year period, the United States spent $111 billion, resulting in a huge federal budget deficit. Converted by inflation to 2008 money, that budget is $658 billion.