Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 22, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

THE SOUTH RISES AGAIN....NO, NOT THAT SOUTH....I'm busy today and won't be able to blog much. However, for an interesting liberal vs. conservative conversation about foreign policy I recommend this comment thread over at Tacitus.

A lot of the usual disagreements are on display here, but I'm going to pick out one topic that especially interested me: could South Vietnam have beaten the North if we had continued to support them after 1975? (Not with ground troops, that is, but with air support and supplies.) Tacitus thinks so, and blames Democrats of the era for cutting off support, while my reading has convinced me that we were simply throwing good money after bad and the cutoff was justified. Nothing short of nuclear war would have allowed the South the beat the North, and we were simply facing reality when we finally ended our support of a corrupt and hopelessly inept South Vietnamese regime that had no chance of winning. Better late than never.

However, I'm no expert on Vietnam-era military history, so perhaps I need to read up on this. Aside from Rambo-esque "they wouldn't let us win" rhetoric, this is really the first time I've heard a serious argument that the South could have won, either with or without us. Interesting topic.

UPDATE: On a broader level, this discussion gets to a more fundamental question: why did communism fail? Was it because of our consistent military opposition (as in Vietnam, for example), or was it because communism was a lousy economic system and would have failed regardless of all the proxy wars we fought?

Some of both, surely, but I suspect more of the latter. Anti-communists in the U.S., I sometimes think, don't really show the courage of their convictions when they insist that the Soviet Union fell only because Reagan pushed so hard on them militarily. That betrays a confidence in communism as a political and economic system that I really don't share.

Kevin Drum 10:26 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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