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Mr. MacNichol may rue the impact had by Vietnam on present events in the Mideast. Like many other reasonable people, his messages suggest that the fall of Saigon was hatched in Washington. I remain completely unconvinced. A few points: 1. Mr. MacNichol claims that in a prior post I was more interested in US politics than logistics. Perhaps I didn't make the argument clearly. The 1972 offensive was a painful but considerable victory for PAVN. The cities in the Highlands that Thieu insisted on holding (the Highlands, let us remember, was long considered as the likely point of decision by PAVN and the NLF main force units) were, after 1972, surrounded by enemy troops. That's very bad news. Hanoi felt confident enough to pave much of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and ran in portions of oil pipeline to allow stockpiling of the heavy gear, knowing that lack of "staying power" had cost them dearly throughout the war and had prevented outright victory in 1972. As I noted, after Paris, ARVN would be forced to fight without US advisor/commanders and without specialized US ground units. At the same time, PAVN was receiving tanks, very good self-propelled artillery etc. Furthermore, US forces in Southeast Asia were in the process of major redeployment and, in some areas, disbandment. Now if these matters deal with US politics, I think we must stretch the term. Instead they were the military realities on the ground. 2. The realities on the ground were all too well known by ARVN leaders. ARVN carried out some half hearted operations in Cambodia that spring, but by the fall of 1973 ARVN was on the defensive waiting for the cobra to strike. One can imagine the impact this knowledge had on Saigon's military and political leadership. Thieu seemed incapable of taking any meaningful action beyond insisting on "no retreat." Quite the contrary. In this hour of trial, Thieu's government was not strong or wise enough to move the equivalent of four ARVN divisions from the Delta to points farther north. From a military point of view the move was a "no brainer." However, it attacked the territorial nature of ARVN. So, when faced with oblivion, the GVN could not move to protect itself. I have argued in print, and continue to believe, that at the heart of GVN's defeat was the core belief that ultimately, sometime, somehow Hanoi and the Front would prevail. In this context the collapse of 1975 makes much sense. 3. True, American aid was slackening, and this no doubt harmed morale. Nevertheless, ARVN had sizeable stockpiles of conventional arms, there was oil stored (some was being stolen of course) and they, unlike PAVN, had an air force. I talked with my old friend Douglas Pike about this (I suppose America's leading expert on PAVN) several times. He was personal friends with a number of American witnesses of the 1975 debacle. Pike concluded that there was no good reason to believe that ARVN was ever close to running out of supplies or ammunition. He said they might have done so had the battle been extended the way it was in 1972, but when battle did rage in 1975, ARVN had the physical means to fight. After all, that was point. There was much violence but few "battles" in 1975. ARVN didn't run out of ammunition, it fell apart, an event hardly unknown in military history. Furthermore, even if "crazy Nixon" had still been at the helm, I think it vital to consider that Hanoi had a number of alternatives that would have weakened the South further without triggering a US response. Nor should one think of US resolve as a "given" as opposed to a "variable." Once out of Vietnam, one can imagine the tremendous inertia that would have existed preventing a major reengagement in SEA, Nixon or no Nixon. 4. When columnist Stewart Alsop was dying of cancer he left a series of moving columns describing the experience. In the last he commented "There comes a time for a sleepy man to sleep. There comes a time for a dying man to die." I fear that the "blame Congress" interpretation of Vietnam misses a central point of the war. After enduring twenty years of uncertain and fierce struggle, the GVN and their American allies simply ran out of energy. The U.S. lost the war. Or, one might put it another way: Hanoi and the Front won it. The time for blame is long gone. Eric Bergerud