Today, it's difficult to shift to the Cold War era type of thinking. Those days were quite different - we were on the brink of a nuclear holocaust for more than forty years. Because of that, at least in my opinion, people describe some Cold War events under present day's critteria, which is wrong. Every global power today is fighting mostly for economical gain, because there are no existence-threatening rivalries and economy is the way to go in the peacetime, but back then it was whole lot of different story. US were battling USSR, and among other things, Communist ideology. It's well known that Communism itself wasn't the primary target (for example, China and Yugoslavia weren't American enemies), the USSR was, but from time to time Uncle Sam had to show to the world that Communism is bad, whether it was true or not. That's why Vietnam had to be taught a lesson. USSR, and China were too powerful to be dealt with militarily, North Korea was dealt with, and the red terror now started spreading to the south - to Vietnam. As far as I know of the appearance of Communism in Vietnam, it wasn't nearly as radical as one in Cambodia, and it had massive popular support, in the north and in the south. It was obvious, that just like in Korea, Communists will in time have the entire country at their rule, and as it was understood by the contemporary US officials - it would lead to a domino effect of Red tide. An example had to be set by the Americans that Communism mustn't be spread any further, and when we look carefully, it never was (apart from Cuba). So given that stopping any serious spread of the Red tide was one of the primary US goals concerning Vietnam, we can conclude that the US were successful, at least on the matter of further expansion. I don't want to say US were or are evil. I'm just saying that they did what they believed they had to do, under excuses they thought would be swallowed easily. Americans supported a profoundly corrupt South Vietnamese government, and had a false excuse to enter the war (Gulf of Tonkin). If you do something, and give false reasons for doing that, then it's obvious you've done it for other reasons you didn't want to be revealed. I believe that the reason of US involvement in the Vietnam War wasn't liberation of the Vietnam people, because the Vietnamese were majorly for the Communist Viet Minh movement. It wasn't for self defense, because the Gulf of Tonkin incident was faked. It's purely because matherial interest - they had to to halt the spread of the enemy, whether it was a right thing to do or not. That wasn't an honorable reason, but wars and matter of power and rule never are. It wasn't a battle between good and evil, nor the battle of great ideologies. It was a battle between two rivals in it's rawest form: the USA on one side and the Eastern bloc and it's extensions on the other. All that should be understood, before deliberating whether America succeeded or not in it's goals concerning involvement in Vietnam. Over the course of the war, around 55000 American soldiers died, along with great material losses (around 3000 aircraft for example), and God knows how much did that war cost. Quite a considerable loss, one would think. On the other hand, the war claimed the lives of around 3000000 (!) Vietnamese, up to 800000 Cambodians, with gigantic and irreversible impact on overall military, economic, industrial, agricultural power. Vietnam was a destroyed country, considering the vast numbers of civilian victims. A great number of American Air Force and Navy aerial sorties intentionally targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure with napalm, cluster bombs, biological and chemical weapons (for example, I remember hearing a transcript of Lyndon B. Johnson administration concluding that civilans and civilian infrastructures had to be targeted in major aerial campaigns). The US have deliberately targeted the softest non-military targets in the North Vietnam to destroy the will of Vietcong fighters. So, considering those losses, who won the war? And a more tricky question: with losses like those of the Vietnamese (when compared to the American), is it possible to have victory, in any circumstance? I think it isn't. And I'll tell you why: Vietnam still hasn't recovered from the war that was fought 40-50 years ago. That was the price it paid for defying Uncle Sam, and for wanting to spread the Red colour. The Red tide was stopped fully by this war, and in addition, even though the Communist movement in Vietnam eventually took control of the country, the country it governed became an empty shell, and although alive, left with no chance of real prosperity. So, I may conclude now giving my own opinion: What were the US goal of the Vietnam war? 1) To spread the Red tide and the expansion of Communism in the Indochina region, the Asian continent, and eventually the world. -That goal was fully fullfilled. 2) Another goal was to battle and destroy the Communist movement in Vietnam. -This goal wasn't 100% fullfilled, but Vietnam was destroyed instead, leaving the Communist rule there harmless to the global American agenda. 3) We can also say that the goal was to halt the Red tide in Cambodia too. -Even though the US haven't hampered the Khmer Rouge directly, they have inflicted massive civilian casualties, and doing so they lowered Cambodian relevance. In addition, the Khmer Rouge movement didn't need help in destroying their own country, for they have done it better than any Cambodian enemy would. 4) Were the US losses acceptable for the victory, that at least in my opinion was achieved? -It is very difficult to know. Seeing that the Vietnam war has very little non-historical significance in the USA today, it is natural to conclude that the price paid was acceptable. It is interesting to remark though, that in America, the public considers American lives lost in Vietnam to be a great loss, while total Civilian losses are very rarely mentioned, even though they were roughfly 30-50 times greater. I made this thread to have a discussion. Any feedback will be most welcome!