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North Vietnam/Vietcong:

Dead: 1,100,000

Wounded: 600,000



Dead: 58,191

Wounded: 153,303







Well over 1,000,000 Afghan civilians and Mujahideen killed



Over 15,000 Soviet military personnel killed, 35,000 wounded

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Just numbers.


Winner of Vietnam War: North Vietnamese and Vietcong


Winner of Afghan War: Afghan Mudjaheddin



If you take numbers, Germany won WW1 and WW2. Allied losses were both times much higher.



Allied losses: 8 million

Central power losses: 7 million



Allied losses: 50 million

Axis losses: 12 million


(Source: Wikipedia)

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I always thought that they just played their hand too early. After all, America was losing in the Pacific theater for a year or so. Had Japan stabilized and solidified it's power before attacking, it would have been a even tougher fight for the Allies to take control.


Ironically enough, the Atom bomb probably saved more lives than it took, since an invasion of Japan would have been a bloody, bloody offensive.

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Industrial output may be the key in a war as large-scale as WW2 with battlefields in "neutral areas" (in this case: The Pacific).


But in "small scale wars" like Vietnam or Afghanistan, other factors become even more important:


1.) Which side has the support of the people?

2.) Who knows the terrain better?

3.) Is it a symmetric or asymmetric war?

4.) Public opinion / Media coverage

5.) Who, in the end, is more determined to fight?


Vietnam War:

1.) Well, it wasn't the US. The south vietnamese system was a corrupt, brutal and authoritarian system backed by foreigners, the north vietnamese was at least one of vietnamese origin. Nationalism is a strong weapon. Plus, the way the war was fought didn't favor the US (My Lai, Agent Orange etc.).

2.) Definitely the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army. The US were new to southeast asia and especially Vietnam.

3.) It was an asymmetric war: High-tech war by the US, low-tech guerilla-style warfare by the Vietnamese.

4.) The public opinion was against the US, so it was only a matter of time until an anti-war administration took power. Also, the media coverage didn't favor the US and caused worldwide Anti-US demonstration, damaging the US reputation for years to come.

5.) The Vietnamese were more determined. They fought for their independence since the beginning of the century and they were not willing to bow to anyone. No matter how great victories of the US were, the Vietnamese kept fighting. There was no realistic way to win the war for the US.



1.) Again, the Soviets didn't have this support. Afghanistan wasn't a country willing to adopt communism or leadership from moscow. Again, nationalism and religious motivation (the faithful muslims against the faithless communists), were strong weapons.

2.) Of course Afghans knew the terrain better. The soviets were never able to track down all groups in the afghan mountains.

3.) It was an asymmetric war. The Soviets used their technology while the afghans used guerilla hit-and-run-tactics and slowly adopted western and russian technology.

4.) The media coverage and public opinion were against the soviets. However, since not being a democratic state, the soviets could've kept on fighting the war for a very long time. But in the end even the soviets realized that they were not able to win this.

5.) The afghan determination to fight for dominance should be known by now. Since 1979 the country has been in a permanent state of war. Even know local warlords are fighting in the country, while Karsai is mayor of Kabul. There was no way that the russians would've been willing to fight over such an unimportant country like Afghanistan forever.



Guys, I'm not saying that technology or industry isn't important. I just say that it's not the ONLY factor. When I sometimes see how many F-22s and B-2s and M1A1-MBTs are in the armies of our nationstates-nations, I'm thinking about the fact that war is not a dice-game where tanks and tech increase your odds. War is a very complex thing and technology is just one deciding element.


Did you ever see "Black Hawk Down" or "We were soldiers"? Yeah, the US killed many many more enemies than they lost soldiers. But did they really win?

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Guys, I'm not saying that technology or industry isn't important. I just say that it's not the ONLY factor. When I sometimes see how many F-22s and B-2s and M1A1-MBTs are in the armies of our nationstates-nations, I'm thinking about the fact that war is not a dice-game where tanks and tech increase your odds. War is a very complex thing and technology is just one deciding element.


Did you ever see "Black Hawk Down" or "We were soldiers"? Yeah, the US killed many many more enemies than they lost soldiers. But did they really win?

But you're concentrating on the home advantage. Can you imagine the North-Koreans launching a counter attack against US soil? You can't win wars with guerilla. The Vietcong/North were most dangerous when they launched the Tet-offensive. The conservative way of warfare is still the only way to lead to a direct victory. The US army wasn't defeated in Vietnam, but by the public opinion. That factor puts all others in the shadow. There was no way the army ever could have been defeated otherwise, in my opnion.


@Rekamgil: Someone had to say this and I pick you as the victim: compensating?

Edited by Haken (see edit history)
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I think it was one, but as I have learned it, it scared the sh*t out of the defenders. The US was more than happy if the Commies stayed in their trees. Initially it had success, but then came the planes...


That's what I saw in a documentary anyhow. American Wars aren't my speciality.

Edited by Haken (see edit history)
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The US did indeed see Tet as a tactical and operational victory, but they were strategically in the same boat as before... plus, waning support at home did have its serious consequences. LBJ had an increasingly tough time balancing his "middle" option (trying to avoid all out war while believing the propping up of S. Vietnam was of the utmost importance to US national interests). Maybe more NVA and Vietcong died, but the US did not secure its objectives and, in that sense, it lost the war. If we use body count logic, we could easily declare the current Iraq War as a victory, but few people (I dare say) would say it is all over!

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In 1974 the US and NV signed the Paris peace accords which stated NV wouldn't attack SV and the US would pull out. In that sense we won. But in 1975 the NVA invaded SV again whne there were too few US troops left to stop them. Then the US felt it was wasn't worth it to go back in.


While the US was involved in Vietnam, we were winning all the way until the Paris peace accords. Only after we pulled out and the NVa had serious number advantage did they win. Us won nearly every confrontation and body count was also pointint the US out as victor.

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You'll probably find that most higher army commanders of the Vietnam era believe the US "lost" despite the fact that they won individual engagements one after the other. Had LBJ publically declared war and sought a declaration of war in the Senate, the govt could most likely have suplied the overwhelming support that the army asked of it. Since he did not seek such a declaration in congress, the army was hamstrung by the govts inability to support the army like the army wanted... IMHO

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US had to pull out, they couldn't really do anything against the guerilla tactics of the vietnamese, and even when they tryed they used napalm to stop the vietnamese using the forests to their advantage. This made the battle at home even worse. As the vietnam war was the first properly televised war, it allowed the general public to see the horrors of napalm effects. This contributed to the protests against the war at home, which i think was the most important factor in making the US army pull out of the fighting.

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Which goes back to the idea that had LBJ sought congressional approval, he would have been much more free to properly prosecute the war... that it, if the "people's representatives" had said "yes" to a declaration of war the "war at home" might have been less severe even despite the use of Napalm etc. We can (again) see a similar pattern in the Iraq war... the initial and very public attempts (which were largely successful) have fuelled the admin's ability to continue the war despite the many problems they are currently facing...

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Think back a couple decades...remember when we thought we were invincible against China? That the Koreans were simply a road bump in the way to thrashing all of them?


And then the dragon awoke, and got pushed back all over again. Very important in war to never underestimate your enemy. China was capable throughout the Cold War of providing a substantial challenge, given their sheer numbers. As well, despite their little "I'm the better Communist" fued, the Soviet Union and China would undoubtably have stuck together, even if the Soviet Union committed merely equipment and supplies and not necessarily full military backing. Just as well, even IF the Chinese military could not stop us, the cost of such a campaign throughout Asia would have had a very high cost, much like what we are experiencing with Iraq now (estimates place the projected cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom well into the lower trillions).

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Here are the numbers for the US Civil War (not to change the current topic, but I know more about it than Vietnam)



110,070 -Killed

249,458 -Disease, Accident Deaths

275,175 -Wounded

634,703 -Total



74,524 -Killed

124,000 -Disease, Accident Deaths

137,000 -Wounded (estimated)

335,524 -Total



184,594 -Killed

373,458 -Disease, Accident Deaths - This is just crazy...

412,175 -Wounded (estimated)

970,227 -Total


Almost a million lives disrupted in a war that could have been avoided... sad.gif

Edited by Nan Gorgwaith (see edit history)
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Yes, I'm concentrating on home advantage. You're right, there's no way a country like North Korea could launch a counter-attack on US soil. And you're indeed right, shattering an enemy army and take over the country is only possible with a conservative way of warfare.


But that's not enough for a true victory. A true victory is achieved when the population of the defeated land has no more desire to fight and also thinks that it was useless to resist in the first place. But there a few peoples on this planet who would do such a thing.


When the US won WW2, the Japanese and the Germans were in exactly that place. Defeated, unwilling to continue the fight and confident that the war was never theirs to win. That was a true victory.


In other countries it just doesn't work that way. In Vietnam, the US was able to station troops there and win every major engagement. They had complete air superiority and were technologically more than advanced. But it didn't help them achieve their goal. The war continued despite all victories. The situation didn't get better despite all efforts. And the Vietnamese didn't capitulate despite everything the US did.


Similar situations have been in the past and are now present. For example:


- The German Army shattered every european Army from 1939 - 1941 easily. Even the Russians were beaten pretty hard up until december 1941. But Germany was never able to win the war. In nearly every conquered country, especially in Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and France, resistance groups were popping up and despite all efforts the Germans were never able to defeat them. Especially in Yugoslavia where partisan groups were moving in division strength (!) long before the Soviets came.


- The US met equal problems when they were engaged in Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan (until today) and Iraq (until today). The major US problem is that the enemies of the US don't care for their own lifes or the lifes of others while the US deeply cares about that. It's an extreme difference in mentality.


I can see that here in the discussion; most of you are from countries with a long democratic tradition. I on the other hand are from a country where up until 61 years ago democracy was a "strange thing". The value of a single life didn't count much in Nazi Germany and because Germans are educated about WW2 a lot and I am also very interested in history and talk very much about that with my grandfather (who is an amateur historian and was a soldier in WW2), I have some understanding of this.


Just think about this: When Germany lost the battle of Stalingrad, 300.000 soldiers were lost, most of them dead or captured. Just 6000 came back home after the war. An allied commander or politician would've thought: Oh my good, 300.000 men lost...what a catastrophe. The Germans of that time thought: Oh my god, such a big gap in our lines...we need to replace this Army fast.


No thought about lifes or so, just about missing..."assets". For these Germans, a soldier was an asset like a gun or a tank. Similar opinions exist today in the terrorist and insurgency movements of Iraq and Afghanistan and in the past in Afghanistan (again), Vietnam, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. How do you defeat an enemy who doesn't care if you kill him or not?

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