Why Vietcong was successful in winning the Hearts and Minds of the Vietnamese peasants relative to the U.S and Republicans in Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a fight for winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese peasants and being against the Vietcong. The Vietcong used guerilla warfare in Vietnam to eliminate their opponents (Hayslip, and Jay, 12). Vietcong guerilla fighters would attack U.S troops unaware and leave without capture.
The Vietcong soldiers wore the civilians’ clothes as compared to military uniform by American soldiers. Consequently, there was a lot of suspicion, arrest and mass interrogation of peasants by the American soldiers (Hayslip, and Jay, 13). The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) soldiers and the Americans assumed that every peasant was their enemy. In this regard, it was impossible for the American to win the hearts and minds of the local people.
The Americans troops used military strategies that did not secure the support of the local people. Most Vietnamese peasants perceived the soldiers as invaders who were not welcome in Vietnam (Hayslip, and Jay, 17). Further, the American soldiers used air strikes that dropped chemicals like napalm and Agent Orange. These chemical warfare killed thousands of the innocents villagers hence the Vietnamese hated the U.S troops. Contrary, the Vietcong utilized these opportunities to help the villagers by informing them of the soldiers’ movements. In addition, they provided hiding places and basic needs such as water and foods (Hayslip, and Jay, 18). Furthermore, the Vietcong treated the wounded villagers with care, which certainly won their hearts and minds.
Moreover, the Vietcong needed the support of the Vietnamese peasants. The Vietnamese leaders initiated strict rules for their soldiers to adhere when they entered the villages (Hayslip, and Jay, 19). For instance, the Vietcong demanded that their soldiers should avoid military operations that were likely to damage the crops and land of the local people. In addition, they were prohibited from burning or destroying the belongings and houses of the local people (Hayslip, and Jay, 20).
Besides, the Vietcong was against purchasing or borrowing what the Vietnamese peasant were unwilling to lend or sell. In this respect, the Vietcong soldiers did not break the local people’s promises. They also won the minds and hearts of the local people by helping the Vietnamese villagers in their daily activities (Hayslip, and Jay, 21). Consequently, they helped the villagers to fetch firewood, harvest, carry water and in sewing.
The Vietcong was also successful in using propaganda that influenced local Vietnamese against the American forces. They convinced the Vietnamese peasants that the American soldiers were invaders who required their land (Hayslip, and Jay, 22). This created suspicion and mistrust between the Vietnamese peasants towards the U.S and ARVN soldiers. The Vietcong strategy was to allocate the captured land to the local Vietnamese peasants. Additionally, they often promised to protect the local people from American soldiers’ attacks (Hayslip, and Jay, 23). In this regard, this increased the villagers fear because they were afraid that the Americans soldiers would take their land away forever.
Therefore, the Vietnamese peasants were reluctant to assist the ARVN and American soldiers, particularly when they knew that U.S troops would loot their villages if they suspected them (Hayslip, and Jay, 33). Supporters of the ARVN and Americans suffered brutal and ruthless behaviors. The peasants also killed more than 30 000 tax collectors, police and teachers who worked with the South Vietnam government (Hayslip, and Jay, 40). Further, the villagers developed fear that Vietcong would kill them if they were seen helping the U.S soldiers.
The aims of the operation “rolling thunder” by the Americans and the ARVN soldiers did not succeed. It aimed to stop the supply of weapons to the south and force the Vietcong give up the war (Hayslip, and Jay, 45). The resilience and determination of fighters remained high despite killing more than 50 000 people (Hayslip, and Jay, 55). The local people volunteered to repair the damaged places indicating that they supported the Vietcong.
The operation “search and destroy” was aimed at locating and engaging the Vietcong. In addition, it was aimed at transporting the US and the ARVN troops by helicopters. However, killing more Vietcong fighters did not have significant effects. Instead, it increased the local people’s sympathy towards the Vietcong fighters (Hayslip, and Jay, 60).
The operations killed thousands innocent villagers hence the U.S troops and the ARVN were unpopular. This contributed to the failure to win the support of the Vietnamese peasants (Hayslip, and Jay, 63). Besides, the US/ARVN soldiers were involved on cases of rapes and beating women and children, which angered the Vietnamese peasants. This increased the opportunities of the Vietcong among the South Vietnamese.
The chemical warfare by the ARVN and American airstrikes was meant to destroy the crops and jungle supporting the Vietcong. However, the operations displaced Vietnamese peasant farmers from their homes and they settled in fortified camps (Hayslip, and Jay, 71). This drove the local people closer to the Vietcong and increased the hatred for the Americans.
Without winning the minds and hearts of the local Vietnamese, the Americans could not win the Vietnam War. The ARVN and Americans soldiers required to indicate to the local people that they were better option (Hayslip, and Jay, 73). Most notably, they needed to show the Vietnamese that they would protect them and offer them care. The Vietnam War was different because the other wars were fought on definite front line.
The Vietcong was a guerrilla army that migrated to different areas. Therefore, the Americans needed the support of the local people to gain information concerning their enemies (Hayslip, and Jay, 79). The Vietcong fighters did not use their uniforms hence it was not easy to identify them. They needed to convince the local people not to support the Vietcong.
The success of the Vietcong in winning the Hearts and minds of the peasants was a key factor in winning the Vietnam War (Hayslip, and Jay, 79). They engaged in determined efforts to reunify Vietnamese and expel the foreigners. The guerrilla warfare was successful in killing the U.S and ARVN soldiers and controlling the use of superior technological power.
The Vietcong treated the locals with respect and assisted them in their daily activities in the farms. In return, they secured their support (Hayslip, and Jay, 80). The Vietcong used their previous experience against the French and Japanese to seek support from the local peasants. On the contrary, the U.S and ARVN failed to win the Hearts and Minds of the Vietnamese peasants because they used tactics that were unpopular and ineffective amongst the locals (Hayslip, and Jay, 86). This reduced the U.S morale in Vietnam and at home. The soldiers failed to achieve a quick success leading to more than 55 000 deaths. Finally, the United States withdrew their armies in Vietnam in 1975.
Hayslip, Le Ly, and Jay Wurts. When Heaven And Earth Changed Places. 1st ed. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Plume, 1990. Print.