Vietnam has been a highly unstable place since WW2 and there are many underlying issues in the area which will affect our action in the area. Since the first Vietnam War the north has fell to communism while the south is led by an authoritarian capitalist leader propped up by the United States. There have been elections promised and Ho Chi Minh’s communist party almost guaranteed to win the election, but the United States is set to oppose the results and ultimately bringing us in to help fight the communist threat of the north. Our country isn’t very supportive of the war seeing it as not their fight and any form of conscription would be highly unpopular. If we do not significantly help the USA, our relationship would be soured with them and if we ever need help in the future they may decline and without the USA we lack a major ally and no other country could fill in their role.
Ideologically the North is a communist state directly opposed to us and our allies. In this Cold War conflict with the north will directly put us in conflict with the Soviet Union and the nearby communist power of China. Although strengthening our ties with the US through this war would be beneficial the negatives of soured relations with the Soviet Union, China and Vietnam if we lose the proxy war would outweigh the positives. Vietnam winning the civil war would also cause a domino effect causing other South East Asian countries to become communist eventually toppling down to us. To properly protect us from the future threat of communism we must stop the domino effect by cutting it off by the source, Vietnam. If we are unable to stop North Vietnam Cambodia and Laos will likely fall to communism, then Thailand, followed by Malaya and Indonesia and finally us. This is the biggest threat to our country and if we do not help in the fight against North Vietnam, we are directly threatened by communism.
Economically the incentive to keep a trade partner nearby no matter the outcome of the war is of great importance if we want to be less dependent on great powers. Another nearby friendly country with many natural resources would be helpful in future trade deals in South East Asia. Due to the nature of the Vietnam war, this war will not jumpstart our economy as many other wars have. Other wars have got the entire nation, including banks and companies, to stand together and help the nation out. The grey area of this war will divide the country and not bring economic prosperity. We also only have one major ally to economically help us out and if we do not significantly contribute, they will not help us out economically. This would require us to send a significant amount of men to war, most likely using conscription which would be unpopular and would likely not be worth the amount of economic aid the USA would give us.
In Vietnam the people there are very determined to keep their independence and their ideology. Many would sacrifice everything they have and even their life for the cause. They are also very anti-French as they just won a war for independence from their old colonial overlords. With France being American aligned it is hard to gain the Vietnamese trust and get them to join our side of the war. Many Vietnamese are willing to join the Communists side just to fight against the French side. The Vietnamese are also very nationalistic which they use to unite against the USA as they see the capitalist side falling to the USA’s needs and they will not get their full independence they want.
There is an East VS West mentality in the cold war and whatever side the USA and we take there will be Chinese and Soviet help to the other side. This would make this war even harder than it already was and cause further divide in the world. This war could take a long time as well. With the North Vietnamese showing unique tactics in their war for independence we can’t use our usual tactics and instead would have to use the first few years of warfare to get used to and find a counter to their guerrilla tactics. The jungle terrain in Vietnam is something not many militaries have had a lot of experience fighting in and the local Vietnamese would have an unfair advantage as they could use the terrain to their advantage and kill foreign soldiers from cover.
The Vietnam War will be he first war with video. This is extremely significant as we can no longer use propaganda to hide the horrors of war since the population can have a firsthand view of the war. The public’s view of the war in Australia hasn’t been very good since the Gallipoli campaign and if they see the horrors of everyday military service the population will grow resentful towards the war effort and will be a thorn in our side if we try to send more men to the fight.
Vietnam has also been culturally split between the north and south with the north taking on a more Chinese orientated and communist north and American originated and capitalist south. With the election to take place soon communist victory seems inevitable with their higher population in the north. Any reuniting of the two halves will be very hard to achieve without any peace. If the north wins the election or looks like they will, the USA and us will have to contest that result, and if the south wins, however unlikely, the north will not accept that result and we will have to fight them. This would put us in a good position though as we would be seen as the defenders of democracy against an unfair opponent who won’t accept a proper election. This would get more volunteers and would make anything related to the war more popular, such as conscription. More people would fight for defending democracy rather than attacking communism and we could use propaganda to further cement our commitment to the war.
To conclude I believe the correct response to the events in the Vietnam is to secretly rig the elections to our liking announce the south as the winners. This is a highly risky move as if we get found out with conclusive evidence, we are in a worse spot than if we didn’t rig them. The north will inevitably attack but with us defending democracy against the communists who are preventing peace we will be on the moral high ground. The popular opinion of the war will be on our side and volunteers will be more numerous and conscription wouldn’t be super unpopular. This is a highly risky play but if we pull it off, will change the war in our favour and will stop communism in South East Asia.