I thought the Vietnam War was a disaster from the get go, mostly because of the reports I heard about how the government of South Vietnam was corrupt, which sounded pretty believable. Now I come across this explanation from George Scott on Quora, which surprised the heck out of me.
About 30 years ago, Prime Minister Lee of Singapore, who is largely credited with the “Singapore Miracle” (turning a backwater nation into an economically prosperous nation) wrote an op ed in the New York Times in which he claimed the U.S. had largely won the Vietnam War.The New York Times has an interesting column about Prime Minister Lee.
His contention was that the U.S. wasn’t just fighting to protect South Vietnam from the Communist yoke, but that the U.S. was fighting to protect all of Southeast Asia (including his native Singapore). He wrote that although South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos fell to Communism, the U.S.’s fight delayed the Communist surge long enough for Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines to develop their nations economically enough to make the Communist lure undesirable.
Prime Minister Lee argued that had the U.S. not fought the Vietnam War, Communism would have taken over all of Southeast Asia. The U.S.’s participation in the Vietnam War allowed the much larger portion of the Southeast Asian population to escape the yoke of Communism. And in Prime Minister Lee’s eyes (as a significant insider), this meant the U.S. largely won the Vietnam War, even though Indochina fell to Communism.