The United States would have to take to the mud, too

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachThe enemy never seriously attempted to strike at American bases or lifelines beyond Korea, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), vulnerable as the bases continued to be:

An air or sea strike — and both planes and submarines were available in quantity within the Communist bloc — might have wreaked havoc with American reinforcement of Korea, but it would also have exposed the enemy to even more serious retaliation.


A French minister of state, in the days when Bourbon France was the land power par excellence of the world, once respectfully pointed out to his government that if France seriously intended to challenge Britain, a sea power, she must first have a navy. Two hundred years later the United States was in the same position. If it seriously desired to check the Communist advance on the ground, the United States would have to take to the mud, too.


  1. Ezra says:

    Mud and Vietnam. President LBJ: “Take your average Viet Cong who is willing to lay down in a mud-filled ditch for two days waiting to ambush and kill an American. Take your average American soldier and place him in the same mud-filled ditch and after twenty minutes he wants a cigarette.”

  2. Kirk says:


    That anecdote speaks more to LBJ’s essential stupidity than anything else. Why the hell should an American soldier be as motivated as a VC? After all, he knew that the war was basically bullshit, and had been since day one when LBJ chose to escalate it. Joint Chiefs had told Kennedy that Vietnam was a lost cause, but because of the way he’d painted himself into a corner, he couldn’t let that “domino” fall.

    The assholes behind Vietnam were the Democrats. Eisenhower knew it was not a war we should fight, and they then mousetrapped themselves into it, and once having gotten us involved, then turned around and pissed away 50,000 American lives, God alone knows how many Vietnamese and others, only to eventually give the whole thing up to the Communists 15 years later. And, they somehow managed to pull off the ju-jitsu move of making it seem as though the whole sordid affair had been a Republican idea all along…

    The whole issue your anecdote boils down to is that of motivation. Why the hell should any American soldier be as motivated as the VC, when creatures like LBJ were running things?

    Not to mention, the VC that were willing to lay in the mud for two days for an ambush? Remember what happened to them, once the North took over? Re-education camps for all, and jack shit for acknowledgment. I would love to introduce you to a boat person of my acquaintance, who’d been a die-hard VC guerrilla during Tet–He survived that, fought on, served as a guide to the NVA in ’73 and ’75, and then wound up in the camps right alongside his ARVN adversaries. Politically unreliable, donchaknow? Dude was more than a little cynical and anti-Communist when I met him… Felt like he’d been swindled out of his youth and all that.

  3. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Ho hum. What is the point of this never-ending series of extracts from Fehrenbach’s book? It is getting rather repetitive and dull — not to mention copyright issues.

    Maybe someday we will get to the part where the North Koreans — who according to these selected extracts seem to be so invincible — got kicked all the way back to the Chinese border. How did that happen?

    When we look at conditions in North Korea today, South Koreans ought to be grateful that foreign soldiers came in and laid down their lives to save them from North Korean domination. Could those foreign soldiers have been better prepared, better trained, better armed, better led? Absolutely! But the grunts still got the job done.

  4. McChuck says:

    Please ignore the previous poster. Some people simply refuse to learn, and resent being taught.

  5. Gavin Longmuir says:

    McChuck — What are you trying to teach us?

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