Forecasting Vietnam's Future

The Next Stage in the War

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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Abstract

How will the Vietnam war end — or not end? A clear-cut victory by either side seems unobtainable now, leaving a situation ranging from something less satisfying to the United States than the way things turned out in South Korea, to something less satisfying to the North Vietnamese than what the Chinese Communists attained in 1949. The author describes possible outcomes in five scenarios: South Korea — the closest to a favorable outcome by the SV government and possibly by the United States; Stalemate — a costly prolongation of the present situation; Standoff — up to battalion-size skirmishes and local accommodations following a declared ceasefire; Six Kingdoms — the division of South Vietnam into separate territorial strongholds; and Shanghai — the collapse and disintegration of the SV army and government. None is really an outcome; all are new stages in the struggle; all postulate some form of continued fighting; all allow considerable room for maneuver.

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