The preponderance of opinion calls the Viet Nam war unnecessary and avoidable. I'm not so sure about that.
Wars, particularly wars involving the United States, don't just happen. They are the result of conflicts between vast and often uncontrollable forces. Sometimes, the larger and longer the war, the more unavoidable they were.
When we entered the Viet Nam conflict, the communists conspiracy, the communist threat and the domino theory were all very real. Even though the relationship between the Soviet Union and China had broken down, communism was still spreading throughout Asia and had we not checked it in Viet Nam, we surely would have faced it in Thailand or India.
Had communism conqured Asia, it surely would have spread to Africa, and South and Central America as well, leaving the United States and western Europe isolated and vulnerable.
Confronting the communist revolution in Viet Nam slowed its spread long enough for people around the world to soberly consider whether communism was really right for them or not. The global economy was recovering from world war two at a sufficient pace to give people in the developing world hope that they could provide for their people without resorting to the false claims of global communism.
We lost the war in Viet Nam, but the war was never about Viet Nam. It was about the rest of Asia and the rest of the world--and that war we won.
Without a doubt there were excesses and abuses committed by the American forces in Viet Nam, but these excesses and abuses were exceptions to our policy and many were prosecuted as crimes by the United States. Compare our actions to the tactics of the Viet Cong and and the Khmer Rouge and it's clear to see we were on the side of reason and right in this conflict.
No one wants to go to war. It's a horrible, brutal, inhuman thing. As a race, as a species, we work every day to develop ways to prevent war, but this is a goal we haven't reached yet and hadn't reached when the United States entered the conflict in Viet Nam.
We regret everything that happened because of the Viet Nam war and everything we had to do in it, but the world really is a better and safer place because of it.