1081 – Cambodia – a thorn in the Vietnam War side

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South Vietnamese marines, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

South Vietnamese marines rushed to the American Army helicopter after a sweep east of the Cambodian town of Prey-Veng during the Vietnam War. Credit Nick Ut/Associated Press

Episode 1081 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will look at one of the more substantial impediments to the US prevailing in the Vietnam War. One of the most frustrating aspects of the Vietnam War on the part of most of those who participated in the military operations of that “overseas contingency” was the feeling of being forced to fight an armed adversary with one hand tied behind their backs.

A telling indication of that condition can be in the Cambodian situation. Cambodia was a sleepy little nation carved out of the old French Indo-China colony lying just to the west of Vietnam. The Khmer people of Cambodia wanted no part of the war being fought next door in Vietnam by their long time oppressors, the Vietnamese. Even though they declared their neutrality in the raging war being carried on next door, they did not have the means and/or inclination to prevent the North Vietnamese from using their territory at will to carry out its military operations against the Americans and their allies in South Vietnam.

There was an article in The New York Times titled: Was It Legal for the U.S. to Bomb Cambodia? by Brian Cuddy. It did a good job of describing the legal considerations the leadership of the US faced as they proceeded with their war to guarantee the viability and security of the nation of South Vietnam.

The vexing question was: Is it acceptable to engage an enemy on the territory of a third country? The military leadership in Vietnam in 1967 wanted to pursue enemy forces who were conducting R & R activities a few miles inside Cambodia after the Battle of Dak To. General Westmoreland was rebuffed in his request to cross the border and pursue the NVA.

Listen to episode 1081 of the podcast and discover more about the piece of rope that tied hands of our military in its full pursuit of prevailing in the Vietnam War.


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