How Doc Manhattan Won Vietnam

watchmen_manhattanvietartIt never occurred to me when I read the comic, but when I watched the movie with supersized Dr. Manhattan striding through fields in Vietnam, I wondered exactly what he's supposed to have done differently in order to "win" the war in Vietnam. We only have a few images from the movie or comics showing him and the Comedian in Vietnam, so I assume he's supposed to have zapped enough people, or wished them away into cornfields or whatever, to the point that the enemies of the US surrendered or reached a settlement, leaving a government in South Vietnam that the US approved of.

That kind of assumes the traditional conservative view of the Vietnam War, that US aims could have been achieved by more firepower or more bombing or a few more years of the same. They might have finally convinced the North Vietnamese to stop participating, but that would have left a lot of insurgents native to South Vietnam, who would have kept fighting against unpopular dictators there, and fighting against what they perceived as American invaders. (Getting back to the arguments over how much of the war was fought against North Vietnamese invasion forces and how much against local South Vietnamese people in a civil war against unpopular governments within South Vietnam.)

I guess at some point the resistance might have slowed to a trickle, but it probably would have required wiping out way more Vietnamese people. Dr Manhattan causing people evaporate with a glance would have been pretty Shock & Awful, so it might have terrorized some people to stop fighting. But we're talking about forces that fought against massively superior firepower of the US for 2 decades, the French for a decade before that, resisted Japanese occupation during WWII. I don't know how "hot" the war was against French occupation before that, but I remember reading that Ho Chi Minh wrote a letter to Woodrow Wilson around 1920 asking him to support Vietnamese independence from the French.

I don't want to stereotype the Vietnamese as superhuman/non-humans who would never surrender, like the stereotype of Japanese during WWII, but you have to admit, they persisted against some pretty heavy stuff in reality. All I'm saying is Doc Manhattan would need to be even heavier in order to force a surrender on Nixon's terms.

Maybe he'd announce in his monotone, "I'm sorry, but you villagers have remained in an area that has been designated a free-fire zone. This is your last chance to move your family into the nearest Strategic Hamlet." (He says it in Vietnamese, of course.) And then he annihilates the village and countryside, with a nice overhead view so we can see the massive scale that he's able to wipe out plants and birds and trees and huts and people. This is the kind of thing that was done with troops and bombs in reality, so Manhattan would just be accomplishing the same thing faster and on a larger scale.

I know, I'm taking it too seriously. "Winning" the Vietnam War is probably more plausible than Nixon being re-elected.


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