Why didn’t the U.S. nuke Vietnam during the Vietnam War?




Bring Back Democracy

Answered by

Tim Muston

Author has 5K answers and 1.1M answer viewsDec 21, 2021

The fact that any use of nuclear weapons would inevitably lead to the destruction of all human life on earth might have been a factor.

A more interesting question IMO would be why did the USA get involved in fighting in Vietnam at all.





Bring Back Democracy

Answered by

Georgette Wolf

Author has 2.1K answers and 2.5M answer viewsDec 21, 2021

It would have been the equivalent of an exterminator burning your house down to get rid of a racoon living in the attic. That certainly wouldn’t have looked good for the image the US was trying to project.




The Great Viet Country

Answered by

Doan Thanh Tam

Author has 683 answers and 974.1K answer viewsDec 30, 2021

This question really intrigues me, now let break it down.

I too always wonder why the US, not just nukes everyone and claims home victorious and less costly, like Japan for example.

Now the Vietnam War is happening during the cold war which basically just means Red vs Blue. USA VS USSR, so any war that was happening in this time frame is more or less a proxy war or ghost war or in Korea is case full confrontation.

And let us be glad Vietnam was not Korea 2.0

I always believed it was because Vietnam was allied with the USSR meaning the USA more or less can not freely drop Nuke during the Cold War.








Bring Back Democracy

Answered by

Wilhelm Rutger Fridolf

Author has 1.1K answers and 1.5M answer viewsDec 21, 2021

Nuclear weapons were designed to end a protracted war, not to start another very short one.




Bring Back Democracy

Answered by

Scott Nash

Author has 4.5K answers and 938.7K answer viewsDec 20, 2021

Jesus Christ what a question! Because prior to 2017 we never had a president who was a psychopath. Nixon was evil and a cheat…. But he wasn’t a wonton killer.




Bring Back Democracy

Answered by

Den Valdron

Author has 7K answers and 2.1M answer viewsDec 21, 2021

Probably a little thing called ‘starting WWIII’

See, thing when you start throwing around Nukes, no one knows what you’re going to do next, and you don’t know what they’re going to do.

Both China and Russia had nuclear weapons. Hit North Vietnam with a nuke or two… well, that’s on the Chinese border.




A Nuke goes off on his border, maybe he figures that the US ain’t going to stop with just one, and is planning to throw more.

What are his options? If he sits and does nothing, the next one might be in , at which point it’s too late.

American nukes fly, lots of them, heading East. But all those ICBM’s in the air, do the Russians really know, can they really be sure nothing is aiming at them? Russian nukes fly. End of world.

Yeah, that’s not good. Let’s not nuke vietnam.






World History

Answered by


Author has 4.4K answers and 1.5M answer viewsDec 20, 2021

Because that

a. would have made that part of the world uninhabitable

b. would have escalated the war to the point of a nuclear exchange between the US and China

c. that in turn would have escalated the war to the point that we would have a nuclear exchange between the US , China and the USSR

d. that in turn would have resulted in global nuclear winter and we would all be dead.


a. 会把地球上的这块区域变成生命禁区

b. 会把战争升级到中美核冲突的地步

c. 反过来还会继续使战争升级到美中苏核冲突的地步

d. 再进一步导致全球核冬天(核武器爆炸引起的全球性气温下降),全体人类集体完蛋。



Bring Back Democracy

Answered by

Francis Vincent 

Author has 6.2K answers and 4M answer viewsDec 24, 2021

Vietnam was a proxy war between the US who supported North Vietnam and China and the Soviet Union who supported South Vietnam. Think of it as a move in a global chess game between superpowers. Neither side wanted Vietnam as a whole to fall to the other side but they also didn't want to do anything that could cause the conflict to escillate into WWIII.




Bring Back Democracy

Answered by

Justin Schwartz 

Author has 18.9K answers and 22.7M answer viewsDec 21, 2021

We actually know the answer to this one. In the memoirs of top aides to Johnson and Nixon, They report that both presidents said that they were aware that if they use nuclear weapons in Vietnam, and plans to do so under Nixon in particular had developed pretty far, but anti-Vietnam war demonstrators would pull down the fence around the White House and lynch them. So if you ever wonder whether demonstrating there's any good, it saved the world. For real.




Bring Back Democracy

Answered by

Robert C. 

Author has 2.1K answers and 5.1M answer viewsDec 21, 2021

A Pentagon study in 1966 concluded that unilateral US use of nukes wouldn't make much of a difference to the Vietnam War effort. It could, however, provoke some very nasty responses from Russia and China. Among other reasons, the mountainous terrain of Vietnam wasn't conducive to effectively irradiating the countryside.

To paraphrase historian Alex Wellerstein, since WWII, the US has had a keen interest in not breaking the “nuclear taboo” of first use because once nukes start becoming normalized, the US stands to lose the most.





Edwin Parks

Soldier, counter-terrorism is my expertiseAuthor has 7.8K answers and 9.1M answer viewsUpdated Jan 29

Because they would have lost what ever minimal support they had from every nation on earth.




Kell Morrow

Lives in Albuquerque, NM (1995–present)Author has 3K answers and 1.1M answer views9mo

In 2016, Donald Trump asked that question during the transition. “If we have them, then why don't we use them?”

The answer is MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction.

During Vietnam, the USSR also had ICBMs and their response would have likely been to hit Western Europe with nuclear weapons and to be safe, hit the USA with more nuclear weapons.

Tell me, OP, How would you have liked it if every large city in the United States had been destroyed in 1968?

Will we ever use them? Only if someone like Putin is stupid or insane enough to fire on us first or if we in the United States elect a president who is stupid or crazy enough to not understand or care about MAD.








The Great Viet Country

Answered by

Gary Cummings 

Author has 4.8K answers and 2.8M answer viewsDec 21, 2021

The US knew it would become the ethical outcast of the world. There was no pretext for the US to nuke Vietnam.




Tony Bartlett

Former Chief Inspector (Operations) (1970–2003)Author has 17K answers and 47.5M answer views9mo

Because the USSR and China would have nuked the USA.

It's called Mutually Assured Destruction and has kept the world safe since 1945




Wes Frank

Masters in American History from Northwestern UniversityAuthor has 9K answers and 53.4M answer views9mo

What purpose would this serve? The United States was in South Vietnam as an ally. Also, American foreign policy since 1945 has been based on preventing nuclear war, not practicing it.




Global Politics

Answered by

JD Hill

Author has 1.8K answers and 215.5K answer viewsDec 27, 2021

Because it would have been the dumbest thing they could have done. Why would you ask such a stupid question. China has already proved they could beat us on the battlefie and both China and The USSR had nukes so it would have been stupid beyond belief.




Suchindranath Aiyer

Author has 16.5K answers and 9.6M answer views9mo

(1) Over confidence

(2) To avoid International repercussions (for just one example the signal to China and the Soviet Union that it is OK to use Nuclear Weapons against small non nuclear weapon states)

(1) 太过自信

(2) 担心国际影响不好(举个例子,这么做会向中国和苏联发出信号:可以对小型无核武器国家使用核武器)



Troit Stowe

Author has 636 answers and 42.9K answer views9mo

Two reasons. (1) The bombing campaign was taking its toll on N. Vietnam. Nukes were not needed. (2) Using nukes in the unpopular war, would have caused riots of gigantic proportions. The political backlash would have been horrendous. Politicians are adverse to any thing which might upset their gravy train.




Global Politics

Answered by

Ron Combs 

Author has 13.3K answers and 1.5M answer viewsDec 20, 2021

Keep in mind, nukes are political tools. Yes, the military maintains, and delivers them, but politicians make the decision. So, they are used as a subtle threat.




Gary Martin

Author has 1.5K answers and 131.6K answer viewsJan 19

Several good reasons. Firstly there’s a little thing called radiation unleashed by atomic and thermonuclear bombs (atomic use U235, thermonuclear both U235 and hydrogen. That radiation sticks around for a long time (think Chernobyl accident) and poisons the land, flora, fauna and people. That nastiness is why nuclear weapons are “no use” weapons. Secondly that radiation not only poisons the target area but is carried downwind hundreds of miles. So you clobber not only the enemy but any countries that might get some wind drift after the fact. What’s downwind from VN? The Philippine Islands and Taiwan. Next it invites nuclear retaliation. Both the Russians and Chinese had tactical nukes they could have lobbed over to South VN and ruined everyones’ day. Get it now?




Tim Holloway

MS in Industrial Arts Education & Mechanical Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Graduated 1983)Author has 1.6K answers and 2.8M answer viewsJan 26

It’s not like we didn’t want to !!!

I am grateful that cooler heads than mine prevailed.

I think the Ukraine is just saber rattling, A large part of the Ukraine is really mostly Russian speaking, and more closely akin to Russia than the Ukraine. Something like what Poland was to Germany at the start of WWII . The Ukraine is of course the major Russian wheat belt, so food issues are also a big concern. China has had so much flooding, and crop failure, I can’t see how it could launch any sort of aggression if it can’t even feed it’s self.

I think The USA needs to back away from all foreign problems for a while. We are too fragmented ourselves, and we need to get things straightened here at home before we get involved in another foreign war.





We need to stand down for a decade or so, until all our issues pass.

The world will keep right on turning with out our help.

Let cooler heads relax the situation, and not do stupid shit like I once wanted to do. Wisdom always comes too late, and life is always too short.





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