The Ho Chi Minh Campaign of April 1975 marked the end of the Republic of Vietnam with the fall of Saigon on the 30th and the beginning of Communist rule. The United States could not believe that the war they had pumped billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of soldiers into was in vain; it was truly a first in U.S. military history that the country had technically "lost a war." After almost 30 years since the end of the war, sufficient information has been compiled to allow historians and others to answer the question, "Why?"
North Vietnam was successful in defeating South Vietnam due to its effective leadership and organization. Ho Chi Minh was able to rally the Vietnamese (even those in the South) to join the Viet Minh by propagating nationalist, not communist, principles. The fact that Vietnam had been subjected to French imperial rule from 1884 to 1954 fueled the desire for autonomy.
South Vietnam did not have continuity in political control after Ngo Dinh Diem's assassination; leaders changed so much that one of Lyndon B. Johnson's aides "suggested that the coat of arms of the RVN government should be a turnstile (Tucker 104)." Although Diem was the most capable leader, he was unable to garner enough support from his people; he was Catholic and was practically bossed around by his family on how to rule, which in this case was incorrectly.
When it came to military ability, North Vietnam again had the upper hand. Looking at the troop statistics would make one think otherwise; in December 1974, "PAVN strength had increased to approximately 200,000 (Kimball 35)," whereas the ARVN had upwards of 1.3 million! Their use of guerilla warfare was advantageous, but the main point was that they were familiar with the territory, something that...