The American Involvement Of Vietnam Essay

The American Involvement Of Vietnam Essay

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The increasing American involvement in Vietnam can be traced to at
least three flawed attitudes. The first was a belief that the United States
was on the side of right and justice and that the communists were the
aggressors. The second was the assumption that Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong
had little grass-roots support in the South and that the people of South
Vietnam welcomed American protection. The third was the unshakable confidence
in the military’s ability to accomplish anything it wanted owing to the
superiority of the American fighting man and his technology-a belief
instilled by a long history of wars fought and won by U.S. troops. This
combination of self-righteousness and arrogance blinded America to the
realities of the situation in Vietnam.
America was sure that its military intervention in South Vietnam was morally
right. Defenders of the war saw the conflict in terms of the forces of evil
(communism) against the forces of good (freedom). Supporters of intervention
believed that to refuse aid was to abandon the peaceful and democratic nation
of South Vietnam to “communist enslavement” (“Public Hearings” 977).
President Johnson painted a picture of a “small and brave” nation beleaguered
by communist aggression. The president asked “only that the people of South
Vietnam be allowed to guide their country in their own way” (Johnson, ”War
Aims” 976). Congress had already agreed; in its Gulf of Tonkin resolution in
1964, it accused the communists of carrying out an unprovoked attack on
American naval vessels and said that this attack was only part of a larger
attack on the “freedom” of the South (971). Some of the fighting men tended
to see the war in black-and-white terms, with the communists as evil and
Americans as good...


... middle of paper ...


...ictory
that it took the “devastating” Tet Offensive of 1968 (a coordinated attack by
the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong on more than one hundred towns and
cities in the South) to impress upon it the reality of just how costly and
difficult it would be for the United States to win the war.
In the End, it was two misguided assumptions that embroiled the United States
in the military and political chaos of the Vietnam War: the self-righteous
belief that the political system that worked for Americans would work for
everyone else and that the South Vietnamese welcomed American military
intervention; and the arrogant assumption that sheer numbers and firepower
would subdue a popularly supported insurrection. When we emerged, ten years
later, these attitudes had been severely shaken. It would take many years for
the United States to begin regaining its self-confidence.

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