The Vietnam War

analytical Essay
1667 words
1667 words

The Vietnam War

From the outset, the Vietnam War manifested itself as a conflict that could only be settled by prolonged engagement. Because the war was fundamentally an ideological struggle between the democratic, capitalist United States and the Communist bloc of the U.S.S.R. and China, the strategy formulated by both democratic and communist advisory forces in North and South Vietnam conformed to accepted Cold War military practices. However, while initially similar to the war in Korea, the war in Vietnam soon outgrew and exceeded the expectations of U.S. strategists, evolving into one the longest and most bitterly contested campaigns in U.S. history. The reasons for this relative loss of control on the part of the American executors of the war were manifold, but perhaps the most influential forces can be attributed, firstly, to the obduracy of the North Vietnamese and their allies in the South in the face of perceived American imperialism and, secondly, to the respective international policies of five successive American presidents in regards to U.S. military action in Vietnam and neighboring Laos and Cambodia. In the following essay I will provide a relatively brief but concise outline of the ways in which these distinct yet interrelated factors contributed to a protracted U.S. military presence in Vietnam.

To begin, the North Vietnamese communist represented a new wave of Vietnamese nationalists and freedom fighters. Since the earliest days of French colonial occupation, the Vietnamese people had struggled to free themselves from Western oppression. As a result, prominent leaders such as Ho Chi Minh had inherited and adopted the spirit of nationalism from earlier leaders such as Phan Chu Trinh and Phan Boi Chau...

... middle of paper ... it would; the primary difference, then, was that by 1975 the majority of Americans in both political and civilian life no longer really cared. More concerned with the fact that the war was over and that Americans were no longer dying on foreign soil, the fate of South Vietnam and the fear instilled by Dulles’s domino theory were no longer of moment for most Americans. Vietnam was left to the Communists, and with it went the source of incredible social ferment and dissent. One is left with only one question: was it really worth it?

Works Cited

- Hendrickson, Paul. The Living and the Dead. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.

- Le Ly Hayslip and Jay Wurts. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places. New York:

Plume, 1989.

- Robert J. McMahon, ed. Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War. New

York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the vietnam war manifested itself as an ideological struggle between the democratic, capitalist united states and the communist bloc of the u.s.
  • Explains that the north vietnamese communist represented a new wave of vietnamese nationalists and freedom fighters.
  • Analyzes how the reversal of president franklin delano roosevelt's policy calling for the liberalization of colonial rule during the administration of harry s. truman and the subsequent u.s. support of french colonies after world war ii alienated vietnamese nationalists.
  • Explains that the resolute commitment to resistance was duplicated in the "south" designated by the abstract demarcation line laid out by u.s. led geneva convention in 1954.
  • Analyzes how the vietcong and their counterparts in the north garnered enough popular support to feasibly prolong the war indefinitely.
  • Analyzes how presidents truman, eisenhower, kennedy, johnson, and nixon's international policies led to the quagmire in vietnam.
  • Analyzes how president johnson's efforts to solve the crisis through a process called vietnamization led to the sending of 500,000 american troops to vietnam during the 1968 escalation.
  • Analyzes how nixon was determined to end the war in vietnam as quickly as possible, but this task proved more difficult than he had perhaps anticipated. nixon's contradiction is emblematic of the attempts made by the u.s.
  • Analyzes how the conflict between vietnamese nationalists and u.s. policy-makers led both nations into war.

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