﻿“Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.” - Gen William C Westmoreland, US Army
It is said that a war cannot be fought without the support of the people. Much so was this related to the Vietnam conflict. I say the “Vietnam Conflict” in that the United States never actually declared war on North Vietnam after its communist split-up in 1960. The conflict was based on the principles of containment stated in the Truman and Eisenhower Doctrines. These documents stated that military aid would be given to any nation willing to fight communism.
This idea of “keeping communism in it’s place” without it spreading to new nations was called containment, a name given by President Harry Truman.
In May of 1955, Vietnam, which was a French colony, was broken up by rebels led by Ho
Chi Minh. Under the accords of the Geneva Convention, the French colony was broken into
Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Communist China and
Soviet Union while South Vietnam fought off communism with aid from the United States.
These series of events added to the tensions felt in the Cold War, which lasted between the
United States and the Soviet Union until 1989.
The year 1964 brought the United States into the conflict even more with President
Johnson’s Operation “Rolling Thunder”, which bombed railroads, troop camps and other North
Vietnamese targets. This also brought two battalions of 3,500 marines and opened the door to lead 540,000 men in Vietnam by 1967. This drastic call for troops to be deployed to Vietnam called on the Selective Service Act, which drafted men into the military who fit certain requirements. This combined with anti-war sentiments felt at home led to the opposition to the war I am to speak about.
The Conflict in Vietnam did not go unnoticed at home as well. Some Americans were eager to fight Communism in Vietnam. But, unlike most wars of American time, the action in
Vietnam had a very split approval amongst Americans. Many believed that the conflict was the responsibility of South Vietnam, and not that of the United States. By the conflict’s escalation, however, the approval of the practice of containment in Vietnam dropped drastically as more
Americans lost their lives to Viet-Cong guerillas. But some were optimistic, said here: “Writer
James Reston commented that the anti-war demonstrations were not helping to bring peace to
Vietnam. He said they were postponing it. He believed the demonstrations would make Ho Chi
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The Vietnam War, which lasted for two decades (1955-1975), was probably the most problematic of all American wars. US involvement in Vietnam occurred within the larger context of the Cold War between the US and the USSR. It was, and remains, morally ambiguous and controversial. The Vietnam War was slated as both a war against Communism and a war aimed at suppressing dangerous nationalist self-determination. Christian G. Appy's book, Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam, is a graphic and perceptive portrayal of soldiers' experiences and the lasting effects the Vietnam War has had on the American culture and people. Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam, is an analytical work that has three major purposes: 1. to show that those who fought in Vietnam were predominantly from the working class 2. to convey the experiences of the soldiers who served in Vietnam and 3. to offer his own scathing commentary of American actions in Vietnam.
Lawrence’s purpose in writing this book was concise and to the point. In recent history, due to the fall of the Soviet bloc, new information has been made available for use in Vietnam. As stated in the introduction, “This book aims to take account of this new scholarship in a brief, accessible narrative of the Vietnam War… It places the war within the long flow of Vietnamese history and then captures the goals and experiences of various governments that became deeply embroiled in the country during the second half of the twentieth century” (Lawrence, 3.) This study is not only about the American government and how they were involved in the Vietnam conflict, but highlights other such countries as France, China, and the Soviet Union. Lawrence goes on to say that one of his major goals in writing this book is to examine the American role in Vietnam within an international context (Lawrence, 4.) Again, this goes to show that the major purpose of Lawrence’s study included not only ...
In conclusion, I think that the United States became increasingly involved in the Vietnamese War because of the policies they had made as a promise to fight communism, and because they had sorely underestimated Vietcong’s ability to fight back using Guerrilla warfare. They refused to pull out of the war in fear of losing face before the world, but this pride factor scored them massive losses in the war. In the end, with both side sustaining heavy losses, the US were still seen as mutilators in the war, with advanced showing what their intervention had costed, and Vietnam was still fully taken over by Communism – they had achieved nothing and lost a lot.
The French eventually gained back some control over parts of Vietnam. In early 1946, the French began a series of dual negotiations with the Chinese and Viet Minh over the future of Vietnam. After failed negotiations with the French over the future of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh and his Viet Minh retreated into remote parts of the countryside to fight a small-scale insurgency against the French. (The History Place, Beginner’s Guide)
The Vietnam War was one of the most prolonged wars in US history. Although there were no exact dates, it is believed that US involvement lasted for around 20 years. The US went into this war hoping they could stop the spread of communism and defeat the northern Vietnamese. The battles were like nothing they had seen before and it was very difficult for the soldiers to differentiate between the enemies and civilians. To make it even more difficult for the soldiers, their “information was based on faulty intelligence”. Võ Nguyên Giáp, a northern Vietnamese general, believed that the US and the southern Vietnamese had an unstable relationship. He hoped that through the Tet Offensive the US would believe they were no longer worth defending. Fighting was done using guerrilla warfare which blurred the lines of legitimate and illegitimate killings and this had effect of bringing peoples morales down. Support for the war had always been split but this battle caused even the government to reconsider their involvement. The Tet offensive changed the US's attitude towards the Vietnam war by leading to further anti-war protests, a credibility gap in America, and for President Johnson to negotiate peace and not seek reelection.
It is understandable that some Americans strongly opposed the United States getting involved in the Vietnam War. It had not been a long time since the end of World War II and simply put, most Americans were tired of fighting. Mark Atwood Lawrence is one of the people who opposed our involvement in the Vietnam War. In his essay, “Vietnam: A Mistake of Western Alliance”, Lawrence argues that the Vietnam War was unnecessary and that it went against our democratic policies, but that there were a lot of things that influenced our involvement.
The war effort in Vietnam was quite possibly one of the most controversial the United States has ever been involved in. Almost the entire country was divided over their thoughts, with the majority being against this war. The people of the United States weren’t always opposed to involvement in Vietnam, that is until the truth started leaking to the public. Over the course of roughly twenty years somewhere between one and two million Vietnamese lives alone were lost (Overview of the Vietnam War). The Vietnam war has become widely known as an American mistake. Over time the general population began to see the war for what it was: one of the deadliest, most corrupt, and hardest wars to fight that we’ve ever been involved in.
“In July 1965, Lyndon Johnson chose to Americanize the war in Vietnam.” Although Johnson chose to enter America into the war, there were events previous that caused America to enter and take over the war. The South Vietnamese were losing the war against Communism – giving Johnson all the more reason to enter the war, and allowing strong American forces to help stop communism. There were other contributing factors leading up to the entrance of the war; America helped assist the French in the war, Johnson’s politics, the Tonkin Gulf Incident, and the 1954 Geneva Conference. President Johnson stated, “For 10 years three American Presidents-President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, and your present President--and the American people have been actively concerned with threats to the peace and security of the peoples of southeast Asia from the Communist government of North Viet-Nam.”
The Vietnam War was a vicious conflict predominately between the United States and Australia against The Viet Cong and The North Vietnamese. Initially the public supported the war, however the American president of the time, Lyndon B. Johnson, exaggerated how easy and worldwide the war was to attract further support. When he called for “more flags” to be represented in South Vietnam only the Philippines, the Republic of South Korea, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand indicated a willingness to contribute some form of military aid. By doing this “it enabled Johnson to portray the developing war as international to show it must be dealt with and gain support,” (Hastings, 2003). The outcome of the Vietnam War was ensured because the governments of the United States and Australia could not maintain their publics’ support due to the popular culture of the time. This was because much of the war was shown on television or other popular culture, so events like the Battle of Long Tan could be seen by families and people of all ages in their living rooms; this was the first time they could see how bad a war can actually be.
The Vietnam conflict has been known for being the most unpopular war in the history of the United States. The war of 1812, the Mexican war and the Korean conflict of the early 1950's were also opposed by large groups of the American people, but none of them generated the emotional anxiety and utter hatred that spawned Vietnam. The Vietnam war caused people to ask the question of sending our young people to die in places where they were particular wanted and for people who did not seem especial grateful.
On the thirtieth of January, 1968, as the sun set over South Vietnam, nothing seemed out of place. A cease fire had been declared in observation of the Tet holiday and the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces welcomed the break. The latter half of 1967 had been filled with violent, bloody and perplexing battles for the anti-communist troops. For the last three months the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC) were launching regimental sized suicide attacks against remote U.S. outposts near the Cambodian border. The losses for both sides were mounting and morale was dipping due to the perceived stale mate. The peace was exactly what was needed, but it wouldn’t last. Shortly after midnight North Vietnam would launch the largest offensive
The Vietnam War was the first major war American’s had suffered defeat. The Vietnam war was a war of confusion, competition and biasness. The outcome of the war was far greater than an upset American nation, but a severe breakdown of the Vietnamese culture, economy, environment and government. It also had a tremendous impact on American society even up to present day. It was unclear from the beginning of the war if the American’s should even be involved. It was a war between Northern and Southern Vietnam but the U.S saw it as an indirect way to challenge the USSR’s sphere of influence in Southern Asia and to prevent the domino effect and the further spread of communism. The Vietnam War completely changed the way the United States approached military action and helped establish the role of the United States within the new world order.
Vietnam was a struggle which, in all honesty, the United States should never have been involved in. North Vietnam was battling for ownership of South Vietnam, so that they would be a unified communist nation. To prevent the domino effect and the further spread of communism, the U.S. held on to the Truman Doctrine and stood behind the South Vietnamese leader, Diem.