Consequences of the U.s. War in Vietnam

Published: 2021-09-11 15:45:07
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From the 1950s all the way up until the early 70s, the United States was in the midst of a divisive conflict that multiple presidents, whom served during this timeframe, had sought to support, even though defeat was in sight but no one holding the office desired to admit it until it was too late to do so. The war in Vietnam was the U.S. trying to maintain the Truman Doctrine and their policy to contain communism before it spread like the cancer the American government had people think it was. This conflict sprung from the Cold War, which transpired between the U.S. and USSR, and the idea of an end-of-the-world scenario occuring in the near-future thanks to communism was ingrained in the mind of every American citizen. The U.S. pursued the war in Vietnam because of the whole immorality of letting a select few force an entire country on its knees; they feared that the situation would resemble that of North and South Korea; and they sought to aid their South Vietnamese ally which was threatened by North Vietnam’s invasion.
According to Doc. 1, Pres. Truman supported his doctrine for containment of Communism in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia before it spread: “I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attemped subjugation [control] by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.” Truman believes it’s the U.S.’ duty to provide support to any nation combating Communism, and South Vietnam fit the description. According to Doc. 2a, “…Communist aggression in Korea is a part of the worldwide strategy of the Kremlin to destroy freedom. It has shown men all over the world that Communist imperialism may strike anywhere, anytime.” This suggests that Korea was the forerunner to Vietnam in the divide between Communism and Democracy. The point-source of tension between the United States and North Vietnam during this period was a matter of politics. More specifically, what political denomination the governments belonged to. The U.S. was established as a democratic-capitalist nation by the Founding Fathers, while Communism infiltrated North Vietnam as a result of the domino theory and the fast spread of communism into Southeast Asia. A private phone call between Pres. Johnson and his National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy records the Presidents’ fears about ‘another Korea’, suggesting that even the POTUS wasn’t entirely sure it was the right thing to do. According to Doc. 2b, Uncle Sam (representing the U.S.) is plugging up holes in a dike where the names of Communist countries keep cracking the wall. This suggests that everytime a new problem came up, the U.S. had to solve it ASAP.
According to Doc. 3, Pres. Johnson felt that the U.S. was obligated to help their fellow democracy in Indochina because of a promise they sought to keep: “… Thus, over many years, we have made a national pledge to help South Viet-Nam defend its independence. And I intend to keep that promise…” With that, Vietnam was in desperate need of help, lacking the resources and ability to fight off the concurrent attacks on their nation by their northern countrymen. The U.S., being the powerhouse that they were, decided to intervene, thinking it wouldn’t take long for North Vietnam to surrender. According to Docs. 4 & 5, though the U.S. certainly had the resources, the American people were outraged that their tax dollars were being put into wartime efforts instead of domestic programs such as Big Society or focusing on the civil rights movement, which was overshadowed by the war.
The Vietnam War was an issue that tore the American people apart. Some saw it as an extension of the United States’ obligations as the “world police”, while others saw it as a meaningless war their friends & family were forced to fight in. American citizens participated in protests, marches, & parades (Doc. 5) to demonstrate that they were strongly against the White House’s decision to continue dragging along the war for no reason, knowing that it was a lost cause. After the war had ended, Congress had decided to limit the President’s power in declaring war without probable cause (Doc. 7). George Bush Sr. even stated that “we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrom once and for all!” (Doc. 9) in response to winning the Gulf War, which was also thought of as a pointless war. The death toll of the war was more than the American people had expected, and since it was the first ever televised war, people saw the horrors of war instead of reading of it in the newspaper.
The U.S. war in Vietnam, for all intents and purposes, was a failure that resulted in the unnecessary deaths of thousands when Pres. Nixon had promised to end the war early and recall the troops. Instead, he sent even more during the course of his term. Manipulating the fear of Communism and joining it with the desire to ruin the USSR, the United States declared war on Vietnam in order to save, not only South Vietnam, but the West and themselves from succumbing to a similar revolution that would overtake the government.

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