America And The Vietnam War Essay Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Vietnam, America, War, United States, Politics, Violence, Government, Vietnam War

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/11

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Vietnam War was a cold war fought between the years 1957 and 1975 over controlling of South Vietnam. North Vietnam, a communist political regime formed by partitioning erstwhile Indo China through the Geneva Accord in 1954, and its allies including China and the Soviet Union fought against South Vietnam and its allies including the United States of America, South Korea, Australia , Thailand and many other countries. The original intention of America to join hands with South Vietnam was to check communism from spreading across South East Asia even as the communist government of North Vietnam and its allies, the Vietnamese Congress, in South Vietnam were fighting to form a united Communist Vietnam. American military forces were fighting in favor of South Vietnam in small numbers since the 1950s, and their number gradually increased during the 1960s. By the year 1969, the number of American military personnel fighting in Vietnam increased to 500,000 (Spector). However, the communist North Vietnamese regime, which was strongly supported through advice, weapon and other supplies by the strong communist Soviet Union and China, gave the American military a tough fight. Even though America and its allies had powerful and advanced war equipage, the huge war expenditure and death toll, and popular opposition to its involvement in the war at home forced America to withdraw all its fighting units by 1973, thus leaving South Vietnam fully under the control of North Vietnamese communist command by 1975.
Vietnam was a colony of the French post World War II. Since America needed France as a supporter in Europe against Russia, it helped out France to consolidate its hold in Vietnam. However, in 1954 a pro-communist majority group called Viet Minh, supported by the Soviet Union defeated the French, thus dividing the country into North and South Vietnam. Viet Minh wanted to reunite Vietnam in 1956 through a general election. President Eisenhower feared that the communists would take control of Vietnam if elections were held, and created a puppet South Vietnam government dependent on America to fight against the communist North Vietnam government. Eisenhower introduced the theory of “falling domino,” which believed that like an entire row of dominoes fall at the knock the first one, entire South East Asia would fall into the hands of communist rulers (“President Eisenhower’s News Conference”). The following governments led by John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson also supported Eisenhower’s theory, and justified their actions of increasing American military and economic assistance to South Vietnam. The war cost America $350 billion to $900 billion inclusive of veteran benefits that significantly burdened the economy (“What was the impact of the Vietnam War?”). “End the war and feed the deprived” was a popular slogan used by the socially mindful to protest against the government’s strategy of diverting funds that the poor desperately needed to the war.
In 1969, President Richard Nixon sent Henry Kissinger the American Security Advisor to meet representatives of the Vietnamese Congress and the Government of South Vietnam under the presidency of Nguyen Van Thieu. Nixon’s plan was to end war by withdrawing troops from Vietnam by gradually equipping South Vietnam to fight North Vietnam without the help of American troops. When Nixon took over the presidency of America, the American Military had already lost thirty thousand troops, even as Nixon enjoyed majority support of the American nationals for the war. However, the developments in Vietnam in the same year stunned every American; the American infantry unit, frustrated over a failed mission to rout the Vietnamese Congress, slaughtered more than five hundred civilians including children and women at My Lai village. The massacre in fact exposed the deteriorating morale of the American troops. More than one third of the troop became addicted to the use of drugs (Chong 41). In 1970, Nixon sent American troops along with South Vietnamese army to Cambodia to chase away North Vietnamese Communists with the intention of demonstrating American supremacy to the whole world. The ensuing uproar prompted tragedy at many university campuses in America, including the Kent State university where National Guardsmen set fire on a group of students leading to the death of four students and injuring nine (Chong 41). The human price America had to pay toward the war included: death of 58,000 Americans in the war; 300,000 army personnel returned back wounded; 600 captured by communists; 1,300 reported missing while in action in the war. Street demonstrations in which returned war veterans participated followed, and the Congress realized the pointlessness of the war. This made President Nixon to change the war policy in Vietnam to “Vietnamization,” or handing over the responsibility of waging war against the communist forces, to South Vietnam.
America, while fighting North Vietnam, failed to estimate its strength and will; in fact, America made a local civil war between two regions with contradicting ideologies into a major war. Also, South Vietnam was not a resourceful and vital base as America believed in the beginning. Besides, South Vietnam itself was a corrupt and ineffective regime, which did not enjoy the wholehearted support of its citizens, not to mention the adverse public outlook in America about its fighting North Vietnam (Astore). Besides, events like the massacre of innocents at My Lai put the American military’s claim of moral war ethics, superiority and its prestigious status of defender of world freedom at jeopardy. American public also lost confidence in the government following the Watergate scandal, which alleged President Nixon of secretly recording the conversations in the Oval Office. Eventually public distrusted the government, particularly its military decisions. By the end of 1970, majority of the American public began to view the involvement of US military in Vietnam a serious mistake. The advancement of technology came in handy for the media to take video footages of the real war to the public. Martin Luther king Junior rightly expressed the opinion of the Americans when he said “If the soul of America is fully poisoned, a piece of the autopsy would read Vietnam.”
With even the very cause of the war appearing insignificant to the fighting Americans, the Vietnam War ended in a debacle for America. Fighting in an unfamiliar place for an indirect cause, lack of knowledge about the culture of the new place made the war still burdensome to the American public and the government. Thus, even though America and its allies were economically and technologically superior to the enemies, the Vietnam War ended in favor of its enemies due to the huge cost and death toll involved, which ultimately invited negative opinion about the war among the public in America and the world over.

Works Cited

Astore, W.J. "How the U.S. Could Have “Won” the Vietnam War." The Contrary Perspective. 19 Apr. 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2015. <>.
Chong, Denise. The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph, and the Vietnam War. New York: Viking, 2000. Print.
"President Eisenhower's News Conference." The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition Vol. 1 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971) (1954): 597-98. Print.
Spector, Ronald H. "Vietnam War." Encyclopedia Britannica. 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 6 Mar. 2015. <>.
"What Was the Impact of the Vietnam War?" Teh Vietnam War. 8 June 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2015. <>.

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America And The Vietnam War Essay Examples. Free Essay Examples - Published Dec 11, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2022.

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