Example Of Essay On The United States And The Vietnam War

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Vietnam, War, America, United States, Veterans, Politics, President, North Vietnam

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/02/25

Fought between the years 1964 and 1973, the Vietnam war was the longest war in American history. American casualties numbered about 60,000 in what became a protracted involvement in the Indochinese country after President John F. Kennedy ordered a small number of troops to the already-divided nation (ushistory.org, 2014, internet). Following upon his heels, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered many more troops to be sent to fight Communist forces -- led by Ho Chi Minh (ushistory.org, internet).
What is now known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident was the tipping point for a full American commitment to fighting the Communists of Vietnam -- primarily from North Vietnam.
According to official reports, North Vietnam gunboats fired on American ships stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin -- on August 2, 1964. In support of the South Vietnam navy, the ships were in the waters about 10 miles from the coast of North Vietnam (ushistory.org, internet). President Johnson asked that Congress respond to North Vietnamese aggression -- and they did, giving President Johnson a "blank check" to retaliate and send thousands of troops to the small nation (ushistory.org, internet). After the November election of that year, President Johnson escalated American involvement in the region.
The bombing of North Vietnam targets, known as Operation Rolling Thunder, involved not only military targets, but later included civilian targets as well. Under the advisement of General William Westmoreland, ground troops were soon deployed and stationed in Vietnam -- some 190,000 troops, but this number soon doubled. "Zippo Raids" were common in destroying the munitions supplies as well as the Vietcong. Zippo Raids were simply the burning of a village when incriminating evidence was found by American soldiers. The war was extremely costly, as well as unusual. Largely fought in jungle terrain, many soldiers were injured or killed by land mines or other such "booby traps" (ushistory.org, internet). Through 1967, American soldiers were dying at the rate of 100 per week. Unlike most wars up to that time, very few ground battles were waged. It was an atypical war fought in a hostile terrain, and turned out to be a losing effort -- until President Richard M. Nixon ordered a ceasefire in 1973.
During the initial incursions, the War was enormously popular. However, as the years went by, American casualties increased, and the Vietnamese Communists proved to be powerful foes -- largely due to their familiarity with their homeland. In 1968, the Tet Offensive marked the beginning of the end of both the War's popularity at home, as well as the American forces' morale abroad. The Tet Offensive was an act of aggression by the Vietcong, when more than 80,000 troops evacuated tunnels and other "cover" in order to attack American positions, including the once-thought undefeatable US Embassy in Saigon (ushistory.org, internet). American troops soon retaliated, but suffered many losses, including a blow to their morale.
One of the most important lessons learned from the Vietnam War was the futility of fighting a protracted war without significant support from American citizens (ushistory.org, internet). A major impact of the Vietnam War was draft suffrage. The 26th Amendment granted such suffrage to 18-year-olds across the board (ushistory.org, internet). The Vietnamese suffered many citizen casualties, such as peasant villagers. For example, the My Lai Massacre occurred when American troops opened fire on innocent villagers -- including women and children -- murdering hundreds of unarmed, non-threatening Vietnamese. The My Lai Massacre precipitated even more American dissatisfaction with the War's progress. Protests, especially among students, became more common, as American efforts to win the War became more desperate. Finally, the Kent State Massacre -- largely Nixon's responsibility -- resulted in five student casualties at the Ohio campus, after a tense stand-off between rioting students and the National Guard. In 1975, North Vietnam pushed southward, taking Saigon and re-unifying the war-torn country (ushistory.org, internet). Ultimately, American involvement in Vietnam War spelled out failure, in almost every possible metric of war strategy and tactics -- not to mention the 60,000 casualties, and the controversial use of a defoliating agent known as Agent Orange.
Based upon my research, this was a highly-unethical war for a number of reasons. The Pentagon Papers leaked vital, confidential information regarding the War -- especially regarding the truth surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which may have been an outright lie (ushistory.org, internet). Many lies were told to Congress and the American people about the Ho Chi Minh Trail -- a supply line that meandered through Laos and Cambodia, regions where LBJ denied involvement. Moreover, many soldiers came back home not to parades and celebrations, but returned to protests instead. The Vietnam War turned out to be extremely unpopular. The Vietnamese were left with a legacy of unwanted "Amerasian" children -- children left with their Vietnamese mothers by American soldiers. Finally, many American soldiers returned with heroin addictions -- a drug that was widely-available in Vietnam. Alleged heroin trafficking by the CIA -- primarily out of Laos -- happened during the Vietnamese War (Collins, 1993, internet). From any perspective, this War was a tragedy and a mistake on the part of American foreign policy. The United States suffered from a loss of global reputation during the ensuing years -- a loss that may be non-recoverable. The men who presided over this war -- mainly Johnson and Nixon -- will forever be associated with the cover-ups, secrets, and outright lies that perpetuated American involvement in Indochina.

Works Cited

Collins, Larry. (03 Dec, 1993). "The CIA Drug Connection is as Old as The Agency." The New York Times. Retrieved on 16 Apr 2015 from http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/03/opinion/03iht-edlarry.htm
U.S. History. (2014). (n.p.). Retrieved on 16 Apr from http://www.ushistory.org/us/55e.asp

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Example Of Essay On The United States And The Vietnam War. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-essay-on-the-united-states-and-the-vietnam-war/. Published Feb 25, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2022.
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