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President Harry Truman

In world history, every war waged is met with protests and demonstrations. This is no surprise, as the issue of war evokes varied reactions from different people. Some people may agree with it, but more often than not, war elicits negative reaction from many people. One primary example was the Vietnam War, which resulted in a massive anti-war movement in the United States. Numerous organizations and communities joined the anti-war protests to show the United States government their disapproval of the war. Nonetheless, the government did not heed their call.

Despite successfully influencing certain political decisions, the anti-Vietnam War movement failed to persuade the U. S. government to end the war. Hence, the protesters were ineffective in ending the war. Division of Vietnam Due to U. S. Intervention The Vietnam War was rooted in the interference of the U. S. government in the political affairs of Vietnam. In turn, the American involvement was rooted in the Vietnamese independence. Since the 19th century, Vietnam had been a colony of France, and the 1940s saw the struggle of the Vietnamese to break away from French authority (Farber).

It was a communist named Ho Chi Minh that developed a plan to force the French out of Vietnamese territory (“Rise and Fall”). The struggle between the Vietnamese and the French lasted for nine years, which ended with the Vietnamese victory in the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu, upon the destruction of a crucial French headquarters (Farber). It was later agreed that while the French troops headed south to leave Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh and his forces were to proceed in the northern section of Vietnam (“Rise and Fall”).

This soon created a distinction between North and South Vietnam (Farber). To unify the country, an election was planned to be held on 1956. Unfortunately, due to U. S. intervention, elections did not occur. Nation-Building of Vietnam The intervention of the U. S. in the affairs of Vietnam actually started way before the Vietnamese gained independence from the French. At the time of his administration, U. S.

President Harry Truman began to provide financial aid in the battle of the French against Vietnam in 1950 (Studyworld). However, the U. S. involvement intensified during the Eisenhower administration. President Dwight Eisenhower was threatened by Communism since the Vietnamese independence was won by Ho Chi Minh and his Communist group Viet Minh (Farber). President Eisenhower was concerned that if the Communists won in the elections, other Asian countries would follow suit. This theory is called the “domino” effect (Farber). He also knew that there was a great possibility for Ho Chi Minh to win the elections (“Rise and Fall”). As a result, Eisenhower began what is referred to as “nation-building” (Farber).

He spent millions of dollars to turn South Vietnam into a nation heavily influenced by Western, specifically American, ideals. The interference was thorough: the U. S. provided military, academic, economic and financial aid to South Vietnam, and all these efforts were made to simply avoid Communist influence (Farber). More importantly, the U. S. specifically assigned a leader to govern over South Vietnam. A Vietnamese named Ngo Ding Diem was already a U. S. resident and worked for the CIA when he was brought to South Vietnam to lead the people (“Rise and Fall”).

Even though it was not official, the U. S. declared South Vietnam as independent from North Vietnam, that which is under the control of Ho Chi Minh. Unfortunately, Diem proved to be ineffective leader. The U. S. assigned the Catholic Diem in that part of Vietnam which consisted mostly of Buddhists. As a result, many Buddhists were oppressed (“Rise and Fall”). In addition, Diem was corrupt; he took millions from the government. He also worked against the welfare of students and workers. Because of his incompetence, Diem was killed by the CIA (“Rise and Fall”).

After years of “nation-building,” the U. S. was faced with a dilemma. The eight years they have spent on the development of the South Vietnamese government proved futile; only a small number of citizens backed the government (Farber). Consequently, North Vietnamese forces as well as South Vietnamese guerrillas called the National Liberation Front, planned to topple the South Vietnamese government and bring unity to the entire country (Farber). The Start of the Vietnam War It was when Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency when the war really began to take place.

In 1964, the U. S. government released a report that a North Vietnamese boat fired a U. S. ship in foreign territory (“Rise and Fall”). Another report soon surfaced, this time it indicated that a U. S ship saw a North Vietnamese boat and attacked it, and this boat responded by firing back (“Rise and Fall”). These incidents paved the way for the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed President Johnson take military action on Vietnam (Farber). Through the authority provided by the said resolution, President Johnson authorized Operation Rolling Thunder in March 1965.

This allowed a continuous air attack on North Vietnam; soon, ground troops arrived as well. Hence, the early part of 1965 signaled the start of the Vietnam War (Farber). The Emergence of the Anti-War Movement Just like the war, the anti-war movement also began with President Johnson’s declaration of the bombing of Vietnam (Wells). In the beginning, those who opposed to the war were mostly radical (Farber). Organizations such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) started the protests.

These groups were against the immorality of the war, as they considered the problem in Vietnam a national issue. They believed the U. S. government should not have interfered with such matters. Moreover, they protested the U. S. efforts to impose the American will on a Vietnamese political problem. They saw the war not as a means to improve the welfare of the Vietnamese, but to further the own causes of the U. S. (Farber). The Spread of the Anti-War Movement It was in 1963 when the first real protest against the U. S. involvement in Vietnam took place (“Rise and Fall”).

It was organized by the Progressive Labor Movement, which later created the Progressive Labor Party (“Rise and Fall”). It was held in New York City, but compared to the number of people that would later join the protests, it was a relatively small congregation (“Rise and Fall”). Two years later, the SDS organized the first demonstration against the military involvement of the U. S. in Vietnam (Farber). On April 17th, over 20,000 Americans from all over the country protested on the Washington Monument in Washington, D. C. After the Washington demonstration, another kind of anti-war protest emerged.

College campuses served as the venue for rallies and “teach-ins,” which were long speeches in opposition to the war (Taylor 587). The first teach-in was held on March 1965, in the University of Michigan (Farber). The “teach-ins” were patterned after the Civil Rights seminars, and its brought anti-war action to schools (Barringer). Professors and instructors alike were disturbed by the war, and they had become doubtful of the information being given by the government and media outlets. Thus, they sought information from other sources about the real situation in Vietnam.

In the process, the anti-war movement thrived on newsletters, radio shows and other means of information dissemination (Farber). It was also on March 1965 when the SDS marched to the Oakley Army Terminal for the second time (Barringer). The terminal served as the “departure point” for the troops leaving for Vietnam (Barringer). The 1960s were marked with rampant protests that have occurred all over the country. In New York, Brooklyn residents protested in against the Dow Chemical Company, that which manufactures napalm; napalm is a chemical weapon used in the war against Vietnam (“Rise and Fall”; Farber).

In Manhattan, a group called Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam was founded by a Lutheran pastor (Farber). On October 1965, Berkeley, California became the venue for the foundation of the Vietnam Day Committee, which was responsible for the “Vietnam Day” symposium (Farber; Barringer). Over at the University of Chicago, students protested by taking over the administration building in opposition to the participation of their university in the draft boards (Farber).

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