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The war in Vietnam

The war in Vietnam was one of the elements of U. S. global policy and played a significant role in retention of communism spread throughout Southeast Asia and the whole world. The lessons learned by the USA from this war as well as a final victory in the Cold War give grounds to state that despite the formal defeat in Vietnam War this war was not unavailing.

From the perspective of the present sovereign state of Vietnam, the Vietnam War began during the Second World War as a ‘national liberation struggle’ against Japanese occupation and later against France occupation and only ended in 1975, after a series of victories over different adversaries, with the forcible incorporation of the state of South Vietnam into North Vietnam. In its entirety, the Vietnam War lasted for nearly three decades (1946–1975), and its American phase, officially dated from 1964 to 1973, was longer and more divisive than any other war in which the United States has participated.

This war was enormously costly and destructive and had a profound impact in very different ways on the nations that waged it. Moreover, it is obvious that American nation defeated this war. Nevertheless, there are certain reasons that allow the statement that this war was not futile and played a significant role in retention of communist aggression. From this global point of view, Vietnam War has significantly greater meaning than an ordinary military conflict. Another reason why this war can not be considered to be senseless is the experience and conclusions derived by the United States.

While the Vietminh was engaging in a bloody anticolonial war with France, the Cold War was taking form. Americans viewed the struggle in Indochina largely in terms of their conflict with the Soviet Union. In this context of a world divided into two hostile power blocs engaged in a game in which a gain for one side was a loss for the other, areas such as Vietnam, previously of marginal importance, took on great significance. When we get into arguments that focus and fully engage our attention we see other reasons why Americans after 1950 attached growing significance to Vietnam.

The first, usually called the domino theory, held that the fall of Vietnam could cause the fall of all Indochina and then the rest of Southeast Asia. The loss of Southeast Asia would deprive the “free world” of important naval bases and raw materials and threaten its strategic position. The lessons of history show that the failure of the Western democracies to stand firm against German and Japanese aggression had encouraged further aggression leading to World War II.

Besides that, by the example of the Korean War the USA had already had bitter experience of what could have happened to the whole region if timely measures were not taken. Thus the U. S. government had the reasonable and good faith basis for waging the war. The fact that America’s position was dominating raises no doubts. It possessed great national wealth, modern weaponry, and a highly professional military force. But was America’s position unshakable?

The answer was given by the event of 1968 when communists of North Vietnamese conducted Tet Offensive. In late 1967, the North Vietnamese launched operations in remote areas, drawing U. S. forces away from the cities. In a strictly military sense, the Tet Offensive failed. But it had a profound psychological impact domestically. Coming in the wake of official year-end reports of progress, it further undermined the administration’s credibility and raised even more urgent questions as to whether the mounting toll in Vietnam was worth the cost.

In Washington, Tet forced basic changes in policy. President Johnson rejected the military’s request for 206,000 additional forces and for expansion of the war, thus terminating the policy of gradual escalation. The final implication was the curtailment of military activities and pullout of troops from Vietnam. This war taught the United States that poor and underdeveloped country can successfully carry on war against a more powerful country. In conclusion one could assert that even defeat can be useful.

U. S. learned one lesson from this war: “Win quickly or stay out” and the confirmation of this principle was provided by the recent military campaign in Afghanistan. However, the importance of this war for the United States is not in the lessons it had taught, but in the role it played in the Cold War. From the global standpoint of the communist war against democratic order, the war in Vietnam helped distract attention of the communist camp (Soviet Union) from Europe.

During 1964 – 1972 Europe became strong enough to be able to withstand the communist aggression. The general victory of the world democracies in the war against the communism is the best confirmation for these statements and hence rejects the possibility to consider this war as totally futile. Hence, despite the fact that war had been lost it cannot be regarded as completely unnecessary and absurd.

Works Cited Page:

Herring, George C. America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950–1975, 4th ed 2001.

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