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Viet Nam War

On April 30, 1975, the communist-backed Vietnamese Army captured the city of Saigon, triggering both the retreat of the American army from Viet Nam and representing America’s loss of that war (Philbert). In the decades since, there has been a great deal of controversy as to how and why the United States lost the war. Ultimately, this research will analyze the key reasons why the US lost the war in Viet Nam, leading to not only a better understanding of this pivotal part of American history, but also a significant part of the history of modern warfare. A War Based on False Pretenses

If such a statement makes sense, a study of the Viet Nam War clearly shows that the war was virtually destined to be an American defeat from the start due to the fact that the reasons that the US entered the war in the first place based on false pretenses. A closer look at this assertion requires the revisitation of the beginnings of American military intervention in Viet Nam. It is generally agreed that the beginning of American involvement in the Viet Nam war in an official capacity began on August 7, 1964, when the United States Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This resolution, which gave President Lyndon B.

Johnson the power to allocate troops and arms against the communist North Vietnamese Army in response to the alleged attack on the US destroyer Maddox on August 2, 1964 by naval vessels of the NVA (www. vvaw. org). On this basis, one would naturally assume that this was an acceptable and normal response on the part of the United States as a response to an armed attack against a ship which was the sovereign property of the US military. However, there is much more to the story than the official story which was given to the American people, and also which they initially believed without second question.

The American government seemed to forget that the month prior to what was being referred to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, American-backed South Vietnamese forces were launching attacks on NVA ships, and as such, it would seem that the NVA was only retaliating in the same way that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was claiming to do (www. vvaw. org). Additionally, in the days before the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution’s passage, there is also evidence to suggest that the alleged attacks on the American destroyer Maddox never even occurred at all, making the very basis of the American entry into Viet Nam of a dubious nature. Underestimation of the Enemy

In Viet Nam, the United States entered under the impression that there would be a quick victory with very few American casualties and the emergence of the US as an honorable victor in the fight against Communist aggression in Southeastern Asia. However, this turned out to be far from the case. First, one has to keep in mind the climate, terrain and geography of Viet Nam itself. American soldiers who were trained in conventional methods of warfare and engagement on American soil were now fighting in an arid, jungle terrain, full of natural enemies such as deadly insects and reptiles, vicious animals, disease and adverse weather conditions.

Also, the men and women that the Americans were fighting against in the form of the NVA were natives to the Vietnamese landscape and climate, and therefore were able conceal themselves and lie in wait to ambush the often under trained and terrified Americans (Joes). Combine this with the wide use of booby traps, hidden tunnels and barbaric methods of killing and torture, and it is easy to see why the US troops were at a huge disadvantage from the beginning.

Additional Problems with US Troops American defeat in Viet Nam was also brought about due to additional problems with the American military forces that were deployed to fight the NVA. Many of these men and women were barely past the age of 18; mere teenagers being sent to a hostile land to fight an unconventional, brutal enemy who had much more of knowledge of the country of Viet Nam itself. This naivety and inexperience would prove to be a major American weakness.

In time, the American troops in Viet Nam would also be affected by other challenges as well, one of the most deadly of which was the ready availability of illegal drugs in Viet Nam, leading to many American soldiers being rendered unable to fight or think clearly because of their being under the influence of drugs. Also, this level of impairment greatly increased the number of American casualties, placing an additional burden on the support personnel in place in Viet Nam, and requiring the introduction of additional, inexperienced troops into battle, leading to further American losses (Joes).

Essentially, what is seen is a vicious circle whereby the rules of the game of engagement were skewed in such a way that the American troops really never had a reasonable chance of victory in Viet Nam. Opposition on the Home Front One of the reasons that the United States had been victorious in other wars, such as the World Wars, was that the citizens not involved in the military supported the war effort through fundraising, production of the equipment that soldiers need to be effective, rationing to conserve scant resources and the like.

Viet Nam was vastly different in this regard, as once news began to leak concerning the false pretenses of the beginning of the war itself, massive casualty counts and drug abuse by military personnel, Americans at home began to actively protest the war, creating the massive peace effort which compromised the ability of the American government to continue to gain public approval for the war effort (vvaw. org).

Basically, the once the truth regarding the Viet Nam War began to leak out, the conscience of the American people was raised, and they would not stand for what was happening. It was at this point that the beginning of the end of the Viet Nam War was at hand. Conclusion In the present day, the American government once again finds itself contending with possibly false information used to promote military actions across the globe.

As we have seen in this research, this is a case of history repeating itself, as the Viet Nam War, based on false information from the outset, fought against an almost invincible enemy and unsupported by civilians, was mercifully put to an end.

Works Cited

Joes, Anthony James. The War for South Viet Nam, 1954-1975. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001. Philbert, Robert E. “Back to Nam. ” Social Studies 86. 1 (1995): 6-11. Viet Nam Veterans Against the War (2009). Retrieved from the World Wide Web: www. vvaw. org.

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