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Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was a battle between North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front against South Vietnam and the United States Army. This war lasted from 1959 to 1975. This war is also referred to as the second Indochina War. The first Indochina War involved Vietnam’s struggle to free themselves from their French Colonizers. It was at the battle of Dien Bien Phu where the Vietnamese finally defeated the French, and finally on May 7, 1954, the French officially surrendered; Vietnam was finally free. This incident however divided Vietnam into its northern and southern parts.

The war between these two parts began when the northern Vietnamese wanted to conquer the south in order to unify Vietnam under one communist rule. This was unacceptable to the Southern Vietnamese. The south resisted the north, and then the second Indo China war began; North Vietnam with the support of the national Liberation Front and South Vietnam under the support of the American troops. This was considered one of the longest and most costly wars that America had been involved in. Four presidential administrations of America had to get involved in this. An estimated 58, 000 Americans died here and wounded about 304, 000.

President Johnson’s involving of the United States in this war faced great opposition and criticism from the Americans citizens themselves. “No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. ” This was what former president Richard M. Nixon, said in 1985. Upon studying this subject, let us try to determine, based on the events that caused or started the war and on its effect of the society afterwards and understand just exact how misunderstood the Vietnam War was. Causes Unlike most of the other wars that the United States took part in (e.

g. the attack on Pearl Harbor for the U. S. Japan war), it is unclear as to what exactly triggered the U. S. Vietnam war. There were many dates that could be regarded as the start of their involvement with Vietnam, but which one really was the trigger is unclear. The U. S. made a series of actions that involved themselves with Vietnam between 1950 and 1965. The first of which was the economic and military aid program to the French that was authorized by President Truman. This seemed to be just a harmless aid program, which is why it cannot be considered as the U. S.

involvement in the war. It was however their first involvement with Vietnam. However, when the Vietminh army eventually defeated the French army in 1954, the French had to agree to the establishment of a Communist North Vietnam. This agreement between the French and North Vietnamese was unacceptable to the U. S. The Eisenhower administration decided to try to create non-communist body by establishing a government on South Vietnam; the Americans are now in charge. They started training a South Vietnamese army and they employed the CIA to start a psychological warfare against North Vietnam.

Another possible starting point was in 1961 when President Kennedy secretly sent Green Beret (Special Forces) to train the South Vietnamese soldiers with counterinsurgency tactics against Communist guerillas in South Vietnam. After the Kennedy assassination in 1963, the U. S. army presence in Vietnam was undeniable. The U. S. Army by that time had also been sustaining casualties having more than 100 American Soldiers dead. It was due to this that the succeeding President. Lyndon Johnson decided to declare war. He came up with the Tonkin gulf Resolution, which was a functional but not actual declaration of war.

Then in February and March 1965, the U. S. forced has been bombing various targets in North Vietnam and 2500 Marines were sent off to South Vietnam all under the authorization of the President. Even without a legal declaration yet, the United States was now officially at war. The actual war started with President Johnson’s Decision. However, some may argue that the Americans have been building themselves up fro war wince they first came to Vietnam to provide aid for the French or since the other events in between those two. However, any of these events may have just started the war. But what actually caused it?

President Johnson probably decided to declare the war due to the casualties that the U. S. forces have been sustaining. However, the Americans would not have had casualties if they were not there in the first place. What was the reasoning behind President Truman and President Kennedy’s decision to start and keep sending troops to Vietnam as if they were preparing for war? The answer could be traced back to the instance when the Americans disagreed with the French’s agreement with the North Vietnamese to establish a communist government. America was severely against, of probably scared, of communism.

The communist ways fully contrasted, and as they saw it, scorned the American democratic ways. They saw communists to be violators of Human rights, to have an aggressive military, and to have a closed economy that refuses to trade and have any relations with capitalist countries such as the United States. The Americans also had this idea of communism having a Domino effect. They feared that once one country becomes a communist country, other countries around it will eventually end up becoming communists too until the communist virus spreads all throughout South East Asia.

China had already adopted communism in 1949. The Americans knew that Vietnam would be next, which was why President Truman dedicated a lot of effort to aiding the French in the first place. Vietnam was the second domino after China whose fall would eventually trigger the fall of more if it’s neighboring countries, which was why the Americans were so dedicated to preventing that domino from falling. The preservation of Vietnam would be very instrumental in the preservation of South East Asia. America wanted to build strong relations with many Asian nations.

Communism would prevent that. They did not want Asia to close itself down from the west, or rather; America did not want South East Asia not sharing its vast resources to them. The American involvement in the war had also become a matter of pride, commitment, and credibility not just for the country but also for the Presidents and their administrations as well. Four American Presidents had already stated their pledge to maintain support for the South Vietnamese. Suddenly abandoning the war would simply make them look bad to the rest of the world. Effects

In the last few years of his term, President Johnson and his efforts for battle had become humbled and had now conceded to making secret negotiations with the communists in 1968 in Paris. Then came the next American President Richard Nixon. While continuing the negotiations in Paris, President Nixon had a secret plan which he called “Vietnamization”. This object of this plan was to intensify the American air attacks while the ground troops were gradually retreating and were being pulled out of Vietnam. They had to rely on South Vietnamese Army to fight the ground battles.

The so-called “Christmas Bombings” in December of 1972 was an example of the intensified air attacks as part of this Vietnamization tactic. This particular attack however drew heavy criticism on Nixon’s strategies and caused him to rethink and remake his plans. Then there was the Paris Peace Agreement otherwise known as the Paris Accord, which was created on January 27, 1973. It’s main point in article 4 was that “The United States will not continue its military involvement or intervene in the internal affairs of South Viet-Nam.

” This however, did not completely end the conflict in Vietnam. South Vietnamese forces tried desperately to maintain what they had left. The war was officially ended in April 30, 1975 when the communists eventually captured the presidential palace in Saigon. The Vietnam War was a very long and very costly war for both sides. Too many people, not just soldiers, died in that war. For the United States, as all failures should, their defeat in the war served as a big lesson for them.

It has been argued whether that defeat was due to military or political failures. Nevertheless, it is still a defeat. The Americans had grown overconfident with their military capabilities. They rushed going into that war. As General Maxwell Taylor stated, they did not take time to know and fully understand the Vietnamese terrain, their enemies, and even their allies. They now doubted and had to rethink many of their military strategies. Casualties were not those who were in Vietnam alone.

A number of students In America were shot and killed by national guards during some campus protests against the war. The American government had become at war with its own citizens as well. As for the American men who were sent off to Vietnam to fight as soldiers, it seemed that they were being sent to a futile suicide mission. The soldiers were tired and weary from fighting for so long. They were n longer driven to win the war. They just wanted to go home. But due to political pride, they were forced to keep fighting.

The government was killing its own people. This probably caused the worst effect the war could have on America; it caused the American Society to fall apart. America was at war with itself. Exactly how misunderstood the Vietnam War was is hard to determine. It is quite hard to discredit what a waste that war has become for America; all the human, financial, and material resources that were scarified for a war that would eventually be lost. If not for that, at least it brought back a hint of learning and humility back to what has become an arrogant America.

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