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Vietnam War, Politics and Class

The Vietnam War was the most contentious and the longest wars in the history of America. In the Vietnam War nearly fifty nine thousand Americans and three million Vietnamese were killed. The nation was split and the army of United States was ruined and the war brought down the president. This led to America’s opening to Communist China and the Soviet Union for arms control. The war also negatively impacted the foreign policies of America and domestic politics for the next thirty years (Daugherty). The Vietnam War changed the political stand of America due to several domestic and international factors.

The international stand of the United States is based on the political and military policies while domestic issues comprise protest within the nation for social reason and the major reason is the buy out availed by the rich to stay away from the war. The Vietnam War went on for sixteen long years, from 1959 to 1975. The North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (NLF) were in conflict with United States forces and the South Vietnamese army. The Vietnamese fought for their independence from France from 1946 to 1954 during the First Indo China War. This war resulted in Vietnam temporarily splitting into North and South Vietnam.

The war began soon after the Geneva Conference in 1954. The Vietnamese Communists wanted a united Vietnam under Communist rule and they also opposed France. North Vietnam was controlled by Vietnamese Communists. The South was controlled by the Vietnamese who had joined forces with France. The aim of United States was to prevent the South Vietnamese Government from breaking up. This idea however failed and in 1975 Vietnam was reunited under the control of the Communists. In 1976 it was declared the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (The Vietnam War). Vietnam War became a theme for film makers during the period 1960 to 1980.

The plot surrounded contents like patriotism, national unity, heroic struggles and harmony of soldiers. Racial discrimination and black militancy also formed themes of movies (Ross p. 6) The newly elected Kennedy Administration in 1961 assured more support and additional money, weapons, and supplies to help deal with the post-coup chaos. The number of US advisors in South Vietnam was increased to sixteen thousand (Hickman). An exploration mission on the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin began on 31st July 1964 by a navy demolisher, the US Maddox.

The mission of this attack was to know more about the North Vietnamese Coastal Defense Forces. However this attack failed in spite of two attempts. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed by the Congress on seventh of August 1964. Congress passed the ‘Gulf of Tonkin Resolution’, with which President Johnson had the power to resolve the conflict. The North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin were suspected to have attacked without provocation from US destroyers that were reporting intelligence information to South Vietnam.

Immediate air attacks were planned by President Lyndon B. Johnson and his advisers on North Vietnam in retribution. He also asked the Congress for more plans to undertake future military action. A declaration was passed on the seventh of August by the Congress that stated all necessary steps to resist attacks against US forces and the defense of US allies in Southeast Asia. Presidents Johnson and Richard M Nixon justified the military action in Southeast Asia even though there was a disagreement over the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. In 1970 the measure was revoked (The Vietnam War).

During the chaotic Democratic National Convention in August 1968 Americans began to shift their opinions of the war in Vietnam. Chicago’68 was a riot rather than an anti war protest. The changes that happened in Chicago in 1968 completely changed the political and cultural outlook of the United States today (Chicago ’68An Introduction). During the War it was the poor who chose to fight rather than the country’s campus privileged and middle class. In the Vietnam anti war movement it was widely believed that war was racially prejudiced.

A rich man could buy his way out during the War by purchasing a surrogate for three hundred to six hundred dollars. The class discrimination led to the slogan Rich man’s money and poor man’s blood (MacPherson). The federal policy allowed a draft exemption for college students during the Vietnam War. Family income was a major factor that determined who attended the college. It was believed that the government protected the rich people from danger of war while the poor were pushed into the war (Schocket).

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