As a nation, we could look back on the Vietnam War and see it as a success. One could also look at the war and see it as a failure. Most critics would say we should never have even been there. In the end, when all the details about the war and all of the stories that came about from the soldier’s perspective, we have to wonder as a nation on what kind of power and influence did this war have on our society?
Let’s first take a look on how the war had an effect on American television. According to the book titled “A Broadcast History and Beyond,” in and around the year 1966, television networks had refused to show and be critical of the U.S. involvement and even during certain times, would distort the coverage to avoid stirring up more negative pressure from the public. In the later years of the 1960’s, protests had starting to erupt and by then the television networks could no longer ignore the war and the protests. Journalists were going the extra effort to show America honest coverage of the war and by doing so, put a lot of pressure on the government to eventually end it. The power of television had brought the images of war and death as well to the American living room that our society had never seen before. It brought anger and protests which had a major effect on our society. It also did not help that during the Vietnam War, we were also fighting the Cold War with the U.S.S.R. and America was feeling sort of “fatigue” of war; ready to get out of a war most citizens were not fond of.
When we look at a major effect that television and the Vietnam War had, it also brought a lot of racial issues. In an article written by “theguardian”, The Vietnam War, first off, was the first war to have an integrated military between races. During WWII, most African-American soldiers were in their own units and had their own specialties, which made them segregated from the white soldiers. Through time, most white soldiers appreciated and accepted the African-American soldiers because of their hard work and dedication. As for society, whites and blacks had both opposed the draft and felt the government could have focused more efforts on helping communities rather than fund a war.
If there is one final note that came from the Vietnam War, is it drastically changed our economy and granted a few perks as well in the process. First off, the war severely damaged our economy because of the amount of money it costs. The United States had spent roughly 168 billion dollars on the war. President Lyndon B. Johnson had set an increase of a 10% tax surcharge, which in the end would slow down our economy because of the timing of the bill. Because all of the funds were going to the war, food prices had increased and the price of oil would rise (as well as created oil shortages.) In a way, the few perks that would come of the war, would be that of congress passing of the 26th amendment and allowing a voting age of 18. President Nixon ratified the amendment as well as signing a bill to end the draft.
In the end, the Vietnam War had quite an impact on our society. It brought anger and frustration to our nation as well as set an image of our country to the world. The war had made America more cautious of itself of entering war adventures for years to come and in a way, hurt us from getting involved in ending the Cold War sooner. Some critics might say we made similar choices when in regards to the Iraq War, but we must prove ourselves from here on if we want to set a footnote on history.
-James Maycock, “War within war”, theguardian, 14 September 2001, https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2001/sep/15/weekend7.weekend3
-Robert Hilliard and Michael Kieth, “The Soaring 60’s”, in The Broadcast Century and Beyond, (Burlington, MA, 2010), 182-187