Vietnam was America’s longest war to date, over 30 years America invested their time, money and soldiers into this war. Before America joined in, what was the reasoning for the war? Before fighting communism, Vietnam was struggling to win independence from France, which then evolved into a civil war among North and South Vietnam. When America interfered, we tried to help prevent the establishment of communism in Vietnam. At first, the United States just funneled the supplies and aid to others will to fight the Vietnamese communist. The five presidents during this time feared that losing all of Vietnam to communism would set off a chain reaction of communist revolutions throughout Southeast Asia so eventually U.S. ground forces were sent in (pg 782).
There was plenty controversy over whether or not America should partake in the war. In 1967 the antiwar movement came to the streets to protest. Critics felt that Johnson led America into an unwinnable war by trying to use military to solve a political issue. Not only did he fail to build strong domestic support for a long war, he underestimated the will of the Vietcong. Supporters on the other hand argue that Johnson honored a commitment to South Vietnam made by his predecessors. American Allies felts reassured that they could count on the United States for help. Supporters also felt that if America had not joined in to help it only would have triggered Communist aggression (pg 792).
Antiwar protesters held a peace rally where 30,000 demonstrators linked arms and marched to the Pentagon. After they arrived, soldiers advanced toward the crowd with their guns drawn. This event led up to an iconic photo of the civil strife that the war was causing. To some the photo resembled the contrast between government violence in Vietnam and American citizens demand for peace. Critics argued that the gesture was a distraction to the soldiers so the demonstrators could get past them and to the pentagon (pg 782).
The Vietnam war was causing problems to stir up in America. People were outraged that we were sending young men over to fight a war that wasn’t ours to fight. Johnson sent over 50,000 troops immediately and guaranteed 50,000 more to Westmoreland and said he would send more as needed (pg 792). Understandably this caused some backlash in America by anti war protesters. The draft that was initiated for the Vietnam war also seen many young men go AWOL to avoid having to fight. One of the ways to avoid the draft was by the underground railroads that the protesters built to get them up to Canada (Kindig, 2008). Notable draft dodgers include President Donald Trump (Eder & Philipps, 2016).
The backlash for America’s position in the Vietnam War stemmed deep in the Vietnamese people, especially due to America’s bombing campaign. The American bombing campaign was the largest air war in world history. America dropped nearly five million tons of bombs in just 8 years. This campaign bred anti american feelings among the civilian population. This made it easier for the North Vietnamese government to mobilize the country to “Foil the war of aggression of the U.S. Imperialists” (pg 793).
Eder, Steve & Philipps Dave. 2016. Donald Trump’s Draft Deferments: Four for College, One for Bad Feet. NY Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/02/us/politics/donald-trump-draft-record.html. Web. 2016.
Keene, Jennifer; Cornell, Saul & O’Donnell Edward. 2017. Visions of America. A Nation Divided, chapter 26. Book pages 782, 792, 793. 2017.
Kindig, Jessie. 2008. Draft Resistance in the Vietnam Era. Washington. http://depts.washington.edu/antiwar/vietnam_draft.shtml. Web. 2008.