The Vietnam War: An American Perspective

The Vietnam War had a large impact on Americans lives, whether they were fighting or not. Many aspects of people’s lives changed, especially the role that media played. Media was used for a variety of things, most commonly entertainment, and was fairly easy to access. When the Vietnam War began, the media was very informative about what was happening over in Vietnam. People could see the horrors and atrocities that came with war, even more so with the Vietnam War being debated as unnecessary and pointless. Television reports could show the war taking place, and even worse, show the death and destruction the came with the war. Photographs were able to show people anything that might not be able to be shown on television. They were able to show villages burning from napalm dropped by American planes, and even assassinations of suspected Vietcong soldiers.

The Vietnam War had many push backs from people back in the U.S. because of the tactics that were used to fight the war. Some people argued that having Vietnam live under communist rule would be better than having napalm dropped and entire villages bombed. Some others thought that perhaps working with Ho Chi Minh could slow down soviet ambitions like with Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia. They also agreed that the war was destroying American democracy. Major civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. also gave the idea that the war was taking away from money that could be used to help antipoverty programs at home. Antiwar protests grew even more after the murders of antiwar college students in Kent, Ohio.

• A magazine cover headlined “Tragedy at Kent” displays a black-and-white photo of student protesters trying to revive another student lying on the ground.

Racial tensions were high during the Vietnam War. With claims by Martin Luther King Jr. that African Americans were being sent out just to die as well as the My Lai Massacre caused high tensions between African Americans and Whites along with the Vietnamese and Whites. Foreign policy was changing but wasn’t helping with these issues. The newer foreign policy was to help any country struggling against communism, but that just gave more reasons to stay in Vietnam rather than to get out of the war.

The expansion of presidential power that happened during the Vietnam war was, in my opinion, bad. When then President Richard Nixon creating Vietnamization, it did drastically decrease the amount of American ground troops in Vietnam, but, it still allowed Nixon to put a lot of money into the war by supporting the South Vietnamese soldiers by supplying them with weapons, food, and other necessitates. Nixon also resumed the bombings in hopes that they would help the Vietnamese soldiers win the war as Nixon’s strategy was to win the war as quickly as possible. Nixon’s third tactic was to negotiate with China and the Soviet Union to stop helping the Vietcong by attempting to make them distrust each other even more.

9 thoughts on “The Vietnam War: An American Perspective

  1. Being an American citizen in this era must’ve came with a certain degree of stress and uncertainty. Between racial tensions within American society, and the war, things weren’t exact sunshine and rainbows in America at that point in time. Watching the news at night showing what was going on overseas, and portraying the racism and violence on domestic grounds, it must have been tough to watch at points. In a way, its kind of similar to watch we have going on today in American society. Like it or not, it is simply the truth. There is a lot going on overseas, and things on American soil aren’t exactly in the greatest shape right now either. Overall, nice blog, and good work.

    1. My mind also went to comparing this era in American history to today in America. The news today seems so depressing, which is often why I find myself avoiding it. They do not, however, show nearly as much in the news about the present war going on as they did on the news during the Vietnam war. I could not imagine having to see those horrific images coming across the news every day, knowing that loved ones were stuck in the middle of that. I also found a lot of comparison in the fact that our present war is highly unwanted by many Americans, just as the Vietnam war was.

  2. Good blog! I agree living in this time period had to have been stressful. Dealing with the war and who was going to be drafted next was scary. Also feeling like the war was never going to end and it was not winnable. People were also worried about money because of the war they were putting everything they had in to firepower and troops training.

  3. This war was not generally accepted by United States citizens like past wars have. This caused lots of media reports of the true horrors of war and the government trying to hide this. This war cost a lot of money and Americans did not like that. It was as if we were fighting a war for something that did not matter. The effects of the war can still be seen in Vietnam today. “Agent orange” a horrible chemical used during this time killer and destroyed vegetation in the country. Some effects are still seen today.

  4. Good read! I enjoyed how you included the media coverage during the Vietnam War. Even though television reports and photographs are impressive for this time, it is amazing to think of how much technology has improved. If the Vietnam War were to be taking place now, media would have a much bigger role. American citizens would be exposed to more details from the war. However, the media aspect during the Vietnam War was advanced for its time.

  5. I think the media had a major influence on how people perceived the war. They displayed photos of civilians suffering which seemingly would increase the opposition of the war. Considering most people got their news from a TV, the media was able to twist or distort anything they wanted before airing to the public. Nice blog!

    1. The media definitely played a major role in how people perceived the war back then, much as it does today. People take what they hear on different media platforms as absolute truth, regardless of the background from which it is coming. I’m sure this also was true of media during the Vietnam War. Back then, it was much harder for people to be able to do their own research so I am sure many American’s viewed the few parts of war being shown on TV as what was taking place constantly, even though that may not have been true. Media is a big reason why we live in a world with people divided.

  6. I agree with you on the importance of media in the Vietnam war. The media helped keep Americans informed on the war effort, and also showed how our forces fared in Vietnam. For the first time, Americans were able to watch the war in Vietnam from their living rooms. It also helped shape Americans views about the war itself, and whether or not we should have gotten involved.

  7. Nice post, I really enjoyed reading it. I agreed with your stance on the media immensely! I like to think about how many people took a “fake news” type stance during that times period because it didn’t play into their agenda. I think with how our country, specifically during the current administration, treats the press it raises a question of revival. Was there a time in our history where the press reported on things that were actually happening rather than let those in power manipulate what people were seeing? It brings me to think about the Pentagon Papers and the time the New York Times and The Washington Post went to the Supreme Court to be able to publish government information that could have potentially deceived the American people. Again, great blog post!!

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