The Vietnam War, a thirty year war which was the longest to date, impacted the United States greatly. The war lasted from November 1955 to April 1975, with casualties well over 580,000 and around 150,000 Many wars have a purpose which are clear and defined, yet today the reason we went to war is still vague and disputed. Although it’s disputed, the main focus of our time, money, and resources was thought to be to prevent communism from taking over the small Southeast Asian country of Vietnam. America was impacted greatly through things like media, American protest, and the economy.
Media was a something that impacted the United States during this time period. According to Jennifer Keene “At a time when 60 percent of Americans got their news from television, Vietnam became the first war in which Americans viewed the fighting in the comfort of their living rooms on a nightly basis.” (Keene, Pg. 797) This is so significant because it gave people at home a real look at what was going on in the war scene. This new form of news for the war left people wondering what we were really doing their. This sort of television gave so much insight to what was really happening, but left out so many fine details that people needed to know which caused distrust in the government and caused many to start to question how much of the truth was really being released. Some believed we should have helped the cause but many people protested on why we should have brought our men home.
Another things that this war was fueling was American diversity and sparking a distrust between the U.S. citizens and their own government. There were a lot of anti-war movements during the time period which split America up into two different types, pro and anti war. During this time of war we cycled through 3 presidents in the fight against communism. During this period many Americans weren’t getting the information of government planned attacks which left many people torn on whether or not to support it. President Johnson had a huge play in how we see our government even today. There were incidence during this war that were a product of a lie by the President. A few of these incidence include how we “obtained the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to send troops to Vietnam, revelations of secret bombings of Cambodia, the My Lai massacre and Kent State tragedy under Nixon administration – put America into a crisis of confidence and faith.” (Rohn, Pg. 1) Today many politicians lie and make promises which are mostly false, yet we don’t see them as such a big problem even though we should. The government secrecy and the division of the United States then led to a decline in the United States Economy.
The two deficits of both men and money, resulting in upwards of 350-900 billion dollars, are a couple of the reason this was tearing the U.S. apart economically. The question raised is usually if this time and money could have been put to better use in our own country? Before the war started, the United States was starting to see low inflation and high employment rates for the first time in a while. This was changed after the United States wrote its first check to france to fight in the war. From here on out inflation rates rose and it was too late for the United States to fix it. The government tried to impose a new state tax of 10%, but the economy had already fallen due to the price of the such a long war.
Due to this war, many policies were put into place and changed to compensate for world relations. One of big things that was changed was the expulsion of the military draft to volunteer only. Another thing that was changed was the voting age. This was changed because people thought if these men could be shipped off to fight a war they should be able to vote for the leader of our country. Yet another change was that the president’s power is reduced when putting troops into battlegrounds. This was changed from the president having the sole power to the president getting consent from Congress to send troops overseas. All of these policies were implemented to help the American people but ended up fixing only a small amount of damage that this war cause.
After the war, people were scared of getting themselves into another war like Vietnam, which became known as “Vietnam Syndrome.” We as a country decided to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and focus on our own countries problems before we butted into the problems of other countries around the world. This thought was put into the minds of many people around the world because of the amount of time, money, and casualties from the Vietnam War. Therefore, we would only go to battle or war if Victory was thought to be swift and inevitable. To conclude, America was impacted greatly through things like media, American protest, and the economy in ways that were not helpful for our country in the long run. Although nothing good came from this, the potential of communism everywhere was an outcome thought by many during this time period and we can only guess what would happen if we wouldn’t have put troops into Vietnam.
Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume2, 3rded. 2019.
“How Did the Vietnam War Affect America?” The Vietnam War, 5 May 2016, thevietnamwar.info/how-vietnam-war-affect-america/.