When it comes to major wars in the United States, Vietnam war has a tendency to get mentioned. Not only was it the lengthiest war in history but it also split the entire nation after World War II had brought them together. On top of that roughly 58,000 American soldiers were killed and 304,000 were left wounded making it 300 percent higher than World War II. With the objective being to diminish Communist guerillas out of South Vietnamese, the civilian death toll turned even more Americans to contradict the war. After crushing what was remaining, the war ended in communist success.
The United States provided money, supplies, and soldiers in the attempt to stop communist takeover in a Southeast Asian country of Vietnam. Throughout the years of 1945 to 1964 the United States fought what is called a proxy war, in other words a war that did not exactly involve them. The proxy war ended rather quickly after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1965. President Lyndon Johnson soon replaced the late President Kennedy. The American military depended severely on bombing to overthrow the Vietcong and North Vietnamese. This was known as the American bombing campaign. Being the greatest air war in world history, American planes plunged almost five million tons of bombs over an eight-year time period in hopes to force North Vietnam into ending war. In reality this actually backfired. They, the North Vietnamese, actually began adapting to live with the bombs by having bombproof underground shelters and tunnels.
With not much success with the bombs, President Johnson soon decided to send in ground forces which at first mostly consisted of army volunteers. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long, and more soldiers were going to be needed. The men who were drafted to Vietnam were mostly working-class men who did not qualify for the draft deferments. War soon took a turn for the worse and Americans were catching on. American soldiers were having difficulties establishing who was civilians and who were the Vietnamese soldiers. With this big burden being carried, the United States soon began to soar downwards with no way of correction. The damage was already done. Innocent civilians were already dead, and Americans back home were not happy. They did not see the point for all of the blood and unnecessary deaths. Soon the citizens began to protest when they heard about the women and children who were all killed which caused a handful of deaths in the United States due to some violent protests.
With the United States being divided now more than ever, Nixon, soon to be president Nixon, convinced Americans that he would be perfect for the job. With the last of their trust invested in him, just like the rest, he let them down. Nixon’s scandals led to him stepping down. At this point the United States citizen were not sure who to believe nor what was going to happen next. Finally, in 1973, the United States withdrew which ended the Vietnam War with a Communist victory in 1975.
Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume 2, 3rd. 2019.
5 thoughts on “Hello Vietnam War, Good-Bye Being United”
To me it just seemed as if the war was unwinnable from the start, but we have such a nationalistic view of ourselves as if “we’re Americans we are the most powerful country” but in-fact we weren’t ready for what Vietnam had in store. Nice article.
I think the thing about events like this, is that it’s not that they divide people necessarily, its that they uncover the divisions that already existed. Like at the end of WWII, the western capitalist powers and the Soviet Union immediately became at odds with each other once Fascism was no longer there to keep them from openly antagonizing each other. At the end of the day, despite being “united” there were still two kinds of people: people willing to send others into a war to another country that has nothing to do with us and those who oppose it.
The Vietnam war was definitely not one of America’s proudest moments, not only did the nation become divided, but countless Americans were killed or injured as were innocent Vietnamese citizens. In the end, our attempts to save the world from communism were unfounded, seeing as how the only communist countries left in the world are China and North Korea. Additionally, the war was not won by America and in the end the communists prevailed. In my opinion, the United States should never have intervened in the Vietnam War. I’m sure some people might disagree with me, which is precisely how America became so divided while the actual war was underway.
With all of the bombing going on, they had to do what it took to survived. Building underground shelters was a smart move. It seemed they were one step ahead. The Vietnam solders also dressed as civilians making it hard for the American soldiers to tell who the enemy was. However it backfired for the Vietnam citizens as they were being killed instead of the solders. Wars are very expensive. With how far America is in dept they should probably avoid aiding other countries who are at war. What also has always baffled me is the fact that we go to war with a country, then we give money to rebuild their country.
I agree that it’s baffling but I believe we did it to smooth things over. We were trying to fix relationships with Vietnam and show the people of America we weren’t heartless.