The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  1.              The Vietnam War in short could be characterized as an unfortunate manifestation of jingoist foreign policy and mass allusions over ethnocentric ideologies. The Cold War was fundamentally an ideological competition that sought to captivate the entire planet with a monistic political ideology. Yet the costs of such “modern colonialism” would prove to be an unbearable endeavor for Americans from all walks of life. In short, the Vietnam War captivates the essence of modern day foreign policy and domestic social libertarian progression.

                American concern and involvement for the spread of communism could be traced back to President Truman’s presidency as he unraveled his Truman Doctrine, which sought to contain communism on an international scale. Since the values of a communist government opposed that of a capitalist or democratic form of government, many Americans began to view communism as a hostile force. The differences between democracy and communism couldn’t be starker, and this realization caused dire hatred amongst individuals from each political sphere.

                The upheaval of communism took place after the First World War as Lenin gunned a revolution in Moscow to overthrow the czarist ruling family. After doing so Lenin installed a communist government in Moscow. A communist government assumes a powerful central control over all means of economic growth and production in the nation-state. Communist governments also install strict controls of individual freedoms, liberty, the press, etc. After Lenin, Stalin came to power and was quickly faced with a hostile western partner who previously tried to conquer Russian lands. Germany had quickly grown to become a world power under Adolf Hitler and in July 22, 1941 Hitler invaded Russia thinking that it would be an easy victory for Nazi Germany. Hitler’s invasion of Russia marked the third time that Russia had been invaded by a western power. The first was Napoleon’s attempt, then Germany’s attempt during World War I, and finally came Nazi Germany’s attempt during World War II. Although all three attempts were ultimately unsuccessful due to the Russian’s incredible resilience and collective strength to fight invading foes, the constant power struggle in regards to Eastern and Western powers could explain modern day cynicism and fears of western powers and Russia.

                Furthermore the end of World War II brought about a beacon of hope that the Soviet Union and the United States could become close allies with little regard to their cultural and political differences. Unfortunately it is understood that great powers distrust and compete with each other. Unfortunately as history will show, such distrust led to misperceptions, misunderstandings, and mistrust, resulting in merely chaotic physical conflict through what could be best described as indirect proxy wars.

                The ludicrous fear of communist expansion was detrimentally reenacted in the jungles of the small Indo-Chinese nation of Vietnam. Vietnam had been continuously invaded for 1000s of years by a number of foreign forces. Around 1850 the French colonized Vietnam and made it into a wealthy colony through its production of rubber and plantations. During Japans colonial expansion, Japan assumed Vietnam as its colony and began to occupy it. After the Japanese were defeated in August of 1945, many Vietnamese saw this as their chance for independence. This led to the rise of the Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh who sought to unify both North and South Vietnam under a singular communist rule. On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam. The French opposed Vietnamese independence and declared War on Vietnamese forces in a war lasting from 1946 to 1956. Ho Chi Minh tried to gain assistance from the United States in an effort to drive the French out of their lands, but since Ho Chi Minh supported communism, the United States refused and supported French colonialism. At this point a great irony emerges as American powers support the oppression of the Vietnamese rather than giving them the right to choose. Although Vietnam did not gain support it still managed to win France in May of 1954 in the Battle of Bein Phu. Once again the Vietnamese felt that they had some form of independence. However during the 1954 Geneva conference the Big Powers decided to divide Vietnam into south and North Vietnam and enable a free election to potentially reunify the country after 2 years. Unfortunately such elections were never held and the United States played an active role in making sure a communist take over did not occur.

                In 1960 John F. Kennedy was elected president, and he used his power to keep the United States from getting involved in Vietnam. Many military advisors including General Macarthur were against any involvement in Vietnam because of the realization that Vietnam was never a threat or a conflict that called for U.S involvement. Kennedy stressed his agenda of remaining out of Vietnam saying, “It is, their war”. Unfortunately after his assassination in November 7, 1963, president Lyndon B. Johnson became president and the fate of American foreign policy began to slowly change drastically. Although President Johnson had an ambitious domestic agenda including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights, and combating poverty in what he called his “War on Poverty”, Johnson was seen quickly escalating the conflict in Vietnam by adhering mainly the domino theory of communist expansion. In light of the Red Scare and Macarthyism, the general public supported Johnsons endeavors.

                The growing political instability in Vietnam and the United States’ commitment to gain democracy or any other form of government other than a communist government caused Johnson to fall into a quarrel. Furthermore the enactment of the first Gulf of Tonkin resolution and second fabricated Gulf of Tonkin incident pulled Johnson into a position in which he had to choose between an easy resolution or his reputation. Johnson knew the costs of his choices and this caused him to say one of his most well known lines regarding foreign policy. “I cant run, I cant hide, and I cant make it stop”. Although many advisors such as George Ball warned against escalation, Johnson decided that not escalating would mean communist appeasement and throw his presidency and the United States in a state of humility.

                Thus Johnson drew from his pride, his ego, and his reputation expanding the conflict and forcibly throwing Americans into a spiral of agony while merely reflecting the people’s mentality and views of communism. Johnson unconstitutionally, (similar to the modern day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan) dragged American boys discriminately from their homes and into the deadly and bloody jungles of Vietnam. The draft began to expand and at one point up to 30,000-40,000 young men who had barely began their lives, were suddenly repossessed of their integrity, liberty, and right to life. These boys, were stripped of the virtues of life and happiness and found themselves being shipped away like cattle destined for the poisonous foreign jungles of Vietnam where the only comfort these boys found was fondling with the bodies of their friends, brothers, fathers, and cousins. As the war became more televised, parents and family members saw the lifeless bodies of their sons being dragged across endless fields poised with blood and body parts, causing anti-war sentiment to quickly grow. At this point Johnson’s war on poverty seemed to perversely manifest itself as many poor young men were being shipped back dead by the thousands every month.

                The United States fought its war in Vietnam as merely a proxy war against the ideology of communist and the Soviet Union. The war left 58,000 Americans dead and another 300,000 Americans wounded. America dropped up to 7,000,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam, which was three times more than that of World War II. Given these staggering numbers and the United States desperate forms of tactical interventions, the Vietnam war in no way could be characterized as a victory. Furthermore the administration probably never intended to win anyways, since the war was primarily fought as merely political business. Many of the soldiers remember the limitations and strict policies that the administration assigned for intervention. Even more so the Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s visit to China asking for a buffer period for American troops to exit near the ends of the conflict show the length at which the war was politicized.

                Thus the lessons of the Vietnam War in short could be characterized by President Kennedy’s infamous line, “No amount of American military assistance can conquer an enemy that is everywhere and nowhere”. This lesson could be seen in modern day military interventions to combat Daesh or the so-called “Islamic State”. They were also evident in the United States’ involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as the United States was once again seen invading a foreign nation for the purposes of installing the American ideal of democracy. Being in the United States, and being a nation founded on the vices of colonialism we must always remember that independence and territorial integrity are a fundamental aspect of human nature. Going against this reality, as seen in the aftermath of Vietnam and Iraq is a step closer to guaranteed future chaos. Keep in mind if our wars are considered justified, then so is the opposing forces in the eyes of their people.      

Leave a Reply