America’s Involvement in the Vietnam War – Alex & Grady

America’s Involvement in the Vietnam War

            Even before the Vietnam War had started, there had been fighting for decades, but in 1954 war officially broke out in Vietnam. Six years later, the National Liberation Front, better known as the Viet Cong, was established in South Vietnam. During that year in the United States, John F. Kennedy barely edged Richard Nixon for the role of president. Ho Chi Minh and his communist Viet Minh party in North Vietnam rose to power before the 1960’s, and continued against the backdrop of an intense Cold War between two global superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. The Vietnam War was a fight between North Vietnam and the Viet Cong against the South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. Three years of fighting would take place before one event changed the United States’ faith in this conflict.ACAV_and_M48_Convoy_Vietnam_War

In 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. This meant that the conflict in Vietnam fell squarely on the shoulders of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. One year later three North Vietnamese PT boats allegedly fire torpedoes at the USS Maddox, a destroyer located in the international waters of the Tonkin Gulf, some thirty miles off the coast of North Vietnam. The attack comes after six months of covert US and South Vietnamese naval operations. A second, even more highly disputed attack is alleged to have taken place on August 4. Later that year Lyndon B. Johnson is elected in a landslide over Republican Barry Goldwater of Arizona. During the campaign, Johnson’s position on Vietnam appeared to lean toward de-escalation of US involvement, which differed from Goldwater’s views. In March 1965, Johnson made the decision with solid support from the American public to send U.S. combat forces into battle in Vietnam. By June, 82,000 combat troops were stationed in Vietnam, and General William Westmoreland was calling for 175,000 more by the end of 1965 to help the struggling South Vietnamese army. President Johnson would later send 200,000 more troops by 1966. 9221046

During the next three years the United States launched several air missions to bomb North Vietnam. In the year 1968, The North Vietnamese forces joined with the Viet Cong to initiate the Tet Offensive. The Viet Cong began to terrorize approximately 100 cities and towns in South Vietnam. The United States would later kill hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in the town of Mai Lai. Four months later General William Westmoreland is relieved from his duty and replaced by General Creighton Abrams. By the end of 1968 the United States’ troop count reached levels of 540,000. In November, Richard Nixon is elected as 37th president of the United States. Less than a year into his four-year term, President Nixon orders the first of many troop withdrawals from Vietnam. The war would continue for the next six year before South Vietnam fell to the communist forces in the north.

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The Vietnam War had a very profound effect on America during the war and even afterwards.  One of the many reasons it had so much effect on our country is because at the time, the country was split on whether we wanted to fight or not.  The younger generation and even some middle aged to older people were very against fighting this war and all they wanted was to have peace.  This was the “Hippie Era” and though drug use was very high it seemed to calm the people and take the want to fight out of them, but they were angry with the government for continuing to fight the war in Vietnam for so long.  All historians say that no war has ever divided a country like the war in Vietnam.  Another reason of why it caused so much discussion back home is because even though technically on paper in a military sense we won the war, the media and most of our citizens had abandoned our army.  They didn’t want to be a part of a country that goes to war for nothing which in turn made them angry with the government, though in their own way they were probably right. In the 1960’s many conspiracy theories were developed; everyone had their own but mostly they all were against the government and they had a point.  Also people lost pride in our country when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that we had just lost to a “fourth rate” country, they were ashamed of our government for forcing us to fight in a that was seemingly unnecessary.  All of this created excessive amounts of tension and it all started with the Vietnam War.

This conflict was a major turning point in the United States military history. This was the first time the United States was involved with the losing side of a war they participated in. Many American citizens were not happy will the actions the U.S. showed during the war. The United States could possibly lose another war today if they were to get involved with the likes of China or North Korea. The objective was to prevent the spread of communism in free nations across Southeast Asia, but the goal wasn’t really accomplished. In today’s world there still remains communist nations around the globe, but the United States chooses wisely not to get involved with such small countries. The Vietnam War proved the United States is a very vulnerable country in terms of warfare without the use of nuclear weapons.

  By: Alex Taylor & Grady Larsen

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