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Vietnam Retaliation in the U.S

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"Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things

can get terribly confused in the public mind." - Gen William C Westmoreland, US Army


It is said that a war cannot be fought without the support of the people. Much so was this

related to the Vietnam conflict. I say the "Vietnam Conflict" in that the United States never

actually declared war on North Vietnam after its communist split-up in 1960. The conflict was

based on the principles of containment stated in the Truman and Eisenhower Doctrines. These

documents stated that military aid would be given to any nation willing to fight communism.

This idea of "keeping communism in it's place" without it spreading to new nations was called

containment, a name given by President Harry Truman.

In May of 1955, Vietnam, which was a French colony, was broken up by rebels led by Ho

Chi Minh. Under the accords of the Geneva Convention, the French colony was broken into

Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Communist China and

Soviet Union while South Vietnam fought off communism with aid from the United States.

These series of events added to the tensions felt in the Cold War, which lasted between the

United States and the Soviet Union until 1989.

The year 1964 brought the United States into the conflict even more with President

Johnson's Operation "Rolling Thunder", which bombed railroads, troop camps and other North

Vietnamese targets. This also brought two battalions of 3,500 marines and opened the door to

lead 540,000 men in Vietnam by 1967. This drastic call for troops to be deployed to Vietnam

called on the Selective Service Act, which drafted men into the military who fit certain

requirements. This combined with anti-war sentiments felt at home led to the opposition to the

war I am to speak about.

The Conflict in Vietnam did not go unnoticed at home as well. Some Americans were

eager to fight Communism in Vietnam. But, unlike most wars of American time, the action in

Vietnam had a very split approval amongst Americans. Many believed that the conflict was the

responsibility of South Vietnam, and not that of the United States. By the conflict's escalation,

however, the approval of the practice of containment in Vietnam dropped drastically as more

Americans lost their lives to Viet-Cong guerillas. But some were optimistic, said here: "Writer

James Reston commented that the anti-war demonstrations were not helping to bring peace to

Vietnam. He said they were postponing it. He believed the demonstrations would make Ho Chi

Minh think America did not support its troops. And that, he said, would make President Ho

continue the war ("

The War Draft was feared by many young Americans, as they were the ones being called

into commission. A common practice amongst men aged 18 to 26 was burning draft cards to

display war opposition. Some totally fled the country, moving to Canada or other countries.

Many got married, plead disabilities or homosexuality or even joined the National Guard. Many

of the protesters were collage aged people, who looked at the war at a different standpoint. The

Baby Boom generation seemed to have a different attitude towards war than their parents. Rather

than blindly fighting for the American cause, the students asked why and challenged the system

of the military draft. No other war in American history had so much opposition, and to this day,

people still believe it was a pointless and vain attempt by the United States to show off their

military strength to the Superpowers, being the Soviet Union and China.

The media had a large impact of the American opinion of the Vietnam Conflict. The first

pictures of the war Americans seen of the war were in 1963, with the burning suicides of

Buddhist monks who were attacked by the Communist government. The monks, rather than

giving up their religion, immolated themselves publicly

to show their spiritual strength. This

scene shocked Americans as to what was going on to great extremes. As the search-and-destroy

mission went on, Americans were subjected to more pictures and reports from Vietnam, adding

to their discontent, especially those families of those who were fighting. American soldiers were

apprehensive of any civilian. The Viet-Cong, who were the guerillas in South Vietnam working

to spread communism, never wore uniforms and were impossible to detect amongst civilians.

Pictures of Americans killing Vietnamese, Vietnamese killing Americans, and scenes of war

filled the homes of Americans from the televised news and newspapers from 1963 to 1973.

Many people at home because of this began to ask themselves "why?". In the book The Vietnam




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