The Vietnam War The United States made the right decision in joining the war efforts of the South Vietnamese.
The only mistake was that the U.S. should have done everything in its power to win the war as quickly as possible.
The U.S. was obligated by the Truman Doctrine to contain communism. Truly the best way to contain it would be to defeat it.
This war was a person changing experience. With all the horrible pain and gore the soldiers had to see and endure, they could never be the people they once were. Supporters and protesters back in the U.S. were causing chaos. The Doves and the Hawks, the Doves against the war and the Hawks supporting the war, divided a country. In the face of death, the brave men of the military of the United States fought on to make the world a little better for everyone.
The United States had a clear advantage. Their military, weaponry, and combat skills were superior. If not for the North Vietnamese knowledge of the terrain and guerrilla tactics, the war would have possibly been a short one.
However, the U.S. government only sent what they felt to be adequate manpower to contain communism, not to defeat it. They wanted to keep the loss of lives down, and keep the Doves as happy as possible.
If only they had sent a massive force into enemy territory, they could have bombed the North Vietnamese thoroughly and invaded their country with extreme force. This would have the potential to end the war more quickly and save American lives, and the success of the victory. The Truman Doctrine was first set forth by United States President Harry S. Truman in 1947. The immediate objective of the policy was to send U.
S. aid to anti-Communist forces in Greece and Turkey, but it was later expanded to justify support for any nation that the United States government believed was threatened by Communism during the Cold War period, in this case, the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War took its toll on the American soldiers.
When they returned home, they were different people.They didnt look the same, they didnt act the same, they werent the same. Some could not hold on to their sanity in light of what they had seen and been through.
In order to take the soldiers minds off the horrors all around them the U.S. command brought in boatloads of toys for the men to play with, everything from go-carts to violins. There was surfing, sailing, and miniature golfing.Almost everyone got a chance to spend a day or two at the beach pretending that he wasnt in Vietnam. Large bases had Olympic size swimming pools and air-conditioned libraries, softball fields, and basketball courts. Even the toughest of bases had a net and a volleyball.
1 The men also tried their best to keep their minds off the war. A soldier could requisition from Special Services enough musical instruments to form a band or maybe the army band would entertain. If they were too far out in the boonies, with a little ingenuity and a few raw materials a man could rig up a washtub bass and make his own music. In the earlier days of the war, U.S.military personnel on leave in Saigon could put on civilian clothes and play tourist.
Even after the 1968 Tet 1 Combat Photographer p. 61 attacks it was possible to enjoy sightseeing, shopping, and carousing in Saigon, but the city was a much more tense place. In the early day it was also fairly common for American serviceman to live in civilian housing, often with a Vietnamese girlfriend.
After the Tet Offensive, (the attack on Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, and some provincial capitals by Communist troops on January 30, 1968.) this was largely prohibited, but some servicemen managed to continue the arrangement with the tacit approval of their superiors. Near the big Tan Son Nhut air base there was a street known as Soul Alley where a number of black soldiers lived with Vietnamese women and commuted to their jobs on the base.The war was taking so long because the U.S. was only trying to contain the enemy, the soldiers needed something to improve moral. One of the major American imports to Vietnam was the visiting celebrity. The stars would be fitted with jungle fatigues, briefed by the brass, and flown all around the country to visit firebases and hospitals where they would shake hands, sign autographs, and pose for pictures, all in the interest of boosting morale.
Often a military photographer would be assigned to cover the celebritys visit, and the star would get to keep the pictures for stateside promotional purposes. The star of stars was Bob Hope, and his show was the act of acts.Amphitheaters were built at major bases for the Bob Hope Show and Hope was guaranteed a full house. Most GIs wanted to see the show, of course, but to erase any doubt about the seats being filled units were required to send certain amounts of men to the show. For a grunt in the field, getting a day off the be flown out of the bush for the Bob Hope Show was a big deal. Since not everyone in the unit could go there were sometimes drawings of competitions to select the lucky ones. Sometimes the competitions were based on body counts: The soldier who was credited with the most kills was rewarded with a ticker to the show.
1 Between 1965 and 1967, both the United States and North Vietnam had fought to a highly destructive draw. The U.S.bombing of North Vietnam caused tremendous damage, but it did not affect the enemys willingness of ability to continue fighting. North Vietnam kept its most vital resources hidden, and the Soviet Union and China helped make up the losses.2 American victories in ground battles in South Vietnam also failed to sharply reduce the number of enemy troops there. The U.
S. Army and Marines usually won whenever they fought the enemy. But North Vietnam replaced its loses with new troops.Its forces often avoided defeat by retreating into Laos and Cambodia. As the war dragged on, it divided many Americans into so-called hawks and doves. The hawks supported the nations fight against Communism. But they didnt like Johnsons policy of slow gradual troop increases and urged a decisive defeat of North Vietnam.
Clearly the right thing to do.The doves opposed U.S. involvement and held mass protests.
Many doves believed that U.S. security was not at risk.
Others charged that the nation was supporting corrupt, undemocratic, and unpopular governments in South Vietnam. The growing costs of the war, however, probably did more to arouse public 1 Combat Photographer pp. 63,64 2 The American Tradition pp.660-695 uneasiness than the antiwar movement did. The war cost ate up nearly a fifth of our nation budget-a rate of two billion dollare a month.F By late 1967, increased casualties and Johnsons request for new taxes helped produce a sharp drop on public support for the war.1 North Vietnam and the Viet Cong turned a new page of the war on January 30, 1968, when they attacked major cities of South Vietnam. The fighting was especially savage in Saigon, the capitol of South Vietnam, and in Hue.
This campaign began at the start of Tet , the Vietnamese New Year celebration. It came to be known as the Tet Offensive.As a military strategy, the plan was flawed. The United States and South Vietnam quickly recovered their early losses, and the enemy suffered an enormous amount of casualties. But the Tet attacks shocked the American people. The United States had about 500,000 troops in South Vietnam, and U.S.
leaders had reported strong winnings just a short time before. Many Americans wondered whether blocking Communist growth was worth the loss in lives and money. The government should have just defeated the Communists altogether.The Tet offensive forced basic changes in Johnsons policies. The President cut back the bombing of North Vietnam and rejected Westmorelands request for 206,000 additional troops. Johnson also called for peace negotiations and declared that he would not seek reelection in 1968. Peace talks began in Paris in May. Opposition to the war in the United States grew quickly during Nixions 1 World Book Encyclopedia pp.
391,392 presidency.Some opposition developed as a result of television coverage of the war, which brought scenes of war horrors in millions of homes. In March 1971, the conviction of Lieutenant William L. Calley, Jr., for war crimes raised some of the main moral issues of the conflict.
Calleys Army unit had massacred at least 100 and maybe as many and 200 civilians in 1968 in the hamlet of My Lai in South Vietnam. Calley was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to jail for 10 years. Some war critics used the trial to call attention to the large numbers of killed by U.S.bombing and ground operations in South Vietnam. Other pointed to the vast stretches of countryside that had been destroyed by bombing and by spraying of chemicals. U.
S. forces used such weedkillers as Agent Orange to reveal Communist hiding places in the jungle and to destroy enemy food crops. Public distrust began to grow on June 1971, when newspapers published a secret government study of the war called The Pentagon Papers. The study raised questions about decisions and secret actions of the government leaders regarding the war.In March 1972, North Vietnam began a full scale invasion of South Vietnam. Nixon retaliated by restarting the bombing on North Vietnam.
He also had explosives planted in the Haiphong harbor, North Vietnams major port for importing military supplies. These things helped stop the invasion which was almost to Saigon by August 1972.1 The losses of both sides during the 1972 fighting lead to peace talks. A 1 Encarta 97 Vietnam War cease-fire was reached and signed by all parties.
American troops were evacuated and all prisoners were returned. Soon the peace talks broke down and North Vietnam began their invasion again. This time they were successful. South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam in Saigon on April 30, 1975. Saigon was then renamed Ho Chi Minh City. The enemys plan obviously worked.They got their main concern, the U.S.
, to withdraw and they knew that they probably would not return. Thousands of South Vietnamese civilians fled with the soldiers during the invasion by the North. Most died from either gun wounds or starvation. This all should have been avoided at the beginning.
The United States should have fought to win.In war there should never be any half-way commitments.1.