Period 4 Civics
The Vietnam War and its Effect on American Society
The Vietnam War was started by President Eisenhower. He was the first to involve the United States in the conflict between North and South Vietnam, by putting in CIA operatives and military advisors in South Vietnam (ushistory). The US's involvement grew with every passing president. President Kennedy was the first to put soldiers in Vietnam. Johnson orders the first official combat of the United States soldiers. Finally, the war ended after eighteen years after it was declared by President Richard Nixon. The war had a lasting effect on all parties involved. The US lost its first war, the objective of stopping communism from spreading failed. The war was also the first that the people and soldiers couldn't look back on with pride of a sense of accomplishment (Hochgesang, Lawyer, Stevenson 1). Due to the government’s secrecy and over reach of power, a distrust of the United States government, as an institution, grew that still exists today. The fall out of the war had massive, negative impacts on south East Asian countries. More countries would fall to communism. The devastation of the war caused economic repercussions that still effect countries today. Not only did the war cause lasting damage multiple countries, but it allowed situations that caused the death, slaughter, and starvation of millions in the years following the war (sparknotes).
The Vietnam War was started based on the Domino Theory. This theory was adopted by President Eisenhower; it concisely stated that if South Vietnam fell to communism, many other South East Asia countries would become more accepting of communism and eventually adopt it (vietnamawbb 1). “If Indochina falls, Thailand is put in an almost impossible position. The same is true of Malaya with its rubber and tin. The same is true of Indonesia. If this whole part of South East Asia goes under Communist domination or Communist influence, Japan, who trades and must trade with this area in order to exist must inevitably be oriented towards the Communist regime” (vietnamawbb 1) The Domino effect was the driving force for the Vietnam War. With the end of World War II, the USSR was the greatest threat to Democracy and Capitalism. Vietnam, being in a centralized location, allowed many of the trade routes of South East Asian countries to pass through it. Many traders would have to come into contact with the political and economic structure within Vietnam, and through this eventually communism as a form of government would have to be accepted. The involvement of the United States lead more counties fall to communism. If the United States had not been so reckless with its military investment less countries would have turned to communist governments. The United States was the first domino in the South East Asian countries establishing communistic governments. American leadership viewed communism as an economic and legal philosophy that "destroys justice" and "enslaves men" (Nixon 1). This perception, along with the military threats that the communist countries posed at the time, made communism the enemy of freedom and Democracy. The people of the United States had always fought for freedom: The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Now the world saw the new face of oppression, Communism. That drove the people and the politicians to purposely involve themselves in the Vietnam conflict.
The eighteen year war was a complete and utter failure. It cost the American people billions of dollars, almost 60,000 Americans lives and hundred thousands more were injured. The war did not accomplish what it was supposed to do, the objective, stopping communism spreading to South Vietnam, was not achieved. Within two years of the United States ending its military involvement the north took over the south and annexed it forming the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (ushistory 1). In...
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