America in Vietnam: The War at Home
There were several administrations and policies leading up to the war in Vietnam. Under President Truman the United States developed a policy of containment during the Cold War in an attempt to contain communism in the Soviet Union. During President Eisenhower’s administration the foreign policy of containment was expanded to a military strategy of deterrence. The United States believed in what they called the Domino Theory, wherein if Vietnam was to fall entirely to communism so would the neighboring countries of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, etc. In the time of President Kennedy, his administration allowed Vietnamese generals to assassinate Ngo Dinh Diem which only led South Vietnam to have even less stability than it had previously. The Tonklin Gulf Resolution during Johnson’s administration led to the escalation in Vietnam. It was reported that in the Tonkin Gulf two American destroyers were attacked by the North Vietnamese. This spurred the US to enter into war to contain communism and prevent a Domino Effect. If the US had been involved in the foreign affairs of Vietnam they may not have turned to communism. The area of Vietnam before the war didn’t have any one strong nationalist movement. If the area of Vietnam had a strong nationalist movement already in place, Senator J. William Fulbright believed, they would have been less susceptible to a communist movement. Fulbright who was in favor of the US becoming more involved after the Tonkin Resolution in 1964, by 1966 was no longer in favor of the role of the US in Vietnam. Fulbright states, “Nationalism is the strongest single political force in the world today.” The US had to choose between their strong opposition to communist movements or to support what has become a nationalist movement in Vietnam. For the US it was too late to give an alternative movement since they already had adopted communism. Fulbright was urging the US to support their strong nationalist movement despite it being based in communism. He thought it would be better for the country to focus on domestic as opposed to foreign affairs. To Americans at home the war had left their needs all but ignored by the government. The days of progressive reforms and the Great Society had passed and was left to the wayside to focus on Vietnam. With the war going on Fulbright states of US citizens left behind “American people [can’t] be expected to think very much about improving schools and communities when they are worried about casualty lists and the danger of a wider war.” Like Senator Fulbright, Martin Luther King Jr. opposed the war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King Jr. played a critical role during the civil rights movements. He was influential in leading people through nonviolent civil disobedience. He led protests fighting for the rights of poor blacks and he played a major role in having the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed which “prohibited racial segregation in public facilities such as bus terminals, restaurants, theatres and hotels. It also outlawed long-standing racial discrimination in the registration of voters and the hiring of employees” (1017, Tindall). After all these accomplishments domestic affairs were much less of a concern and the attention of congress looked to foreign issues.
King felt the connection between the two movements was logical and proper because the war in Vietnam was affecting the people whose civil rights needed to be defended. The poor whose civil liberties King was defending were the majority of people being deployed. King states, “And so we are repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.” This shows how hypocritical it was that black men were overseas fighting for the nations “freedom” when they were being denied total equality in their own country. King goes on to criticize the foreign...
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