Topics: Vietnam War, United States, Cold War Pages: 5 (2034 words) Published: August 10, 2013
The Vietnam War was a polarizing conflict that completely changed the culture of the United States of America. Not only did it have a lasting effect on the political climate, but it also changed the culture of the people in this country. To properly illustrate these points we must look first at the war as a whole and what led up to it, and then we need to take a look at both sides of the conflict here in the United States. This will give us great insight into why the culture of this country has changed so drastically. The Vietnam War was an interesting conflict, one that arose when the French lost control of their colonies in Indochina. Vietnam came out of that conflict as two separate countries, North Vietnam (communist) and South Vietnam (noncommunist). The U.S. began to support the South in order to stop the spread of communism from the North. By the end of the 50s there was growing dissatisfaction and widespread support for communism in South Vietnam. War eventually broke out between the North and the South in 1959. During this time the U.S. was involved in a conflict with the U.S.S.R. known as the Cold War. Because of the tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. the Kennedy administration escalated our involvement in the Vietnam War to prevent the spread of communism to the South. Throughout the 60s the U.S. began conducting airstrikes on North Vietnamese positions followed by the deployment of ground troops, despite all of this the United States never made a formal declaration of war. By the late 60s, it had become apparent that the U.S. could not achieve victory in the region. Negotiations failed to resolve the conflict, meanwhile secret U.S. bombing campaigns on Viet Cong positions continued to fuel the conflict. Finally, in 1973 a ceasefire was agreed upon and the U.S. withdrew its forces. In that same year the South fell to the communist forces from the North, and the two countries were united as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. There are two major views on the Vietnam War that we will look into, we will start with the more prominent of them. By far that most mainstream view of the Vietnam War is that the U.S. should not have been involved. Protests against the war broke out in the mid-60s and grew larger as the war went on. Universities were the main stages for this antiwar movement. The movement began to gain support from the American counterculture, religious groups, and intellectuals associated with the left. Eventually, support from the general public waned. This can be attributed to the rising number of American casualties, reports from the war zone, and a growing sense of the futility of the war. Along with these feelings came the feeling that the war was immoral. The American public believed that the U.S. was ignoring the will of the Vietnamese people, and that we were only there to maintain a political presence in Asia. In 1971, an event occurred that further eroded the public support of the war and damaged the reputation of the Nixon administration. This was the leaking of the Pentagon Papers, a 7,000 page document, to the New York Times. This document revealed some U.S. military decisions that the public thought to be questionable as well as revealing that the U.S. was involved in the region much earlier than previously thought. This seemed to be the final straw for the public, eliminating nearly all support for the war, a feeling which to this day is still prominent among the American public. As I said before there are two sides to this conflict. There are those that are for it and those that are against it. We’ve already looked at the arguments against the war, so now let’s look at the arguments for it. As I alluded to earlier, this is definitely the lesser of the two viewpoints. However, there are still a large number of people that support the United States decision to enter into the Vietnam War. Supporters of the war have one main argument for entering the conflict. They believe that without...
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