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Explain why there were such different reactions in the USA to the country’s involvement in Vietnam in the 1960’s.

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Introduction

Explain why there were such different reactions in the USA to the country's involvement in Vietnam in the 1960's. As the USA's involvement in Vietnam escalated during the 60's, the reactions of the USA and its people changed dramatically throughout the decade. The time of 10 years proved to be a decade split into several segments of public reactions. In the early years of 1960, the American public considered price, inflation and racism as the most important issues facing their country. However it was not until 1965 that the people of America finally realised that in actual fact Vietnam was the main threat to their countries well being. Nonetheless by 1960, there were barely any American troops in Vietnam and in fact there were less than 50 thousand troops fighting. The fact that the US death rate was very low ensured that the American public was not too concerned with events in Vietnam. However they were instead more interested in celebrating the glory of war and the government's actions towards defending the principle of democracy in Vietnam. The youth of America or "Kennedy's Generation" in particular, when asked what they could do for their country became excited at the prospect of fighting and representing what their nation stood for. As they thought the superpower of America could not be defeated. ...read more.

Middle

The right wing view of the "Hawks" showed no sympathy with communism and was convinced that America would remain undefeated in modern war. They believed communism had to be defeated and the war had to continue for the sake of the free world. As Philip Caputo wrote, the USA had never lost a war and was destined to "play cop to the communist robber". This in effect shows that the Hawks viewed the USA as the first line of defence against Communism in the world and therefore could not stand down. Nonetheless, the political views swung towards the left wing view during the 60's as America realised that the war was being lost and America was defeated. The reactions of the USA were also split by racial differences. Black Americans were outraged by certain facts about Vietnam. For example, more black than white soldiers were dying in Vietnam, in proportion to their numbers in the US. This sparked outrage amongst black people who thought black soldiers were being used as pawns in Vietnam. Hugely prominent black icons such as Martin Luther King instructed black people not to fight in Vietnam. He felt that black soldiers should not risk their lives for a country that deprives them of their human rights. He believed that the true fight for black people was at home in the USA. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was impossible, as this was the 1st war to be shown live on television and in colour. The exposure America received from Vietnam was enough to disgust the country. In 1965 viewers saw a GI set fire to a peasants hut with his cigarette lighter. In 1968, they saw a Vietcong prisoner shot dead. Television also showed American GI's being shot to pieces and in 1969, the truth about the My Lai massacre was revealed along with footage of women and children being stripped and murdered by American GI's. In all, 58,000 US troops were killed, a huge loss of young life. This figure was enough to justify America's exit from a war they could not win. All off this proved to be far too much exposure than the American people were ready for and the media proved to be a huge factor in changing the reactions of people towards Vietnam. It brought the war into the living rooms of the American people. They saw the savagery that their own boys were committing in Vietnam and were disgusted. Reactions to Vietnam were different in the 60's because the war escalated during the decade. At first, the war was unimportant until the US people realised they could not win the war. Generations, politics and race split the country and this meant reactions would be different depending on where you stood. Because America was so diverse, and the land of "freedom", reactions would always be different. ...read more.

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