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The Vietnam War

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Introduction

The Vietnam War "No 'healing', no apologies, no memorials, nothing can possibly compensate for the damage done and the pain inflicted....The only thing we can possibly do, twenty years too late, is to try and tell the truth." Eric Bergerud, Historian UC Berkely The problem is though, that there is no one truth about the Vietnam War, even more than two decades after America's intervention. Critics of the intervention claim that the war was unnecessary and immoral and also policymakers in Washington dragged the country into and unwanted war. A group of scholars and military leaders have contrasting ideas, providing a strong defense for the American intervention. Although there is a multitude of facts and sources, without a framework to place them into context understanding the war would be impossible. Even after a careful examination of all the information we have today, it would reveal neither view as entirely accurate. The Vietnam War was arguably the most traumatic experience for the United States considering a whole range of events including two world wars, assassinations of two presidents, the Great Depression, the Cold War, racial issues, etc... Examining the events of the war including the Tonkin Resolution, Ho Chi Minh trail and Tet Offense while analyzing US involvement in the war can help us understand more about the truth of the war and why it was considered one of the most traumatic experiences for the United States. ...read more.

Middle

These incidents came to be known as the Gulf of Tonkin incidents and they raised the level of action closer to actual war. The result was the approval of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution by the Congress on August 10 which stated that the president had powers to use whatever force he deemed necessary to support South Vietnam and other allies in Southeast Asia and to decide when an area had attained "peace and security". With only two nays, the resolution sailed through Congress. Soon after, the guerilla attack on US troops was thought to be in response to the Tonkin Resolution. The year 1966 opened with little cause for the Americans to be hopeful. Johnson was committed to continuing aid, and on January 19 he requested Congress to approve an additional $12.8 billion to finance the war in Vietnam. Known as Operation Masher (though later changed because of its ugly slang meaning), Johnson had proposed a search and destroy mission. The mission along with similar ones did not do any more damage than the American soldiers could without the missions. Johnson called in a meeting in early February with no major agenda but to prevent desperate South Vietnamese citizens from joining the Viet Cong, whom were losing troops and need the South's cooperation to succeed. ...read more.

Conclusion

The war ended with North Vietnam sweeping through the South. But what caused US policy to fail? It is still argued today why out of all the policies within presidential administrations, not one was successful enough to defeat Vietnam. Was is pride, the failure of the US to declare war in the beginning, poor strategy, or underestimating the enemy that caused the failure? Arguments can be given for all sides. The Cold war came to Vietnam at the end of January 1950. The coming of the Cold War to Vietnam would had a powerful influence on Vietnamese-American relations and the making of post colonial Vietnam; shaping the division of Vietnam into north and south; the increasing centrality of Vietnam for US policy makers in the 60s and 70s, and other influences. Otto Von Bismarck once said "Woe to the statesman whose reasons for entering a war do not appear as plausible at its end as at its beginning". Although this may be true, the war showed the US the limits of military power. After the war, many claimed the US developed the "Vietnam syndrome", as they were afraid to intervene any other foreign conflicts. Over the years, people have tried to understand the "truth" of the Vietnam War and we have definitely come back strong, recovering from the most devastating experience in the twentieth century. ...read more.

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