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To what extent was the media responsible for the American withdrawal from Vietnam?

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Introduction

Tony Hush To what extent was the media responsible for the American withdrawal from Vietnam? The history of Vietnam is characterised by struggles for independence since French rule in 1859 after the French took Saigon, and a great ability in warfare and continual determined resistance to foreign domination. Major military involvement by American armed forces came after events such as Russian communist revolution in 1917 and the Korean War in the 1950's; these events put the America people in a period of moral panic with McCarthyism, and domino theory. After the French defeat and the following Geneva conference in 1954, where only a verbal military truce was agreed. Signs of further fighting and full America involvement were a clear possibility. Vietnam was one of the first conflicts to be televised around the world. Also it was impossible to keep all the forms of media under censorship, this made film footage and news reports under the scrutiny of the viewing public to judge for themselves. News films from the battlefield were by 1968 being transmitted from Tokyo via satellite (John Omicinski, Gannett News Service). Often these unedited films went straight into the airwaves for the evening news in jumbled, in unexplained minutes that gave the war an even more chaotic look. ...read more.

Middle

It seemed now that the American people had no belief in its own government, which was such a dramatic change for a people, which were so obedient as a nation in the previous decade "For the first time in modern history the outcome of a war is seemed destined to be determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and, above all, on the television screen" (Robert Elegant of the Los Angeles times) The media had created many myths about the war in Vietnam, many of which were damaging to the American forces abroad and government officials at home a like. But there are many facts and figures, which suggest the media was not wholly truthful or did not give out the all the facts in its reports. One myth was that most American soldiers in Vietnam were drug addicts, and guilt ridden because of their involvement in the war and deliberately used cruel and inhumane tactics. The truth according to the Westmoreland papers was that 91% of Vietnam veterans say they were glad they served, and 74% said they would serve again even when knowing he outcome of the war. It is important to point out that these figures and accounts come from the Westmoreland papers, who was also the leading officer in Vietnam at the time. ...read more.

Conclusion

The answer, firstly we will never know for certain. However we can almost certainly say that public support for the war would have largely stayed high throughout the war, this means that the pressure on the armed forces and American government wouldn't have appeared. This stops public disillusionment with the war and American government. With none of the these factors in place the American forces may have had time to adapt to the type of warfare and terrain and also, solve the behavioural and discipline problems they were having which caused some of the media attention the war attracted. From this information you can see that it favourable suggests that America could have continued fighting in Vietnam, which may have produced a very different result. Despite this, you still can't say that the media is totally responsible for the withdrawal of American fighting forces in Vietnam, just because you cant see the problem doesn't means its not there. Also there is a major issue with that theory of what if there was no negative media coverage on the war? The problems is whether the American forces could have adapted and solved their problems? So therefore the only defiant thing you can say is that although the media was a major contributor but not totally responsible for the American withdrawal from Vietnam. ...read more.

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