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Vietnam coursework essay 1 - How Useful are Sources A to C to explain why the United States became involved in the war in Vietnam?

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Introduction

Vietnam coursework essay 1 How Useful are Sources A to C to explain why the United States became involved in the war in Vietnam? Historical sources vary in how useful they are, so historians have to analyse them. I have been given 3 sources about the Americans and Vietnam. Source A is more useful than not. It is useful because it does actually tell you many reasons why America joined the war, although not directly. For example, when Johnson says "We fight in Vietnam because we have a promise to keep", he is actually talking about the Truman Doctrine and containment. This is where Truman said that America would help any country fight off the communists if they attacked them. Johnson also talks about many other reasons America joined the war, like The Domino Theory and Political legacy. The source also tells you the reason the American government used with the public, they said their objective was the "freedom of the people of South Vietnam". You would also expect Johnson to lie in this source as he is trying to make the war sound good to the public. However he does not lie at all, it is all truthful although he doesn't tell you everything. However the utility of source A is limited because of the Provenance. Johnson is speaking to the public a month after the war has started so he can not say anything bad about the war or he would sound stupid. ...read more.

Middle

This source is also limited. You don't know who Johnson is speaking to. If he is speaking to another politician he may still not be saying what he really thinks, or he could be speaking to close friend who he trusts and be telling them everything. It could also be made up as we don't know how it was recorded, if it was just a private conversation. Also it still does not cover all the reasons that the Americans got involved in the war. It misses out again that the Americans and Diem never had fair elections and fails to mention that nobody liked Diem and the strong north. This means that it is not perfect as it does not give you all the facts. So overall I think that source B is more useful than source A as it has more reasons to be believable and it is less likely that Johnson is exaggerating. However it is still not perfect as it still has problems with the provenance and the reasons. Together Source A and B are much more useful as they can be used to back each other up. In source A you do not know whether Johnson actually believes what he is saying but because he says it again in what is probably an environment with less pressure it is more likely to be true. ...read more.

Conclusion

I know this to be wrong. The North Vietnamese were assassinating 4000 South Vietnamese government officials a year. And his theory that the war was in fact against the south doesn't make sense as there were millions of bombs dropped on the north as well. However there are some useful things about the source. That it is after the war is useful in some ways as there will not be as much emotion about the war and people will be able to speak with out so much backlash and be able to think more clearly. It is also useful to get an alternative view about the war and see what the other side thought. Noam Chomsky did get some things right like that the "south was devastated". It was. America dropped a lot of bombs on the southern jungle and destroyed a lot of it because it was trying to get the North Vietnamese, who were hiding in the jungle. So this source is really not all that useful as it does not give many facts or fit with the knowledge that I already have. However it does give another view point which is useful So in conclusion I think that these sources do give you quite a lot of information. However even with all three of them together it does not give you all the reasons why America joined the war. There is no mention of Diem or the strength of the North and the weakness of the south and the provenance of all three of the sources makes them not 100% believable. 8/10/05 ...read more.

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