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Vietnam Coursework Comparing sources

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Vietnam Coursework 2 Many historians assert that media coverage of the war in Vietnam was the major reason for the inevitable withdrawal of American and allied forces from the conflict. This is the theory presented in Source M, a statement made by a prolific British media commentator in 1970 which asserts that the advent of cover television and mass media will make it impossible to wage any kind of long-term conflict. The first source, Source D, is a North Vietnamese propaganda poster depicting a group of American soldiers hunting for Vietcong partisans or other enemy combatants. Forced to leave their vehicles behind, the Americans are depicted as black silhouettes against the white backdrop of the Vietnamese jungle. In the foliage around them they are surrounded by invisible Communist soldiers, waiting for the right time to strike the group of Americans. All though the reliability and accuracy of the source is dubious due to it's use as a propaganda poster, the source does present the theory that America's inexperience with guerrilla warfare was the main reason for the failure of American forces in Vietnam. America was accustomed to waging wars that revolved around decisive battle engagements, whilst they were fighting the North Vietnamese in their own land where anyone in the North or South could be a possible Vietcong combatant. ...read more.


Many were shocked, stunned and horrified by the crimes - some so horrified that they refused to believe that American troops could have been responsible for such an act, instead choosing to belief that the story was fabricated. Following the events at My Lai public opinion turned massively against the war, possibly explaining the fact that it came to a conclusion seven years later. It is also worth noting that First Lieutenant William Calley, the man who ordered the attack, was the only participant to be convicted of any crime. Whether or not Source G supports Source M is debatable - one the one hand, it attributes defeat largely to crimes such as those committed at My Lai but at the same time it represents the impact the media had on the war effort by exposing those crimes. It is logical to assume that Source G can be used to support Source M, all though it does not support the theory as explicitly as other sources do. Source H, the fifth source, depicts the impact of the war on the American home front. A satirical cartoon drawn for the British magazine Punch a year before My Lai in 1967, it depicts a train representing President Johnson's vision for the 'Great Society' - a State where the vision to "Feed and shelter the homeless [and] to provide education and medical care" has been realised. ...read more.


The majority of the sources agree, at least fundamentally, with the idea that the media held enough power over the public to force the American government to capitulate on their position. If it were not for the media's readiness to expose the horrific crimes committed by the American armed forces in coalition with South Vietnam, the war may well have continued for a long time afterwards. Nonetheless, we must also consider the superior fighting capabilities of the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong partisans, both of whom established their doctrine of warfare based off those developed by Mao Zedong in the People's Republic of China and Kim-Il Sung of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The inability of the Americans to earn the support of the South Vietnamese people also further fuelled the fires of war and made it increasingly difficult to maintain an effective military presence in the South. One must also consider the vastly superior social and economic policies of the Communist North which played a key role in winning over the South Vietnamese people who came to see the Americans as an occupying force of aggression. All though it was the media that inevitably brought an end to the war, America would not have been able sustain the conflict in the long-term regardless of the level of media intervention in the conflict. Peter Gaffney - R11 ...read more.

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