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Why did America lose the Vietnam War?

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Introduction

"The war on colour television screens in American living rooms has made Americans far more anti-war than anything else. The full brutality of the combat will be there in close up and in colour, and blood looks very red on the colour television screen". (A statement made by a BBC commentator in 1970 to members of the British armed forces) This statement suggests that television was an important reason why the United States lost the war in Vietnam. Is there sufficient evidence in sources D to L to support this interpretation? In April 1975 Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, fell to the Communists, ending 30 years of conflict. The statement made by the BBC commentator suggests that television was a significant reason why America lost the war. Certainly, by 1963 Americans were receiving most of their news from television and during the 1960's there was a steady increase in the number, size and quality of colour television sets. I will study eight sources and analyse whether they support these claims that television was a significant reason why America lost the war. Source D is a North Vietnamese poster depicting American soldiers surrounded by unseen guerrillas, tactics regularly used by the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong against the enemy. ...read more.

Middle

The 48th Viet Cong Battalion - the intended target of the mission - was nowhere to be seen. Not a shot was fired at the US army during this mission. I am aware that it took over a year for the truth about what happened at My Lai to be uncovered and reported back home. When Americans heard about My Lai it had a huge impact on the anti-war feeling in America. American opinion had become increasingly divided after the TET offensive, which took place a year before the revelations of My Lai. My Lai brought about more public attention, and confirmed for many Americans that this was not a war America should be involved in. The horrors of My Lai and the events of the TET offensive were brought into the living rooms of Americans each night. Now, public opinion started to favour peace in Vietnam. It is unclear whether this particular source was shown on TV in the form of an interview or published after the war. However similar interviews would have been viewed on screen and had a devastating effect on the American support for the war. For these reasons, this source does indeed support the BBC commentator's claims. Source H illustrates the costs of the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

This would have been heard in living rooms all around the country and many would be affected by what soldiers were saying about the war. Other news broadcasts showed the horrors of the war, and Americans were provided with a nightly exposure to the violence. Footage of the war which I have seen in class, and which Americans would have seen regularly may have indeed caused an anti-war feeling within the public, and led America losing the war. This is what the BBC commentator talks about in his statement. The Vietnam War has been labelled `the living room war`, but until incidents such as the TET offensive and the My Lai massacre, television coverage had been usually neutral or even favourable towards the government. However since 1968 I am aware that television became much more critical. Although it can't be proved, it seems to me that the change in attitude towards a much more critical view reflected the shift in public opinion, rather than caused it. The sources I have studied range in origins and seem to give opposing views. However I do not believe that the United States lost the war in Vietnam because of television. Other factors such as guerrilla tactics, which made it impossible for the army to recognise the enemy, and the lack of progress in education and health care back home, were much more significant factors for the Communist victory. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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