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Why did Americas involvement in the Vietnam War become increasingly unpopular with the American people?

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Why did America?s involvement in the Vietnam War become increasingly unpopular with the American people? By 1968, the war was a stalemate. The USA could not defeat the Vietcong and in turn, the Vietcong, as shown by the Tet Offensive, could not drive out the USA. However, American public opinion could. In August 1965, 61% of the public thought that America had not made a mistake by sending troops to fight in Vietnam in view of developments made since they had entered. However this figure drastically dropped to only 28% in May 1971, showing a stark reversal of public opinion. This could have been caused by a number of reasons; the most important being the power of the media at home. Within five years, President Lyndon Johnson marked the loss of the Vietnam War by announcing that he would not only withdraw from Vietnam but he would also not stand for re-election, only five years after the supposed victory in the Tet Offensive, which shows just how pivotal support at home is in order to win a war. ...read more.


After confident predictions of an imminent victory many Americans were shocked to see footage of Communist fighters in the grounds of the American embassy which created a ?credibility gap? between the official message and what was seen happening on television. Famously Walter Cronkite, the most influential US anchorman said ?What the hell is going on? I thought we were winning this war?. The introduction of draft of new soldiers further increased opposition, and many burnt their draft cards. Black and other minorities, who made up the largest proportion of the American army, did not want to fight ?for something that they don?t have themselves?, especially since many white people got out of the draft by going to college. Famously Muhammad Ali was prosecuted for refusing to be drafted and said, ?No Vietcong ever called me nigger?. Also the shooting of Vietnam Veterans who were peacefully protesting outside Kent state only caused more unrest amongst the American people. Huge marches were taking place against the war, with a million people joining one in New York. Between 1960 and 1973 over 500,000 men deserted from the armed forces and in 1967 ?Vietnam Veterans against the War? was formed. ...read more.


The reports of the massacre greatly strengthened the anti-war movement in America. This shook many Americans view of themselves as the ?good guys? and made them question whether America was fighting for a just cause. In addition the $66 million a day spent by 1968 meant that President Johnson?s spending on a new ?Great Society? was drastically cut, and income tax rose. $900 million worth of American equipment had been destroyed however they had only done $300 million worth of damage to the North Vietnamese economy. Also the cost of the troops in Vietnam amounted to about $20 to $30 billion a year. In 1967 ?Life Magazine? calculated it cost $400,000 for each Vietcong guerrilla killed. The media was the most powerful reason for America losing the war and the fact that it was uncensored meant that gruesome pictures were reported back in America which caused un-repairable damage to the war effort. This war showed definitively that if the people at home are not happy to fight, a country will never win. The power and danger of the media was shown with the recent Wikileaks scandal, showing that there is a need not to have everything out in the public. ...read more.

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