It is obvious that the wars impact the involving powers. The Vietnam War greatly changed America forever. It was the longest war fought in America’s history, lasting from 1955 to 1973. The Vietnam War tarnished America’s self-image by becoming the first time in history the United States failed to accomplish its stated war aims, to preserve a separate, independent, non communist government. The war also had great effects on the American people. It was the first war ever broadcast on television.
The public was able to see what happened on the battlefield. One of the chief effects of the war was the division it caused among the people. Americans have never been as divided since the Civil war. This war would have lasting effects on the United States. The Vietnam War took longer than America had expected and its short term failures and the long lasting permanent defeat caused America a great loss of military, loss of human resources and most deadly, the loss of American hope.
During the four years it took Nixon to end the war, he expanded the conflict into Cambodia and Laos and launched a massive bombing campaign; although many legislators criticized the war, the Congress never denied the funds to fight on the foreign land. For instance, General Fred, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, wrote a Memorandum to the President Ford, which stated, “We went to Vietnam in the first place to assist the South Vietnamese people–not to defeat the North Vietnamese.
We reached out our hand to the South Vietnamese people, and they took it. Even though America tried to help, Vietnam was the land of its people, so they knew their land way better than Americans. Additionally, a reaction to the U. S. Peace moves in Vietnam voiced, “Indian reactions to the late March, 1968, U. S. peace efforts in Vietnam are somewhat mixed. About four out of ten literates agreed that the U. S. was sincerely trying to end the war, while nearly a third had reservations about the American intent. ” Americans started having mixed feelings about the war. Many wanted the war to end and some felt like it wasn’t worth fighting for.
The critical turning point came with the Tet Offensive, which began on January 30, 1968 when the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacked the key cities and every major American base in South Vietnam. The Tet Offensive underscored the credibility gap between the official statements and the war’s actual progress. On May 1, 1975, the North Vietnamese occupied Saigon and Americans evacuated with 150,000 of their South Vietnamese allies. After all the wars that came before this one, America have always had a stand as the world power, and with that, they believed they could win any war.
Johnson faced a dilemma in Vietnam: his predecessors had made a commitment to stop the Communism there and the American public also seemed willing to follow his leadership, but some of his advisers cautioned him against the continued American involvement. Some critics of the war advised the administration to pursue a face-saving way out of Vietnam but Johnson continued to dispatch more advisers, weapons, and economic aid. In 1964 president Johnson, believing that the American credibility was on the line, seized the opportunity to increase the pressure on North Vietnam.
However with that in mind, at home, the people were doubting Johnson’s decisions and many totally condemned it. For example, Ronald Ridenhour, a veteran who survived the My Lai Massacre reported to The New York Times, “It would show the American people and their Government that the policies of force abroad and deception at home were not only antithetical to the principles of a democratic society but low, mean, stupid, brutal and self-destructive as well. ” He desired to have the government system to more organize and to follow through with their words.
Unlike Johnson, Nixon had a different approach towards the war. Working with Henry Kissinger, his national security assistant and key foreign policy advisor, Nixon exploited the deterioration of Soviet-Chinese relations which began in the early 1960s. After two years of secret negotiations, in February 1972, Nixon became the nation’s first president to set foot on Chinese soil; although the act was largely symbolic, cultural and scientific exchanges followed. As Nixon and Henry Kissinger hoped, the warning of U. S. -Chinese relations increased Soviet responsiveness to their strategy of detente.
In Vietnam and elsewhere, Nixon and Kissinger continued to equate the Marxism with a threat to American interests and actively resisted the social revolutions that might lead to the Communism. Jane Fonda in a broadcast at Hanoi, stated, “One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I’ve been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he’ll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo-colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. She believed that fighting won’t settle down any problems related with the war ,instead it will just be a waste of time.
In the April of 1972, Congress was getting more concerned about abuses of Presidential power day by day; the Senate voted to terminate the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution but the House did not go along. Consequently, Nixon pulled the U. S. soldiers out of Cambodia. When drafted into the war, American soldiers had no idea about how long the war would last, but some of them entered into the war with pride, because they had the notion of fighting on foreign land for their homeland.
Little did they know that it will change their lives forever. By observing the photos of wounded marines, it becomes evident that if they were badly injured, they could not return to the war and was sent home. After the war had ended, all the veterans were damaged; physically or mentally. The veterans generally expressed two kinds of reactions to the defeat. For instance, Mr. Ron Ridenhour, who witnessed the undeniable situation of the My Lai Massacre expressed,“I must take some positive action on this matter.
I hope that you will launch an investigation immediately and keep me informed of your progress. ” He asked the government to bring the incident into the light. He believed that there should be a reasonable explanation for what happened in My Lai, a suspicious incident. Similar to Mr. Ron Ridenhour, many others regarded the commitment as an honorable one and felt betrayed by the U. S. government for not letting them and their now-dead comrades win the war; others blamed the government for sacrificing the lives of the American youth in an immoral or useless war.
Because the Vietnam War was in large part a civil, guerrilla war, combat was remarkably brutal. The Veterans Administration (VA) estimated that nearly one-sixth of the three million veterans suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Thus it can be said that the U. S. entered a war for which they had no idea about how to end it. This is valid to say that the technological United States failed in front of united human power. The Vietnam war has mpacted America’s point of view and perspective of its people due to the war being a failure. Delusioned by the thoughts of having victory in every war, and then suddenly not being able to stop the spread of communism within a country abroad, and lastly, the voice of the American people which did support the war; the Vietnam war has changed America by uplifting the absolute trust of the American public on the American Government, American Military and the American leadership.
Courtney from Study Moose
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