In this essay I will assess the usefulness of sources A to C in determining the reasoning for American involvement in the Vietnamese war. Source A is reasonably useful in shoeing how the U. S government wanted the general public to view them and their reasoning for the country’s actions in Vietnam. Although source A does not state to whom the speaker (President Linden Johnson) is addressing this information. However, the mere fact that it is Johnson speaking, influences the reader to assume that it an audience of the general public that he is talking to.
The time upon which he gave this speech is also very significant, as it was April 1965, one month after major bombing operation “Rolling Thunder”. This made the speech more significant as president Johnson was attempting to explain and justify the reasoning behind the major attacks that were taking place. In the first sentence of source A Johnson states, ” We fight in Vietnam because we have a promise to keep. ” He is about two different “promises”, the first being the Truman doctrine which states that America will give “aid” to any counties suffering from the threat of communism.
This was set up to “contain” communism and prevent the “domino theory”, which was the theory that if one country were fall under the power of communism each neighbouring country would follow. Johnson again refers to the domino theory when he says “The battle would be renewed one country and then another. ” The second promise that Johnson was referring to in his speech was an unwritten promise that he had to personally keep.
And that was maintaining some of the traditional policies of previous American presidents, specifically over the war in Vietnam and the “containment” of communism. Also at the end of source A, Johnson quotes from the bible saying, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further… ” This was probably used because many American citizens were very religious at this period in time; therefore people to relate to it. Also the quote links the actions of America with Christianity, which would influence people into thinking what was taking place was right and true.
Source B is also reasonably useful as it shows Johnson’s real opinion on America’s involvement in Vietnam. From the first line the opinions are noticeably different from that which he expressed in source A. This is probably because source B is taken from a private conversation. The first line of source b brings his true feelings into the light as he says “I don’t think the of the country know much about Vietnam, and I think we care a hell of a lot less. ” This and other statements such as “I don’t think it’s worth fighting for.
And I don’t think we can get out,” show that in may 1964 president Johnson was clearly against the war. Yet by the time of source A (approximately one year later) Johnson had ordered a mass “surgical” bombing of North Vietnam, named “Operation Rolling Thunder. ” Therefore by this point Johnson had either drastically altered his views on the war or had succumbed to the pressure of knowing how horrifically tainted the images of himself and his party would become if he ordered a mass withdrawal from Vietnam.
It is safe to assume that the latter is correct, as Johnson talks about this pressure in source B saying “They’d bring a president down if he ran out wouldn’t they? ” This refers back to the reaction of the public and other politicians, which most likely be accusations of indecision towards his party (Democratic) on matters such as the involvement in Vietnam and the general “Containment” of communism. He would quite probably be labelled a traitor or a communist for backing out of the war and not sticking to the policies of the Truman Doctrine.
Near the end of source B Johnson speaks of his fear of communism as he says “Of course if you start running from the communists, they might chase you into your own kitchen. ” This is again referring to the Domino Theory that if one country falls to communism each in turn will follow. All of this shows the predicament that Johnson was in. That if he retreated he would be accused of backing communism, but if he chose to stay it would become “Just the biggest God damn mess. ” Although the opinions change through sources A and B, source C is entirely different.
It was written by Professor Noam Chomsky, a political critic and a leading anti-war figure during America’s involvement in Vietnam. The source was taken from an interview with Chomsky in 1982. Therefore he has the benefit of hindsight that aids him to analyse and criticise the attitudes and actions of the American government during the Vietnamese war. In source C Chomsky says “Every book that comes out talks about how the United States was defending South Vietnam. ” And that this is now the “Official truth.
“This is saying that although it is not a written law, but it is still widely considered that America was protecting South Vietnam from the North’s aggression. Chomsky disagrees with this saying “The United States did attack South Vietnam. It destroyed the farming, the peasant society. ” This is commenting on the use of chemical weapons such as Agent Orange and Napalm, and tactical warfare such as “Blanket” and “Surgical” bombing. All these things contributed to the mass destruction of the South Vietnamese farms and forestation.
This happened in America’s desperation to locate the rebel militia the Vietcong, and stop the use of guerrilla tactics against largely unaware U. S troops. However in attempting this the U. S forces damaged much of the Vietnamese agricultural lifestyle. And on occasion, American soldiers in frustration in their inability to locate the Vietcong would burn down whole villages at the nearest suspicion that they were helping the Vietcong. Later in source C Chomsky talks of how “The U. S did not want and independent Vietnam…
” He is saying that America did not want to allow Vietnam to decide their own future, and they did not want Vietnam to slip out of their strong Capitalist grip or “orbit. ” To conclude, I believe that source A is the most useful in showing the reasons for U. S involvement. As it show all the pressures Johnson was under. The pressure to keep “promises” and the pressure to contain communism and prevent the domino theory, But most of all it shows the lie that he was forced to tell the public simply because it was what they wanted to hear.