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Is there sufficient evidence in sources A to F to explain why there was an anti-war movement in the US during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s? The anti-war movement in the US during the late sixties and early seventies was a number of independent interests that had allied together, because of their common interest of being against the war in Vietnam. The types of people who protested varied greatly, such as people at college campuses, middle-class suburbs, labour unions, and government institutions, there were many different types of protest and many different reasons for people from all racial and cultural backgrounds protesting.
Draft Burning was one important type of protest; this was done by thousands of conscript able men in the United States, to show to the American government that they weren’t going to go war in Vietnam. A Draft was the document that told Americans they had been conscripted to go and fight, many thousands of Americans would burn these in the streets as a protest to the Government against the war. There were hundreds street protests throughout the war by Americans from all walks of life, despite racial tensions blacks and whites and people from different classes banded together to show the authority what Americans really felt towards the war.
There were also thousands of letters, phone calls and confrontations with the American Government to persuade them to stop the war. Many of the independent groups had their own reasons for disagreeing with the war in Vietnam, and so there is great depth to why an anti-war movement on such a scale began. One of the main reasons is the role of the media during the Vietnam War. Most homes in the sixties owned televisions and some even colour televisions, so the war could be seen by nearly all Americans daily.
There were no restrictions on the media during Vietnam as there are today so shocking images and newsreel could be sent back home for Americans to see. Americans saw devastating images of dead Vietnamese, dead and injured American G. I. s, refugees, injured civilians etc. For example the My Lai Massacre on the 16th March 1968 horrified the world as people found that the Americans were the cause of a 350-500 casualty massacre of unarmed Vietnamese civilians. Adam Whybro The war was proving to be a heavy drain on manpower and casualties were starting to mount up.
562 men were killed in just one week during May 68 to add to the mounting casualties of thousands. The United States needed 33000 conscripts by 1965 to replace the dead and those who had finished their tour of duty. This generated a lot of opposition from men who did not want to fight resulting in the many draft burning protests that took place. Drafting caused large amounts of resentment between the social classes as white middle class men could easily be cleared, whilst ethnic minorities were drafted.
The poor morale of American troops and of veterans fueled the anti-war movement leading to two big protests in Washington in 1967 and 1971 and a record amount of desertions, some 503,000 in 1966 alone. The American tactics being used and Guerrilla warfare lowered both American troop’s morale and that of Americans back home. The use of Napalm alone was strongly opposed and added to the destruction of rainforests and spraying of chemicals caused massive opposition to the tactics being used to win the war.
Americans thought the war, which at the time was costing them $20 billion year, was weakening an already fragile and weak economy, and at the time the President Lynden Johnson had promised that he was going invigorate the economy and make it stronger. Johnson had also promised better health care, better housing, a better transport system and reducing the social divisions between Americans. The war took valuable funding and resources from these projects, resulting in more people showing their opposition to the war.
The Black Civil Rights protests greatly backed up the anti-war movement, as they believed that mostly ethnic minorities were being drafted into the armed forces. Some of the higher officers were racially abusing some of the black soldiers, which caused lots of resentment between black and white soldiers in the American army. The black civil rights movement acted alongside the anti-war movement rather than being a direct consequence of the war, whereas the other reasons to why there was an anti-war movement are direct courses of the war, because they only came about during the Vietnam War.
The sources A-F, do not explain all the reasons to why there was and anti-war movement, but they do help us to understand a few of the reasons why such a strong anti-war movement took place during the Vietnam Conflict. There was an anti-war movement due to the unrestricted role of the media which showed many disturbing pictures of the Vietnam Conflict, including both dead and dieing civilians and soldiers, horrific injuries such as napalm burns and destroying buildings.
Sources B, C and E help us to understand the role of the media during the conflict. Source B is a famous photograph that shows children running followed by American soldiers and imparticular a naked girl running and screaming with severe, distressing napalm burns. This is a very distressing picture, which received extensive media coverage. This picture changed many people’s views on the war, mainly to anti-war, but what the image doesn’t show us is that the US gave her medical treatment which she recovered from, and she is still alive today.
The image does show the public how bad the war was though and the ineffectiveness of American tactics and the lack of care shown by the American military not to hit civilians. Adam Whybro In Source C the writer, Richard Hamer, tells us about a scenario where a US patrol is attacked by a mortar on a road between paddy fields containing Vietnamese civilians. Hamer describes the decision that many American soldiers must have faced when in Vietnam, whether the civilians attacked the patrol and whether to kill all of them or none of them.
He gives the readers an insight into what it must be like to be an American soldier in Vietnam to everyone back in America. This shows how bad being a soldier was and to parents or close ones back in America of soldiers would have made them want the war to stop and to bring their sons home, heightening the anti-war movement. Hamer goes on to give the horrific details of the tactics used by the US during the war. He does not however inform us of the types of horrific tactics that the Vietcong Guerillas used, such as the horrific booby traps they set for American patrols, which is biased against the war.
The American tactics were dammed by much of the world as they were deemed as harsh; this was brought about by the media. The Americans used chemicals to destroy rainforests around the Ho Chi Minh trail and villages like Napalm and Agent Orange, which still has an effect on the Vietnam life today! Each new generation still suffers from the chemicals used in the military campaigns by the Americans during Vietnam. Source E is an oral statement by Robin Day a BBC commentator who says that TV has changed American views on war more than anything else, to be more anti-war and anti-militarist.
Day says now people all over the world can watch conflicts on television, whether in the future a democracy which has uninhibited television coverage in every home will ever be able to fight a war again, as the full brutality of war will be there in close-up and in colour. Day also says, “Blood looks very red on the colour television screen”. This source does not tell us anything about the war itself, or about the anti-war movement in America, but just how technology such as colour TV’s have changed the war, and the views of the war by ordinary people.
Source A is a written source from the book “Four Hours in My Lai” by Michael Bilton which attempts to explain why the United States suffered such high casualties throughout the war. Most soldiers were more likely to die in the first few months of their tour of duty than at any other point, because the soldiers were inexperienced and usually did not get on well with the platoons they were put into, which lowered morale. A lot of the new recruits were quite stupid, because of the need for replacement troops; the army overlooked the poor I.
Q. scores of many men when they were conscripted. A lot of the new conscripts weren’t that clever as the men available for conscription in Universities could get out of it with studying by studying a degree. This source doesn’t explain the anti-war movement; it just helps us to understand the effects of the tour of duty and the high casualty rate. The source is biased however as not everybody in the army scored a poor I. Q. and died within the first months of the year.
In the late 60’s early 70’s President Lynden Johnson promised the American people he would make the American economy stronger. He said he was going to make a “Great Society” and he had a vision to “feed and shelter the homeless… to provide more education and better medical care”. This didn’t occur on as large a scale as was planned Adam Whybro as consequence of the Vietnam War, which upset a lot of lower class people. Source D is a cartoon published in the British magazine “Punch” in 1967, which represents the American economy at the time.
The US economy is represented as a steam locomotive, and in the smoke coming from the funnel of the train it says Vietnam, as well as the cartoon indicating that Vietnam is destroying the US economy and all the resources are going to waste, it also represents due to the carriages being broken up which read “Great Society” to fuel the train, that the dream of the “Great Society will never happen as the resources that were meant for it are being used to fuel the US economy for the war in Vietnam.
The cartoon shows a lot of angry people, which represents some of the American people at the time, who must have thought President Johnson was lying to them and that services wouldn’t get better. What the cartoon represents would have angered many Americans, especially the lower classes resulting in them supporting the anti-war movements, as they wanted funding putting back into improving their quality of life as had been promised.
The cartoon does not show however how the war in Vietnam provided millions of jobs in arms factories and in the armed forces etc.to low paid or the unemployed which did boost the economy and reduce unemployment.
The book “We Were Soldiers Once and Young” by Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway gives a good indication of the tactics used by the American military early in the Vietnam War. It gives an eye witness account of the helicopters tactics used, the air support, and the napalm attacks used by the American military. It also highlights why the Americans casualty lists were so high, as before Hal Moore went into battle in the Ia Drang Valley some of his trained men were taken away as their tour of duty had finished.
During the battle a reporter takes pictures of the horrors of the battle, and at the end of the battle a helicopter full of reporters arrives to take pictures and interviews etc. The source gives a real life example of sources A and C which both contributed to the anti-war movement. The source is slightly biased as it was written by two Americans who were there and could have therefore changed slight details to put the Americans in a better light. Although the Sources do tell us a lot about the why the anti-war movement began they do not tell us everything.
They do not tell us about the black civil rights movement which was happening at the time which acted along side the anti-war protests, because they thought that a lot of black people were being discriminated in the army and Johnson’s promise which would have benefited many black Americans. The Sources do not tell us about the numerous student protests, especially the Kent-State-Protest in May 1970 where 4 students were killed by the national guard causing the start of 400 more protests. The sources don’t highlight the number of cultural changes during the war, which sparked up.
Many blacks weren’t granted places in universities and so it was harder for them to escape conscription. Therefore in 1967, 30 percent of black men who were the right age for the conscription were conscripted, whereas only 19 percent of whites were. There were many black protests and questions towards the government from black people included comments like “why should we fight a war that we don’t believe in? ” and “why are we fighting for a country that refuses to give us basic human rights?
” Black opponents of the war were quick to point out that “the Vietcong never called us nigger! ” Also in 1967, Martin Luther King, the best known of black civil rights campaigners, Adam Whybro spoke out against the war. A year later, King was assassinated by a white opponent of civil rights and there were hundreds of race riots all over the country. The sources are quite sufficient but they do not cover all explanations to why there was an anti-war movement in the US during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
The best sources in my view are the picture of the ‘Napalm Girl’ and source C, as both these two sources show us the violent tactics the American armed forces used in Vietnam and with the disregard for human lives they were used. The two sources persuaded a lot of people to go against the war and join the anti-war movement. I feel it was because both are media items which was the main factor in there being such a large anti-war movement in America.