American History / The Vietnam War Should Have Been Fought
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Autor: anton 10 December 2010
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The Vietnam War Should Not Have Been Fought
The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War is truly one of the most unique wars ever fought by the Unites States of by any country. It was never officially declared a war . It had no official beginning nor an official end. It was fought over 10,000 miles away in a virtually unknown country. The enemy and the allies looked exactly the alike, and may by day be a friend but by night become an enemy. It matched the tried and true tactics of World War Two against a hide, run, and shoot technique known as "Guerrilla Warfare." It matched some of the best trained soldiers in the world against largely an untrained militia of untrained farmers. The United States' soldiers had at least a meal to look forward to unlike the Communist Vietnamese soldiers who considered a fine cuisine to be cold rice and, if lucky, rat meat. The Vietnam War matched the most technically advanced country with one of the least advanced, and the lesser advanced not only beat but humiliated the strongest military in the world. When the war was finally showing signs of end, the Vietnamese returned to a newly unified communist country while the United Stated soldiers returned to be called "baby killers", and were often spat upon. With the complexities of war already long overdrawn because of the length of the war it is no wonder the returning solders often left home confused and returned home insane.
Vietnam, It Was The Right Thing To Do
No war that the United States has ever fought has drawn so much heart-rending criticism than the Vietnam War. This war divided the United States as no war since the Civil War ever has. Citizens that favored the participation in Vietnam still argue their point of view with those that opposed the United States involvement in Vietnam. The Vietnam conflict started as civil war in the country of Vietnam, one that lies very far away from the United States in Indochina. Why did Americans sacrifice so many lives and so much money for a country so far away? Why did millions of Americans violently protest involvement in Vietnam? It has been twenty-six years since the last American soldier left Vietnam, and the United States has still not come to peace with the Vietnam experience.
The true answer to why the United States got involved in Vietnam lies in part in the Truman Doctrine. This statement is true for two reasons. First, the Truman Doctrine set forth a policy that was applied the international spread of Communism. Second, the Truman Doctrine was brought up when the conflict in Vietnam was increasing. The first United States involvement in Vietnam began in the late 1940's, long before it escalated to include the United States Military. Because of the basic terms or the Truman Doctrine, the United States was drawn in the Vietnam conflict. The Truman Doctrine dealt with fears of Communism, the domino theory, and a feeling there was a need for containment. All of Vietnam was in danger of falling into the hands of Communism. The threat of Communism that was unfolding could end was with the United States worst fears coming true, or a successful effort of containment and the spreading of democracy. Thus, the Truman Doctrine and Vietnam were very much intertwined.
The Truman Doctrine was brought forth before Congress on March 12, 1947.
Although not directly stated, the message was strongly implied. President Truman talked about a society "based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority...terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms." This society was a nightmare in the eyes of the United States; this type of governing was called Communism.
In addition to speaking of the terror of Communism, the Truman Doctrine called for an anti-Communist foreign policy. President Truman stated, "One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion." The Truman Doctrine, in essence, said three things. Communism was thought of as a threat to freedom. A threat to freedom anywhere represented a threat to freedom everywhere. The United States had an obligation to halt the spread of communism.
Dwight Eisenhower, the President of the United States after Truman, wanted to support the South Vietnamese. At a news conference, Eisenhower stated, "You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is a certainty that it will go over very quickly." Eisenhower believed that if the United States didn't step to the aid of the South Vietnamese, they would fall to the Communist aggressions, as would the rest of Southeast Asia. President Eisenhower and his staff then started to set up a plan for the support of Vietnam. Eisenhower's secretary of State, John Dulles, was determined that the American's could build up South Vietnam as a Barrier to Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh was the leader of the communist party in North Vietnam) and his Communist followers.
The Vietnam conflict changed when John F. Kennedy took the Presidential oath of office in 1961. Kennedy had long been interested in Vietnam. As a senator, he had visited the country in 1951. Like Truman and Eisenhower, Kennedy felt the United States needed to contain the spread of Communism. Kennedy wanted to take more military action against Communist rebels. When Kennedy took office there were only 900 American military advisors in Vietnam. Diem's Army of the Republic of Vietnam (known as ARVN) numbered 200,000 men, opposing a Viet Cong guerrilla force of only 17,000 men. The ARVN seemed unable to stamp out the Viet Cong (Communist rebels). Kennedy wanted to know why this was happening. In October of 1961 he sent General Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow to Vietnam to examine the situation. When both Taylor and Rostow returned, they presented a simple plan. That plan was that more American involvement was needed in Vietnam. They both wanted Kennedy to send additional advisors to South Vietnam to show the army and the government how to improve. Along with the advisors, they also called for 10,000 American combat troops to fight the war directly. Kennedy didn't want to send in combat troops, but he did agree that there was a need for troops. He decided to increase the Green Beret forces and to send in more military equipment. The new U.S. advisors took a more active role in the fighting. Some of them went into combat with the ARVN forces.
On December 22, 1961, one of the advisors, James T. Davis, was riding in a truck with some ten South Vietnamese soldiers. The truck ran over a Viet Cong land mine buried in the road. Davis, who was unhurt by the explosion, jumped out of the truck with his gun ready. The Viet Cong were hiding in some nearby brush alongside of the road. The Viet Cong jumped out of the bushes and gunned down Davis and the South Vietnamese soldiers he was training.
The Americans found that the ARVN troops were eager to learn but did not perform well in combat. They were both poorly paid and poorly led. The only reason why their officers were appointed was because they had "connections" and a loyalty to Diem. The American advisors were not able to give the South Vietnamese a fighting spirit that was equivalent to the Viet Cong. The Americans continued to try to help the South Vietnamese army, but it did no good. Soon there was more trouble in South Vietnam than there was before. The American advisors tried to persuade Diem to reform his government, but Diem wasn't one who would be coerced. Corruption spread throughout all the levels of the government. The South Vietnamese people were beginning to protest against their government. Diem could no longer move on without the population's support. Diem soon started to fear for his life. Diem asked to be hidden so that he would be safe, but that did no good. Diem and his brother, Nhu, were both assassinated in the fall of 1963. When the news of the assassination reached Kennedy there was talk about Kennedy withdrawing the United States advisors from Vietnam. Three weeks later Kennedy too, was assassinated. These events changed the scope of the United States involvement in the Vietnam conflict.
The United States' plan to contain Communism in Vietnam eventually failed. The United States' forces fought many harsh battles but were never able to solve the problem that was going on in Vietnam. On April 30th 1975, The South Vietnamese officially surrendered to the North Vietnamese. Remaining United States personnel and some of our South Vietnamese Allies were forced to evacuate in an emergency airlift. However, many who worked with the U.S. were unable to escape an ultimately were either killed or "reeducated." In conclusion efforts to contain Communism in Vietnam failed. Some of the reasons include: Lack of domestic support in the United States; Failure to allow the Military leaders to effectively execute the war effort in South East Asia; Inability to convert the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people. The lessons learned from the Vietnam experience have dominated the United States Military and political debate for the last 25 years.
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