American History / The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War

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Autor:  anton  03 April 2011
Tags:  Vietnam
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The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War

Student unrest and the Vietnam War

In the middle 1960s, every male in America had to register for Selective Service Draft at age 18. He would then be eligible for the draft and could be inducted into the Army for a period of two years. If you were a college student, you could receive a deferment and would be able to finish college without the fear of being drafted. However, once finished with college, a students name would be put to the very top of the draft list and could be deployed at anytime. The anti-war movement was about young men being drafted and then sent into war that most Americans did not believe threatened the security of the US. The Vietnam War was America’s rebellious war, a war without popular support or resolve.

As the War continues through the late 60’s, rising casualty rates spark a growing discontentment among Americans that is fueled and inspired by student protests. The seemingly futility of the War creates feelings of unrest that appear to turn public sentiment against the War and student unrest is growing at an alarming rate. This in turn caused many Congressmen to turn against the war, which in turn caused dissension in Washington and affected troop morale. In fact, an article that was posted by John E. Pike states that, “Writer James Reston commented that the anti-war demonstrations were not helping to bring peace to Vietnam. He said they were postponing it. He believed the demonstrations would make Ho Chi Minh think America did not support its troops. And that, he said, would make President Ho continue the war” Pike, (2000-2008).

On April 30, 1970, President Nixon annouced that the U.S. would be expanding it’s war efforts by attacking Communist sancutuaries in Cambodia. This news came during turbulant times on Americas college campuses as the Anti-war movement was in full swing. College students were aware that over 38,000 American troops had been killed in Vietnam and if something wasn’t done on the streets of America, many more would die. With tensions running high all over America’s college campues, the unrest of the anti-war movent was just about to get worse. Nixon’s decision to engage more troops into a sensless War, sparked a new wave of protests that errupted into many violent standoffs. Unknown to the country, this unrest would take a fatal and trajic turn.

On May 4, 1970, Kent State went into history as one of the most powerful single events and images that America would ever witness during the Vietnam era. It would be reminisant of a battle field engagement, as gunfire would fill the Midwest college campus and bring the front lines of America's war over Vietnam. In 13 chaotic seconds, the Ohio National Guard fired their weapons at antiwar demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine. The shootings solidified the antiwar movement not only in America, but worldwide as well. By the next day photographs of the slain students, and the horror that was depicted over every possilbe news media, immortilized the name Kent State and cut through the nation's conscience.

Think about the War that America is involved in now, why isn’t there the same unrest and turmoil among college stundents and everyday Americans? In comparison, there is no draft. I believe much of the stundent unrest could have been the threat of any young American going to War without a choice and losing their lives for an unseemingly futial military engagement. The anti-war movent could have been established in part due to selfish reasons, the fear of dieng, or just plain scared of fighting and dieing without a cause. If you can recall at the beginning of the Iraq War there were rumblings about a draft and that President Bush would institute this draft if need be. It didn’t take long for the rumor to create an uproar among Americans and soon after that rumor was started it was dispelled. Why? Because President Bush didn’t want an reanctment of the Vietnam War turmoil.

The political and social outcomes of the Vietnam War

At the end of the Vietnam War, the United States had spent over $120 billion in support of this war. This lead to a large federal budget deficit and ultimately resulted in very little change in the politics in Indo-China. The Vietnam War also demonstrated that not even a superpower has unlimited strength and resources. The Vietnam War did accomplish one aspect in the political realm, that no amount of money or might can change the ideologies of another by the use of force and conflict. Another significant consequence of the war was the budget cuts that President Johnson's Great Society programs had to suffer. As defense spending and inflation grew, President Johnson was forced to raise taxes, which created a power play by the Republicans, who would refuse to vote for the increases unless a $6 billion cut was made to the administration's social programs. A clever power play by Republicans to get the Democrat’s to play into there support of the War.

The media and the press proved to be America’s War investigators when they released the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times. The “Pentagon Papers” proved that the war had been pre-fabricated and the alleged attacks on US Naval vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin never happened, as the North Vietnamese had no navy. Nixon proved himself to be a criminal, and the Republican Party went down in disgrace in the elections of 1976.

According to an article presented by Professor’s Bowen & Spivey, “The hatred for the authority of national leaders whose platitudes and slogans had proved false spread to a distrust of students for all traditional authority figures, causing students to question the authority of all those in positions of power and/or dominance”, Bowen & Spivey (2004). This was the beginning of Americas stand on questioning higher authority. No longer would Americans idley sit by and let Americas leaders go on unchecked or unaccountable for their actions

On virtually all sides there was a new mistrust of the Federal government. Liberals hated the Government for lying; conservatives hated the Supreme Court for its Roe vs. Wade decision, and business hated the whole environmental movement. America had been dived by a War that never took place on her own soil. In essences, America was almost as divided as North and South Vietnam with the political and social aspect in turmoil and disarray.

References:

Bowen R. Z. & Spivey D. (2004). Student Unrest. “The Sixties”. Retrieved April

17, 2008, from the University of Miami Library. http://scholar.library.miami.edu/sixties/studentUnrest.php

Pike E. J. (2000-2008) Military. “Vietnam War”. Retrieved April 17, 2008, from the

Global Security Website. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/vietnam.htm

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/vietnam.htm



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