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Explain Why America Left Vietnam Essay

1310 words - 5 pages

Explain why the United States left Vietnam
A culmination of problems within Vietnam, domestically and internationally forced the United States to leave the nation. The key reasons for withdrawal were bulging economic costs, an increasingly impatient home front, an underestimation of North Vietnamese ideology, events which turned the war and ineffective strategies. The United States was left in an unpleasant situation. The French President, Charles de Gaulle, had warned the US against its Vietnam involvement, saying the only way out would be the removal of its troops, “…you will sink step by step into a bottomless military and political quagmire…” .

To give a global context to the US occupation of Vietnam: there was cut-throat tension between the democratic nations and communist regimes. The American public and the majority of industrialised nations were persuaded by arguments of the “Domino Theory” and Communism taking over the world, the support for initial involvement was present. After the Gulf of Tonkin incident America began escalation in the Kennedy and Johnson years. However with an absence of results in the late 60’s support for the war disappeared as fast as it had arrived.

America, from the onset of the war did not have any precise strategies to achieve their goals. Vietnamese leader, Diem noticed this stating, “It was as if the United States could never quiet decide what policy to pursue.” The official reason for US entry was to defeat the Communist threat. President Kennedy stated, “The enemy is the Communist system itself-implacable, insatiable, unceasing in its drive for world domination…” There were two significant faults with this objective. Firstly the Americans assumed that, without evidence, the Vietnamese people would be swung by the power of democracy. Secondly, disputes occurred between the major Communist nations during the Vietnam war: the Sino-Soviet split destroyed the idea of a unified world-wide takeover by Communist nations. Vietnamese scholar Luu Doan Huynh attacked the US many years later, “…you were not only wrong, but you had, so to speak, lost your minds. Vietnam a part of the Chinese expansionist game in Asia? For anyone who knows the history of Indochina, this is incomprehensible.” America was trapped, the original premise of invading Vietnam became void as the war progressed.

Military strategies used by the United States were ineffective. Many of them were inappropriate for their objective of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people and only incited resentment of the people. Search and Destroy missions, as well as the Strategic Hamlet Programme were flawed. Robert McNamera condemned Operation Rolling Thunder for which, “…its goddamned bombing campaign that had dropped more on Vietnam than on Europe in the whole of World War II and we hadn’t gotten a goddamned thing for it.” Henry Kissinger, in a secret memo, admitted to President Ford that “In terms of military tactics…our armed forces are...

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