AP English III
22 March 2014
Opposition to the Vietnam War
The Vietnam War created one of the most dividing periods of American history. Many saw the war as an unnecessary conflict that cost dearly in both money and lives. The United States’ involvement in the war was also considered to be unjustified. Despite the many difficulties faced during the controversial time, many activists raised issues in opposition to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War because of its unjust nature with acts such as the high casualty rates, scorched earth policies, and the lack of an immediate threat.
Many, including the Catholic Church, judge the justifications of a war based on several factors given in the “just war theory,” which is used to evaluate the war based on its causes and means. The first required factor is a just cause, meaning that a nation’s decision to begin a war must be due to “substantial aggression” brought about by the opposition which cannot be resolved through non-violent solutions without excessive cost whereas armed conflict is not hopeless or excessively costly (“Just War Theory”1). In most cases, wars are started for a reason; however, many of these reasons are for the benefit of the governments who start the wars. The just war theory is widely accepted as a way to determine the moral standing of the reasons. This part of the theory is to ensure that the objective of a war is a reasonable and moral one. It prevents the needless bloodshed and loss of human lives over petty disputes while still protecting the rights and lives of the innocent by acknowledging the necessity of war in dire situations.
The just war theory allows for war to be declared in response to a case of substantial aggression; however, this is a vague term. To establish a more explicit phrasing, substantial aggression is “generally understood to be the type of aggression that violates people’s most fundamental rights” (“Just War Theory” 1). This allows for a nation to defend its people from an aggressing force in cases such as an invasion or the seizing of hostages. This also recognizes the possibility of the misuse of a government’s power to oppress its people and grants a morally correct option for other nations to intervene.
While a government may have a just cause to engage in military activity, it must also take into consideration non-belligerent options before resorting to war. The aim of the just war theory is to prevent warfare until it is the final reasonable option. It allows for the bypass of non-violent solutions if they are either “hopeless or too costly” (“Just War Theory” 1). In many cases, however, non-violent solutions have a reasonable chance of success without excessive cost. In these cases, war should be avoided. Additionally, just war theory prohibits warfare that is beyond a reasonable hope as well as conflicts that would prove to be excessively costly. This is in place in order to prevent a nation’s...