The Vietnam War: A Brief Analysis

1884 words - 8 pages

Time does not heal all wounds, though it does impose fresh ones that require consideration. Still, even though the Cold War is over, there are many reasons why the history of the Vietnam War should remain fresh and the effort to grasp both the war and the antiwar opposition remain essential. The Vietnam War is, of course, an episode in military history. The episode’s setting is during the Cold War in Vietnam and the central theme of the episode was to pit capitalism and or democracy against communism. In light of this, the movement against the Vietnam War could be said as one of the greatest triumphs in democracy. The war’s purpose was to instill democracy, yet the war was waged with a lack of a constitutional warrant. In an authoritarian type of government, these actions of going forward with the war may have been accepted, but the beauty of democracy adds the inclusion of the minority to be afforded the same opportunities of the majority. What started as a few people protesting turned into the entire country being opposed to the Vietnam War. This paper will study the demographical breakdown in public opinion when public approval of the war shifted to overall disapproval. Additionally, this paper will analyze how trends and perspectives on the war changed from 1965 to 1973, and what events may have contributed to that shift. This paper will demonstrate that the impact of the antiwar movement was clearly substantial. The movement provoked doubts about the war’s merits among the American public and elites, including in congress and the media, who, in turn influenced other Americans. The threat the movement posed to domestic social stability also promoted public and elite dissatisfaction with the war.
A. Seeds of a Movement
Following the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, American approval of the war was considerably high, with a large majority of the populace applauding President Johnson’s decision in combatting communism. The resolution provided Johnson with political ammunition and therefore allowed him to go forward with Operation “Rolling Thunder,” which was sustained bombing in North Vietnam by American B-52’s. Aside from that, troop deployment in Vietnam topped 200,000 soldiers by 1965, and Johnson’s argument of de-escalation during the debates with Goldwater seemed distant. 1965 was the same year in which Vietnam “Teach-Ins” are born. These teach-ins were the seeds of the youth movement and were the practice of protesting US policy in Vietnam. Teach-ins were created and concentrated at colleges and universities in the form of speeches, rallies and seminars. Tom Wells in his book titled, The War Within, noted that prior to the teach-ins gaining gradual momentum, support for the Vietnam War policies were at an all-time high of 85 percent. The teach-ins concurred during the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) who were composed of students that wanted the administration to focus on fixing the American society. SDS would describe the...

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