Us Foreign Policy During Vietnam War Era And Today

2147 words - 9 pages

The American-Vietnam War killed as many as three million people. It destroyed the country of Vietnam. It was a disaster for the US economy with the United States government directly spending 141 billion dollars in South Vietnam alone . It caused uproar within the United States and tragedy on an unprecedented scale to the Vietnamese. It witnessed horrific war crimes and bombings; and in the end, it brought nothing but shame on the United States and the defeat of the Government that they had fought for so long to defend. In short, it was a disaster, a chapter in world history that nobody wants to ever repeat. So, if ever in history there was a tragedy from which lessons should be drawn in order to avoid letting it ever repeat itself, it is the American Vietnam War.Indeed, plenty of lessons have been drawn from it- lessons that practically determined the nature of the United States' foreign policy for well over two decades after American involvement in Vietnam ended. Neill Sheehan, speaking in 1996, described how the memory of the tragedy of Vietnam continued to determine the USA's policies in external affairs: "Vietnam has changed this country utterly. First of all, the president is limited now. No president can commit the American armed forces with the freedom Johnson and Kennedy could because the credibility of the president to do that has been damaged, it's been changed. He's not the ultimate wisdom anymore…And when you see the papers of the military leaders of the 1960s, they're always telling the president, "Force is a solution, send the army, send the marines, send the air force, that'll solve your problem." Now you've got military leaders saying, "Look before you intervene."" The main lesson that had been drawn from Vietnam was that the USA should avoid getting involved in armed conflict again unless it was absolutely necessary and well-informed intelligence could assure that American forces would suffer a minimum of casualties and bring about a quick victory. Also, Vietnam was the last time when journalists would be allowed such freedom to report on exactly what the American forces were involved in. Vietnam showed the damage that uncensored journalism could do by causing dissent at home, and ever since, as is evident in Iraq at present, the freedom of war correspondents reporting on US forces military involvement has been subject to rigid restrictions.Today, the period of a "No More Vietnams"-based US foreign policy is clearly over. The recent presidential election in the USA has confirmed that, in terms of foreign affairs, the hawks have replaced the doves. The cause of this recent abandonment of a cautious foreign policy is of course the attacks of September 11. Fear of terrorism has spelled a radical new departure in the USA's dealings with other countries, whose main aim is now to prevent a repeat of 9/11 rather than to avoid another Vietnam. The warnings of analysts that the USA's new policy of preventative strikes can only end...

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