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Why Did Many Americans Oppose Us Involvement In The Vietnam War?

1213 words - 5 pages

'Campus bums', intellectuals, liberal-minded politicians, middle-class suburbs, labor unions, government institutions and later on, returning Vets made up the majority of the protesting population in the United States who sought to end the Vietnam War. The anti-war movement became prominent in 1965, reached its climax in 1968, lasting through the entirety through the waning years of the war. What incentives were common to all of these people? Not many. Most of these groups had independent interests, representing political, racial and cultural spheres of influence. To put the movement in perspective, however, it is essential to examine the unifying themes of the protest in its ties to the domestic politics and social consequences from1968, the height of the movement.The Tet Offensive of January 30-31, 1968, resulting in 110 and 20,000 American and Viet Cong casualties, respectively, was the trigger to all of the chaos that was aroused in anti-war sentiments. The series of surprise attacks during the Tet Festival came just when the government had proclaimed that they can "see the light at the end of the tunnel." The graphic images of American troops defending the Embassy in Saigon on TV, the pictures of napalm burnt children published on Ramparts magazine, the alliance between the African-American leaders and anti-war ideals, the troop presence in Vietnam of nearly 500,000, as well as the death rate of 25,000, prompted the public to question the real political incentive of America's involvement in Vietnam, and moreover, the efficiency and truthfulness of the government itself. American spokespeople had quickly pointed to the military failure of the Vietnamese Communists; the public realized the dramatic discrepancy between what the optimistic claims made by the US government that the war had already been won and America's political and psychological defeat. General William C. Westmoreland stated that in order to fully defeat the Viet Cong, 200,000 more American soldiers, and a call-up of reserves (a step no President would want to take) need be sent to the South Pacific. A day after the New York Times publication for the request for more troops, President Johnson was letdown by the results in the United States Democratic Party New Hampshire Primary, almost losing to Senator Eugene McCarthy, an anti-war candidate for presidency. Robert F. Kennedy, soon after, joined the contest for Democratic nomination and emphasized the failure in Tet for Johnson to step down. With three nominees divided on the same war within the same party, it is also clear that the Vietnam War had hit home and divided the entire country. Evidently, it became clear to the US public, even those who supported the war, that the current government's strategy was questionable, that domestic political turmoil is not only confusing, but also contributing to the resilience and victory of the Viet Cong. The Tet Offensive illustrated the American opposition that branched from the...

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