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Analyze the Ways in Which the Vietnam War Heightened Social, Political, and Economic Tensions in the United States. Focus Your Answer on the Period 1964 to 1975.

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Essay Preview: Analyze the Ways in Which the Vietnam War Heightened Social, Political, and Economic Tensions in the United States. Focus Your Answer on the Period 1964 to 1975.

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The Vietnam War, lasting almost 20 years and deploying 2.7 million troops to the fronts made it one of the largest wars in US history. The war began on Aug. 2, 1964 when two navy ships off the shores of Vietnam were allegedly fired upon. This questionable attack was just the start of the questionable war to come. Throughout the war 58,000 American soldiers were killed and twice as many severely disabled. This war was a humiliation to the United States and tensions created grew to an overwhelming stature. In a quote by President Nixon, "Let us be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that" (Doc G). Throughout the war many tensions held strong, but between 1964-1975 these tensions grew. This is shown in three ways: politically, the trust and creditability of the war and government was under question. Socially, as the war continued the public acknowledged their right to express their opinion to the government and country in many ways, such as riots. Economically, how the government was spending money and using the money ineffective towards the war. All together these tensions embarrassed the United States to a level that turned the nation

Politically the nation was strong heading into the Vietnam War, with 85 percent of the public supporting the war. Then with its progression the support towards the war dicipated. Tensions grew enormously in the years to come with events such as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Pentagon Papers, and War Powers Act. One of the first major events in the escalation of the war was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which shifted the control and decisive powers of Congress to be controlled solely by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This decision was made by congress and passed overwhelmingly with 400 to 2 vote. The resolution states that "Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." (Doc A). Gulf of Tonkin Resolution shows that congress gave away all its powers to the President to use at the his discretion. This heightened tensions because the Incident of the Gulf of Tonkin was questionable and the fact that it progressed into, The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, a major shift of power in the Govenment. That of which goes against the checks and balances our country was built on. This created opinions in the public toward the legitimacy of the government. Later on came the Pentagon Papers, a document that revealed that a succession of presidents from Truman to Nixon had been lying about intentions in Vietnam. This was smoking gun for activists which already had doubts about the creditability of the government. The approval rating of the war after the Pentagon Papers and the Tet Offensive diminished to a mear 36 percent of the public. Effects of these events created protests of the war such as the protest at Kent State which ended in the National Guard coming in for croud control and to break up the protest but didn't end that peacefully. By the end of the day on May 4, 1970 sixty-seven rounds were fired by the National Guard leaving four dead and nine wounded. This was just the beginning to an already blood bath war, but to find four dead because of a war thousands of miles away, this war needed a change of direction.

Unfortunately the war socially was on the same path as politically. With the public enraged about the war, protesting all over the country and riots broke out. Such as in February of 1966, 100+ Veterans of the war attempted to return their decorations to the White House in protest of the war, but were turned back. This goes to show socially our nation was broken from issues brought up by the war, but also by other issues that heightened our tensions internally in the U.S. like class warfare. Class warfare, is a term usually associated with Communism, That of which was one of our main reasons for entering into a war "to stop the spread of Communism". But with in own society we were faced with class warfare, having discrimination against race and wealth. As expressed by James Fallows in a writing about his draft board experience in 1969. "Cambridge contingent was... deliberately failing color-blindness tests to avoid the draft...Where as boys from Chelsea [working class]... walked through examination lines like so many cattle off to slaughter...While perhaps four of five of my friends from harvard were being deferred, just the opposite was happening to the Chelsea boys." (Doc F). Class warfare was at its height, with one of the main reasons for deferment was that one went to college. Meanwhile, hard working men from Boston are being pushed into the draft because they know no any better. Another form of class warfare was discrimination against African Americans. They were being treated very poorly versus their white people, like getting viciously attacked with bombs and threats when many African Americans rode on many buses to support



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