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Vietnam War Historical Background

Essay by   •  May 13, 2011  •  Term Paper  •  3,107 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,835 Views

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If we want to judge one or other nation for losing a War we must first consider the empirical background of the war itself. "War is the condition that exists when a group --generally, a recognized state or nation but often a political, social, or economic faction within a recognized political group -- feels its vital interests are at stake and seeks to impose its beliefs or control on a rival group through the use of overt force." From this definition we can see that a group goes to war to protect its interests. The question that is paramount in my essay is who do we consider the victors and who the vanquished? The winner might be the one who kills most people and loses the least. Also, the one who withdraws the last from war. But the overriding criterion describing the victor is the one who achieves its pursued aim in the war. Hence, I will consider this question in a particular area - The Vietnam War. My research questions: did the United States of America really lose the Vietnam War and if so why did they lose it?

In my study I will enlist and afterwards analyze the goals and interests of the United States. First I will define the official goals of the Americans and analyze whether they succeeded to fulfill them. Afterwards I will discuss what unofficial aims some particular groups had linked to the Vietnam War and what they ultimately achieved.

In my analysis my fundamental resources were the reminiscences of four Vietnam Veterans, who I happened to ask a few questions myself. I also used a few books and WebPages.


Vietnam War was a military struggle fought in Vietnam from 1954 till 1975, involving North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front (NLF) in conflict with the United States forces allied with South Vietnamese army or the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Before that during the years 1946 - 1954 Vietnamese had fought France for their independence in the First Indochina War. The ending of this War brought the Vietnamese to a temporary division at the 17th parallel. The Vietnam Communists, who had opposed the rule of France and aimed at unifying Vietnam under Communist rule, controlled the North Vietnam. Vietnamese who had collaborated with the French controlled the South at the time.

The United States became involved in Vietnam because they feared that if Vietnam was to fall for the Communist rule the Communism would become permeated in all over the Southeast Asia. This belief was known as the "domino theory". Thus the U.S. came into the conflict supporting the South Vietnamese government, that was patronizing the local people. However, this repressive policy of the Government soon made the locals contemptuous towards their authorities. This led to a rebellion in the South and the formation of NLF. It was formed as an opposition group with close ties to North Vietnam.

In 1965 the United States sent troops to South Vietnam to prevent the local Government from collapsing. Ultimately in 1973, the U.S. withdrew from the war leaving the ARVN on its own. Quite soon afterwards, the Communists surmounted the South Vietnamese army. Hence, in 1975 Vietnam was unified under Communist control and in 1976 it officially became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.



The aims of the United States are stated clearly in the President Johnson's speech in 1965. Firstly, he maintained: "We fight because we must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny. And only in such world will our own freedom be secure..."

President Johnson also stressed the "deepening shadow of Communist China". In his speech he assumed that Communism had destroyed freedom in India, Tibet and thus must be thwarted. At the end of his speech he made his thoughts and objectives clear: "Our objective is the independence of South Vietnam, and its freedom from attack." The Americans feared that the domino theory could turn out to be true and Communism would turn permeated in Southeast Asia.

As a matter of fact the opinions about Americans stopping the Communism from spreading throughout Asia are disparate. Vietnam War statistics WebPages assert that the U.S. commitment in Vietnam prevented some of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia) countries, like Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand falling for Communism. Conversely some Vietnam Veterans believe the spreading of the Communism was blocked during the wartime. Many of them still believe they did not lose the war. Actually after the Americans withdrew from war the expansion increased and Communism affected such places as Afghanistan, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and other.

Secondly, President Johnson in his speech named the reasons for the United States' involvement in Vietnam War. He emphasized that they had to keep their promise to South Vietnam. To support his statement the President noticed that every President had offered support to South Vietnam since 1954.

As far as keeping promises was concerned, it was partially accomplished. The United States did intervene in the conflict between North and South Vietnam thus keeping promise. On the other hand, before the war was over, the U.S. withdrew from it leaving South Vietnam on his own. South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu resigned from his post accusing the U.S. of betrayal since South Vietnam was left to face his own defeat after Americans left the country. So, in fact the United States failed to accomplish this goal, as the people they helped were not satisfied with the assistance.

The third reason going to war was that the Americans went to Vietnam "to strengthen the World order" . This statement implies that many nations believe that they could count on the U.S. in case of being attacked. But if they do not save one of these nations, like South Vietnam, the others would lose confidence in the value of America's commitment, which might lead to an increased unrest and instability, and/or an even wider war.

At this point the United States succeeded in carrying out their aim. When Vietnam needed her help, the U.S. was there to assist. Hence, the United States proved to be a reliable allay at the time of military trouble. However, their withdrawal form the war did not aid much to retain this name, nevertheless the fact that the U.S. came to help when someone needed must have made other countries believe in their support in case of compelling events.





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