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The Vietnam War
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According to Henretta and Brody, the Vietnam War was a guerrilla war that took place in Vietnam, laos and Cambodia. The War started in November 1955 and it ended in April 1975. The War was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. It was characterized by prolonged skirmishes between South Vietnam and its supports such as the US and North Vietnam and its supporters such as the Viet Cong in the South. The root of the war stemmed from the struggle between the North and the South in the quest of the North to unify the region under communist laws that did not favor the South. The involvement of the US in the Vietnam War in the early 1960s was driven by the pursuit to prevent the spread of communism. However, following the signing of the Case-Church Amendment in 1973, the US ended its involvement in the Vietnam War which led to the unification of the South and North under a communist government.
This paper seeks to argue that the Vietnam War compromised the reputation of President Lyndon Johnson administration, caused the decline of the US economy, escalated civil unrest, contributed to campus uprisings, counterculture and the demise of the Nixon administration.
The Vietnam War did more harm than good to the Johnson’s administration. After Johnson took over in 1964, he intensified the involvement of the US in the Vietnam War. He achieved these by deploying American soldiers in Vietnam and escalating bombings against North Vietnam. Henretta and Brody state that by 1968, the Johnson administration had deployed more than half a million soldiers in the Vietnam War. During the early deployment phases, the democrats and republicans supported Johnsons move in preventing the spread of communism to the South. However, the support of the US involvement in the War took another turn as the public was against further involvement due to the number of US soldiers injured during the war. Concealment of actual War data also infuriated the public thus reducing their support for the government’s involvement in the War and consequently their confidence in the Johnson administration.
The Vietnam War had a major effect on the US economy. Greenberg and Watts report that the Vietnam War was a financial burden to the US tax payers. This is attributed to the fact that funding the war was proving to be costly. For instance, Henretta and Brody indicate that the 1967 Budget for funding the involvement of the US in the Vietnam War cost Americans more that $27 billion. This expenditure increased the American deficit by more than $13 billion thus impacting negatively on the economic status of America. This led to an increase in tax charges on income thus impacting on the living standard of the American people. Further, the 1970s economic crisis in America is attributed to the inflation that was introduced by the Johnson’s administration in its quest to fund the Vietnam War.
Americans frustrations of the Johnson’s administration involvement in the Vietnam War fueled the emergence of antiwar movements. The movements were majorly put in place in order to question the rationality of implementing the US foreign policy in the Vietnam War. Greenberg and Watts argue that Civil Rights activists were also concerned about Johnson’s commitment to racial justice and his promise to implement the poverty eradication program amidst his escalating support for the Vietnam War.
Henretta and Brody assert that demonstrations were held in major US cities such as Washington. The demonstrations were quite rampant and they majorly involved crowds of 20,000 to 30,000 people at a given rally. The demonstrations were also held by diverse groups each voicing their concern over the political, economic and social implications of the War on American citizens. The movements’ activists also argued that American involvement in the War was uncalled for since it did not abide to American democracy. They also argued that preventing the unification of Vietnam under one communist government was unfeasible and that America was infringing on the human rights of the Vietnamese people.
The American involvement in the Vietnam War affected the education system in America. This is attributed to the fact that most college students formed activists groups that were centered on questioning the American involvement in the Vietnam War, academic policies and government policies. Application of stringent rules and infringement on student’s freedom of speech through schools administrations motivated students to take their demonstrations to the streets. Henretta and Brody report that in 1967, more than 100,000 students took to the streets to demonstrate against the War. As the demonstrations gained momentum it become apparent that students were determined to topple the Johnson’s administration by rejecting its policies.
The Vietnam War deeply affected the American Society through counterculture. Counterculture was majorly a revolt against authority, unity and the American middleclass. This led to the emergence of rebellious youths who were prone to listening to rebellious music and adapting new cultures such as drug abuse. To frustrate government’s efforts in the Vietnam War, the emerging cultures embraced communism and rejected the establishment of civil rights laws. This escalated racial hatred among Blacks and Whites and religion conflicts between Muslims and Christians.
According to Anderson, Johnson involvement in the Vietnam War cost him his reelection bid for the 1968 election making him unpopular thus he opted not to run for another term. Consequently, Richard Nixon was elected and he forged with his promise to contain the War by bring troops back home. However, his administration was divided over his tactics to use intimidation and bombing in the North. Further his attack on Cambodia caused more drift in his administration as it accelerated the Civil War in Cambodia and it halted the Vietnam peace talks in Paris contributing to political unrest among American leaders.
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