Реферат: Why was the United States unsuccessful in Vietnam?
Why was the United States unsuccessful in Vietnam?
The communist beliefs began in 1848, when Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
wrote a book called The Communist Manifesto. This book defined the beliefs of
communism, along with portraying the natural evolution of a communist utopia
from a capitalist society. Marx and Engels defined communism to be a
concept, or system, of society in which the major resources and means of
production are owned by the community, rather than by the individuals. In
theory, such societies provide for equal sharing of all work, according to
ability, and all benefits, according to need. This, however, did not work
because people are generally selfish and lazy. Each person wants to do the
least amount possible to gain the most from it. This is where the conflicts
The Soviet Union began its communist regime under Vladimir Lenin. His ideas
and teachings led to mass popularity due to a poor economy in Russia at the
time. Lenin was not a bad leader, however he died before he was able to see
his plan take full effect. He had only one warning to the people of Russia:
never to let Joseph Stalin get into power. Lenin was able to foresee the
tyrant when many others were blind. The people did not realize their error
when Stalin succeeded. But by then, it was too late; Stalin had turned
Russia into a fascist dictatorship.
During World War II, Communism, combined with fascism, had proven to be very
dangerous. The Communists saw their way to be perfect, and they had the idea
that everyone should practice their beliefs. Communism had started in Asia,
with the likes of Joseph Stalin and Mao Tsetung. In the mid to late nineteen
forties, communism was thriving in Asia. The Chinese and the Russians had
pushed the spread of Communism south into countries such as Cambodia and
Vietnam. The United Stated saw this as a very real threat, and kept a close
eye on the communist advancement.
Between 1945 and 1975, the number of countries under communist rule increased
greatly. This is partly because of the way the victorious powers of World
War II divided the world amongst themselves. This is also due to the fact
that countries such as China and The Soviet Union pushed their beliefs
tyrannically on other weak countries.
One of such countries was Vietnam. . From 1946 until 1954, the Vietnamese had
struggled for their independence from France during the First Indochina War. At
the end of this war, the country was temporarily divided into North and South
Vietnam along the 17th parallel. North Vietnam came under the
control of the Vietnamese Communists who had opposed France and who aimed for a
unified Vietnam under Communist rule. Vietnamese who had collaborated with the
French controlled the South.
The foreign policy of the United States during the Cold War was driven by a
fear of the spread of Communism. Eastern Europe had fallen under the
domination of the Communist USSR, and Communists ruled China. This policy was
known as the "domino theory." United States policymakers felt they could not
afford to lose Southeast Asia as well to the Communists. The United States
therefore offered to assist the French in recapturing Vietnam.
Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 8 to July 21, 1954, diplomats from
France, the United Kingdom, the USSR, China, and the United States, as well
as representatives from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, drafted a set of
agreements called the Geneva Accords. These agreements provided for the
withdrawal of French troops to the south of Vietnam until they could be
safely removed from the country.
They also agreed that Elections were to be held in 1956 throughout the north
and south and to be supervised by an International Control Commission that
had been appointed at Geneva and was made
up of representatives from Canada, Poland, and India. Following these
elections, Vietnam was to be reunited under the government chosen by popular
vote. The United States refused to sign the accords, because it did not want
to allow the possibility of Communist control over Vietnam. The U.S.
government moved to establish the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO),
a regional alliance that extended protection to South Vietnam, Cambodia, and
Laos in case of Communist "subversion." SEATO, which came into force in 1955,
became the mechanism by which Washington justified its support for South
Vietnam; this support eventually became direct involvement of U.S. troops.
On July 30, 1964, the government of North Vietnam complained that South
Vietnamese ships, protected by an American destroyer, had attacked two of their
islands. On August 2, North Vietnamese patrol torpedo boats attacked the
American destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin but were driven off.
Five days later, on August 7, Congress adopted what became known as the
Tonkin Gulf Resolution. It stated that the President could “take all
necessary measures to repel any armed attack against armed forces of the United
States and to prevent further aggression.” The Vietnam War had become
Americanized. Following the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, North Vietnam began
infiltrating regular army units into South Vietnam. In the mean time, the
President Johnson and his advisors decided that the United States should bomb
North Vietnam and send troops into South Vietnam.
The North Vietnamese fought the guerrillas war. They hid in underground
tunnels and in jungles. In an effort to destroy the jungles the United States
sprayed huge quantities of toxic chemicals on the countryside. It caused mass
starvation and birth defects in Vietnamese children, as well as to liver
muscular disorders, and other health problems for the adults who were exposed
to the chemicals. By 1966 many Americans were beginning to have serious
doubts about the nation’s growing
involvement in Vietnam. Without the support of their fellow Americans at home,
it became increasingly difficult for soldiers at war to fight effectively. The
anti-war attitude and the atrocious treatment of returning veterans, made young
men much more likely to evade the draft. In the event that they ended up
Vietnam, they would fight less effectively due to the fact that they did not
support the cause they were fighting for. Undermining of the war by activists
at home continued to increase with the increase in American casualties. This
problem is best described by Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under both
Kennedy and Johnson: " A nation's deepest strength lies not in its military
prowess, but rather, in the unity of its people. We [America] failed to
maintain it." Without this vital unity,
it was a near impossible task for America to win the war. As America became
increasingly divided between anti-war activists and those who supported the
war, soldiers became increasingly disillusioned with their role in the war.
The soldiers realized that perhaps what they were fighting for was not a just
cause. The moral high ground held by soldiers at the beginning of the war
began to slip as more and more soldiers realized that they did not truly
believe in they were fighting for. This coupled with low morale that resulted
from the fashion that new recruits were placed into combat secured the North
Also there is the low morale and lack of combat effectiveness resulting from
poor command of the Army's resources. One mismanagement that resulted in
dire consequences for America was the fashion in which new recruits were
introduced into the war. Instead of sending brand-new squads that had
trained together, individual soldiers were sent to fill the space left by a
soldier who had just been killed or injured. For the
veteran soldiers, the new recruits served as reminders of fallen friends, and
thus were never truly accepted into the unit. With this being the attitude
of many soldiers, it was very difficult for a sort of esprit de corps to
develop. The lack of comradely severely hampered the fighting ability of the
army as a whole. The detrimental effects resulting from the lack of teamwork
(around which every army needs to be based) were further confounded by a lack
of commitment to the war it had become involved.
Involvement in Vietnam was increased in very incremental fashion. " Some...have
criticized the Government's...gradual force buildup...in lieu of striking the
enemy with full force." Had the
Government completely committed itself to the war, it may not have degenerated
into a lengthy defeat from a decisive victory. The amount of firepower America
could have brought to bear would have been near impossible to stand against.
While it is easy to theorize the outcome of the war had the full might of the
American Army been brought to bear at once, it is much more difficult for one
to judge the reaction of the South Vietnamese people to an American victory.
Finally, and most important, the support given by the South Vietnamese was a
deciding factor in the outcome of the war. It is logical that the support of
those one is trying to liberate is required for liberation
to be achieved. This is something that was, in part, lacking during the
Vietnam War. A stable government was never established in South Vietnam, and
therefore the people of the south did not feel that they had something worth
fighting for. This opened a gulf between the Americans and the Vietnamese as
described in the following:
" The Vietnamese people saw the Americans as perpetrators of the suffering
Which the war had brought...the American soldiers did not want to know
The Vietnamese, but wanted only to use them for menial labor, self-
Gratification, and often as scapegoats for the frustrations and anger they felt
Against the enemy and the war...America gave them nothing and expected
Loyalty in return. The Vietnamese people saw only one side of the American
People and the United States and most often it was the worst side."
The lack of support from those the Americans were trying to save, coupled
with increasing anti-war protest at home, created a climate unsuitable for
winning the war. This situation only worsened as the war progressed up to
American withdrawal and the eventual fall of Saigon. The final outcome of
the war was inevitable without the full support of the South Vietnamese
Eventually, the United States had no choice but to withdraw and leave the war
to the South Vietnamese. Even as the fall of Saigon was imminent, America
would not re-enter the war despite the mass amounts of money and human life
spent in an attempt to halt the spread of communism.
In conclusion, the most important factor in deciding the outcome of the
Vietnam War was the lack of support that came both from South Vietnam and
from activists at home. Billions of dollars and thousands of lives were
sacrificed for a cause that was lost from the start: the liberation of a
people who did not want the American brand of freedom being offered. The war
left behind an embarrassing legacy as well as deep wounds that have yet to
heal even today. Many veterans were left disillusioned as they returned home
to be treated as villains rather than heroic defenders of freedom.
Casualties were suffered even by those who did not fight in Vietnam, as
protestors were shot at Kent State University. The United States had
drastically altered its image throughout the world, driving away her allies
as a result of the war. In a war without support, " an entire American army
was sacrificed on the battlefield of
Vietnam" and "it will be at least a
generation before. Vietnam' will mean anything but a war of agony, frustration,
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Novato: Presidio Press, 1985.
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