An internecine conflict arose among senior South Vietnamese leaders. How do we come to understand how that translated into a type of disrespect by Americans toward ARVN soldiers and Vietnamese...

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During the Vietnam War, it was not very easy for American soldiers to have complete respect for the Vietnamese.  This was true of both ARVN soldiers and Vietnamese civilians.  There were many reasons for this.  It was not just caused by the squabbling between the leaders at the highest levels of the South Vietnamese government.  However, we can say that that squabbling did help to reduce the respect that Americans had for the Vietnamese.

The main issue in this regard was that they felt that the Vietnamese did not really care as much about the war as they should have.  They suspected that many civilians were secretly helping the Viet Cong.  They suspected that the ARVN did not really have a strong will to fight.  When the senior leadership in the country had the conflicts that you mention, it eroded American attitudes towards the Vietnamese even further.  They came to see the Vietnamese as being motivated by selfish things.  They felt that the Vietnamese only wanted what was good for them personally, not what was good for their country.  If their leaders could not put aside their differences and work toward the overall good, the regular people would surely be the same.

Thus, the conflict at the higher levels led Americans to be cynical about Vietnamese at all levels.


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