7 Answers | Add Yours
You can pick either point of view on this, depending on your ideological leaning. In the light of history, our involvement pretty much came to nothing in terms of the long-term well-being of Vietnam. Did it help us slow the spread of communism internationally? Maybe. If it had been easy for the North Vietnamese to institute communism, perhaps other countries would have tried to do it too. It's all guesswork at this point.
As the first response illustrates, it's really necessary to view the events that led to the Vietnam conflict in their own historical context. The idea that communism was an inherently expansionary force, and, for that matter, that leaders like Ho Chi Minh were communists first and nationalists later, permeated US policy. It is always easy to judge based on hindsight, but we learn few lessons of importance in doing so. We can, perhaps, ask questions about American duplicity in the buildup to the war, as well as the morality of supporting brutal leaders like Diem, but in thinking about the overall strategic implications of the war, as well as the ideological justifications for it, we have to look at the information that policy-makers had available to them at the time, not what we know in hindsight.
As a teacher I always try to warn my student about judging past events from our current perspective. Of course, as a historian it is your job, but I want them to try to see the situation from the historical perspective as well as their own.
From a historical perspective, the United States believed in Monolithic Communism, or the belief that all communist actions were being orchestrated through Moscow. To combat this, they held to a plan of containment, which would keep communism and its influence from spreading beyond its current sphere of influence. From that perspective, the Vietnam War was completely justified and perfectly in line with the best though of how to combat their ultimate enemy at the time.
My father served in the Viet Nam war and he would tell us as children that we often can't see the whole picture enough to judge anything. While there, he felt like he was upholding his duty to his country by keeping wars out of America. Even today he says, "Wars will always happen. Do you want it here in America or somewhere else?" He told us a story about when he was stationed in Loc Nihn. He found out that there was going to be a huge number of troops coming in the morning to that town and that they were planning on killing everyone they saw, which meant men, women, and children. He said that all the men were gone to war, so there were only old men, women and children left. He called in an air strike and was able to save the town. Not only that, but he had my grandmother get together with her church group and send over thousands of needed clothing items for the children who had been running around naked. When our troops go out into the world to fight wars, they do more than just fight. Sadly, the bad stories get publicized and that makes all troops look bad. Most of the time, we don't see the wonderful and beautiful things that our troops do around the world to help others, so I'm proud of my dad and all of our soldiers who protect us and help the people around the world.
I find it hard to look at this question objectively because of the toll that war had on my family. I am convinced that my father would be a completely different person if he had not been through that hell. You can use any reason to justify the war, but there is no justification for what the country did to our soldiers and how they treated them when they returned.
Many of the posts above mention viewing from a historical rather than modern perspective which I agree with. However even if we look from a historical perspective there is much disagreement. The government made a decision based on the policy of containment. Many Americans, AT THAT TIME, disagreed with this decision and our presence in Vietnam. The fact that Americans who disagreed with the war took it out on our soldiers is the one thing I feel is undisputably wrong. The soldiers in Vietnam were doing what they thought they needed to. What the government was telling them they had to. They should be judged as patriots and should have been given the homefront support all military deserve regardless of how one sees the war.
In this light we can argue either side. Clearly it is still a controversial issue 50 years later. The argument can be made for either view from a historical perspective though it would be more difficult to argue justification in hindsight.
Absolutely not. America invaded Vietnam that was engaged in a civil war. What had the United States to do with a country's civil war? How was Vietnam a threat to the United States? The Conflict in Vietnam that cost tens of thousands of lives and innumerable cases of psychological injury was an abominable episode in American history. All it accomplished was the increase in foreign hatred toward the U.S.
We’ve answered 396,981 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question