How did the Vietnam War influence the 60's & 70's?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Vietnam War had many effects on the ‘60s and ‘70s.  It affected America’s politics and our society.

Of course, a major impact that it had on these decades was that it led to the deaths of many American soldiers.  It also led to many soldiers being wounded, imprisoned, and/or psychologically traumatized.  These soldiers and their families bore the greatest impact of the Vietnam War in the US.

The Vietnam War helped to make the ‘60s a decade of protest.  Many young Americans (though by no means all) hated the war.  Their hatred of the war helped to create the Counterculture, which engaged in many protests against the war and against various other aspects of American society.

The war also helped to make the ‘70s a time of political change.  Because of the war, many American leaders were less willing to try to exert American influence in the world.  For example, we could say that the war helped bring about President Jimmy Carter’s less vigorous foreign policy.  By the end of the decade, this change had led to a backlash from conservatives who thought that the US was becoming too timid.  This helped lead to the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980.  Thus, the war helped bring about swings in politics (particularly in foreign policy) where we went from aggressive to timid and back.

These are a few of the more important ways in which the Vietnam War affected the US in the 1960s and 1970s.