Why was the Vietnam War viewed differently from previous wars the U.S had fought?

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eroe33's profile pic

eroe33 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

The Vietnam War was viewed differently from previous wars that the US had fought for a few reasons.  First of all, the Vietnam War was about fulfilling our containment policy in regards to the spread of communism.  We would not fight areas where communism already existed (Russia, many Eastern European countries, and China for example) but would fight to prevent it from spreading to other countries.  This was an unpopular policy in the US as there were many social issues at home, and many people felt that domestic issues should have been more important than foreign issues - civil rights was possibly the biggest issue of the time.  The Vietnam War also occurred very shortly after the Korean Conflict had settled down in the 1950s, and many people in the US did not want to send more troops to another country to fight the spread of communism.  Another important reason as to why this war was viewed differently was the the United States was the aggressor.  In WWI and WWII, we had stayed out of the wars until our domestic safety was in danger.  We practiced the policy of isolationism meaning that we stayed out of the affairs of other countries as long as they stayed out of our affairs.  By sending troops to Korea and then later Vietnam, we abandoned the isolationism policy.  Vietnam was also not viewed as a "just war", meaning a war that is fought to protect people from a great harm.  An example of a just war would be becoming involved in WWII to stop Hitler from mass killings and taking over more countries.  The North Vietnamese (the communist part of the country) wanted the south to join them as one communist country and fighting did not begin to grow until we became involved.  The last reason that this war is viewed differently is because it was a complete failure on the part of the US.  Millions of lives were lost and South Vietnam eventually did fall to North Vietnam creating a complete communist country.

gopikrishna's profile pic

gopikrishna | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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long conflict had affected an immense majority of the country’s population; in eight years of warfare, an estimated 2 million Vietnamese died, while 3 million were wounded and another 12 million became refugees. War had decimated the country's infrastructure and economy, and reconstruction proceeded slowly. In 1976, Vietnam was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, though sporadic violence continued over the next 15 years, including conflicts with neighboring China and Cambodia. Under a broad free market policy put in place in 1986, the economy began to improve, boosted by oil export revenues and an influx of foreign capital. Trade and diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the U.S. were resumed in the 1990s. In the United States, the effects of the Vietnam War would linger long after the last troops returned home in 1973. The nation spent more than $120 billion on the conflict in Vietnam from 1965-73; this massive spending led to widespread inflation, exacerbated by a worldwide oil crisis in 1973 and skyrocketing fuel prices. Psychologically, the effects ran even deeper. The war had pierced the myth of American invincibility, and had bitterly divided the nation. Many returning veterans faced negative reactions from both opponents of the war (who viewed them as having killed innocent civilians) and its supporters (who saw them as having lost the war), along with physical damage including the effects of exposure to the harmful chemical herbicide Agent Orange, millions of gallons of which had been dumped by U.S. planes on the dense forests of Vietnam. In 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled in Washington, D.C. On it were inscribed the names of 57,939 American armed forces killed or missing during the war; later additions brought that total to 58,200.

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