Vietnam War Never Declared?Why was there no official U.S. declaration of war during the Vietnam War?

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At this point in time, this posting may be a dead thread, but a key point overlooked here is what the US government has done, or failed to do in not declaring war.

 It's a bit of Orwellian useage for the executive office to call war a conflict, police action, (and, almost straight out of Orwell) a peacekeeping mission.  No one will deny Vietnam was a war, as the Middle-East mess is now.  How much more that would be the case if TV networks televised the action on a daily basis as they did during the 1960's.  But there was less censorship then.

What we have had are undeclared wars.  Who declares wars in this country?  According to the US Constitution, CONGRESS alone has the power to declare war.  And the last time I checked, the last country Congress declared war on was Germany!

What these undeclared wars of recent times reflect is the every-encroaching power of one branch of government upon another, in this case the executive usurping the legislative.

The real problem here is a deviation from Founding Principles.  If Congress had been responsible, maybe we wouldn't have had a Vietnam "Conflict" or Gulf "Operations."

But how neatly the president solves the problem for congress!  Can you imagine the political repercussions to his/her political career if your congress critter admitted to voting to declare war on Vietnam or Iraq?

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Consult your Chicago Manual of Style (my favorite is the 13th ed.). Congress never declared war in Vietnam, so you cannot capitalize the word "war." You must either lowercase the w or call the war a "conflict."

According to C. Dale Walton in The Myth of Inevitable US Defeat in Vietnam, the US never intended to "defeat" the North Vietnamese but instead to prevent China from spreading communism. That's why Congress didn't declare the conflict a war. Funny, though, it sure looked like a war on TV!

Ah, spoken like a true copy editor!...But Chicago has capitalized the w in Vietnam War since the fourteenth edition (1993). :-)

The parrot is dead. Dead. Dead.

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Consult your Chicago Manual of Style (my favorite is the 13th ed.). Congress never declared war in Vietnam, so you cannot capitalize the word "war." You must either lowercase the w or call the war a "conflict."

According to C. Dale Walton in The Myth of Inevitable US Defeat in Vietnam, the US never intended to "defeat" the North Vietnamese but instead to prevent China from spreading communism. That's why Congress didn't declare the conflict a war. Funny, though, it sure looked like a war on TV!

Ah, spoken like a true copy editor!...But Chicago has capitalized the w in Vietnam War since the fourteenth edition (1993). :-)

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Respond to #3.  I'm with you, Jamie.  My grandfather came home and walked out in front of train to relieve himself from the nightmares.  War is hell.

How horrible. I must be one of very few Americans in my age group who did not have a relative or friend in that war. My father was drafted, but in those days men were exempt from service if they had infants at home, and I was 6 weeks old when he was due to report. My only experience of the war is what I've read or seen on television and in movies. You truly have my sympathy. 

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Consult your Chicago Manual of Style (my favorite is the 13th ed.). Congress never declared war in Vietnam, so you cannot capitalize the word "war." You must either lowercase the w or call the war a "conflict."

According to C. Dale Walton in The Myth of Inevitable US Defeat in Vietnam, the US never intended to "defeat" the North Vietnamese but instead to prevent China from spreading communism. That's why Congress didn't declare the conflict a war. Funny, though, it sure looked like a war on TV!

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dang. But note that I said Chicago 13 is my favorite. Do you agree that the index in that book is completely useless and is the worst index ever created?

An absolutely horrifying index. The fifteenth edition is no better, but the online version is nicely searchable. For a price, of course. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting isn't it how prophetic so much of what Orwell wrote has come to pass with how we write, re-write and then re-brand historical events to place "spin" on them and make us look good! One of my favourites is the phrase "collateral damage" which has arisen in recent years. Any other favourites anyone?!

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dang. But note that I said Chicago 13 is my favorite. Do you agree that the index in that book is completely useless and is the worst index ever created?

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Respond to #3.  I'm with you, Jamie.  My grandfather came home and walked out in front of train to relieve himself from the nightmares.  War is hell.

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Linda is right about the "official" reason, I can't help but think of Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=CIrBMt4eiRk&feature=related

Insist it's a (w)ar, a "conflict" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom," an invasion of a country and thousands upon thousands dead = (W)ar. 

Little touchy, sorry.  Uncles, granparents, nephews, friends, classmates, and students who have served, some who have died or been injured. 

 

 

revolution | Student

It is a conflict as the US Congress never officially declared a war to Vietnam. Like what the US President said, just a "police attack", not a "war".

But, I think it should have been a "war". as millions of lives were lost during the war.