What four things led to American distaste for the Vietnam War?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the way this question is worded, I infer that you have been given four ways that you are supposed to remember.  If that is the case, you should check your textbook and/or class notes because that is the only way you can be sure to get the exact answer your teacher expects to see.  Different people could answer this question in different ways and we have no way of knowing which answers are the ones you are supposed to give.  That said, here are some factors that helped lead to American distaste for this war.  Please note that not all Americans would have believed each of these things.

  • The war did not seem important to US interests.  To many Americans, a war in far-off Vietnam was not worth the cost in blood and money because it did not have a direct impact on the US. 
  • The war seemed imperialistic.  To some Americans, this was a war in which the US was simply trying to impose its will on a Third World country.  It seemed that we were trying to control Vietnam rather than letting them determine their own type of government.
  • The way the war was being waged seemed immoral.  To some Americans, the US military in Vietnam were the bad guys.  They were destroying villages in order to save them.  They were killing innocent civilians, whether by accident or by negligence.  They were spraying chemicals on the forest, harming the environment in order to make it easier to find the enemy.  All of these things made the US military seem, to many Americans, as if it was fighting a “dirty” war.
  • Communism was not such a bad thing in the minds of some Americans at that time.  In those days, many young Americans felt that communism was really not a bad ideology.  They felt that it was wrong for the US to kill people and destroy property in order to stop the spread of this ideology.
  • The US government was lying to the people about the war.  The government constantly put out upbeat messages about how the war was going.  These turned out to be untrue, or at least debatable.  As the war dragged on, a “credibility gap” arose that sapped American support for the war.
  • The US was not able to win the war easily.  Our military was able to inflict defeats on the enemy but we were never able to erode their will to fight.  This led to a situation where Americans were frustrated with our seeming inability to win the war.

All of these are possible reasons why Americans turned against the Vietnam War.  However, I do not know which four of these your instructor wants to see (or even if I have listed all of the four factors he or she wants).  Therefore, I strongly suggest that you consult your book and/or notes.