The Vietnam War

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What were American attitudes towards the Vietnam War, particularly regarding protests and support?

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The threat of Communism running rampant through those countries under the influence of Russia (Eisenhow called it the “Domino theory” – that if Vietnam--French Indochina--became communistic then all the other countries in the area—Cambodia, Thailand, etc.—would also “fall” into Communist rules, under the aegis of Russia) was offset by the reluctance of the U.S. to engage in a war with a country clearly not threatening us militarily (as George Orwell would say, is it the Department of Defense or the Department of Offense?).  Coupled with this split in the public sentiment were three anti-war social movements: 

  1. Eisenhower’s warning against the military/industrial complex—many saw this war as simply an excuse for making weapons for profit;
  2. The growing Peace movement by the young “baby boomers” and intellectuals in college;
  3. The aversion to the involuntary draft, specifically the lottery/quota system that left everyone’s career plans in limbo.

Parents who had experienced WWII and Korea’s “police conflict” did not want the cycle repeated; they remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki and did not want the Cold War to deteriorate into a “hot” one.  Even war experts doubted the effectiveness of U.S. weapons against the jungle terrain, and humanists objected to the arbitrary damage of napalm, and the lasting harm to humans from exposure to chemical defoliant (agent orange). 

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