Vietnam The Unending War The Vietnam war is the most terrible and senseless war America has ever fought. Never since their own civil war was the world most powerful country divided in such terrible anger. The leading historian on the war in Vietnam George C. Herring poses two very important questions in his essay American and Vietnam the Unending War. These two questions have been boggling the Americans minds since the beginning of the war in Indochina up to today when the US faces similar crises but is afraid to due to something called the Vietnam syndrom something that has plagued the American minds since the cease fire in Vietnam 1975.
Why did the united States invest so much blood and treasure in an area so remote and of so little apparent significance, and secondly, why despite its vast power did the United States fail to achieve its objects? Herring approaches these questions from a variety of different sides which somewhat explain the struggle and the pain the misunderstood country had to go through. After WWII most of the countries such as Britain and the Netherlands gave up their colonies in Indochina. France on the other hand decided to regain power and put down the revolutionary nationalistic movement, by force that was plaguing Vietnam. The communist Ho Chi Minh had developed a communist, nationalistic movement against the french in order to be free of colonialism and establish a Marxist state in Vietnam. France at the time and still today is one of Americas strongest allies.
Therefore and for many other political reasons, such as the prevention of the spread of communism, made the US aid France and support them with their mission. This was so to say the beginning of a variety of incidents that finally brought the US to war with Vietnam. Of all the nationalistic movements and revolutions in Indochina, the Vietnamese was the only one supported by communism. This was of great concern to the U.S. who feared that the soviet union had their hands in this as a plan of slowly gaining power over the entire east, and eventually the entire world. Herring writes From the outset Americans viewed Ho and the Vietminh as instruments of the Soviet drive for world domination,…
After the fall of china to communism in 1949, the US feared that if then also Vietnam would fall to communism finally the rest of Indochina, which found itself in similar unstable conditions as Vietnam, will fall to communism to. Soviet expansion had reached a point beyond which it must be permitted to go. A so-called domino theory was adopted, where when one falls all will eventually fall. Herring explains: Because of its location on china’s southern border and because it appeared in the most imminent danger, Vietnam was considered crucial. If it fell, all of Southeast Asia might be lost, denying the United States access to important raw materials and strategic waterways. After the defeat of France in 1954, the US aided to create a non-Communist, democratic, south Vietnamese state in hope that their financial aid and political assistance would strengthen the population and prevent any further spreading of Communism.
The Cold War started taking desperate measures and the U.S. particularly in the Kennedy-Johnson era was very concerned with the security of western Europe. It was the US concern that if they would back out in the worsening Vietnam situation, it would portray a certain weakness to its enemy Russia and could provoke conflicts in western Europe, particularly over Berlin, that could end in a nuclear war. ..if they showed firmness in one area, it would deter the adversary in a another; if they showed weakness the adversary would be tempted to take steps that might leave no option but nuclear war. A further reason Herring portrays is the effect on the political situation at home which could have been quit crucial if Vietnam would have pulled out. Another loss to communism would have devastating outcomes on presidential elections.
To prevent loss of votes marked another great aspect of why the Presidential administrations couldn’t simply leave Indochina to its destiny. Harring writes ..the assumption shared by administrations from Harry S. Truman to Lyndon B. Johnson that the fall of Vietnam to communism would have disastrous political consequences at home. These main reasons, the prevention of the spread of Communism, the prevention of Nuclear war in Europe, together with political issues and troubles developing and finally to show its determination to defend its vital world interests, the United States put them selves in a position that was brave yet damaging its image all over the world.
The point of prevention of nuclear war is particularly back up by Professor Francis X. Winters in his book The Year of the Hare. In his close study on the years of the Kennedy administration and the undergone coup on the South vietnamese leader and long term Allie Ngo Dinh Diem, he makes clear that it was Kennedy’s idea to keep on focusing on Vietnam in order to distract a War that could have otherwise happened in Europe and could have meant the end of humanity or at least the destruction of the entire northern hemisphere. Winters writes For I was to discover during interviews in the late 1980s and early 1990s, that President Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk had raised the American ante in Vietnam precisely in order to lower the risk of a nuclear confrontation in a European war. In order to get Khrushchev attention off a nuclear war in Europe Kennedy believed that the conflict in Vietnam would create distraction and would demonstrate determination. Winters writes He [Kennedy] had tried to convince Khrushchev of US determination but had failed.
It was now essential to demonstrate our firmness and determination. The ethical backgrounds to these decisions are debatable but we know one thing today fore shore and tat is that their was no nuclear war. Winters puts great emphasis on one point in the Kennedy administration and that is that Kennedy simply wanted to stay in Vietnam until his reelection. We have no future in Vietnam. They’re going to kick our assess out of there.
I can’t give up on Vietnam before 1964. I couldn’t go out there and ask for reelection after giving up two pieces of territory [Laos and Vietnam] to Communism. There is proven eviden that he wanted to leave Vietnam after his was reelected. Unfortunately Kennedy failed to discuss this with his vice president, who in desperation of trying to act on the accounts of his predecessor after his assassination, could have probably acted differently if he had known. When President Lyndon B.
Johnson went into office, he received a lot of trouble, so he simply tried to finish what Kennedy had …