ragedy was not the initial intent to save South Vietnam from Communism, but the persistence in mistaken efforts to achieve this goal long past the
point where irreversible damage to United States society and institutions had occurred.
What this statement is saying is that yes, Vietnam was a problem but the thing that made it a
problem was not fighting the spread of communism in eastern Asia. The thing that made it a tragedy was
that we stayed there too long. During the time we were over there America had changed. While our
schools, youth, music, and culture was changing we stayed in Vietnam. It was the fact that the United
States had continued to fight that caused the irreversible damage to United States society and institutions.
The speaker of this statement obviously believes that going to Vietnam and fighting communism
in the north was a noble task. The speaker thinks that the United States has a God-given right to stop
communism and spread democracy throughout the world. The speaker believes that the tragedy of
Vietnam was not realizing how much the people in the United States were affected by leaving our soldiers
in Vietnam for too long while our country was changing so rapidly.
The speaker seems to accept that the United States had the right and even an obligation to go to
the other side of the world, make a decision on how other people should run their country, and fight a war
against a third world country in order to accomplish what he saw as a noble cause.
The speaker doesnt consider that the cause of the damage to the United States was because
Americans questioned the wisdom of going to Vietnam in the first place. Americans also were not
unanimous in the belief that a communist country on the other side of the world was a threat to our
lifestyle. Also some of the public didnt support the war from the beginning because they didnt believe we
had the right to tell other countries how to run themselves.
Another side that the speaker doesnt consider is that the Vietnam War might not be considered as
only a tragedy. Good things come out of all experiences if we learn from them. Americans began to
question its role in world politics. We were now unsure if we wanted to play policeman for the globe.
America realized that we were not as invincible as we liked to think we were. As a country we realized
that we had to pay attention to the ideas of the country we are trying to help because their opinions are
important to the outcome of our help. Also, Americans began to question the authority, morality, and scope
of their institutions. I think that the founding fathers would agree that questioning government is an
important and good thing.
In conclusion there are many different ways to view the Vietnam War. The three I have outlined
here are 1) The anti-Communist pragmatist, 2) The antiwar idealist,
3) The retrospectic optimist. Im sure there are many more views on such a complex issue as the Vietnam
War. This issue has been the most important issue that America has had to deal with in the last half of the
twentieth century. It will continue to be debated for many years.