Debating the Reasons for the U.S. Entry into the Vietnam War
From 1960s to late 1970s, American army experienced the Vietnam War, which was not well understood irrespective of lasting for many years. There were no clear consensus to its purpose, and it divided the country at a time when it most needed to be unified. The war left scars to many Americans that will take long to heal. There are no clear information regarding the reasons behind the war but historical records indicate that the war started with the sending of American advisors to train the South Vietnam army. The intentions were to assist the South Vietnamese army resist aggression from the north. The roles later changed, and it turned out to be an American led and financed war. From the late 1960s, the American government realized the war would be endless and entered into negotiations with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese in Paris.
There were multiple reasons why the U.S. entered into the Vietnam War. The major reason for the lack of clear reasons for U.S. participation in the war is the lack of fixed beginning for the war. The U.S. entered into this war incrementally in a series of steps from 1950 to late 1960s. The U.S. was fully committed in the Vietnamese war during the time of President Lyndon Johnson when he secured a non-actual functional from congress which declared the war. From 1964, President Lyndon declared a series of either legal or non-legal orders that fully committed the U.S. into the Vietnamese war. According historical information and studies by various scholars, the war in Vietnam was about communism, anti-colonialism, independence and several other issues that are either legal or illegal (Christopher, 1995, p. 320).
Among the dominant reasons for the U.S., participation in the Vietnam War was to prevent the spread of communism. Policy makers and most Americans considered communism as an antithesis of all the policies and social aspects that they believed in. According to studies by Porter (2006, p. 12), Communists' policies and ruling strategies violated human rights, scorned democracy and pursued military aggression. Economically, communism created closed state economies that did not allow trade with capitalist states such as America. Studies show that, after the end of Second World War and the beginning of the cold war, America feared to lose from the wide spread of communism. With this idea in mind, U.S. started sending military advisors and training experts to assist the French army in its war against communism in North Vietnam. In contrast, the French in North Vietnam were not fighting against the spread of communism, but they were protecting their colony.
Research indicate that, letting communism spread to much of South East Asia and Eastern European countries would be disastrous to the economies in Japan, Britain and America. Capitalists such as America supported a free world dominion over the region, which provide markets for various nations producing different goods. The target was the recovery of Britain economy through a revival of rubber and Tin industries in their colony of Malaya, which is a neighbor to Vietnam. U.S. also focused on rebuilding Japan after the Pacific war. All these would be beneficial to the U.S. because of expanded markets to both Asia and Europe. According to studies by Wiest (2009, p.20), communism would not only impact negatively on the U.S. And world economy, but would also lead to another world war and specifically a war between America and the then West Germany.
Another argument that led to the American participation in the war was to end colonialism in most parts of Asian countries. Colonialism subjected people in oppressive forms of governance, a policy that America had never supported. Although America gave aid to France to counter colonialism, France was protecting its only colony in North Vietnam after the humiliation in the Indochina colony. Ideological and structural differences between capitalistic nations and communistic nations sparked the war against colonialism. America desired to spread its ideologies of independence and counter the fear that Vietnam would become the next Asian domino. Acquiring independence by small and developing countries would help to overcome the spread of communism and allow free and open markets. America needed to create diplomatic relations with Free states and end the trade embargo that limit development of Asian communities due to communism (Christopher, 1995, p.298).
U.S.A took part in the Vietnam War to prove its military superiority especially to the countries in Eastern Europe. This was the period, which U.S. was in the cold war with most of the Eastern European nations such as Russia and Germany. The desire by America to retain its superpower title motivated it to commit itself in the Vietnam War. Studies indicate that, at the outbreak of the war; U.S.A possessed the world's finest armed forces trained to fight in various parts of the world (Wiest, 2009, p. 20). By defeating Vietnam and overcoming the spread of communism in other parts of Asia and the world, America would prove superior against its enemies especially the Soviet Union. Desire for military superiority is one of the major reasons why the war took many years to end.
Different political ideologies among U.S. presidents at the time of the Vietnam War are another main reason for American participation in the war. In his book, Martin Luther King explains the political pressure that existed in the years 1960 to 1965, which influenced many revolutions in American (Luther King, 2011, p.11). Research shows that, personality, experience and temperament of the presidents significantly contributed to the U.S. participation in the Vietnam War. The war did not take root during President Eisenhower' era because he doubted the American army could fight a land war in Southeast Asia. In contrast to Eisenhower's opinions, when President Kennedy took office, he felt that his army was capable. President Kennedy also desired to prove his resolve to the people in America and his Enemies. This political pressures and personal desires by different presidents accelerated the Vietnam War. The war intensified during the era of President Lyndon whose desire was to prove mettle as a southerner, and more specific as a man.
Political pressures and ideological differences during the time of the war delayed negations among the war participants. Desires to dominate the world in terms of military and economic capability also contributed to the Vietnam War. The war was further motivated by the cold war between America and the U.S.S.R. Each side of the cold war wanted to prove its superiority over the world (Porter, 2006, p. 21). Among the five arguments that explain the reasons for U.S. participation in the war, communism is the most agreeable argument. Communism as an economic system delays development of any community and denies its people a chance to participate in free trade and interact with the rest of the world. It locks a country as an island and requires it to be self-sustainable. This is impossible because no country in the world can fully sustain itself.
The Antiwar Movement and other Movements of the 1960s: Connections and Breaks
The Vietnam War sparked widespread protests among various groups in the American society. The Vietnam War led to the emergence of antiwar movements, individual activists opposing the war and many other forms of movements against certain issues in the society. Historical information regarding the war shows that, the antiwar movements consisted of several independent interests contesting each other on many issues but united to oppose the Vietnam War. The antiwar movements attracted members from all folks of lives such as labor unions, campuses, middle class citizens and certain government institutions. The movements had many grievances to address apart from the Vietnam War. Among the dominant movements in 1960s was the movement against racial and cultural discrimination, which was under Martin Luther. In his studies, Luther explains the suffering that the Negros faces and their demand for freedom in the foreign land (Luther King, 2011, p. 5).
There were interrelations in the grievances addressed by each movement in the American society. American civil and human rights movements addressed the escalating nuclear arms race from 1950s, but the movements gained momentum in 1960s when President Kennedy failed to halt nuclear proliferation. Other movements addressed and demanded a reduction in nuclear weapons. Students at all levels especially in universities and colleges united their efforts by joining in Students unions. A good example of such unions is SPU (Student Peace Union) which emerged in 1959. According to studies by Bloom and Breines (2003, p. 472), some student unions were more liberal than radical in expressing their grievances. They opposed turning of school's playgrounds into military training grounds.
Students' movements in universities went beyond the requirements of civil and human rights to demand a complete change and restructuring of the American society. Women, lesbians and gays in 1960s also coordinated their efforts through movements and demanded attention from the rest of the society towards their interests. Among…