The Reasons Why the Vietnam War Changed the Way Americans Think

The US took the role of supplying ammunitions in the World War II, (WWII) to all its allies including the neutral states. After the bombing of the Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, it was eminent that the US would then take an active role in WWII. The government’s decision to enter the war received full support from the civilians who were concerned about the home attacks. The Office of War Information set up a spirited fight in circulating effective propaganda that portrayed those who opposed the engagement as unpatriotic.The result of the war was that America lost its economic strength with the slim hope that at the end things would be better. This led to a number of protests organize by college and university students to compel the government to withdraw from unnecessary wars.

The foreign policy of the federal government after the end of the WWII was  focused on defeating communism as the US supported the non-communist South Vietnam and neglect the North. The war in Vietnam was an embarrassment of the civilians and the government because of a number of reasons. The veterans returned home dejected, injured, and with psychological torture because of the experiences that they had in the battlefield. Moreover, they veterans were considered losers and did not receive attention from the civilians. The government also lost because they were defeated. In addition, the war drained the administration’s federal reserve and as such, lost credibility due to failure to account for the lose. When Nixon got elected in 1970, the attempted Vietnamization did not success. More troops were sent to Vietnam, more resources were lost, and the people lost faith in their own government.          

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The involvement of the US in the WWII was majorly a show of intrepidness and a course to find justice. The Vietnam involvement was demoralizing because this was a fight between a third world country and a world super power. This do not make sense to the America civilians even today because of its wasteful nature and nothing tangible to show for it. Many of the American civilians support the withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan because of the dejections that they have had in the Vietnam War. Many Americas still do not understand how the Bush’ administration ended up in Iraq if the country’s involvement in the Middle East war started in Afghanistan. There are chorological events that inform the people’s decisions. The failure by the US to maintain their neutrality in World War I, (WWI), and WWII. War is costly and the loss of lives to not merit the perceived gains.

In the recently concluded general elections in the US, president Obama held a different policy from Mitt Romney on foreign policy. Romney favored the deployment of more troops in Iraq and launching an offensive attack on Iran’s nuclear plant. On the other hand, president Obama’s foreign policy advocates for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the exhaustion of all diplomatic options with Iran before considering offensive attacks. It is possible that foreign policy was a factor that the civilians considered in the election. This shows the level of dejection of the Americans people with war; after lessons learnt in the past wars that the US has been involved. As Ky summarizes, “It was pointless for the Americans to provide better prospects for those who moved; they did not want better prospects because if the average villager amassed wealth it had to come from the land and that meant he was achieving his wealth at the expense of his neighbor.”       

 Differences in the Korea, World War II and Vietnam Wars

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America made the decision to take on the Korea and Vietnam wars based on the Truman Doctrine that was more elaborate in the MacNamara’s ‘Domino Theory’. The engagement of America was informed by the likely fall of Korea and Vietnam into communism would risk the security of nations within their boundaries. The United States was opposed to the appeasement policy that made Hitler to reinforce Germany, a feat that led to the eruption of the World War II, (WWII). The wars were to fortify the fight against the forces of communism in a bid to made nations evade control by the Soviet. The political regimes of the day from Truman to Johnson had similar goals with respect to the motives. Nonetheless, the wars were of different circumstances and nature.

The focus of this essay is on the differences of the Korea and Vietnam wars even though there were a number of similarities. The principal difference between the wars was the outcomes. Democratic nations including the US were opposed to the ideals of communism; hence, they successfully prevented South Korea from joining the faction. On the other hand, the US together with other democracies were unable to prevent South Vietnam from joining the communist nations. The successes and failure of the US in the war were determined by the manner in which they were fought. The communist front in Korea used the strategy of outnumbering the US troops. North Korea was unsuccessful in the war because more than a million Chinese soldiers were to overwhelming to defeat. There was an attempt by General Douglas MacArthur to extend the war to China. The two factions in the war used the ground offensive strategy due to the presence of an open battlefield. The open ground was a strategic advantage for the Americans of their aerial superiority. The US had an advanced technology of weapon manufacturing. The US offensive battles were quicker and had tremendous impact in driving away the communist fighters back to their respective division line.

On the other hand, the Vietnam War adopted the guerilla warfare because of the environmental factors and a small number of troops. Prior to the war, the Vietnamese had sunk underground tunnels when they were resisting the invasion of the French and the Japanese. It was therefore easy for them to expand the tunnels and extend their network to more than 250 kilometers. This tactic was very successful, as the American aerial attacks could not see the underground tunnels. In fact, the American did not realize that the tunnels were right under their military base. Moreover, the Americans were unable to ascertain the approximate number of the Vietnamese troops for over months and they failed to account for the presence of enemy fire in their base. On discovering the underground channels, the troop still fell into the traps of the Vietnamese. It was also difficult for them to study the tunnel distribution channels. Another strategy that worked for the Vietnamese troops was their ability to convince the people to join them in the fight to resist the American invasion. Whereas the Vietnamese were successful is turning the war into a people’s affair, the Chinese did not convince their people to help them fight the Americans in Korea. Finally, the other factor that contributed to the failure of the US troops was their inability to distinguish between supporters of the Viet Cong from the neutral residents.

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The deployment of different war tactics in Vietnam resulted to a sharp difference in the number of casualties who perished in the war. While 54,000 American soldiers perished by the end of the war in Korea in a period of 3 years, 58,000 troops lost their lives in the 10-year war in Vietnam. The war in Korea was exemplified by short bursts while the Vietnamese war tended to be long and tiring. The psychological impacts of the forms that the two wars took had massive influence the reception of the American troops back in the US. The reasons given by the US administration to justify the wars were different; hence, the troops in Korea were morally motivated while those in Vietnam were demoralized.

Amid the differences in the cause of the Vietnam and Korean wars, further different grew after the wars ended. This is true because of the different opinions held by South and North Korea in international matters. Vietnam’s economy has grown after they discarded communistic ideals. In addition, South Korea’s enjoy the strength of the economy that is self-sustaining while North Korea that opted for communism still struggles to feed its citizens. In general, communist nations have dwindling economies while those nations that embraced democracy have prospered.

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