Argument on the Police Action Within Vietnam

Mark Spitzmueller
Mrs. Bonesho
Comparative Cultures
2/1/98

Many times in history problems have risen where the United States are called upon for help and aid. Almost every time the United States has replied with great force and perseverance. Usually the out come has been very positive for the country that the U.S. aided, however one example will forever be implanted in the minds of Americans where the U.S. fought for a country and we lost so many good men. This example is most widely known as the Vietnam war. The title, though is not even the proper title for what happened in Vietnam. It was not a war, it was a police action. In fear of the "domino theory" with communism in Southeast Asia, and along with the containment, the U.S. government sent many troops over to South Vietnam to essentially fight for nothing. Some people think that Vietnam was justifiable, however, the majority of our society, including myself, think that Vietnam was a waste of so many young Americans.
Vietnam was between the government of South Vietnam, aided by the U.S., and North Vietnam, aided by Communist guerrillas. Vietnam was divided into North and South Vietnam by the Geneva Conference in 1954. War soon broke out in South Vietnam as Communist-led guerrillas, the Vietcong, tried to overthrow the South Vietnamese government. From 1961 the U.S. supplied support troops to South Vietnam, and following the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964 the war quickly escalated. The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was a Congressional resolution authorizing military action in Southeast Asia. After U.S. destroyers allegedly were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 by North Vietnamese gunboats, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Congress for authority to retaliate and for a mandate for future military action. The resolution passed overwhelmingly and Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, regarded it as authorization to pursue the Vietnam war. Although many historians now view the Tet Offensive, in 1968, as a major defeat for the Vietcong, its immediate impact in the U.S. was to increase opposition to the war. Under President Nixon the U.S. began a policy of increased bombing and troop withdrawals. In 1973 a cease-fire agreement was signed at Paris that allowed U.S. troops to withdraw, but it solved few problems. The war finally ended in a Communist victory in 1975, when the North Vietnamese launched their final offensive and routed the South Vietnamese army.
The U.S. government’s reasons for aiding South Vietnam were very weak and backfired on the entire nation with in a decade. The Communist threat in Indochina was of significant importance to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. To counter this Communist threat, they posed the idea of the domino theory. This theory suggested that if Vietnam fell to Communism, soon Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and Thailand would as well. Other ideas to oppose the Communist threat was the support of Ngo Dinh Diem as the new president of South Vietnam. Also our government felt that they had to supply the new South Vietnamese army with advisors, weapons, and training. Further more, the U.S. supplied U.S. pilots, planes, and helicopters to assist in anti-Vietcong operations. Finally, the "containment" policy was adopted by the Truman administration and followed by subsequent U.S. presidents. The intervention in Korea, support of Chinese Nationalist forces, and military and economic aid for the French in Indochina are all situations that followed this policy.
The reasons that opposed the U.S. government for entering Vietnam were simple and plain, but strong. The first reasons is from the U.S.’ involvement within Vietnam, no one benefited. Communism was not stopped, and the U.S. gained nothing. Secondly, besides the fact that there was no significant reason for the U.S. to be fighting in Vietnam, we were loosing an enormous amount of young men and women. The total deaths of Americans in Vietnam was 58,202, and 61% of those people killed were 21 or younger (Vietnam War Statistics [ONLINE]). Also, 76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds (Vietnam War Statistics [ONLINE]), meaning we only sent the people that could not buy their way out of it. Indirect results of this useless war were people setting themselves on fire, looting, and rioting. This war was tearing our country and families apart.