‘Campus bums’, intellectuals, liberal-minded politicians, middle-class suburbs, labor unions, government institutions and later on, returning Vets made up the majority of the protesting population in the United States who sought to end the Vietnam War. The anti-war movement became prominent in 1965, reached its climax in 1968, lasting through the entirety through the waning years of the war. What incentives were common to all of these people? Not many. Most of these groups had independent interests, representing political, racial and cultural spheres of influence. To put the movement in perspective, however, it is essential to examine the unifying themes of the protest in its ties to the domestic politics and social consequences from1968, the height of the movement.
The Tet Offensive of January 30-31, 1968, resulting in 110 and 20,000 American and Viet Cong casualties, respectively, was the trigger to all of the chaos that was aroused in anti-war sentiments. The series of surprise attacks during the Tet Festival came just when the government had proclaimed that they can “see the light at the end of the tunnel.” The graphic images of American troops defending the Embassy in Saigon on TV, the pictures of napalm burnt children published on Ramparts magazine, the alliance between the African-American leaders and anti-war ideals, the troop presence in Vietnam of nearly 500,000, as well as the death rate of 25,000, prompted the public to question the real political incentive of America’s involvement in Vietnam, and moreover, the efficiency and truthfulness of the government itself. American spokespeople had quickly pointed to the military failure of the Vietnamese Communists; the public realized the dramatic discrepancy between what the optimistic claims made by the US government that the war had already been won and America’s political and psychological defeat.
The War against American Public Schools by Gerald Bracey In his book The War against American Public Schools Gerald W. Bracey, a famous educational psychologist and research analyst, makes an attempt to broadly examine the system of American public education schools and functioning of alternative institutions like vouchers, charters, private schools, etc. He studies and summarizes a variety of ...
General William C. Westmoreland stated that in order to fully defeat the Viet Cong, 200,000 more American soldiers, and a call-up of reserves (a step no President would want to take) need be sent to the South Pacific. A day after the New York Times publication for the request for more troops, President Johnson was letdown by the results in the United States Democratic Party New Hampshire Primary, almost losing to Senator Eugene McCarthy, an anti-war candidate for presidency. Robert F. Kennedy, soon after, joined the contest for Democratic nomination and emphasized the failure in Tet for Johnson to step down. With three nominees divided on the same war within the same party, it is also clear that the Vietnam War had hit home and divided the entire country.
Evidently, it became clear to the US public, even those who supported the war, that the current government’s strategy was questionable, that domestic political turmoil is not only confusing, but also contributing to the resilience and victory of the Viet Cong. The Tet Offensive illustrated the American opposition that branched from the awareness of inefficient political and militaristic strategy and further divided the public and the government, creating more domestic schisms and offensives than that of abroad. Quintessentially, democratic public, when denied truth and access to accurate information and a prognosis of a war they are fighting, cannot stand beside the government they are supposed to serve.
In March, another severe blow on American domestic morale caused a greater magnitude of opposition to the Vietnam War — the My Lai Massacre. On March 16, a unit of the U.S. army division, led by Lt. William L. Calley invaded the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai (or Son My), a supposed Viet Cong stronghold and during the course of combat operations, almost 350 unarmed civilians, many of which were women and children, were shot to death, raped and tortured. Made known the next year, the incident shocked the public and raised questions as to why the US is involved, whether they are the enemy or liberator of Vietnam, and also the psychological state of the American troops. Another reason why My Lai further provoked opposition to the war is the international feedback and response to the atrocity.
... governments from "stepping beyond them." QUESTION TWO HOW MUCH CREDIT CAN ANTI-WAR MOVEMENTS HOLD FOR ENDING AUSTRALIAN AND AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT IN THE VIETNAM WAR? ... than there (America) ." For example, more troops were sent, casualties were higher, and social ... American involvement in the Vietnam War. Rather, it will be argued that the anti-war movements successfully campaigned in increasing public ...
The noted purpose of US troop presence is for the preservation of democracy in Vietnam, yet the world witnessed a war crime which flamboyantly demonstrated the opposite. Many more potential draftees filed for conscientious objector status, and more stories of abuses from soldiers dared come into light. Perhaps a greater troubling factor is the image of Vietnam veterans to the American public, since the event antagonized and distanced the public from the troops they were meant to support. As a result, more soldiers struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and homeless when they returned. Stronger leadership was needed among troops, and most college educated, draft resisting potential officers were not in the pool of consideration.
A final event of 1968 to note is the failure of the Paris Peace talks which began in May. By the time President Johnson had turned over presidency to Richard Nixon eight months into the talk, as PBS says, “the only thing two sides had agreed on was the shape of the conference table.” The US demanded the absence of northern troops in South Vietnam, and the Viet Cong refused a provisional South Vietnam government which included Nguyen Van Thieu. Very little progress was made until the summer of 1972, when the Viet Cong wanted the complete withdrawal of US presence and bombing and Nixon had other foreign political targets to pursue. And so, the Paris Peace talks in and of themselves did little to stop the war, rather, at the end of the final peace accord, Kissinger justified it by saying “We believed that those who opposed the war in Vietnam would be satisfied with our withdrawal, and those who favored an honorable ending would be satisfied if the United States would not destroy an ally.”
I can still imagine the powerful blasts echoing through my grandfathers mind as he dove for cover in one of our trenches. The year was 1972 and our great nation of Vietnam was at war with the Yankees, the United States. In the end it was a war that we won even though the Americans argue that it was the other way around. The war was not an easy one to win though. Thousands of lives were lost and ...
Many more notable events spurred more distrust for the government and distain for the war, including President Johnson’s resignation from elections in March, the police riot that broke out in the midst of antiwar protests at the Democratic national Convention in Chicago in August, the $2000 million per month in economic resources that the war is costing and the fact that the “Great Society” Lyndon Johnson envisioned had no financial flow to back it. The chemical warfare, usage of Agent Orange, pesticides and napalm, the indiscriminate killing nature of Search and Distroy missions and the inference by the government that life is not as valuable in Asia were all incentives for opposition against a war against a nonsensical threat of Vietnamese nationalism. All in all, many Americans believed that the war was not only a waste of spending, lives and focus, but also a war that lacked just incentive, firm foresight, and a government capable of uniting a home front in able to win it.
“Timeline: Vietnam on the battlefields and the home front.” PBS. 22 Sept. 2005. 24 Feb. 2006 .
“The Vietnam War.” The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. Copyright © 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
“The Vietnam War. “The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
Phillips, Steve. The Cold War. 1st ed. UK: Heinemann, 2001. 94-101.