Реферат: Why was the United States unsuccessful in Vietnam?

Реферат: Why was the United States unsuccessful in Vietnam?

Why was the United States unsuccessful in Vietnam?

Igor Mershon

The communist beliefs began in 1848, when Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

wrote a book called The Communist Manifesto. This book defined the beliefs of

communism, along with portraying the natural evolution of a communist utopia

from a capitalist society. Marx and Engels defined communism to be a

concept, or system, of society in which the major resources and means of

production are owned by the community, rather than by the individuals. In

theory, such societies provide for equal sharing of all work, according to

ability, and all benefits, according to need. This, however, did not work

because people are generally selfish and lazy. Each person wants to do the

least amount possible to gain the most from it. This is where the conflicts


The Soviet Union began its communist regime under Vladimir Lenin. His ideas

and teachings led to mass popularity due to a poor economy in Russia at the

time. Lenin was not a bad leader, however he died before he was able to see

his plan take full effect. He had only one warning to the people of Russia:

never to let Joseph Stalin get into power. Lenin was able to foresee the

tyrant when many others were blind. The people did not realize their error

when Stalin succeeded. But by then, it was too late; Stalin had turned

Russia into a fascist dictatorship.

During World War II, Communism, combined with fascism, had proven to be very

dangerous. The Communists saw their way to be perfect, and they had the idea

that everyone should practice their beliefs. Communism had started in Asia,

with the likes of Joseph Stalin and Mao Tsetung. In the mid to late nineteen

forties, communism was thriving in Asia. The Chinese and the Russians had

pushed the spread of Communism south into countries such as Cambodia and

Vietnam. The United Stated saw this as a very real threat, and kept a close

eye on the communist advancement.

Between 1945 and 1975, the number of countries under communist rule increased

greatly. This is partly because of the way the victorious powers of World

War II divided the world amongst themselves. This is also due to the fact

that countries such as China and The Soviet Union pushed their beliefs

tyrannically on other weak countries.

One of such countries was Vietnam. . From 1946 until 1954, the Vietnamese had

struggled for their independence from France during the First Indochina War. At

the end of this war, the country was temporarily divided into North and South

Vietnam along the 17th parallel. North Vietnam came under the

control of the Vietnamese Communists who had opposed France and who aimed for a

unified Vietnam under Communist rule. Vietnamese who had collaborated with the

French controlled the South.

The foreign policy of the United States during the Cold War was driven by a

fear of the spread of Communism. Eastern Europe had fallen under the

domination of the Communist USSR, and Communists ruled China. This policy was

known as the "domino theory." United States policymakers felt they could not

afford to lose Southeast Asia as well to the Communists. The United States

therefore offered to assist the French in recapturing Vietnam.

Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 8 to July 21, 1954, diplomats from

France, the United Kingdom, the USSR, China, and the United States, as well

as representatives from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, drafted a set of

agreements called the Geneva Accords. These agreements provided for the

withdrawal of French troops to the south of Vietnam until they could be

safely removed from the country.

They also agreed that Elections were to be held in 1956 throughout the north

and south and to be supervised by an International Control Commission that

had been appointed at Geneva and was made

up of representatives from Canada, Poland, and India. Following these

elections, Vietnam was to be reunited under the government chosen by popular

vote. The United States refused to sign the accords, because it did not want

to allow the possibility of Communist control over Vietnam. The U.S.

government moved to establish the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO),

a regional alliance that extended protection to South Vietnam, Cambodia, and

Laos in case of Communist "subversion." SEATO, which came into force in 1955,

became the mechanism by which Washington justified its support for South

Vietnam; this support eventually became direct involvement of U.S. troops.

On July 30, 1964, the government of North Vietnam complained that South

Vietnamese ships, protected by an American destroyer, had attacked two of their

islands. On August 2, North Vietnamese patrol torpedo boats attacked the

American destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin but were driven off.

Five days later, on August 7, Congress adopted what became known as the

Tonkin Gulf Resolution. It stated that the President could “take all

necessary measures to repel any armed attack against armed forces of the United

States and to prevent further aggression.” The Vietnam War had become

Americanized. Following the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, North Vietnam began

infiltrating regular army units into South Vietnam. In the mean time, the

President Johnson and his advisors decided that the United States should bomb

North Vietnam and send troops into South Vietnam.

The North Vietnamese fought the guerrillas war. They hid in underground

tunnels and in jungles. In an effort to destroy the jungles the United States

sprayed huge quantities of toxic chemicals on the countryside. It caused mass

starvation and birth defects in Vietnamese children, as well as to liver


muscular disorders, and other health problems for the adults who were exposed

to the chemicals. By 1966 many Americans were beginning to have serious

doubts about the nation’s growing

involvement in Vietnam. Without the support of their fellow Americans at home,

it became increasingly difficult for soldiers at war to fight effectively. The

anti-war attitude and the atrocious treatment of returning veterans, made young

men much more likely to evade the draft. In the event that they ended up

Vietnam, they would fight less effectively due to the fact that they did not

support the cause they were fighting for. Undermining of the war by activists

at home continued to increase with the increase in American casualties. This

problem is best described by Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under both

Kennedy and Johnson: " A nation's deepest strength lies not in its military

prowess, but rather, in the unity of its people. We [America] failed to

maintain it."[1] Without this vital unity,

it was a near impossible task for America to win the war. As America became

increasingly divided between anti-war activists and those who supported the

war, soldiers became increasingly disillusioned with their role in the war.

The soldiers realized that perhaps what they were fighting for was not a just

cause. The moral high ground held by soldiers at the beginning of the war

began to slip as more and more soldiers realized that they did not truly

believe in they were fighting for. This coupled with low morale that resulted

from the fashion that new recruits were placed into combat secured the North

Vietnamese victory.

Also there is the low morale and lack of combat effectiveness resulting from

poor command of the Army's resources. One mismanagement that resulted in

dire consequences for America was the fashion in which new recruits were

introduced into the war. Instead of sending brand-new squads that had

trained together, individual soldiers were sent to fill the space left by a

soldier who had just been killed or injured. For the

veteran soldiers, the new recruits served as reminders of fallen friends, and

thus were never truly accepted into the unit. With this being the attitude

of many soldiers, it was very difficult for a sort of esprit de corps to

develop. The lack of comradely severely hampered the fighting ability of the

army as a whole. The detrimental effects resulting from the lack of teamwork

(around which every army needs to be based) were further confounded by a lack

of commitment to the war it had become involved.

Involvement in Vietnam was increased in very incremental fashion. " Some...have

criticized the Government's...gradual force buildup...in lieu of striking the

enemy with full force."[2] Had the

Government completely committed itself to the war, it may not have degenerated

into a lengthy defeat from a decisive victory. The amount of firepower America

could have brought to bear would have been near impossible to stand against.

While it is easy to theorize the outcome of the war had the full might of the

American Army been brought to bear at once, it is much more difficult for one

to judge the reaction of the South Vietnamese people to an American victory.

Finally, and most important, the support given by the South Vietnamese was a

deciding factor in the outcome of the war. It is logical that the support of

those one is trying to liberate is required for liberation

to be achieved. This is something that was, in part, lacking during the

Vietnam War. A stable government was never established in South Vietnam, and

therefore the people of the south did not feel that they had something worth

fighting for. This opened a gulf between the Americans and the Vietnamese as

described in the following:

" The Vietnamese people saw the Americans as perpetrators of the suffering

Which the war had brought...the American soldiers did not want to know

The Vietnamese, but wanted only to use them for menial labor, self-

Gratification, and often as scapegoats for the frustrations and anger they felt

Against the enemy and the war...America gave them nothing and expected

Loyalty in return. The Vietnamese people saw only one side of the American

People and the United States and most often it was the worst side."[3]

The lack of support from those the Americans were trying to save, coupled

with increasing anti-war protest at home, created a climate unsuitable for

winning the war. This situation only worsened as the war progressed up to

American withdrawal and the eventual fall of Saigon. The final outcome of

the war was inevitable without the full support of the South Vietnamese


Eventually, the United States had no choice but to withdraw and leave the war

to the South Vietnamese. Even as the fall of Saigon was imminent, America

would not re-enter the war despite the mass amounts of money and human life

spent in an attempt to halt the spread of communism.

In conclusion, the most important factor in deciding the outcome of the

Vietnam War was the lack of support that came both from South Vietnam and

from activists at home. Billions of dollars and thousands of lives were

sacrificed for a cause that was lost from the start: the liberation of a

people who did not want the American brand of freedom being offered. The war

left behind an embarrassing legacy as well as deep wounds that have yet to

heal even today. Many veterans were left disillusioned as they returned home

to be treated as villains rather than heroic defenders of freedom.

Casualties were suffered even by those who did not fight in Vietnam, as

protestors were shot at Kent State University. The United States had

drastically altered its image throughout the world, driving away her allies

as a result of the war. In a war without support, " an entire American army

was sacrificed on the battlefield of

Vietnam"[4] and "it will be at least a

generation before. Vietnam' will mean anything but a war of agony, frustration,

and humiliation."[5]


1) Colby, William. Lost victory. Markham: Beaverbooks, 1989.

2) Fulbright, J. William, The Arrogance of Power. Random House, Inc., 1966

3) McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam

. Toronto:

Random House of Canada Limited, 1995.

4) Stanton, Shelby L. The Rise and Fall of an American Army: US Ground

Forces in Vietnam.

Novato: Presidio Press, 1985.

5) Welsh, Douglas. The History of the Vietnam War. Greenwich: Bison

Books Corp, 1981

6) William A. Link et al., American Epoch: A History of the United States

since 1900 Affluence and


1940-1992, Volume II (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993)

7) Winthrop D. Jordan. The Americans. Illinois: McDougal

Littell/Houghton Miffin Inc., 1996

[1] McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect:

The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. (Toronto:

Random House of Canada Limited, 1995 ) p.322

[2] Colby, William. Lost victory. (Markham: Beaverbooks, 1989) p.362

[3] Welsh, Douglas. The History of

the Vietnam War. (Greenwich: Bison Books Corp, 1981) p.188

[4] Stanton, Shelby L. The Rise and

Fall of an American Army: US Ground Forces in Vietnam.

(Novato: Presidio Press, 1985) p.368

[5] Welsh, Douglas. The History of

the Vietnam War. (Greenwich: Bison Books Corp., 1981) p.189

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