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Why the us lost in vietnam essay

Summary of the Vietnam War: For this reason, in Vietnam today it is known as the American War. It was a direct result of the First Indochina War 1946—1954 between France, which claimed Vietnam as a colony, and the communist forces then known as Viet Minh.

It ended with communist victory in April 1975. The Vietnam War was the longest in U. The war was extremely divisive in the U. Casualties in the Vietnam War The U. Casualties for the Republic of South Vietnam will never be adequately resolved. Low estimates calculate 110,000 combat KIA and a half-million wounded.

Civilian loss of life was also very heavy, with the lowest estimates around 415,000. Similarly, casualty totals among the VC and NVA and the number of dead and wounded civilians in North Vietnam cannot be determined exactly. Civilian deaths during that time period were estimated at 2 million, but the U.

China conquered the northern part of modern Vietnam in 111 BC and retained control until 938 AD; it continued to exert some control over the Vietnamese until 1885.

Originally, Vietnam ended at the 17th parallel, but it gradually conquered all the area southward along the coastline of the South Why the us lost in vietnam essay Sea and west to Cambodia. Population in the south was mostly clustered in a few areas along the coast; the north always enjoyed a larger population. The two sections were not unlike North and South in the United States prior to the Civil War; their people did not fully trust each other. Before the 1880s, the French controlled Vietnam.

In the early 20th century, Vietnamese nationalism began to rise, clashing with the French colonial rulers. The French suffered a major defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, leading to negotiations that ended with the Geneva Agreements, July 21, 1954.

Under those agreements, Cambodia and Laos—which had been part of the French colony—received their independence.

Why did America lose the Vietnam War?

Vietnam, however, was divided at the 17th parallel. The division was supposed to be temporary: When the time came, however, Diem resisted the elections; the more populous north would certainly win.

Some 80,000 Vietnamese from the south had moved to the north after the Geneva Agreements were signed. Ten times as many Vietnamese had fled the north, where the Communist Party was killing off its rivals, seizing property, and oppressing the large Catholic population. A cadre was drawn from those who went north; they were trained, equipped and sent back to the south to aid in organizing and guiding the insurgency.

Some in the North Vietnamese government thought the course of war in the south was unwise, but they were overruled. Although publicly the war in the south was described as a civil war within South Vietnam, it was guided, equipped and reinforced by the communist leadership in Hanoi. S—feared communist expansion throughout Southeast Asia. The Central Intelligence Agency CIA advised that was not the case—America had a strong military presence in the Pacific that would serve as a deterrent.

  1. The South Vietnamese Army was showing improvement, winning 37 of their last 45 major engagements. There were occasions, however, when we just felt abused.
  2. To its own surprise, Hanoi found its forces advancing rapidly toward Saigon, realized victory was at hand, and renamed the operation the Ho Chi Minh Offensive. Initially, however, homefront support for the war effort grew, but by March Americans, perceiving no change in strategy that would bring the war to a conclusion, became increasingly disillusioned.
  3. In terms of body count, the U. His successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, inherited the Vietnam situation.
  4. Lying, in rare cases, can actually exhibit good character.

A different feeling prevailed among many within the U. The communist takeover of China and subsequent war in Korea 1950-53 against North Korean and Chinese troops had focused a great deal of attention on Southeast Asia as a place to take a strong stand against the spread of communism.

They were the only father-son pair to die in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh had been educated in Paris. There is considerable debate over whether he was primarily nationalist or communist, but he was not especially anti-Western. Ho attempted to contact Eisenhower to discuss Vietnam but received no answer.

That would have made any negotiation with Ho politically ticklish. A lingering question of the war is what might have happened if Eisenhower and Ho had arranged a meeting; possibly, an accord could have been reached, or possibly Ho was simply seeking to limit American involvement, in order to more easily depose the Diem government.

North Vietnam, had by then established a presence in Laos and developed the Ho Chi Minh Trail through that country in order to resupply and reinforce its forces in South Vietnam. Kennedy saw American efforts in Southeast Asia almost as a crusade and believed increasing the military advisor program, coupled with political reform in South Vietnam, would strengthen the south and bring peace. The peasants resented being forced from their ancestral lands, and consolidating them gave the VC better targets.

The program, which had been poorly managed, was abandoned after about two years, following the coup that deposed Diem.

  1. An air war was the most that could be done north of the 17th parallel, because the use of ground troops had been ruled out. The communist takeover of China and subsequent war in Korea 1950-53 against North Korean and Chinese troops had focused a great deal of attention on Southeast Asia as a place to take a strong stand against the spread of communism.
  2. I looked him in the eye as square as a young lieutenant can look at a man with 20 more years in the Corps than he. The two sections were not unlike North and South in the United States prior to the Civil War; their people did not fully trust each other.
  3. The irony is that had that pilot had his way America would have lost so much more that just the Vietnam War.
  4. The photo of the South Vietnamese police chief, for example, cannot by itself explain he had just seen the dead body of a close friend minutes before; even Eddie Adams, the photojournalist who snapped the photo felt it unfairly maligned Lt.
  5. Originally, Vietnam ended at the 17th parallel, but it gradually conquered all the area southward along the coastline of the South China Sea and west to Cambodia.

Diem fell from favor with his American patrons, partly over disagreements in how to handle the war against the VC and partly because of his unpopular suppression of religious sects and anyone he feared threatened his regime. He, in turn, called the Buddhists VC sympathizers. Two younger monks poured a mix of gasoline and jet fuel over him and, as the three had planned, set fire to him.

Did the United States win or lose the Vietnam War?

Seven more such immolations occurred that year. To make matters worse, Diem responded by sending troops to raid pagodas. The administration was caught by surprise, however, when Diem was murdered during the coup, which was led by General Duong Van Minh. This began a series of destabilizing changes in government leadership. That same month, Kennedy himself was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

His successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, inherited the Vietnam situation. His political party, the Democrats, had been blamed for China falling to communism; withdrawing from Vietnam could hurt them in the 1964 elections.

On the other hand, Congress had never declared war and so the president was limited in what he could do in Southeast Asia.

Why Did the U.S. Lose the Vietnam War?

Gulf of Tonkin Incident That changed in August 1964. The pilot of an F-8E Crusader did not see any ships in the area where the enemy was reported, and years later crew members said they never saw attacking craft. Congress swiftly passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that removed most restrictions from the president in regards to Vietnam.

Though a congressional investigative committee the previous year had warned that America could find itself slipping into in a morass that would require more and more military participation in Vietnam, Johnson began a steady escalation of the war, hoping to bring it to a quick conclusion. Ironically, the leadership of North Vietnam came to a similar conclusion: On September 30, 1964, the first large-scale antiwar demonstration took place in America, on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley.

Vietnam War

The war became the central rallying point of a burgeoning youth counterculture, and the coming years would see many such demonstrations, dividing generations and families. This would be a war without a front or a rear; it would involve full-scale combat units and individuals carrying out terrorist activities such as the Brink Hotel bombing. Westmoreland In previous war, progress and setbacks could be shown on maps; large enemy units could be engaged and destroyed.

Guerrilla warfare asymmetrical warfare does not permit such clear-cut data. Westmoreland with a thorny challenge: Westmoreland adopted a search-and-destroy policy to find and engage the enemy and use superior firepower to destroy him. Every major engagement between U. The body count policy fell into disfavor and was not employed in future American wars; in Vietnam it led officers to inflate enemy casualties.

The VC and NVA dragged off as many of their dead and wounded as possible, sometimes impressing villagers into performing this task during battles, so determining their casualties was guesswork based on such things as the number of blood trails.

On the other side, the same thing was occurring, with even more inflated numbers—vastly more. Both sides were fighting a war of attrition, so communist commanders sent Hanoi battle reports that often were pure fantasy.

Marines—near Van Truong, from the VC point of view. On February 7, 1965, the U. Air Force began bombing selected sites in North Vietnam. This grew into the operation known as Rolling Thunder that began on March 2, 1965, and continued to November 2, 1968. Its primary goal was to demoralize the North Vietnamese and diminish their manufacturing and transportation abilities.

An air war was the most that could be done north of the 17th parallel, because the use of ground troops had been ruled out. On July 9, 1964, China had announced it would step in if the U. North Vietnamese officers, after the war, said the only why the us lost in vietnam essay they feared was an American-led invasion why the us lost in vietnam essay the north, but the U. Tet—the Turning Point By the end of 1967, there were 540,000 American troops in Vietnam, and the military draft was set to call up 302,000 young men in the coming year, an increase of 72,000 over 1967.

But the war news was hopeful. The South Vietnamese Army was showing improvement, winning 37 of their last 45 major engagements. American troops had won every major battle they fought, and General Nguyen Van Thieu had come to power in South Vietnam in September; he would remain in office until 1975, bringing a new measure of stability to the government, though he could not end its endemic corruption.

Antiwar protests continued across America and in many other countries, but on April 28, 1967, Gen. Westmoreland became the first battlefield commander ever to address a joint session of Congress in wartime, and Time magazine named him Man of the Year. In an interview he was asked if there was light at the end of the tunnel, and he responded that the U. They struck at least 30 provincial capitals and the major cities of Saigon and Hue. American intelligence knew an attack was coming, though the Army had downplayed a New York Times report of large communist troop movements heading south.

The VC was effectively finished; it would not field more than 25,000—40,000 troops at any time for the remainder of the war. The NVA had to take over. It was one of the most resounding defeats in all of military history—until it became a victory. News footage showed the fighting in Saigon and Hue.

The Tet Offensive shocked Americans at home, who thought the war was nearing victory. Initially, however, homefront support for the war effort grew, but by March Americans, perceiving no change in strategy that would bring the war to a why the us lost in vietnam essay, became increasingly disillusioned.

He closed by saying: To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.

But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

Tensions between blacks and whites had been intensifying for years as African Americans sought to change centuries-old racial policies.