The Vietnam War was before my time, but what happened over six thousand miles away and ended over forty-two years ago had an effect on me. It affected my perception of right and wrong and what waging modern war is about. In the Documentary, “The Vietnam War” a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, showed real stories not just the facts. The interviews with all parties involved in the war, not just the Americans, were fascinating.
Was it right to get involved in Vietnam? Before now I knew not, but now I see. I see the failure of The Vietnam War, each step forward made the step back harder. Looking through the lens of time, I can see the original justification for the war, to contain Communism. Being wrong does not mean you should continue in a wrong cause but to change your ways. The United States got Vietnam wrong; The US should have gotten out before they entered.
When the US put a Catholic leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, in power there was major backlash by the Buddhist population of Vietnam. Ngo Dinh Diem’s anti-Buddhist policies led to an old Monk burning himself in protest. A photo or video of this can not be unseen. It was a call for the US to fix the government they propped up, but The US did not. Was that right to let innocent people die in protest of a harsh government? I would believe not, but The US government still supported the South Vietnamese government. I can see the idea that Communism was needed to be stopped but is an authoritarian-like government that much better? Apparently to the US Government it was yes.
The United States’ entrance into direct war with North Vietnam was due to a mistranslation of the North Vietnamese’s radio orders. A small mistake was very costly. Was it right to enter the Vietnam War? The Vietnamese wanted independence; independence from a colonial power as the US did. Why should The US prevent that from happening? The North Vietnamese fight for Communism to take over the world. They believed in a single country Communism; they did not want to take over the world like Stalin wanted to.
Back in The United States, the anti-war movement was gaining strength, yet the US kept sending more troops into a failing war. The US saw that they were losing and they saw no good way out, so The US went head first. The US were fighting a war up a hill with many boulders pushing them down. It was wrong to send young men, with lives ahead, into their graves. The US were fighting Communism, is that not enough for war? The Vietnamese just wanted independence and if Communism was that bad it would fail and they would become a republic.
The US were fighting a modern war; a war not between two grand militaries, but rather a war between a grand military and a people. It was a guerrilla war in their land. It was destined to fail, the more troops the bigger failure. The French failed with their attempt to keep Vietnam. When they did fail, The US should have seen the impossibility of winning a guerrilla war not in The US’s own land. This lesson should have been learned a long time ago, in The US’s own war of independence in 1776. The US used guerrilla warfare to win their war of independence. If it worked against the British, the great power at the time, it would work against The United State, the modern power. The US tried to counter it; by trying to destroy the country, but they were prevented. They were prevented by the media publicizing it. This in my mind was good, it prevented genocide from happening.
I feel a war that ended over forty-two years ago and was over six thousand miles away from the United States, was wrong. The war was an illegitimate war that caused the unnecessary deaths of decent humans, all in the name of containing Communism. The US knew they would lose, and yet they continued to send their men into war.