17 Aralık 2013 Salı

Quotation: Princeton University A World History of The World, "The Vietnam War: American Perspective"

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a strong supporter of the Domino Theory

In this week we will be viewing and discussing the second installment of our group's case study: The Vietnam War. Last week's installment consisted of the Vietnamese perspective and we will now be discussing the American perspective during the Vietnam War. How does the American Perspective differ from that of the Vietnamese and how are their views similar? Domestically the Vietnam War was faced by widespread opposition and ultimately brought out many issues within the United States that the United States people and government dealt with for years to come.

The American Perspective

As the Vietnam War raged on and more and more young men were called into battle to fight in the Vietnam War, tensions began to build on the American home front. With the draft system that was enacted during the Vietnam War, American men were being called to arms for a war many people in the United States did not completely agree on or know much about. The major swing in American opposition for the Vietnam War came when news of the My Lai massacre hit front pages back in the States. This massacre portrayed the American fighting in Vietnam in a negative light and sent support for the war into a downward spiral. Protests quickly emerged throughout the country calling to end the war and slogans could be read saying, "Bring our troops home now!" or "Peace is patriotic!" With support dwindling back at home and the number of casualties beginning to build up with little success, the The United States withdrew from Vietnam in 1973.

The Domino Theory

The Domino Theory was the belief by the United States government that if one country in the world fell to communist rule, then the surrounding countries would eventually fall to communism in a "domino effect." This theory was a key proponent to why the United States intervened in Vietnam. The United States government was worried that if South Vietnam fell to communism, then the surrounding area would soon become victims to communism as well.

In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower in regards to what the Domino theory was: "You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, an what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences," (Public Papers 91). Many officials within the government worried that if South Vietnam fell to communism, then drastic consequences would soon ensue. Many believed that once South Vietnam fell, Southeast Asia would experience, "The loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following," (Papers 91). With all of these countries potentially falling to communism, there would be widespread economic and human costs.

The world would lose trade from this region that contained many valuable resources such as tin, rubber, and tungsten. Many millions would then be subjected to Dictators and communism had a long history of brutal dictators. The United States government also feared that once Southeast Asia fell, countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Japan could be future victims to communism due to the geographic proximity and economic proximity.

Rise of the Civil Rights and Women's movements
With the United States society in complete turmoil during the Vietnam War, many issues within American society that had yet to be fully addressed began to surfaced. As tensions about the war came to a head, many people flocked to the streets to protest. During this time many college students across the nation began to "question the ideals of American society" (Worlds 779). This questioning of the ideals of American society brought forth the Women's and Civil Rights movements.

With the assassination of JFK in 1963 and the violent riots that erupted in cities all across the United States tensions continued to mount within the United States. To ensure legal equality for African Americans, Lyndon Johnson (The President that replaced JFk after his assassination) passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that, "banned segregation in public facilities and outlawed racial discrimination in employment," (Worlds 778). This was a strong first step for the Civil Rights movement, but change did not come over night. The Civil Rights movement continued to push forward for more equality and try to begin to change the thinking of most Americans at this time.

Alongside the Civil Rights movement was the Women's movement. Women during this time called for more equality in the workplace with equal wages, and equal opportunity in job opportunities. Women began to question the lifestyle of staying at home and taking care of the family. Two key events shaped the Women's movement: the introduction of birth control in 1960 and The Feminine Mystique. These two events caused women across the United States to stand up for their rights and their sexuality as a woman. With more and more women earning college degrees, their pay and opportunity was unfortunately still unequal to that of men.

Work Cited:
Public Papers of the Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing
Office, 1958). pp. 381-390

Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1963, 651--652 (September 2, 1963)

Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1963, 658--659 (September 9, 1963)

Kotkin, Stephen, Suzanne Marchand, Gyan Prakash, and Michael Tsin. "Chapter 20." Worlds
Together Worlds Apart. By Robert Tignor, Jeremy Adelman, and Stephen Aron. 3rd ed.
Vol. 2. New York: Norton &, 2011. 778-79. Print.

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