The Vietnam War: An Analysis

Superior Essays
Arguably more influential to U.S. policymakers than the fear of monolithic communism was the belief that “loss” of Vietnam would result in severe domestic backlash. This conclusion was drawn as a result of the domestic response to President Truman’s perceived “loss” of China. In the domestic sphere, both politically and publicly, Truman was vilified for being weak on communism and jeopardizing the safety of the United States as well as its allies. The Republican Party exploited these criticisms a great deal, gaining political capital by using the loss of China to strip the Democratic Party of any legitimacy in areas concerning national security. Ultimately, when examining the situation in Vietnam, the Johnson Administration could not help but …show more content…
Unlike Malaya and the Philippines, Korea was a far more aggressive military strategy. Having been such a polarizing event, the Korean produced considerable concern about the escalation of a limited war, the intervention of China, and public outcry over a prolonged war. Yet, these concerns were superseded by feelings of American fearlessness and tenacity regarding the Korean War. As May writes, “…[policymakers] believed the intervention in Korea had demonstrated America’s willingness to risk war in order to protect the integrity of other nations. They wanted to act in Vietnam in keeping with Truman’s example”(May 108). In their comparison of Vietnam to Korea, U.S. policymakers concluded that intervention was important to maintaining the principles and precedents established throughout our history. Assuming they could successfully implement strategies used in other Southeast Asian countries, policymakers believed they could protect South Vietnam like South Korea had been protected, maintaining the United State’s credibility and resilience. However, Vietnam and Korea were completely different events, under very different circumstances. As George Ball, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, once stated, “ ‘South Vietnam is not Korea…and in making fundamental decisions it would be a mistake for us to rely too heavily on the Korean analogy’”(May 109). Ball would continue to note examples of differences between Vietnam and Korea. One example being that Korean War had the active support of the United Nations as opposed to Vietnam where the United States would be fighting alone. Another key difference, according to Ball, was that South Korea had a reliable government and population willing to fight for their country. In Vietnam, this was not the case as Diem’s regime failed miserably, turning into an oligarchy that only distanced themselves farther from the predominant rural population (May 109-110).

Related Documents

  • Great Essays

    Notably, this was due to the hostility and growing resistance in the United States over their participation in the war. Nixon wished to improve relations with communist China Additionally, the economy of America was suffering exceedingly from budget deficits and inflation. Nixon was a realist and notably recognized the strength of the Viet Cong and accepted that the US would not prosper in the war. Accordingly, he aspired to end America’s involvement in the war. However, negotiations in Paris proved arduous and laborious with Nixon using the Chinese to pressurise the North Vietnamese.…

    • 1926 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The shift from desiring a “unified democratic Korea” to a free south Korea, demonstrated a drastic change in American foreign policy. While America believed they were winning in Korea, they held onto their hopes for unifying Korea; however, as things started to look more grim, they shifted their ideology to remain victorious even in the face of failure. Being the hero of the Second World War, America was viewed as powerful and a force to be reckoned with, losing a war to such a small country, experiencing turmoil, would ruin America 's reputation. Therefore they needed to find a way they could avoid loss at all costs; however, Truman was unwilling to meet MacArthur 's requests for total warfare in Korea so, instead of contributing further into the war effort, Truman changed his policy to favour the containment of the status quo before the war in Korea. Once America achieved this goal by recapturing Seoul, the capital of South Korea, they began to negotiate an armistice with North Korea, under the guidance of Mao Zedong, allowing the end of the war, without it being viewed as a loss in other 'free ' nations.…

    • 1074 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    US Intervention In Vietnam

    • 1128 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Also that countries that are still fighting against using American military power are receiving most amount of destruction by Communist government by using military and political power against the people. This does not prove that a Communist government would be beneficial to accept for Vietnam but it might have shielded the country from the amount of destruction it faced trying to oppose it. Regardless of Communism taking over, the war with China was more important and the Vietnam seemed to be more a of battleground of China versus United States, but a full scale attack with a large resource country as China would be devastating. Hans Morgenthau offered a better solution to the problem which was…

    • 1128 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    It was their assumption that the United States was actually working to subvert their previous efforts in China. This assumption came from the United States continuing to aid Chiang Kai-Shek both economically and militarily (Iriye 20). Japan lacked the strategic diplomacy necessary for dealing in foreign affairs (Iriye 189). From this stemmed the “suspicion that the United States is as spokesman for the Chungking Regime” (Iriye 36). Because of the mistrust this idea embedded, further discussions were impaired, making the Japanese accredit any unwillingness to agree an intent “to go to war” (Iriye 32).…

    • 800 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    However, despite at the time there was minimal criticism, ones of the most influential people for the 1950s was Morgenthau who was highly against the war (Rafshoon 2011, 55) and who will help to demonstrate why the realist theory did not justify going to Vietnam. Realism is generally not know for attention to morals (Calhoun 2001), illustrating how it strongly focuses on the action of war and less on the consequences of it. Another interesting point is to look at is the South-East Asia region involving Vietnam, the region in terms of realism was not actually perceived to be an area of interest (Rosato and Schuessler 2011). Looking after sovereignty for years to come, Vietnam would need to be the state responsible for this (Rafshoon 2011, 58), rather than a more powerful Untied States. Realism is based on the concept of self-interest (Morkevičius 2015) and by using this as an example for Vietnam and its concern for its own state, the interest in protecting the country should not be conducted by the United States but Vietnam.…

    • 1737 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Some Americans believed that it was our duty to defend against the spread of communism while other Americans believed that it was an unnecessary war and it was not out job to get involved and it was a costly blunder. The anti-war movement had an enormous effect on the United States because it brought about changes in the government, the war strategy was re-evaluated and eventually forced the troops to withdraw.…

    • 1267 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Stronger communist forces pushed Americans into a retreat, which Americans pushed back harder. The war had managed to convert itself into a stalemate. General MacArthur had been relieved of command, despite public protest, due to his ideas that the U.S. should attack China. Truman did not want further involvement with communist China. The Korean War spread more hatred of communism among…

    • 761 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Controversy surrounds whether the intervention of the U.S. in the Korean War was justified or not. One side believes that Truman was inconsistent with American strategic policy which is based on a statement made by Secretary of State Dean Acheson. Korea was excluded in U.S. defense perimeter of strategic containment policy. Although it is arguable that the intervention was unnecessary and unjustified, the war played an important role in modern history. The Korean War was a crucial event during the Cold War that protected the capitalist values, prevented the spread of communism and proved that the Truman administration was anti-communist.…

    • 1101 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This however did not persuade the United States to get involved. Rather, communist rebellions, and the establishment of the “People’s Republic of China” would alarm the United States. The Truman Administration would try to “abandon the neutral position that it had adopted in 1945 toward French aims in Vietnam.” (BOOK) In 1946, President Eisenhower feared the “Domino effect” which basically supported the idea that one country would become communist other countries surrounding it would also become communist. Eisenhower feared that Vietnam would become communist, due to its communist neighbors, and believed that the United States should get involved in preventing the further spread of…

    • 1674 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Additionally, “…if the United States stood by while South Korea fell, it would demonstrate to the world that the United States was either afraid of Soviet power or unconcerned with the safety of its allies” (Hook and Spanier 69). That would most likely lead to a rise in the amount of communist territories and a decline in the amount of respect other countries had for the United States. Both of those results would be extremely costly for the United…

    • 1213 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays