Gulf Of Tonkin Vietnam Analysis

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From 1965 the US implemented a policy of direct military involvement in Vietnam. Evaluate the consequences of this policy. Following the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, President Johnson asked congress to support a move to build up U.S troops in South Vietnam to protect South Vietnam from Communist invasion. This brought about the first significant move to put U.S. forces on the ground in Vietnam in a defensive role rather than a "support & train" role. “The determination of all Americans to carry out our full commitment to the people and to the government of South Vietnam will be redoubled by this outrage.” (President Lyndon Johnson describes the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin during his speech addressing the incident) These events lead…show more content…
For the North, to rally support and nationalistic spirit amongst villagers and troops for the war effort, and in the South for America to portray, through the media, their fight against ‘communism’. Impact of the 1968 Tet Offensive • While Tet was a military failure for the Communists, they essentially won a morale victory- it reinforced the fact that they would not give up in their fight for unification and independence, regardless of the cost. • Due to the role of the media, Tet had a profound social impact on the American home front. For the first time in the Vietnam War, the realities of the carnages of war were exposed, viewed in American living rooms. Vo Suu’s now iconic picture of the Chief of the South Vietnamese National Police shooting a Vietcong suspect in the head, is an example of this. • It was such images that caused widespread anti-war sentiment to grow in America and well as International criticism, with several university in the US protesting (including the Kent State University of Ohio, where 4 students were killed) • “The Tet Offensive was not intended to be a decisive operation, but one episode in a protracted war that might last “five, ten or twenty…show more content…
This centralised objective of assisting the state in the overall pursuit of unification and independence, meant villagers in the North were devoted in every aspect of their lives to the war effort. • America’s many overt war strategies had detrimental effects on both North and South Vietnamese civilians: • The Search and Destroy methods meant many villages were completely obliterated, which created a sizeable rural-urban drift problem. These thousands of refugees were forced into overcrowded city areas in the South. - The operations had huge civilian casualty rates, which General Westmoreland who was the military architect of such missions later denied; “There’s never been a war in the history of our country that gave more careful attention to avoiding civilian casualties.” However as was released in the controversial Pentagon Papers in America in 1967 Secretary of Defence McNamara was quoted, “[the Viet Cong] apparently lose one-sixth as many weapons as people, suggesting… many of the killed are bystanders, or unarmed porters.” - Therefore the missions assisted in denouncing American troops to the Vietnamese people, as one American soldier asserted of the ‘Search and Destroy’ tactic, “If they weren’t pro-Vietnam Cong before we got there, they sure as hell were by the time we left.” – Karnow
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