Silence is all the soldiers could hear but they knew that they weren’t alone. Soldiers from a foreign country attacked them from the shadows. Thousands of young American men were killed in the forests deep in Vietnam. The national interest of America that Americans developed after the Yalta Conference encouraged us to join the Korean War which led to the Vietnam War,the most regretted war in US History, guided America when it comes to foreign policies.
At the end of World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and President Franklin D. Roosevelt met in Ukraine to discuss the future of post-war Germany. It was agreed that Germany would be undergo demilitarization and denazification and continue to be split into four sections where their country and France would control one section. During this conference, Stalin was forced to promise that he would allow free elections in Europe as well as join the Asian War against Japan. After the defeat of Japan, Stalin would be given the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kuril islands. Stalin failed to keep his promise which led to many countries around the world falling to communism. The Soviet Union were working hard and effectively to regain territories as well as gain new ones. The United States could no longer trust the USSR which led competition between the two countries which then led to the Cold War. To avoid the Domino Effect, one communist nation would lead to multiple communist nations around that one nation, the United States adopted a new foreign policy. A Diplomat named George Kennan explained that America has to refuse the USSR the opportunity to expand communism to other countries and President Harry Truman agreed with him. President Truman trusted journalists from the American Society of Newspapers Editors in 1950 with the task of persuading the American public of the idea of containment.
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Propaganda was spread heavily during the Cold War to receive funding and public support in future wars or campaigns against communism. Propaganda was filled with Pro-American ideas in television, newspapers, music and art. American Families often had a television and would watch shows together because the programs available would be schedule to play at certain times. The government would sponsor TV stations to promote propaganda throughout the country. As the popularity to watch TV grew, the consumption of propaganda grew as well. Because of this, most of the propaganda was toward families who would fear communism and hate the Soviet Union. The USSR obtained an atomic bomb in August 29, 1949 which terrified citizens and encouraged them to stop the Soviet Union. President Truman received full support to do whatever necessary to stop the spread of communism, one of the things he did to do that was to invade Korea.
The Korean Peninsula was divided in two in 1945 after Japan surrendered to the United States. The USSR controlled the Korean Democratic People’s Republic (North Korea) ruled by Kim Il Sung while the USA controlled the Democratic Republic of Korea (South Korea) which was ruled by Syngman Rhee. North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950 and two days later President Truman stated that America would send the US air and naval forces to South Korea for help and aid. The Korean War lasted for three years until North, South and the United States agreed to sign an armistice.The Korean Armistice Agreement was signed to stop the fighting in Korea without ending the war. To Americans this was a defeat and many Americans weren’t happy about it. The Korean War damaged the public’s support when it came to following president’s policies especially when it came to containment. Americans were not convinced they should be jumping into another war after being in one 2 years before.
The Vietnam War was similar to the Korean War, the United States supported the South and the Japanese empire had a role to play as well. The Japanese Empire invaded Vietnam during World War II as well as the French. Ho Chi Minh, a leader who embraced communism, fought off Japanese soldiers and the French when he created the Viet Minh or the League of the Independence of Vietnam. The Japanese empire fell and Emperor Bao Dai was in control. Bao Dai was the emperor of Vietnam who was educated by the French so he supported the French coming to Vietnam. Citizens of Vietnam either encouraged the French to stay or cursed at them to leave. Ho Chi Minh recruited those who despised the French and created an army known as the Viet Cong. Ho Chi Minh took control over Hanoi and declared Independence. They declared Ho as president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). The French supported Emperor Bao who declared Saigon as South Vietnam’s capital. The North and the South wanted to be a unified under different governments. Ho wanted a communist government while Bao wanted to have close relations with the west. The Geneva Conference was held to discuss the crisis of Indochina (Vietnam) where the country were officially split in half: North and South. The hope of that decision was to let the people of Vietnam decide whether they wanted to stay separate or unify. The US backed Southern Vietnam so the South never voted on elections that were held to come to a decision of uniting or staying divided. The Vietcong were angered because they almost successfully united Vietnam under a communist government but failed because of the interventions of the United States. The Viet Cong invaded the South as an attempt to force the South into becoming communist under a unified country. Emperor Bao Dai was removed and replaced with a leader who was extremely against the idea of communism. His name was Ngo Dinh Diem who would rule as the President of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam.
The United States wouldn’t let the South fall to communism so US Presidents sent 9,087,000 troops to Vietnam from August 5,1964 to May 7, 1975. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated that he supported South Vietnam and Diem for the activities to fight against the Viet Cong and Ho Chi Minh. President John F. Kennedy sent American troops and aid to help Diem fight against the Viet Cong. Because of the Domino Effect Theory, President Kennedy increased aid and troops by 1962 America had 9,000 troops in Vietnam. A group who oppose Diem killed Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu. Kennedy was assassinated 3 weeks later, Lyndon B. Johnson was soon President of the United States. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara increased economic support and troops in Vietnam. North Vietnam attacked US destroyers,a small and fast warship that equipped for a defensive role against submarines and aircraft, at the Gulf of Tonkin which encouraged Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave Johnson full control on the war in Vietnam. Johnson used that power to send more US troops to help the South Vietnamese Army, there were 82,000 troops stationed in Vietnam but commanders were demanding 175,000 more troops to help the South Vietnamese army on the shore. The number of troops increased every year while the number of victories didn’t. The weapons Americans used in Vietnam were high tech weapons such as M1, M1A1, and M2 Carbines whereas the Viet Cong often used assault rifles supplied by the Soviet Union. The Vietcong used guerrilla warfare in Vietnam which was effective and successful due to the dense forests. The US military used a gas called Agent Orange, a herbicide and defoliant chemical, to eliminate the forest and crops in North Vietnam. A operation called Operation Ranch Hand sprayed 20 million gallons of agent orange into Vietnam and other countries. Later it was discovered that Agent Orange greatly affected Vietnamese citizens as well as soldiers returning home.
“We will dye the Potomac red, burn the cherry trees, panhandle embassies, attack with water pistols, marbles, bubble gum wrappers, bazookas, girls will run naked and piss on the pentagon walls, sorcerers swamis, witches, voodoo,warlocks, medicine men and speed freaks will hurl their magic at the faded brown walls,” promised Abbie Hoffman, she continues to say “We shall raise the flag of nothingness over the Pentagon and a mighty cheer of liberation will echo through the land”. Abbie Hoffman was a cofounder of the Youth International Party (Yippies), a American youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot at the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s. On October 21,1967, 100,000 protesters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and 30,000 protested in front of the Pentagon where Abbie gave her speech. In January 1968, the Tet Offensive, coordinated series of North Vietnamese attacks on more than 100 cities and outposts in South Vietnam, was launched by the Vietcong to instill horror and dishearten citizens about the Vietnam War. Thousands of college students protested the war in Vietnam the number of those students grew after the shooting at Kent State University. On May 4,1970, students of Kent State University was unarmed and protesting the bombing in Cambodia when Ohio National Guardsmen arrive and start unleashing bullets into the crowd. 4 people died that day which sparked a nationwide protest from college students. Universities were forced to shut down due to the amount of people protesting this incident. Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States not to long after that event. Nixon’s campaign was to fix the conflict on anti-protests and Vietnam which is why he declared that the US would no longer get involved in Southeast Asia on January 1973. US troops let Vietnam to fight their own battles, South Vietnam was defeated on April 30,1955 when the Viet Cong captured Saigon. Vietnam was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and was ruled by a communist government. “Not everyone who lost his life in Vietnam died there. Not everyone who came home from Vietnam ever left there”-Unknown Many citizens wonder what the goals of the US Presidents during the Cold War and wonder if they would risk American lives for it.
President Truman wanted friendship with USSR but was rejected because the Soviet Union’s believed the United States would get rid of their goals. The United States became aggressive towards the USSR and their campaigns to spread communism. Eisenhower followed Truman’s policies on containment and foreign policies. Kennedy was preoccupied with Cuba, because he didn’t want to risk a World War III. Nixon campaigned that he would end the Vietnam War which he did successfully do. During the Cold War, US Presidents had to make difficult choices that greatly impacted the World’s image of America and how Americans perceive America.
Lives lost to defeat the USSR’s spread of communism even though America failed to stop communism in the war they participated in. After the Vietnam War, America isn’t viewed as a powerful country like it was before, America is still strong but it was a humiliating loss to not win many wars against communism. An example would be a secret operation in Somalia where a unit called Black Hawks were ambushed by members from a rebel group. The warlords in Somalia knew about America’s past and used it again the United States. The War ordered that American soldiers should be killed and humiliated by dragging their body on the ground. They filmed the acts of violence that used on the soldiers and uploaded it for the world to see. The United States declared they would be returning to America which further damaged America’s image. Warlords knew that if a couple of men died then the United States would disappear from Somalia. Presidents know that it has damaged America because of that Americans have been fighting and protecting countries in the Middle East.The Cold War damaged American’s image,moral and spirit but the Vietnam War brought lots of knowledge about the power that people have and the determination the United States had to stop communism.
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