While it takes societies to start wars, war changes societies. Whether it be the loss of life, wealth or influence, war determines what a society becomes. This paper will look at some of the effects on U.S. society following the war in Viet Nam.
The Effects of the Vietnam War on American Society
The Conflict in Southeast Asia had lasting effects on the United States society. It was sold to the American people as necessary to stop the spread of Communism and quickly become one of the longest and costliest wars in U.S. history. Looking at the war strictly from the point-of-view of society, the after effects of the war were staggering. There was weakened public faith in the government and a change in the public image of the American soldier. The loss of national pride was deep. America had effectively lost a war to what Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had called "a fourth-rate power." The U.S. was no longer looked at as an invincible giant. Because President Johnson wanted to fund the war without raising taxes, the government deficit skyrocketed. Additionally, troops returning home could not find jobs in the private sector. These factors together caused double digit inflation and unemployment rates. The people felt that the government was not taking care of them like it used to. These factors led to a change in the country's role around the world. Congress was worried that the world was viewing the U.S. as the planet's policeman, ready to jump in anytime another country seemed ready to fall victim to Communism. In 1973, the mostly Democratic Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution, which limited the president's powers. The Commander-in-Chief could only send U.S. troops into combat for less than ninety days without congressional approval. Besides the lack of jobs, returning soldiers were not given parades and hailed by the people as conquering heroes as they were following previous conflicts. Instead, they were...
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