The Vietnam War

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The Vietnam War is truly one of the most unique wars ever fought by the Unites States of by any country. It was never officially declared a war (Knowll, 3). It had no official beginning nor an official end. It was fought over 10,000 miles away in a virtually unknown country. The enemy and the allies looked exactly the alike, and may by day be a friend but by night become an enemy (Aaseng 113). It matched the tried and true tactics of World War Two against a hide, run, and shoot technique known as "Guerrilla Warfare." It matched some of the best trained soldiers in the world against largely an untrained militia of untrained farmers. The United States' soldiers had at least a meal to look forward to unlike the Communist Vietnamese soldiers who considered a fine cuisine to be cold rice and, if lucky, rat meat. The Vietnam War matched the most technically advanced country with one of the least advanced, and the lesser advanced not only beat but humiliated the strongest military in the world (Aaseng, 111). When the war was finally showing signs of end, the Vietnamese returned to a newly unified communist country while the United Stated soldiers returned to be called "baby killers", and were often spat upon. With the complexities of war already long overdrawn because of the length of the war it is no wonder the returning solders often left home confused and returned home insane. Through an examination of the Vietnam War, in particular an event know as the My Lai Massacre, and the people involved with both, it can be proven that when the threshold for violence of a person is met or exceeded, the resulting psychological scarring becomes the most prominent reason for war being hell.

Although officially, the Vietnam Conflict had neither a beginning nor an end, for the purpose of this paper it can be best examined through the decade the United States was involved: February 6, 1965 - August 30, 1975. During World War Two the French had been a major ally to the United States in the defeat of Adolph Hitler and the Axis Powers. France occupied and claimed the small coastline country of Vietnam in Indochina. In this region there had been recent Communist uprisings funded by the USSR The Vietnamese were willing to accept Communism in return for what they had been fighting for over 2000 years: self rule. In 1950 the United States, owing a debt of gratitude towards France, sent several advisors to aid French control in Vietnam. Over the next decade and a half, the United States would send an entire Army and Navy to aid the French in maintaining control in South Vietnam, which had separated from the Communist North Vietnam by treaty in 1954. In early August of 1964 a small Vietcong (term used to identify South Vietnamese in favor of communism and unification) patrol boat had an encounter with a United States war ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. Gunfire was exchanged, and, in the end, President Johnson agreed to allow aggressive retaliation. On February 6, 1965, the United States began the bombing of North Vietnamese cities, marking the unofficial start of the Vietnam War (Winthrop, 853-861).

In the years of the war to follow, the media began to play a role. Photo-journalists would accompany platoons on missions and, through the aid of cameras and video equipment, relate the stories to the American at home. Every night for the length of the war news programs were saturated with reports of the happenings in Vietnam and death tolls for the day. Grossly eggzrated enemy casualty numbers were reported, giving the public a false view of happenings of the war. Suddenly on January 30, 1968 a Vietcong uprising, now commonly known as the Tet Offensive, took place. Tet is the Vietnamese new year and is commonly accepted as a cease-fire. With a cease-fire in effect, most major cities' defensives were less tight. As if all at once, more than one hundred South Vietnamese cities were being shelled with Vietcong gunfire. Included in the cities were Saigon,...
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