War in Vietnam started in the year 1945, where the Vietnamese were fighting for their independence from their colonial masters, France. The anti-colonial war went on up to around 1954 when the Vietnamese out powered their masters, but with support from America. America’s support to Vietnam was inform of finance and militants, the US back up reinforced the Vietnamese army, which led to the defeat of the French at the Dien Bien Phu. Immediately after the defeat, a peace conference was held in Geneva Switzerland, where Vietnam, among other Asian countries like Cambodia and Laos were declared independent states. After receiving its independence, Vietnam witnessed some temporarily divisions between its communist north and anticommunist south. This led to minor conflict between the two groups, as the South Vietnam, backed by America, refused to hold a unified election in 1956 after Vietnam had got its independence. The conflict widened and by 1958, the communist north established guerrilla units (Viet Cong), which started attacks on the government formed by the southern Vietnamese. The war which broke out led to the intervention of the United States with the aim of reuniting the communist north and South Vietnamese government (Vietnam War, 2009).
Reasons for the US participation in the Vietnam War
The main reason for the involvement of the US in the Vietnam War was to bring peace, democracy and reunite the conflicting groups in the post-independent democratic republic of Vietnam. US was opposed to the guerilla attacks on the South Vietnamese government from the north’s Viet cong, and supported the anti-communist south government. In this support, it responded by reinforcing the south government, whereby it sent approximately two thousand military advisors and in turn increasing the military force to around sixteen thousand in the year 1963. The loss of south Vietnam’s fertile Mekong delta to the Viet congs in 1963 escalated the war and in1965, the then American president, Johnson commanded the military in support of the south Vietnam government to commence air strikes on North Vietnam and the mobilization of the more than half a million ground force on full war against the North. President Johnson successor, Richard Nixon initiated Vietnamization, a movement aimed at giving the South Vietnam responsibility for fighting the war, by withdrawing large numbers of American military troops in Vietnam. He also attempted to slug the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies by destroying communist bases in Cambodia using the American forces in 1970. According to an agreement reached between the US and the Vietnamese governments in January 1973, the US vacated its military forces in Vietnam and Vietnam freed the US war captives and prisoners. A reunion was achieved in between the North and the south after South Vietnam surrendered to the North in April 1975 (Vietnam War, 2009).
Consequences of Vietnam war on American society
A ‘war powers’ act was enacted by the US congress in 1973. Its clauses required an American president to get an overt majority vote and approval from the members of the congress, before letting, dispatching or commanding the American forces to any overseas deal especially on wars (Vietnam War, 2009).
The Vietnam War led to great number of deaths in the American force, with close to sixty lives being lost and about three hundred and fifty soldiers being maimed. This led to sharp divisions in the American society between those who were opposed to the brutal killings of their soldiers in the war and those in support with the government over the issue. It also resulted to traumatized families of soldiers who died in the war which many Americans had no clue why their government got in (Vietnam War, 2009).
The American government had no genuine reason to engage in the Vietnam War which costed the country a lot resources and loss of lives. Though there was no proven evidence, many Americans thought that the communist Russia was behind the North Vietnamese invasion in the South Vietnam, and never knew who and why their country was fighting. The Vietnam War was the longest and most of the American considered it the ‘ugliest’ war ever. (Vietnam War, 2009).
Vietnam War. (2009 April, 01). Digital History.