There were many different effects that created opposition for America duing the Vietnam war. The biggest effect was the intense media coverage of the war. The two main news channels in the US, NBC and CBS, sent reporters with the marines into the centre of the war, as this was the first war that reporters were actually allowed into the battlegrounds. They broadcast the full horror of what was going on in Vietnam, the footage was never censored. At the beginning of the war, the media fully supported the war, but as it progressed, they captured more and more footage of soldiers dying, villages being burnt to the ground and distressed peasants being tortured and killed, and they turned against the war.
Americans developed napalm, a jelly bomb where the jelly would explode, stick to the victims skin and severely burn them. The media covered all of this, and all of the TetOffensive. The Tet is a religious time for the Vietnamese and during this time it was tradition not to fight, but the Vietnam surprised the Americans and fought them. As all of this was broadcast, it gave the people back in the US evidence that America was not winnning the war. This was emphasised when the media broadcast the My Lai massacre, when marines attcked a village on a destroying mission, and killed 400 eldery, women, and children, to then discover it wasnt a Vietcong village. All of this gave a lot of negative images and had a very bad effect on public opinion, and Americans grew to hate the war.
Another effect was the human cost of the war. There was rising concern about the numbers on young soldiers being killed. It was nicknamed ‘Body Bag Syndrome’ as the more people dead, the more body bags were being used. The mortality rates peaked in 1968, with 400,000 dead and 250,000 injured. Ths raised the arguement of how America was losing. This was a war taking place 1200 miles away and a war America didnt know very much about. The people began to think it was just not worth it. Many people started to wonder why America, a superpower, declared war on a peasant country 1200 miles away, when there was no direct threat from them.
In 1965, a draft law of consription was passed, which means young american men were required to serve one year of duty. The average age was 19 but college students were exempt. So, the ‘rooky army’ consisted mainly of young, poor and uneducated men. US college students started to protest agaisnt conscription as they said it was ‘immoral.’
Because the war cost $30 billion a year, the financial cost was defiantly an effect of oppostion. Americans believed that the government had provoked this fear of communism, so that congress would vote to raise taxes to pay for the war. In 1964, President Johnson was elected. He developed the ‘Great Society’ welfare programme, which helped the disadvantaged people of america. But due to the war, a lot the money that was supposed to go towards this, went to the war, so many of the people suffered. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy often criticised the government for its huge money spending on the war.
The fact that America was not winning this war was a great effect of opposition. It was increasingly noticable that America was losing. The Vietcong were very effective fighters. Even President Johnson was shocked at the images on TV; the everyday images of many Americans landing back in body bags hit the governments support of the war. There was re-elections in 1968, and President Nixon was elected. He started ‘Veitnamization’, and promised to bring home the troops, as he was well aware of the extended opposition to the war
But in 1970, America tried one last time to win the war. Nixon ordered a secret bombing of the neighbouring countries of Vietnam. Nixon had not asked for the approval of congress. Americans were outraged at the expansion of the war, and many protests began all over America. In Ohio, four students were shot dead by National Gaurds in Kent State University, during a demonstration against Nixon’s bombing raids.
How do sources A, B and C show support for the war in Vietnam?
Source A shows a lot of support for the war. As there was clear concerns about the threat of communist expansion, Johnsons administraion were prepared to do whatever it took to stop it, so they supported the war. The war was all about stopping Vietnam falling to the domino theory and for this reason, no one opposed it. The US commander in Vietnam gave ‘communist domination was a justiable concern’ as an excuse. The war was a good idea at the start, as everyone thought they’d have a quick and easy victory as Vietnam was a peasant country, and they felt superior. The US congress gave overwhelming support to the war. They people voted in support of Presidents Johnson’s 1964 election campaign and was elected because people knew he would take a strong stand against communism.
From source B, we can see that Heren felt that too many media attention was given to the Anti-war movement and draft dodgers, and not enough to the ‘overwhelming amount that did what was required of them.’ Heren tells of when he watched a many farewell scenes of young men going off to fo their duty. He says there were people getting upset, but above all there was acceptance. He states he’s never seen a TV camera covering these, that they are all covering stories of men being drafted. Alot of the media focus went to things like the March on the Pentigon in 1967, which was the first big anti-war demonstration. This shows that the people who went to war, and their families, accepted the war, but we dont know if they actually supported it. It is clear that the media defiantly opposed it, and covered as many stories that opposed the war to give out anti-war propaganda. Of course, source B is all opinion and not fact.
Source C shows the amount of soldiers in Vietnam every year. Johnson first sent 60,000 to Vietnam, because he thought this would be enough for a quick and easy victory. But Johnson had to keep sending more and more every year. His administration was prepared to do whatever they could to secure a victory. There was a rapid increase in the numbers of soldiers, as it went from 60,000 in 1965, to 542,00 in 1969. Then the american people elected Nixon to get the troops out of Vietnam, and we can see the decrease from source C, the number began to fall from 1970, and by 1973, there were no troops left in Vietnam.
This shows that the support for the war from Johnson’s administration was high, but over the years, support decreased from the American public.
How reliable are sources F and G as evidence of the activities of US servicemen in Vietnam?
Source F is an extract froma national respected newspaper, the New York Herald written at the beginning of the war. It claims that the US soldiers were using horrible ways of interrogating prisoners, mutalation, torture and even murder to get answers. We cant be sure of this account as we have no idea where the evidence came from. Even if it were true, there were over 60,000 troops in Vietnam, this doesnt mean all of them are treating prisoners like this.
Source G is taken from a book written by John O’Keee and contains a soldier telling of an experience from the war. He tells of the first enemy he came across, it was a nine year old boy, with a pen knife, and the soldier killed him. The soldier was obviously traumitised by this, he was acting on what his officer-in-charge had told him to do. As this was he first enemy encounter, he was scared and did what he was trained to do. However this doesnt mean this is a reliable source as this is only one individual, the rest of the army may not have acted in the same way. This account is only of one soldier, and we dont know where, when or why he gave this information.
Sources F and G are not reliable as the have very limited information. To write a reliable account of the behaviour of the soldiers in Vietnam, you would need to have a variety of evidence. You would have to talk to as many US service men, Vietcong fighters and Vietnamese peasants as possible, to get every side of the story. You would have to speak to US officals to find out how the men were trained, and what exactly was expected of them. You would need to check the media and newspapers from the time of the war, to see id any articles were printed about the behaviour in Vietnam, and check their sources. The records of the Navy and Air Force would have to be checked, and also the Veterans records. Only when yoy have lots of evidence, from a variety of sources, can you write a reliable account of how the US service men behaved in Vietnam.
Johnson called North Vietnam a “fourth-rate, raggedy ass little country.” How do sources C, D and E contradict this view?
President Johnson believed that this war would be a quick and easy victory, as America was a superpower, with the latest technology for war, and he saw North Vietnam as a “fourth-rate, raggedy ass little country.” Source C contridicts this because Johnson had to keep sending more and more troops to Vietnam because they couldnt cope. He felt 60,000 would be enough to win the war easily, but the numbers kept going up, and by 1969, there were 542,000 troops in Vietnam and America still couldnt secure a victory.
Source D shows how America spent more on Defence Expenditure, 13% of which went to Vietnam, and they still couldnt secure a victory over North Vietnam. Eventually North Vietnam invaded the South, and Vietnam was reunited under communist control and the general view was ‘What was the point in the war?’ It had achieved nothing, just delayed what was going to happen eventually. Source E is a cartoon mocking the presidents who were involved in the war. They were all giving out the same message, that victory was almost theirs, and it was ‘just around the corner’ when really victory for America was never possible.
Study source K. Use the evidence to explain whether or not you agree with the assessment of the role of the media in influencing American attitudes to the war.
Source K is a statement from a book written by D. Halbertam. We dont know much about the author, other than he had a strong opinion on the Vietanm war. In this statement, Halbertam suggests that the media has a bigger impact on the American people than the senitors who spoke against the war in congress. The evidence for source K comes from Source I, which is am extract from D.Halbertam’s book. He tells of film footage shown on American TV in 1965, which shows troops opening fire on a village.
The were angry because they were looking for Vietcong, but couldnt find any, so they took their frustrations out on the village. The troops had nothing to show for this, they didnt capture any Vietcong. Support for the war was high in 1965, so the American people were shocked at this footage. The media was telling a whole different story about Vietnam than the president. It was clear what was happening in Vietnam was wrong. The media had the power to change the general view of the war because they could show evidence that victory was not coming.
Source H is an extract from D.Halbertams other book. It is commenting on the Tet Offensive, 1968. The media recorded the Vietcong, who carried out a surprise attack on the American troops. Its reflected badly on the public opinion of the war, they knew that America couldnt win. It became clear who the enemy was, how strong they were, and what they were capable of. Although, this is just one mans opinion on the Tet, and there isnt much evidence presented, he doesnt draw attention to any other evidence other that the footage.
Source J is from a US TV news report, which was reporting from the middle of the battle of the Tet. It states that the Vietcong were very hard to beat in the Tet Offfensive, and it took 11,000 troops to force them out. The TV report interviewed a soldier in mid-battle, fighting for survival. It was anti-war propaganda, as the soldier talk of how much he hated being in the war, and how he wanted to go home. This was delibarate, as the news station wanted to give out a bad image of the war. However this is just one soldier, not everyone would have said the same thing, there were half a million troops in Vietnam.