Values and Beliefs in the War
During the years of the War, America had took a turn in its values, beliefs, and the culture in the states. The economy of the states had taken a turn. America had spent over $168 billion during the war which led to an increasingly unfavorable balance of trade, it then contributed to an international monetary crisis and threat to the U.S. gold reserves. The threat was seen as convincing evidence that America could no longer afford the war. Not only did the economy take a turn, but there was a series of policy changes that needed to be made almost immediately. The conflict led Congress to end the military draft and replace it with an all-volunteer army. Congress also lowered the voting age to 18.
American Army used a variety of different tactics in hopes to overtake the Vietnamese Army and their battle tactics. However, in hopes of doing this, the Vietnamese had successfully created more realistic war tactics. Their tactics included Guerrilla Warfare, more advanced weaponry compared to ours, Punji traps, and an underground tunnel system. Our tactics included Operation Rolling Thunder, B-52 bombers, Naplam, Anti-Personnel Bombs, and Agent Orange and Blue. Operation Rolling Thunder was a tactic that involved extensive daily bombing on Northern Vietnam. The American military used this as a plan to destroy the North Vietnamese Economy. The B-52 bombers were used as they could be flown at heights that people couldn't see or hear them from. This allowed the American military to secretly drop bombs upon the Vietnamese military. Napalm was a combination of petrol and chemical thickener that produced a sticky gel that attached to the skin. This combination would burn through skin, muscle, and bone which would then create 5th degree burns. The majority of victims hit with Napalm would almost instantly die. Anti-Personnel Bombs were used as more of a maim rather than a killing agent. The bombs would explode, spewing thousands of pellets and needles on the land below. The bombs could also scatter napalm instead of pellets and needles. The cluster/anti-personnel bombs were highly effective against personnel, defensive positions, and tanks. Agent Orange and Blue was a method that sprayed chemicals on NLF hiding places and crops. It destroyed trees, but also created chromosomal damage on people.
During the Vietnamese War, there happened to be quite a lot of changes occurring back in the States. The Civil Rights movement was one of these changes that was taking place. African Americans were being discriminated against for being in the war and being at home. The war heightened the desire for equality between the races. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the war in his many speeches. There were quite a few peace movements that were being made. The young ones were the ones protesting against the war as they were the ones that were being drafted into the war. Opposition to the war turned to street protests in an attempt to turn the US political opinion. Following the war, many veterans that fought during the war returned with severe PTSD and many became homeless as they couldn't get ahold of a job.
The “Baby Boomers” had also created a full-fledged youth culture by that time, a culture based largely on music. So when public sentiment turned against the war, so did popular songs. Shortly after the end, the Vietnam war became a symbol of pop culture that has lasted into today. Many movies, video games, and books were based off of the war and what had occurred during the war.
One of the most common types of American Propaganda during the Vietnam war included War Posters.
The movement against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War began small–among peace activists and leftist intellectuals on college campuses–but gained national prominence in 1965, after the United States began bombing North Vietnam in earnest. In the fall of 1969, more than 500,000 people marched on Washington to protest U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. It remains the largest political rally in the nation's history. Anti-war movements such as nationwide demonstrations and marches organized by Students for Democratic Society (SDS) and Furman University Corps of Kazoos (FUCK) attracted huge public support and worldwide attention over the next 3 years, peaking in early 1968 after the Tet Offensive which proved the end of the war was nowhere in sight and remaining influential until the end of the conflict in 1973.
At the beginning of the war, the press and media had little to no interest in Vietnam. There was only a few reports here and there about the rise of communism in the country but nothing seriously major. During 1960 and 1964, the war started to come to many American living rooms and usually with bad news. The media began to influence public opinion in a negative way, and that became a matter of concern to the government. The US involvement in Vietnam was generally supported by the media. However, the situation soon changed. In late January 1968, the Tet Offensive occurred and marked a major turning point in media’s coverage of the war. Even though the offensive was clearly a military failure for North Vietnam, the way the media reported told a contrary story. After the Tet Offensive, media coverage of the war became predominantly negative. Images of both civilian and military casualties were increasingly televised. As the war became uglier on screen, its public support also declined significantly.
During the Vietnam War, about two-thirds of the American troops were volunteered, the rest were selected through the draft. In the beginning, all men of draft age (18-25) were collected by the Selective Service System and then the Selective System got to pick and choose who went to war and who stayed in America. The majority of the drafted men were from poor and working-class families. American forces in Vietnam were so unbalanced, the troops included 25% poor men, 55% working-class men, 20% middle class men, and very few came from the upper class. As American troop strength in Vietnam shot up, more young men of call-up age sought to avoid or delay their military service and there were some legal ways to do that. Men who had physical or mental problems, were married, with children, attending college, or were needed at home to support their families might be granted deferments. However, there were some men that fled to other countries like Mexico and Canada. Following the Vietnam War, the draft system was abolished in 1973. Today, there is a similar system that all men must sign up for once they turn 18.
They grew up as the leftovers of an unpopular war, straddling two worlds but belonging to neither. Most never knew their fathers. Many were abandoned by their mothers at the gates of orphanages. Some were discarded in garbage cans. But neither America nor Vietnam wanted the kids known as Amerasians.
Re-Integration Into Society
When the American soldiers returned home from the World War II, they were greeted as heroes. Parades were held everywhere to honour their sacrifices. Unfortunately, that honor seemed a luxury to the Vietnam veterans. They were mistreated. Some veterans recalled that when they had just landed, people were demonstrating against them. “Many spit on us, and called us rude names.” American society was divided by the Vietnam War as its people were full of doubt about its righteousness. Also, Vietnam, as opposed to the World War II, was a deeply unpopular war. American public, as a result, tried their best to forget about it and tended to forget its veterans as well. Although most of veterans succeeded in making the transition to civilian life, many did not. About 150,000 came home wounded or amputated, while at least 21,000 were permanently disabled and unable to work for the rest of their lives. Even worse, they did not receive proper and necessary help. The majority of Vietnam veterans came from low-income, working-class households. They could not even afford private health care services, thereby having no choice but to be treated in dirty public hospitals. Many veterans returned home not only with physical pains but also with psychological problems. They still experienced depression, flashbacks, nightmares, loneliness and inability to get close to others. Those mental problems that many veterans suffered were named as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to a study, almost 700,000 Vietnam veterans returned home with PTSD.
The North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam. They viewed the conflict as a colonial war and a continuation of the First Indochina War against forces from France and later on the United States. The U.S. government viewed its involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam. This was part of the domino theory of a wider containment policy, with the stated aim of stopping the spread of communism worldwide.