The Culture of the Vietnam War T.Fincher


The war began in 1954. It was North Vietnam and their allies, 'Viet Cong' vs. South Vietnam and their ally the U.S. The Vietnam War caused around 2 million Vietnamese deaths and around 60,000 American deaths. It was one of the longest wars in American history, it went from 1954-1975.

South Vietnamese police chief, killing Viet Cong suspect
U.S. helicopters protecting South Vietnamese troops.
Jan Rose Kasmir at protest march at the Pentagon.


"The world is not just good guys and bad guys," he explained. "Anti-communism is a lousy substitute for democracy. I know now that there are many types of communism but there are none that appeal to me. In the long run, I don't think Vietnam will be better off under Minh's brand of communism. But it's not for me or my government to decide. That decision is for the Vietnamese." ~Donald Duncan (Sergeant who served in war for 1 and a 1/2 years)

Since World War II wasn't too far in their rear-view mirrors, lots of people were unhappy and disagreed with the war from the beginning. People did not agree with the fact that the draft mostly affected lower or middle class citizens. And the broadcasting of the effects of the war and watching people die, lead to a huge anti-war movement. Watching kids on the news (19 year olds) die, discouraged the American people; and to a degree caused a lack of hope. This war didn't have a huge public support.


"Search and Destroy Tactics vs. Guerrilla Tactics: Originally the American forces went into Vietnam to deal with and oust the communists in Vietnam, whom they believed lived solely in the northern part of the country. What the U.S. did not count on was the support that the north was getting from the southern communists, also known as the Viet-Cong. The VC were guerrilla fighters who had been fighting since the start of the first Indo-China War. Their tactics mainly involved harassing U.S. forces in the southern areas of the country to weaken the morale of the overall morale. The American forces counter to the VC was to search out and destroy VC controlled towns and take out any insurgents who posed a threat. While the Americans fought using better technology and better weapons, the new tactic played right into the Viet-Cong's hands. They fought using ambushes and traps that were built up around there towns and would only fight head-on when victory was certain. Many of the U.S. soldiers could not distinguish between the civilians and the enemy." ~ Article titled 'American War Tactics in Vietnam'


The country was filled with tension due to the fact that so many people disagreed with the war. There were people that supported it, and people who didn't. And both sides heavily clashed. There were riots, anti-war organizations, and protests. On top of all of that, racial tension still existed. African Americans were fighting for rights. America was struggling.


World War 2 was over, and now another war was starting. People put their anger and frustration into anti-war peices of poetry, art, and music. Anti-war songs and culture became more popular as the music was getting played on the radio and made by popular artists.

The songs made and all of the art/poetry produced, is looked back on because of how it captures the time and demonstrates the people/feelings/and even the war.


"Before President Johnson officially dispatched the first U.S. combat troops to Da Nang in March, 1965, the U.S. government had prepared the country for the war in Vietnam for a long time. The "Domino Theory" coined by President Eisenhower in 1954 could be seen as the first propaganda effort to justify U.S. assistance for South Vietnamese government. The theory emphasized on the strategic importance of South Vietnam in the effort to prevent the spread of communism throughout the world. It assumed that if South Vietnam fell to communism, Southeast Asia then New Zealand, Australia and even Japan would follow and thus Communism would soon become a threat to the national security. At a time when the Cold War tensions were high, the theory was perfectly fit in the situation. The picture of “democratic” South Vietnam was threatened by the aggression of Northern communists quickly dominated the public perspective. As a matter of fact, the “domino theory” laid the foundation for U.S. involvement in Vietnam as both President Kennedy and Johnson used it to justify their increasing assistance for South Vietnam and eventually the commitment of U.S. armed forces in 1965." ~Article titled 'U.S. Propaganda in the Vietnam War'


Anti-war marches and other protests all took place. Over the years they gained more and more attraction. In Washington 1967, 100,00 people gathered protesting the war. And 50,00 people protested at the pentagon wanting an end to the war. People also protested the draft by burning their cards or fleeing the country.


The Vietnam war was one of the most publicized wars in American History. There was posters and advertisements, photographs, and interviews. Media is a controversial topic in the war, because some people believed it helped while others argue it's the real son why we lost.


The war really strained production ablities. "In addition, the government's military spending caused several problems for the American economy. The funds were going overseas, which contributed to an imbalance in the balance of payments and a weak dollar, since no corresponding funds were returning to the country. In addition, military expenditures, combined with domestic social spending, created budget deficits which fueled inflation. Anti-war sentiments and dissatisfaction with government further eroded consumer confidence. Interest rates rose, restricting the amount of capital available for businesses and consumers." ~ from article called "Vietnam War and the American Economy"

Government/Foreign Policy

"On 12 March 1947, President Harry Truman addressed Congress, hoping to promote U.S. aid to anti-Communist governments in the Middle East and Asia. "At the present moment in world history," President Harry S. Truman proclaimed, "nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life." On the one hand, he explained, the choice is life "based upon the will of the majority," and "distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression." Truman painted the other option—communism—as life in which the will of a few is forcibly inflicted upon the majority. "It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedom." ~ From an article called 'Politics in the Vietnam War: Every Nation Must Choose'

The Draft

Around 2/3 of the troops volenteered and the rest were selected through drafts. The draft age was for men 18 to 25. Many of the soldiers drafted were from poor and working class families.

Draft statistics: 25% poor, 55% working class, 20% middle class, and very few from upper class.

Re-Integration into Society

"For many Americans, the Vietnam War is over and long forgotten. Among those still suffering are several veterans who have felt forgotten, unappreciated, and even discriminated against. For some of them ' the trauma of their battle experiences or their physical disabilities have shattered their lives. For even more, adjustment to civilian life has not been easy." From an article called 'the Phycological Effects of the Vietnam War'

PTSD, drug and alcohol abuse, sense of identity, hostility, self destruction, and isolation are all issues veterans from the Vietnam Wat have dealt with.

The media has effected their lives and so has just being home.


It started in 19th century conflict with French imperialism. This war was a fight of control. Which regime would get control of the country and reunify it. And the war was also was a fight against communism.

Race Equality

At first, racial tensions were bad. Fights broke out in the Marines and even in prisions. There were several protests. Racial tensions somewhat lessened as the war went on.

"When the Vietnam War escalated and was wholeheartedly backed by the White House, President Johnson failed to realise the racial nightmare that American involvement in Vietnam would create. Vietnam coincided with the protests of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Black Power during 1960s America. Whilst African-Americans were discriminated at home but also within the U.S. armed forces, the effects of black power, the impact of the Civil Rights struggle and “the resurgence of black sub-cultural style, expressed through dress, language and gesture”, had been transferred to the war zone." ~ Article titled 'The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement'

Many African Americans viewed the war as a chance to prove their worth.


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