Vietnam War The Culture and CRUDE nature of war

The Values and Beliefs of War

The main reason why we went to war was because the United States thought it was a need to prevent communism from spreading, since China and The Soviet Union fell to it. After WWII communism was on the rise and became a huge threat to the world. The domino theory was very popular with this war, but that will be explained in a later topic. Although some people did not see these beliefs and values as a justification for going to war. The video below the two images will provide more information on pre, during, and post war beliefs.

Left: A metaphor used to explain the spread of communism. Right: A map showing how communism manifests to other countries

Tactics and Strategies

Experienced Vietcong soldiers, the main units, were launched to perform large scale offensives over wide areas. Small regional units united into larger units for bigger scale attacks, and when the pressure was too great from the enemy, they dispersed back into smaller units. Guerilla Warfare was a very key tactic in this war. Guerrilla Warfare is when armed civilians, paramilitary personnel, and/or irregulars use military tactics: ambushing, raids, petty warfare, and hit-and- runs against the enemy force. Vietcong soldiers used their environment to their advantage, and were experts on navigating through the jungles, as they also blended in with the terrain. They were given weaponry from China and Russia.

Images showing the tactics demonstrated by the Vietcong. The left shows the elaborate tunneling systems they used, as well as the far right

The U.S Homefront

Citizens back home were not very supportive of the war, especially college students. There was some disruption at home, especially amongst the youth, as nobody wanted to go to war. Protests were on the rise back at home, and several movements were born during the war’s duration. More of this can be explained in the video.

The Style and Significnace of Music

These songs and few others thrived during the time, even though they represented a more patriotic standpoint. Although most songs during this war took more of an anti-war stance, more notably running parallel to the draft. The anti-war music often emitted melancholy, touching, enraged, sarcastic, fearful, and new tones, that captured the impact of war. From the war’s beginning to the war’s termination, it had garnered a huge group of supporters. Rock-and-Roll played a significant part during the 60’s as it inspired many young people to turn to this new type of “art”.

Some songs during the time: “Ballad of the Green Berets” by Barry Sadler

“ Okie from Muskogee” by Merle Haggard

“ Give Peace a Chance” By John Lennon

“The Times are A Changin’ ” by Bob Dylan

Music was popular back at the home front and near the war zone. Many anti-war citizens turned to music, to further enhance their cause

Propaganda: The Domino Theory and Posters

The domino theory was the first propaganda tactic used during the war. President Eisenhower created the term, which emphasized the importance of south Vietnam in order to prevent communism's spread throughout the entire globe. The theory mentions that if south Vietnam was lost to communism then Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the rest of Southeast Asia would follow as well, which are the dominos in this theory. This was America’s justification for going to war. Down below are some of the propaganda posters used during the conflict.

These posters are all anti-war posters, that illustrated the need for the violence to stop. For example the doves on the far left picture represent peace.

Protests Against the War by Unsupportive Americans

The anti-war movement was a very important protest during the his war, irrupting after the American bombings in Northern Vietnam. Many of these protesters were formed by people who wanted a termination to conflict and wanted a better peace. Most these protests were formed on college campuses by members of the leftist party of the Student Democratic Society. Many people belonging to the youth culture such as students, hippies, artists, and other youth that embraced the drug culture came to voice their disdain of going to war. Even some veterans and soldiers pitched in as well.

Students and other anti-war protesters gathered to oppose the fighting in Vietnam

Types of Media Outlets and Their Main Conseqence

About a total of 600 journalists of all nationalities reported the war for the U.S wire services, for all media outlets.

TV: This became the first war to have extensive and broad media coverage, as families would watch this on television from the dinner table. The war was nicknamed the “ first television war” because of this reason. Most coverages were actually filmed directly after the fight, instead of the during the actual fight itself, and most of these transformed into conventional news stories. The majority of the stories were not reported from Vietnam itself, but the information was transferred through wire service dispatches, that an anchorman would read from.

Radio: Coverage was not reported so much through this media type, but music was broadcasted from radios. It was the Television and newspaper’s job to bring in war coverage, but it was the radio’s job to broadcast the music. For a lot of people music provided a release from the isolation and dark corners of the war, and had a huge impact on the soldiers. It united the troops together by connecting them back to their home, their families, and parts of themselves that were slipping away. That was the power of the radio.

Newspaper: This was not by any means a popular form of media coverage during war time, because the press expressed no interest in the war, as it had just started. However the death of several civilians in a coup against President Diem sparked an interest from the New York Times, changing multiple views on the war.

However, the high media coverage did not come without consequences. It is believed that the extensive broadcasting of the war and the media's impact forced negative views on the war. Which ultimately lead to an uproar and a demand to cease the fighting. This chased off American support, thus leading to the possibility of media being a key reason why America lost.

The different types of media outlets used to publicly broadcast the war. Bottom left: A photo of Walter Cronkite

Economics of the Time

The war had extreme negative impacts on the United States economy. It had began to put strain on production capacities resulting in unstable imbalances within the industrial sector. Similar to WWII, factories had to produce more military supplies and weaponry, instead of consumer goods, another reason to hate war. A total of $168 billion were spent into the Vietnam War alone and taxes had increased during this time as well. Inflation also increased with total war/terrorism decreasing over this time period.

This graph shows the American economy

Government and Foreign Policy

During this time American’s were very mistrutful of the government on how they handled the economy during the war. There was a lot of controversy surrounding how the government handled its policy. The video talks about foreign policy.

An Unwilling Participation: How the Draft was significant

Most of the drafted men in the Vietnam War originated from poor and working class families. It was and still is to this day a requirement to draft into the war when your are 18 years old. About ⅔ were volunteered, while the rest were drafted in. Back then if someone’s name was called, they would have to report to their local draft board, which was made up of every member of the community. Draft Dodgers left the country, so they could escape the inevitability of being drafted, while other’s dreaded the lottery system.

Both Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley were draft dodgers

The Role of Families

Vietnamese: Children and the youth were taught to respect the elders and they owe everything to their families, which is a type of ancestor worship. The husband/father is responsible for the economic well being and structural support of the family, giving them all the power. Women had to submit to their husbands. Prior to the war women had very little rights and freedoms compared to men, however communism changed that giving them those freedoms. The women started to take on male duties such as managing factories and co- operatives, which was mainly due to the fact men were away at war. Unfortunately Vietnamese villages were burned, destroyed, and reduced to rubble, way too many to keep count

American: The families back in America were in a similar situation. Several men were drafted into the war, leaving their wives/mothers to assume roles over the family while the males were gone. Women at this point had more rights in America then the women over in Vietnam, but both had to take on male duties. A lot of families were able to watch what their loved ones had gone through, due to the heavy attention the war received from the media. Often they would sit for hours end watching the war, especially at dinner.

Although these do not illustrate family roles per say, it does show the situation Vietnamese families experienced and the structure of an American families.

Coming back home: The Hardest Part for any Veteran

Unlike WWII soldiers performed more individual duties, rather then fighting in units, making the experience a lot more traumatizing for the soldiers, thus making reintegration hard. Many soldiers turned to drugs as a safe haven, and became drug addicts. They believed drugs would help them have a smoother transition and the availability of drugs was high in the U.S. There was also a lack of programs to help support veterans coming home from the war. Although a lot had more difficult times transitioning, a good portion of Vietnam veterans found jobs, married, and formed families, thus making the transition successful.

Veterans had a hard time adjusting back to normal life, while others protested, some remembered the lives that perished around them

Purpose of this Gory and Bloody War

Similar to the war’s values and beliefs, the purpose of they ware was not only to prevent communism from spreading to south Vietnam, but to prevent it from corrupting the entire globe. During WWII Japan had taken over Vietnam, thus creating further problems later on. Ho Chi Minh was inspired by the communism of the Soviet Union and China, so he created the Viet Minh. The purpose of that was to fight of the Japanese and the French, who were keeping administration over the area. Ever since that whole situation broke out, it escalated into a war. Ho’s forces invaded and seized the northern city, Hanoi, declaring the Democratic republic of Vietnam. This was how it all began.

Left: Picture of Ho Chi Minh. Right: Destruction of the northern city of Hanoi

Race Equality at the Time

The U.S army and American citizens were not only having to come to terms with a very unpopular war, but they also had to tell with race relations as well. More African Americans served in the Vietnam War, than in any other war. At this point African Americans formed about 11 % of the American population and 12.6% of the soldiers fighting in the war, although the vast majority of these men served in infantry units. Men of color were starting to become frustrated with the war because the war was unpopular in the first place and racial progression in America was slow. Thus leading to riots and protests on several ships and military bases. Unfortunately these men received just as much hostility from their comrades than the actual enemies themselves. So this prompted the U.S military to crack down on reintegration and breaking barriers between whites and men of color.

Left: African American veterans assisting in war efforts. Middle: Supporting a white comrade. Right: Whites and African Americans protest

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