Talk:Vietnam, war, and the United States

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 Definition The interactions of the Vietnam War with United States domestic politics and public opinion, and, in turn, how domestic considerations affected the military situation [d] [e]

The main article, Vietnam War, has become quite large, and spinning off sub-articles is a reasonable and general approach to keeping it of manageable size. In some cases, sub-articles probably will be noncontroversial if they deal with tactical or technological issues.

More challenging is an article such as the one proposed here, where two issues are being addressed. First, the Vietnam War article has been written from a principally American rather than Vietnamese perspective. When decisions were made for U.S. domestic political reasons, it's reasonable to mention them briefly, in context, in the main article (e.g., a decision to escalate or not to reinforce), but have the domestic politics that went into that decision in a separately linked U.S.-focused article.

Second, as having lived through the time, I remember that there were a range of domestic opinions on the war, not necessarily as simple as "pro-war" or "anti-war". In my opinion, some of the discussion of domestic issues represents a particular viewpoint, and is reasonable when identified as one of a number of views. It would be my hope, for example, that this article could address different reasons why there might have been public support, or lack of support, for various levels of involvement. It would also be my hope that, for example, Lyndon Johnson made certain decisions, but some of the existing text seems to assume certainty in knowing his motivations --- and this is even more true of his political opponents.

By all means, identify the beliefs of different actors, but in a context that there was no single explanation for all opinions. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:52, 5 September 2008 (CDT)

Discussion of the antiwar movement from previous main article

I've brought over the text about the antiwar movement from the Vietnam War article. From personal recollection as well as a wide range of sources, this needs work; it emphasizes one point of view. Those in opposition were not merely radical students; indeed, some of the opposition was from "hawkish" critics that wanted the military to take decisive action rather than the administration's gradual pressure.

Text from article

Antiwar movement

While Washington tried to keep the war quiet, radical college students in the US launched a noisy antiwar protest movement with teach-ins and rallies. Their efforts were counterproductive, because they forced millions of Americans who might have had doubts about the war to support the Administration for patriotic reasons.

The antiwar credo focused on the illegality and immorality of American action, and praised the heroic peasants fighting western imperialism. Much was made of napalm and forced resettlement, to create a sense of American guilt rather than reflect empathy with the Vietnamese. After the war, protesters maintained the guilt theme, but forgot about the Vietnamese. Senator Fulbright, the most prominent dove, lacked empathy with the Vietnamese. As a believer in white supremacy, he believed white Americans should not die to save an inferior colored race.[1] The most prominent military "dove" was retired Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup. He argued in 1967 that Americans should ignore the issue of freedom in Asia because, "I don't think the whole of Southeast Asia, as related to the present and future safety and freedom of the people of this country, is worth the life and limb of a single American." The Vietnamese, he added, "have no idea of our meaning of freedom." [2] Until Tet in early 1968, the clear majority of Americans (including students) took a "hawkish" stance on the war.

  1. Randall Bennett Woods, Fulbright: A Biography (2006), p, 115
  2. Howard Jablon, "General David M. Shoup, U.S.M.C.: Warrior and War Protester." Journal of Military History 1996 60(3): 513-538 at pp. 532. 537 in JSTOR

Additional content on social aspects

I am moving some additional material to the talk page, for community discussion as to its relevance to the article. As objectively as I can, I think some of the text below is more descriptive of concern over a generic change in cultural values, of what might be characterized as offensive to traditionalist views, rather than having any clear-cut relationship to the war.

Perhaps someone can rephrase it so it more specifically addresses the issues of war and peace in the last sixties and early seventies. It may well be that there is a different article to be written, dealing with general societal change of the time, and not in the U.S. alone. It is fair to say there were general divisions about culture, although I hate to use "liberal" and "conservative" as descriptors; "libertarian" views, which were fracture enough in the late sixties (e.g., Rand vs. Meyer vs. anarcho-libertarians). The material below, taken from Vietnam War, probably is a not-unreasonable statement of some "traditionalist" views of the time. There was, in the other end of the spectrum, argument ranging from the "Filthy Speech Movement" at Berkeley, to relaxing of sexual mores, to civil rights changes. Again, I suggest that there might be a different article that discusses these more social than politicomilitary matters. Howard C. Berkowitz 08:56, 5 September 2008 (CDT)

A block of text

It was also a time of much general social change, from the civil rights movement to increased drug use to "free love" to the assassination of several charismatic leaders.

A social revolution saw many people (especially blacks, students and feminists) in revolt against tight restrictive rules and roles that confined individuals into boxes of race, gender, age and class. Favorite targets of the revolt included all traditional sources of order, discipline and hierarchy, such as the police, the military, and the government itself.