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The Reasons Why America Was Involned in The Vietnam War

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I’ve chosen the topic of the Vietnam war for the basis of my last paper of this semester. I chose this topic purely out of curiosity and interest in wanting to learn more about why America was involved in the Vietnam war and how it began.

The main reason I even had the thought of wanting to read more about this was the fact I wanted to understand why those Kent State student were protesting this war in 1970, and I wanted to understand why those who were there that day and lost their lives felt so passionately about protesting. What I didn’t realize or expect would happen was that I would find so much enjoyment in diving into the political cartoons that were drawn during this time and I grew to absolutely love looking into the works of political cartoonist Herbert Lawrence Block whom is known by his signature as Herblock whom had written for, “The Washington Post” over a career spanning over 50 years.

In this cartoon, it is titles, “The Other Ascent into the Unknown,” It depicts a picture of an American soldier whom appears to be climbing up a staircase and at the top of the stairs which is full of cloudy smoke there is a simple caption of “VIET-NAM,” written across the staircase. Which is clearly indicating this is a soldier walking into the Unknown of battle in Vietnam and you can picture someone whom appears ready for war, but the slight down turn of the mouth leads me this feeling of a soldier who is moving into something he’s not ready for.

By the looks of this man to me it seems like he confused and is already beaten down, his posture in which the way he was drawn looks off to me. The soldiers back is stiff as if he’s stopping and if you look at the soldiers left leg it looks as if the heal of his foot is flat like he’s resting while his toe area of his boot is slightly curled up and it’s almost like he is digging down on the step as if he’s going to stop there while his left leg looks like his moving on to the next step just slightly. To me it doesn’t look like someone who’s ready to go into Vietnam, much like America overall wasn’t ready for Vietnam and the havoc it would come to reap upon our country.

What I have learned is that the Vietnam war began out of America’s commitment of wanting to step in to contain and prevent communism during the Cold War. The Communist Nation of the Republic of Northern Vietnam fought against an American-supported Republic of Southern Vietnam for approximately around fifteen years. The entire objectective of this war was to help aid South Vietnam from being overtaken but the U.S. unfortunately lacked the tactical experience of gorilla “jungle” warfare that the Vietnamese used against them.

Lyndon Johnson suggested during the 1964 presidential campaign that because of the issues at hand between North and South Vietnam he did not believe that candidate Barry Goldwater would be strong enough in order to keep the United States out of War. Shortly after this election it was clear by Johnson’s intentions that he really wanted to increase American involvement in the Vietnam war because he ultimately wanted to take on this war itself and prevent this communist takeover.

Johnson eventually did authorize the role in which it did lead his agenda in which America was lead into the direction that allowed the USA to take on that more direct military involvement in the Vietnam war and all that had to be done was a request by the South Vietnamese people in which this can be held as significant and a major step of involvement for the United States forces who were already in Indochina at that time.

I believe that this cartoon is Herblock’s depiction of these soldiers marching into this combat at Johnson’s will and command to take control over the Vietnam War. After the Department of Stated issued this possibility of a direct combat role, on June 16, 1965, America’s Defense department had announced additional combat troops be send into Vietnam and Johnson all along was obscuring the true extent of America’s involvement and Johnson, ““failed to understand the extent of popular opposition and the willingness of North Vietnam’s…” determination of sacrifice to achieve national unity.” (Goldfield, 850).

America’s armed forces suffered greatly in this war because their tactic of strategy was to search and destroy and they were not prepared. The US troops made repeated sweeps through villages and farms but because of the Vietnamese tactics of guerilla warfare it made a great deal of problems because troops had a very difficult time trying to decipher the enemy from an allie.

On top of the search and destroy method, the military wasn’t able to plan offense or defense to attack their targets without getting permissions or approvals from the President or the Congress. The even more terrible part in this is when we learned of a woman named Mai Lai who even came forward and showed proof on a public scale of the women and children who had been killed as a result of the soldier’s failure to know who the “good guy” or “bad guy” was and because of this mistake over 300 of these people lost their lives.

The more war dragged on the worse off it became which is why there was so much rioting and protest against the war. America had lost enough soldier’s and they had had enough. The Kent State shooting that happened on May 4th, 1970 was a huge stamp on this war. It’s crazy to see that even today it seems like this dark incident in our own school’s history seems to still be something you just don’t really talk about. This war was so destructive to our country and everyone was suffering in some capacity because to have a war you need resources and this war had been one of the biggest burdens America had to endure at its own expense.

The Cold Was against communism hadn’t been held in any kind of different way until Ronald Reagan took office in which he decided to use a much different tactic. Reagan decided to build our military as such an alarming rate in which the Soviet Union just couldn’t compete with.

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The Reasons Why America Was Involned in The Vietnam War. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
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