The Vietnam War These young soldiers were members of the U. This picture was taken induring the first military engagements between U. The Vietnam War was the second-longest war in United States history, after the war in Afghanistan Promises and commitments to the people and government of South Vietnam to keep communist forces from overtaking them reached back into the Truman Administration.
But some of you may have grown up with different versions. You should feel free to disagree with this account. But remember, historical arguments must be based on evidence.
Under President Harry Truman, the United States had established a foreign policy doctrine called "containment. This doctrine led directly to the Vietnam war.
That the Soviet Union was always expansionist--the Soviet Union, "animated by a new fanatic faith," was determined "to impose its absolute authority on the rest of the world.
That any new communist governments would inevitably be part of Soviet "empire"--in the doctrine of "containment" there could be no such thing as a "nonaligned nation.
It must be either part of the Soviet empire or what we would probably then have to call the "American empire. That communism, and the Soviet Union, must be contained. The doctrine of containment argued that all-out war should be avoided, but the US should pledge itself to stopping any new communist governments, or preventing any existing communist governments from expanding.
There was clearly a simplistic, "us vs. The general premise of "containment" was that there could be no communist government which was not a tool of Moscow--all communist governments were part of the Soviet domain. Was this a realistic assessment? The Soviet Union had certainly acted in an expansionist way in the past.
And officially, the Soviet Union was committed to the worldwide spread of communism. With a new nuclear capability and a vast army, the Soviet Union appeared to be--and often declared itself--a dangerous potential enemy of the United States.
China was also a communist nation afterbut this had failed to override thousands of years of enmity between Russia and China, two very different cultures with a long history of struggle over their borders. By the 50s, the Chinese were as anxious about the Russians as they were about the US.
The United States feared the global spread of communism, but the doctrine of containment made it difficult to see nations as distinct, as places with different cultures, different problems, different histories. Vietnam is a beautiful, highly varied country with a very long history of struggle for independence.
For thousands of years, the Vietnamese had fought to preserve their distinct language and culture against invaders--repelling first the Chinese, the Japanese, the French and then finally the US.
And that, I believe, is the essence of the Vietnam tragedy. French influence had been most pronounced in the South of Vietnam, especially in Saigon. But well before W. II Vietnamese nationalists lead by Ho Chi Minh had fought and agitated for the withdrawal of the French and for Vietnamese independence.
He was an avowed communist, but also a believer in western style democracy and the American virtues of free speech.
At heart he was a nationalist land reformer, primarily concerned with restoring Vietnam to the Vietnamese. Under colonial rule, land typically belongs to foreigners--to the colonizers. The profits from farming go disproportionally into the hands of foreign rulers, and native people are generally reduced to working as laborers for the colonial government.
To nationalists--that is, people with a strong sense of their "nation" or culture--colonialism is inherently unfair and exploitative. Communist revolutionaries like Ho Chi Mihn typically focused on land reform--on getting control of land away from foreign corporations and investors and back into the hands of the local people.
Fidel Castro focused his revolutionary campaign on this issue of land. Castro had been educated at Columbia University in New York, where he had pitched on the baseball team.Most of the major architects of the containment policy that lead to Vietnam--George Kennan, McGeorge Bundy, Robert MacNamara--have unequivocally admitted they were wrong about the Vietnam war.
"Containment" was a flawed policy, flawed by its indifference to the history of Southeast Asia. In , the United States agreed to the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam, which essentially ended American involvement in the Vietnam War.
In , the North Vietnam succeeded in defeating South Vietnam, reuniting the two countries as a single Vietnam. Rumor of War - Vietnam. Angela Nguyen U.S History Per. 2 3/7/10 Caputo, Philip.
A Rumor of War. as a young man enlisted and trained so hard to become an American Marine Lieutenant in the Vietnam War, Early involvement in the Socialist Party set the . Few arguments about the Vietnam war, concluded the writer Nguyen Ba Chung, "take into account all aspects of Vietnam's two thousand year history of hard-fought existence.
And that, I believe, is the essence of the Vietnam tragedy.". - Analysis of Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo, is an exceptional autobiography on a man's first-hand experiences during the Vietnam War. Philip Caputo is a Lieutenant during the Vietnam War and illustrates the harsh reality of what war really is.
I just finished Philip Caputo’s riveting A Rumor of War. It clearly belongs in the elite pantheon of books about the Vietnam War along with Michael Herr’s Dispatches, Tim O’Brien’s Going After Cacciato and The Things They Carried, and Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History/5.