The Vietnamese war officially started on the 1st of November 1955.
The media played a role in the withdrawal of the United States of America (USA) in Vietnam by 1975 to a lesser extent. The 34th president of America, President Dwight D. Eisenhower devised a theory called the Domino Theory. It was believed that if one country in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino-like effect. This was seen as a part of the Policy of Containment.
The Policy of Containment aimed at stopping the spread of communism with in Europe and Asia to prevent the domino effect from occurring. Reasons for the US withdrawal from Vietnam were because of the military failures, the determination of the Vietnamese was ever-growing and the Americans did not understand the context of the Vietnamese people. However, the media did play a role as they won over the hearts and minds of the American public and managed to get the public to no longer support the American war efforts in Vietnam.During the Vietnamese war, American war generals used ineffective strategies in their efforts to stop the spread of communism which ultimately led to their downfall and thus their withdrawal. Firstly the strategies used were inappropriate for the given circumstances. The Americans used a tactic of search and destroy.
The search and destroy tactic was when platoons of American troops would insert ground forces into a hostile territory, search out the enemy, destroy them, and withdraw immediately afterwards. This tactic was ineffective in the context of this war as they were fighting in a jungle against a guerilla army, the Viet Cong(VC). The VC were the guerrilla force that, with the support of the North Vietnamese Army, fought against South Vietnamese Army (SVA), the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the United States. The VC often referred to the Americans as elephants in the jungle as they were very loud whilst moving. This allowed for easy ambushes and even easier escapes. Furthermore, when the US troops in Vietnam multiplied in numbers the ARVN believed that the US would do the job for them and often became unwilling to fight. Upon US arrival in Vietnam, their bombing campaigns on the Ho Chi Minh trail and other northern areas ultimately alienated the locals supporting them and the American citizens back home. These campaigns lead to a decrease in support of the war.
Thus, the strategies used by the American army were ineffective in the context of the war which lead to a loss of support from the American public.Furthermore, the Vietnamese people in the North were more determined in their war efforts than the people in the South. The determination of the Vietnamese people as a whole was no longer subjected to foreign influence. Since the early 1950s Vietnam formed part of the French Indochina.
France continued to rule Vietnam as a colony until France’s defeat in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and the proclamation of Vietnam’s independence in 1954. After the French foreign influence America entered into Vietnam as the U.S. government viewed its involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam and thus further angered more Vietnamese. The Vietnamese people wanted their Nation free of foreign influence which was not understood by the American people. Unlike the SVA or the ARVN, the NVA and VC were willing to fight till death as they were fighting for the greater superior motive of nationalism Furthermore the US troops were not determined as they were often drafted against their will. This gave a glimmer of hope for VC and NVA troops as they began to take a moral victory over troops fighting for the South.
Most Americans would want to finish their tour of duty and go home which brand upon further failures in not on only the American war strategies but also a success to the North Vietnamese war efforts. Later the communist Tet Offensive of 1968 crushed U.S. hopes of an imminent end to the conflict and galvanized U.S. opposition to the war. In response, Johnson announced in March 1968 that he would not seek re-election, citing what he perceived to be his responsibility in creating a perilous national division over Vietnam.
He also authorized the beginning of peace talks. Thus, the determination of the Vietnamese nationalists is what lead America to face defeat within the Vietnamese war as their army lost motivation and willpower to fight.In addition, americans did not understand the context of the Vietnam war. The American government saw the war as part of the cold war and efforts in pursuing the policy of containment. Thus, the Americans ignored the nature of the war and were fighting the war for the wrong reasons as they ignored the nature of the war. The NVA and VC were willingly led by Vo Nguyen Giap and were successful with their military campaigns in defeating the USA in many encounters.
The Vietnamese people were willing to fight and had a combination of determination and willpower which allowed them slowly defeat their enemies in the South. This lack of understanding lead to a lack of support of the war in America. More specifically the anti-war protests started on university campuses and then later spread throughout America. These people questioned US involvement and what their superior motive was in South East Asia at the time respectfully.
The American public also questioned the use of money as taxes were raised to fund the war efforts. This led to the 1965 Washington D.C demonstrations.
The bounds for the demonstrations was that the Vietnamese War was unjust and unnecessary. The next demonstration was in October which was a confrontation at the pentagon. These confrontations gave political pressure to a pressure ridden US government which ultimately lead to a US withdrawal by 1975.However, the media did play a role in the American withdrawal to an extent. The media won over the American public and changed their perceptions of the war. This was done as this was the first televised war. With the war being televised American people were horrified with the sights of many Vietnamese civilians being killed. Furthermore, Americans also saw their “invincible” army regularly facing near defeat to a peasant guerrilla army.
Americans took pride in their army and seeing defeat angered the Americans who ultimately put pressure on the government for a withdrawal. Operation Ranch Hand further angered the American people as they saw the atrocities on television. This operation was a military operation during the Vietnam War, lasting from 1962 until 1971.
Largely inspired by the British use of 2,4-D also known as Agent Orange. Ranch Hand involved spraying an estimated 20 million U.S. gallons of Agent Orange over rural areas of South Vietnam in an attempt to deprive the Viet Cong of food and vegetation cover.
Areas of Laos and Cambodia were also sprayed. Nearly 20,000 trips were flown to dispense Agent Orange between 1961 and 1971. The American public was angered as Agent Orange did not only cause environmental damage but also inhumanly killed and severely injured many Vietnamese civilians. Many war crimes were also committed by the American troops such as the Mai Lai massacre, injuries on women and children were seen alongside brutal murders. The media was thus heavily involved in America’s defeat as it brought upon a sense of negativity amongst the American public.
In addition, this is seen in source C. Source C is inspired by the iconic Uncle Sam poster. The original cartoonist of the uncle Sam poster is James Montgomery Flag.
It was created in 1917 and was a poster based on the original British Lord Kitchener poster of three years earlier. It was used to recruit soldiers both world wars. Source C shows pieces of this poster however instead of uncle Sam’s body there is a skeleton.
This skeleton show a relation to the words of the poster “I want you for U.S. army”. The skeleton represents that if you join the army death is imminent.
This poster is a form of propaganda. Propaganda is defined by the use of mass media to promote a political change or point of view. Thus, media did play a role in the American withdrawal as they turned the American public against the war, whilst using propaganda as their focal technique. Moreover, Source A is used as a form of propaganda. The American people grew further hatred towards war efforts when it came to their attention that civilians and children were being harmed and even killed.
Source A shows such atrocities. These types of photos are what were used as means of justification to protest and to oppose political military decisions. Thus, the use of media in terms of changing the hearts and minds of the people through propaganda lead to a US withdrawal from Vietnam by 1975.Thus, if American changed their military strategies, attempted to put the war into context as well as giving their troops reason to fight the nation may have been able to overpower the determination of the Vietnamese people and thus not have withdrawn from the war in 1975. Furthermore, their positive progress in the war could have left the media from supporting anti-war movements to larger extent.
Thus, the reason for the American withdrawal was not because of the role of media but rather their own self-destruction.