A Fatal Mistake The Vietnam War Essay — страница 4

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on by Viet Cong gunboats (Encarta Vietnam War ). This confrontation was the excuse to go to war the U.S. was waiting for, and President Johnson immediately ordered the first air strikes on North Vietnam following a second attack on the USS TurnerJoy (Encarta Vietnam War ). These attacks on U.S. ships were seen as acts of war, and President Johnson was given full war-making powers by Congress (Encarta Vietnam War ). Following the two confrontations, a bombing operation began in North Vietnam (Encarta Vietnam War ). Upon the insertion of U.S. aircraft into the Vietnam conflict, Robert S. McNamara foresaw further involvement. He then wrote in a memo to President Johnson on November 7th of 1965, there are three fronts to a long-run effort to contain China (realizing that the USSR

contains China on the north and northwest): (a) the Japan-Korea front; (b) the India-Pakistan front; (c) the Southeast Asia front. Any decision to continue the program of bombing North Vietnam and any decision to deploy Phase II forces involving as they do substantial loss of American lives, risks of further escalation, and greater investments of U.S. prestige must be predicated on these premises as to our long-run interests in Asia, (McNamara 218-219). This was a true example of how greatly the USSR and the Chinese threat, although hindered by the Cultural Revolution, were underestimated by U.S. military advisors, whom believed religiously that containment was a truly obtainable goal (McNamara 219). Most U.S. military leaders believed any aid the Viet Cong might receive from its

communist supporters would be insignificant in helping them maintain a stand against the U.S. (McNamara 220). The North Vietnam nationalists were the enemy, but even in that definition of the enemy lay numerous branches (McNamara 240). There were four different branches of the North Vietnamese army. Because of this fact, underestimated figures were made purposely to conceal the support the North received in the South (McNamara 240). By the time the U.S. was fully involved in a ground war with the Viet Cong, all the pompous mistakes that had been made could not be taken back, and a great nation s dignity was at stake. Even in the face of defeat the U.S. had no clear goals, and was stuck on three choices. They could increase troop commitments from 275 thousand to 350 thousand,

hoping to overwhelm their enemy, but even those numbers would need to be more than doubled (Dougan 48). A second option was to encourage negotiations, but there was a decision to be made in how to encourage them (Dougan 48). The U.S. could halt its bombing programs or intensify them with Rolling Thunder strikes (Dougan 48). The final option was to just negotiate, at the expense of the nation s honor, but that was still unlikely to succeed, knowing what both sides of the table were after (Dougan 48). A stage for battling communism was set, but how many actors were necessary to convey the message that the U.S. was willing to do everything in its power to stop any spread of communism, even in its least significant form? France was only looking to maintain its standing as a colonial

power, and its goals and rewards were obvious. While France was still involved, the U.S. could share the same goals, but what could a country without colonial interests gain by fighting to put down a colonial independence movement? England had lost its American colonies because it was unfocused in exactly how to go about regaining control, and for the same reason, the France and the U.S. were unable to crush the nationalistic Vietnamese freedom fighters. Works Cited Chant, Christopher. The Military History of the United States: The Vietnam War, the Early Days, Marshall Cavendish, New York, 1992: 9, 22, 25, 38. Dougan, Clark. A Nation Divided, Boston Publishing Company, Boston, 1984: 48. Encarta. Encarta Encyclopedia, Microsoft Corporation, 1998, Vietnam War. Goldstein, Donald M.

The Vietnam War: The Story & Photographs, Brassey s, Washington, 1997: 3. McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, Times Books, New York, 1995: 72, 76, 218, 219, 220, 240.