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Blog Post 10/28

Reading about the mistreatment of Vietnamese citizens by the United States during the Vietnam War was extremely difficult. Zinn stated “The CIA in Vietnam, in a program called “Operation Phoenix,” secretly, without trial, executed at least twenty thousand civilian in South Vietnam who were suspected of being members of the Communist underground”. (p. 478) The United States was determined to stop the spread of communism to the point that atrocities such as the 20,000 civilians Zinn mentions being murdered were viewed as inconsequential. Zinn discusses that the reasoning for the wars against communism in smaller nations, like Vietnam, were not because of the direct threat that Vietnam becoming communist would pose against capitalist nations, but rather to prevent a domino effect. In the 1950s this idea became known as “domino theory” within the United States and was responsible for much of their international actions. It would seem that American propaganda was so effective at inspiring fear of communism within its borders, that its population was willing to accept anti-communist reasoning for almost any action.

It was fascinating to learn that the United States not only fabricated much of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, but also the entirety of South Vietnam. As if lying to the public to incite a war wasn’t awful enough, congress further used the Gulf of Tonkin falsity to give President Johnson complete control over the military. Whenever a leader is given or seizes absolute power under the veil of a crisis, the people he is meant to protect almost always suffer. Citizens of the United States did suffer as a result of the president’s actions in the form of fighting and dying for a false cause. Per usual the main sufferers of war are not the leaders who involved their nation in the conflict, but the followers and citizens who had to actually fight the battles. The Vietnam war caused greater anger among the American people as it was based on a false cause and since the unnecessary suffering of the enemy was better documented in this war.

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5 Comments

  1. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    The quote that you started this blog post with shocked me. I had no idea about the CIA’s “Operation Phoenix” where they, the CIA, executed at least 20,000 Vietnamese people secretly and without giving them a fair trial. It think this is very hypocritical because one of the principles that the United States was founded on ensured a fair and speedy trial when in court.

  2. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    The crossover between the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement was also important to note because African Americans were unhappy with the state of the country domestically and were then forced to go fight for the country abroad. Disproportionate numbers of African Americans were being drafted and killed in the war as well, which caused civil unrest in the black community who saw that all of their hard work still wasn’t fostering equality.

  3. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    Something I find particularly upsetting about American involvement in foreign affairs is the willingness to intervene in economic interests in Asia, but not human rights atrocities. The Cambodian genocide almost directly followed the Vietnam War (due to conditions in part created by America), yet the United States did not work to stop the regime of Khmer Rouge- this is a twisted idea of what defines moral intervention in foreign affairs.

  4. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    Your point about the effects of government propaganda and rhetoric on the views and opinions of the general public, and something that can be easily seen today as well. As you said, the government narrative created a widespread fear of Communism, that made many Americans paranoid of the harm they could bring to the country. Only people with specific knowledge and education of world events and the specifics of Communism knew that such fears were unfounded, but majority of the public remained fearful. This can be seen today through many issues, particularly immigration. The current administration incites fear in citizens by creating a narrative of immigrants being dangerous and a threat to the economy, causing widespread discrimination against immigrants. Only those who take the time to understand the underlying issues surrounding immigration realize that this fear of them is unfounded, leaving much of the country still harboring fear and hate towards people that are different.

  5. Annie Waters Annie Waters

    Reading about President Johnson’s absolute military control following the Gulf of Tonkin incident was really alarming to me. I first thought back to learning about the War Powers Act in AP Gov and wondered how the president could have ever been given such concentrated power in the beginning stages of wartime, but I hadn’t realized that this act wasn’t passed until November of 1973, toward the end of the Vietnam War. The ramifications of the war must have indicated to Congress that it was unjust for a president to have such concentrated power in prompting acts of war.

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