This reading was yet another example of the separation between the US government and the people, and the secrets and lies between them. In contrast to WWII, just before the Vietnam War, the Vietnam War was one of the most hated in all of history. Learning about the Vietnam War I had always been confused. I was mainly confused as to why we were at war, what we were fighting for and what was the reasoning, or why it went on for so long. After reading this chapter, it’s obvious many US citizens felt the same way during the war as well, which is why there was such a big antiwar movement. It makes it even more understandable when the government says it was to expel communism and keep freedom, but the actions of the government were far too violent and simply saying we wanted freedom for the Vietnamese and to expel communism was not enough.
Much of my surprise in this chapter came from the way the government handled the situation at home during the war. These massive anti war movements and protests were obvious and the heightened problem after the beginning of the civil rights movement created major divides in the country. I was surprised by how the government never really acknowledged the people’s opposition and only became more involved in the war. When Nixon was elected on the terms that he would get the US out of the Vietnam War and then only took some troops out but continued with the war, or how Kennedy lied about the beginning of the war, and all other lies that came with the war seems to be the most common theme in all of Zinn’s reading. The way the government almost ignored the people at home, and let them commit violent acts, protests, and get arrested while staying in a war where they were supposedly fighting against communism and freedom seems counterproductive. It makes me question what the real values of the US government were at the time.
Learning about the problems at home during the Vietnam War make it seem as though they were more concerning than those in Vietnam with the soldiers. Although, the government seemed only to care about the amount of power and influence we had in Vietnam and how much we fought, in the most brutal way. It’s obvious that the majority of people in the US were more concerned with problems at home than abroad, which was opposite of those felt by our political leaders, which clearly caused many problems.