The Vietnam War is somewhat of an enigma to me as I never really learned about it. In highschool my teachers tiptoed around the subject and only gave us bits and pieces; and I now understand why. The Vietnam War was very controversial and divided the United States even more than we already were at the time. And of course, in reading Zinn, it is expected that some of these hidden war truths were brought to the light.
Our entrance into Vietnam began eerily similar to our entrance to World War I, the enemy had displayed aggression towards us by “attacking” one of our ships. Thus, it was time to send troops over. However, Zinn challenges if this even happened, questioning LBJ’s ulterior motives to entering into this war. Especially because LBJ had deployed troops without asking Congress for approval, something that every president has to do before entering into war. In addition to this, the sentiment for fighting was to prevent the communism, however Zinn states that LBJ again, had other motives that had to do with the great amounts of natural resources in Vietnam. From the moment the US entered into the war, there was immediate backlash and resistance. Many men refused to enter the draft because they would be fighting a war that was not “their war”. In fact, the earliest opposition came from the Civil Rights movement, as Black men were dying at disproportionate rates to their white counterparts.
The war caused unrest in the states. Protests were happening everywhere, especially among students on university campuses. However, much like today, they often saw peaceful protests quickly turning violent. Whether this violence came from the police or people that believed opposing the war was treasonous, is hard to say. Despite this violence, people continued protesting. Nixon ran on the platform that he would end the war. While he did not end it, he brought home US troops. This can in part be a response to the seemingly never-ending protests that were still continuing throughout the country. Therefore, I ask, can protests still continue to influence change as they did during Vietnam? Or are they a hopeless cause with our current government and state of our nation?