Before reading this chapter I never really understood exactly what happened in Vietnam. I knew about the Pentagon Papers and how the government was lying to the US public, yet it still never registered exactly how shady this war was. I thought it was very interesting to see the differences for why we were going into war with Vietnam for example, Kennedy’s Undersecretary of State U. Alexis Johnson said, “Why is it desirable, and why is it important? First, it provides a lush climate, fertile soil, rich natural resources, a relatively sparse population in most areas, and room to expand. The countries of Southeast Asia produce rich exportable surpluses such as rice, rubber, teak, corn, tin, spices, oil, and many others.” However Kennedy would talk about freedom and democracy, this is likely because of how the war would play out in the public.
Further, I didn’t really know about the extent to which the US public disapproved of the war. And, I find it interesting that Zinn doesn’t really mention the hippie movement in this chapter. Because, I had always learned that it was the hippies who were really pushing against the war, while the “silent majority” still was in favor of the war. Yet, Zinn cites polling showing that as the war went on, more and more people were in favor of pulling out of Vietnam immediately. ZInn also writes about how the Civil Rights Movement coincided with the Vietnam War, and talks about how many activists were opposed to the war. And, I found it interesting to see how connected the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement really were, as leaders of the Civil Rights Movement called for an end to the war. Overall, I have a new appreciation for the History surrounding the Vietnam War. I feel Zinn did a good job at enlightening me to new parts of the War that I didn’t know about before.