Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States continues to leave me in shock, with this chapter, The Impossible Victory: Vietnam, to be one of the most outrageous sections yet because of the immense level of historical concealment from our history textbooks. Almost all Americans know this time period as the “anti-war”, “pre-hippie”, and opposition time period fueled by the Vietnam War, but there are usually little to no concrete reasons why there were so many protests throughout the United States. Is this because the government doesn’t want the public to know of their hypocrisy and vile war behavior for posterity and reputation, or so war-time action can take place later and look unprecedented? Whatever the reason is, the surface level explanation of the causation for Vietnam War protests in history textbooks is noticeable, especially after Zinn’s explanation of large-scale global efforts and smaller efforts from 1946 to 1969.
As American politicians of the time began hiding information from the public and endorsed more brutal military tactics to fight communism to stop the “domino effect”, I was reminded of similar tactics the Axis powers used to achieve their goals. I am not saying that the government of this time period is comparable to the Axis powers as this is not true, but a lot of their political or military strategies produced similar outcomes. This is highly ironic and deeply unsettling as America was seen as one of the most powerful and moral countries after the war, but their unneeded actions (which is the view of Zinn) were much more violent than their public image. America’s need to cover their actions is not unique, but the United States’ cover-ups are constantly rooted in war as all recent American wars have not been fought on US soil, meaning the government tries to keep people “in the dark” as the more information people know, the harder it is to morally justify a war. This is especially true with the Vietnam War as there was no true cause in comparison to the more concrete causes of World War II. Something that was not mentioned by Zinn that I think had a huge impact on the war effort was the increase of wartime media, even though there was also an increase in legislation against its publication. Overall, the combination of large-scale, various, and effective protests with government attempts to edit history created the perfect storm for wide-scale political and social unrest in the United States. With the increase of media presence in our lives, will there ever be a war the United States is involved in that will have popular support as war brutality can now be broadcasted?