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Mid-Term Project Essay 

By, Jackson Roman 


Wars are acts that create either a feeling of victory or failure among the people. It
can bring people closer together or rip them apart. The Vietnam war was one of the
deadliest wars of all time. Usually, the United States is used to winning wars but this war
was different. Instead, it was a loss. The freak out caused by the war itself had caused
extreme mistrust in the American government. Not for just losing the war, but also for
lying about the countries status during the war. Losing a war can cause a country to curve
the truth to its people out of sheer embarrassment. Why embarrassment? Well, the Vietnam
war wasn’t a war the United States had to fight in and was seen as worthless to many
people. This is why losing the war would be an embarrassment. The truth was curved
through a few loopholes. Including the interviewees account of the news during the war,
where it never seemed like any Americans were dying. Along with the Presidents
contradicting actions with sending more and more troops to Vietnam. The Vietnam War
lasted for about 21 years. Starting in 1954 and spanning until 1975. The Vietnam war was
a fight between North Vietnam and Viet Cong against South Vietnam and the United
States. The United States reason for fighting in the war was to help end communism and
protect its ally, South Vietnam. None was done successfully in this interaction. About
58,000 Americans died in the war. What is scariest is the civilian deaths totaled over half
of the deaths in the war.​1
During the Vietnam War (1954 - 1975) a few major moments during the war
occurred that supported the idea that the United States knew they were losing the war and
were going to lose it completely. It was all a spiral downfall. The United States over time
had increased troops rapidly. Going from less than a thousand just before the war started to
over 500,000 by the time the war was almost done and Johnson was President. What a lot
of people didn’t know was the United States wasn’t the only other country who joined with
South Vietnam. Other countries included Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. None of
which had a major impact on the war though. The United States reason for fighting against
communism in Vietnam was the “domino theory”.​1​ John F. Kennedy believed that if one
country from the region was beaten and their communism was beaten the other countries
would follow and also get rid of communism. His plan didn’t go as planned. The United
States was now panicking, but only quietly. During the election for the next President,
Johnson promised to the people he would not be sending more Americans to the war. Yet
when he was elected this is just what he did. Starting with the draft, Johnson rapidly
increased U.S. presence in Vietnam. In an interview, the interviewee actually participated
in the first draft. He described it as frightening and said, “...can’t think of anyone who was
like yay-ra-ra about hey I want to join and go to Vietnam…”.​2​ He also briefly talked about
changes in his classmates who came back from the war. Many of them had PTSD or
serious physical injuries. As did many of the soldiers who came back from the war. This
immediately shows a lack of interest in the people in terms of fighting in the war which
would also lead to why the people would be more against being forced into fighting in the
war. Seeing people come back with horrible views and memories from the war did not
inspire people to want to go and fight more. They felt as though they were not fighting for
a purpose. This began disagreements between the government and the people. Including a
mass amount of war protests. At this point, the U.S. had sent tons of troops forcefully and
yet were still not winning the war. At least to the government, they weren’t winning the
war. To add on to the disappointments presented to the people. The government actively
lied to the people during the war. You can only expect your countries people to lose trust
from lies. The lies were mostly about the United States’s status in the war. An example
came from an interview where the subject described how the news was like every night in
America during the Vietnam War. He described it as, “a scorecard”​2​. The news station
would show how many North Vietnam soldiers died and how many U.S soldiers died. The
interviewee did say that it never seemed like the U.S. was losing. Eventually, the people
understood that this was not true and that presumably, the U.S was losing a lot of men but
also the South Vietnamese soldiers were also dying at a mass scale. This caused more
outrage and mistrust towards the government. Lastly, the United States had to come clean
and tell its own people that they were losing the war and had lost it entirely all together.
The United States removed troops from Vietnam in 1973​1​.
The Vietnam war only benefited people in one way and that was economical.
According to the interviewee in the first interview the economy was booming during the
Vietnam war but nothing else was​2​. During war while it may seem like the economy would
go down, it actually goes up. Even for the North Vietnam and Viet Cong. It goes up
because bombs, guns, and vehicles must be made for the war. The mass production only
boosts the economy.
The United States should not have intervened in the War. The North Vietnam and
Viet Cong were almost definitely going to win and the United States judgment was
horrible when deciding whether to join the war. It was a very risky situation obviously
because it was a choice between keeping the countries people safe or protecting our ally
and fighting against communism. Was it the right decision? History says not. For one the
war was going to be hard to win to start with. Once you send so many troops and aren't
seeing immediate changes in the war you would think maybe this isn’t right. But that isn’t
what the U.S did. They continued to increase troop size. To show this clearly an example
would go back to Johnson’s promise to the people where he promised many times during
his campaign that he would not be increasing the troop size in Vietnam. In a speech, he
said, ​“we are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do
what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.​4​”​ ​Yet he rapidly increased the troop
size during his term as president as said prior in this document. Why would you do such a
hypocritical act? Well, it was because of the growing death toll that was hidden from the
people as exemplified earlier through the interviewee’s account of the news during the war.
It is all connected to the reason why the United States and South Vietnam lost the war.
Once the people understood they were not fighting for a worthy cause and even if they felt
it was somewhat worthy then they felt they were not fighting for a worthy government, a
rebellion started to show up everywhere. It first started with the draft where 2.2 men were
drafted out of 27 million.​3​ People freaked because they understood the dangers of going
into the war. Many fled the war by fleeing to Canada while others got deferments to get
out of the draft3. People were scared of the war, but more or less indirectly they were
scared of the government's decisions. The interviewee said that if you were drafted into the
army then you were almost certain to die​5​. While this statement may be a bit harsh it is true
that there was a higher chance of you to get injured badly, die or gain a mental illness such
as PTSD. This is not direct rebellion, but fleeing your country to avoid fighting for it is a
form of taking a stand against. Next, people wanted answers. Johnson shared one of these
letters with the public and even gave a speech answering the woman who wrote. The
woman wrote to the president in the search of an answer for why we were fighting in the
war. If you can’t find a logical reason yourself to why your country is fighting in a war
then that says something. Especially for your countries goals. Could the country be trying
to occupy the people from a much larger situation? Of course, the government knew they
were slowly losing the war and yes they knew people were unhappy about it. Not only
unhappy but more or less outraged and angry. But why did they not pull out of the war
sooner? Well if they weren’t so persistent in joining into the war under such risky
circumstances then it is highly possible they would have backed out sooner. That's not
what the situation was though. The United States felt guilt and embarrassment for making
such a poor decision caused by the Vietnam war. The war had caused the government to
feel like they had made a major mistake and they didn’t want their people to know that
they had made such a major mistake. This is why it was hidden from the public for awhile
while the government increased troop size. Once the public understood they were being
lied to mistrust grew. This not only supports the thesis but proves it. The feeling of losing a
war can cause a country to curve the truths about the war and lie out of sheer
embarrassment. Johnson even said, “ We just cannot now dis-honor our word, or abandon
our commitment…”​4​.
Communism “​ is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and a
movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society”​6​. In history,
we have learned that communism is horrible for society to our belief. It just doesn’t work
and we do not believe in it. This validates the United States’s purpose of fighting in the
Vietnam war​. This, while it is a good cause to fight for, wasn’t sought out correctly by the
U.S. As opportunities go this was not the best one for the United States to intervene in. To
start, many Vietnamese were already dying. And no not soldiers, I’m talking about
innocent civilians. We were protecting an already losing ally, South Vietnam. Now to
justify all of the arguments and reasoning displayed throughout the document it is
important to understand that the United States, once in the war, felt they could not leave
the war. This would show to the world weakness and a lack of power. A solution that may
or may not have helped solve the issues created by the United States could have been
something as simple as being truthful about the war status. The declining of power in the
war could have inspired others to join into the war instead of forcing people into the war
against their will. In a good country, the United States, where people are granted freedom
and can make their own choices would have most definitely started to join branches of the
armed forces if they knew their country was losing. The more that has been displayed
throughout this paper, the more of the effects war can have on people's thinking process
come into view. In a perfect world where judgments aren’t clouded by hate and war, a
different outcome would have come out of the Vietnam War. If the United States didn’t lie
to its own people and draft them against their will then there would have been no
embarrassment. Leading to possibly a win in the war. Just the taste of losing can infect
society as shown.
Countries lie to their country out of embarrassment. At a certain point during the
Vietnam war, the United States understood that them, lying to the people was having
negative effects on the war. It is crazy how this directly connects to what children a taught
all the time. That is to always tell the truth. If the United States told the truth about how
they were doing in the Vietnam War it is very possible something else besides a loss would
have come out of the war. Telling the truth is a universal theme that can be applied to small
things along with major events or subjects such as war. Obviously, the context of the truth
matters. If you're talking to an enemy or one who you or a country may not trust then
maybe you don’t tell them but if they are your soul, your hope or someone who is
accepting like the people of the United States it is so important to be true to your word. To
address the final part of the original thesis, the embarrassment. It is a direct product of the
lying. When the United States entered the war many would not agree with them and they
understood that. Losing something that many didn’t agree with is where the embarrassment
derived from. It is a matter of cause and effect. Lying = Embarrassment = Losing and vice
versa. What we can take away from all of this as a whole is that the United States lost the
war because of the United States. When you have the most power you can only blame
yourself and this is true from the Vietnam war. Concluding with a final statement, you are
your own monster and that goes for the United States in Vietnam. They lost the war
because they lied to the ones they trusted, the people leaving the country in sheer
embarrassment.
Endnotes
1. History.com Editors. "Vietnam War." History.com. Last modified October 29, 2009.
Accessed December 19, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/
Vietnam-war-history. 1,2,5
2. History.com Editors. "Vietnam War." History.com. Last modified October 29, 2009.
Accessed December 19, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/
Vietnam-war-history.
3. Mr. Rich. Interview by the author. Hamden Hall, CT. November 30, 2018.3,4,6
4. Mr. Rich. Interview by the author. Hamden Hall, CT. November 30, 2018
5. History.com Editors. "Vietnam War." History.com. Last modified October 29, 2009.
Accessed December 19, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/
Vietnam-war-history.
6. Mr. Rich. Interview by the author. Hamden Hall, CT. November 30, 2018
7. ​“Remarks from President Lyndon B. Johnson in Memorial Hall, Akron University,”
Resistance and Revolution: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement at the University of Michigan,
1965-1972,​ accessed December 19, 2018,
http://michiganintheworld.history.lsa.umich.edu/antivietnamwar/items/show/77.
8. ​ Michigan in the World. "Resistance and Revolution: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement
at the University of Michigan." Michigan in the World. Accessed December
13, 2018. http://michiganintheworld.history.lsa.umich.edu/antivietnamwar/
exhibits/show/exhibit/draft_protests/the-military-draft-during-the-.
9. ​“In 1968, President LBJ delivers a speech entitled, "Why Are We in Vietnam?".,” ​Resistance
and Revolution: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement at the University of Michigan, 1965-1972​,
accessed December 19, 2018,
http://michiganintheworld.history.lsa.umich.edu/antivietnamwar/items/show/78.
10. ​ ​“Remarks from President Lyndon B. Johnson in Memorial Hall, Akron University,”
Resistance and Revolution: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement at the University of Michigan,
1965-1972,​ accessed December 19, 2018,
http://michiganintheworld.history.lsa.umich.edu/antivietnamwar/items/show/77.
11. ​Wikipedia. "Communism." In Wikipedia, 1. Wikipedia. Last modified December 13,
2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism.
Bibliography

History.com Editors. "Vietnam War." History.com. Last modified October 29, 2009.
Accessed December 19, 2018.
https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/vietnam-war-history.
This web page and article discusses more of an overview of the Vietnam war and more
factual information. It is useful in the sense of referencing moments in history or
using important historic dates.

Lyndon B. Johnson, "The President's News Conference: Why Are We in Vietnam?" July
28, 1965, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, 1965, Book II, pp.
794-803
This speech is good because it gives the presidents justification of the United States reason
for combat in the Vietnam War. It is useful because it is a primary source from a
high ranking figure in the history of the Vietnam War.

Michigan in the World. "Resistance and Revolution: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement at
the University of Michigan." Michigan in the World. Accessed December 13, 2018.
http://michiganintheworld.history.lsa.umich.edu/antivietnamwar/exhibits/show/exh
ibit/draft_protests/the-military-draft-during-the-.
Web page presenting information about the outrage on the Vietnam war. It is a good source
because it gives us an inside look at the real reactions during and after the
Vietnam war.

Mr. Rich. Interview by the author. Hamden Hall, CT. November 30, 2018.
First Interview: about the draft into the Vietnam War and experience with the draft into the
war. This source is useful because it gives a personal primary source's experience
with the war and his interactions with an international event and others that
were also part of the event.

Wikipedia. "Communism." In ​Wikipedia​, 1. Wikipedia. Last modified December 13, 2018.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism.
This source is more of a basic overview of the Vietnam war and contains any factual
information you could possibly need about the Vietnam War. It is useful for finding
important dates and numerical evidence.