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Examine the reasons that forced America to withdraw from the Vietnam War.(CBSE 2017)
The U.S involvement in Vietnam War had a harsh impact on both U.S as well as Vietnam.
1. From 1965 to 1972, lakhs of U.S services personnel served in Vietnam. Even though the U.S was equipped with advanced technology and good medical supplies, casualties stood high.
In spite of the heavy weapons and tanks and the presence of the most powerful bombers – B52s, this phase proved to be brutal. The wide spread attack and use of chemical weapons – Napalm, Agent Orange, and phosphorous bombs – destroyed many villages and decimated jungles.
2. Thousands of people died in the battle and lakhs and lakhs of people were left wounded. In addition, innocent civilians died in large no. In the U.S., many were critical of the government for getting involved in the war. The inclusion of the youth from minorities and working middle classes and waiver of this military service for university graduates further spread a feeling of intense anger amongst the Americans.
3. The U.S media also played an important role during this time. Hollywood made films in support of the war included John Wayne’s Green Berets. Many claimed it to be a propaganda film, responsible for motivating the young to die in the war. Films that were critical of the war included Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which reflected the moral confusion that the war had caused in the U.S.
4. It was clearly felt that the US had failed to achieve its objectives- the Vietnamese resistance had not been crushed and US did not win the support of the Vietnamese people. Besides thousands of US soldiers lost their lives and countless Vietnamese civilians had been killed. Scholars such as Noam Chomsky called the war ‘greatest threat to peace, national self-determination and international cooperation.’
5. The widespread questioning of government policy strengthened moves to negotiate an end to the war. A peace settlement was signed in Paris in January 1974 which ultimately ended the conflict with the US.
NOTE – Vietnam after gaining independence from the French was divided into North (Ho Chi Minh and communists) and South (Bao Dai). As Bao Dai’s regime was undertaken by a coup led by Ngo Dinh Diem, the National Liberation Front (NLF) along with the North fought for the unification of the country. This unification alliance was the biggest fear of the United States. Since the U.S was worried about communists gaining power in Vietnam, they sent in their troops and arms.
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