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Us Involvement in the Vietnam War

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Keywords: vietnam war usa, vietnam and us war

The Vietnam War (1965-1973) was a conflict fought in South Vietnam between the government forces, aided by the United States, and the guerrilla forces, backed by the predominantly communist North Vietnam. The conflict escalated from a Vietnamese civil war into an international conflict in which the United States played a dominant role. Despite peace agreements of 1973 between the two factions, the conflict did not end! In fact, peace only emerged when North Vietnam's successful offensive in 1975 resulted in South Vietnam's collapse and the subsequent unification of Vietnam under the Communist government in the North. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

The Vietnam War (1965-1973) was one of the longest wars the United States was ever engaged in. It is distinctive as it gave rise to the largest and the most successful antiwar movement in the United States history. In fact, the war in Vietnam can be described as a war that was fought on two fronts:

  • a war in Vietnam: being waged with tanks, guns and bullets, and
  • a war in the United States: fought through demonstrations on the streets and college campuses across the US. (Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed)

Along with the Civil Rights campaigns of the 1960s, the antiwar movement was one of the most divisive forces in twentieth-century U.S. history. It attracted members from college campuses, middle-class suburbs, labour unions and government institutions. The movement gained national prominence in 1965, peaked in 1968, and remained potent through the conflict. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

The American movement against the Vietnam War was the most triumphant antiwar movement in U.S. history. During the Johnson administration, it helped constrain the war and was a major factor in the administration's policy reversal in 1968. During the Nixon years, it hastened U.S. troop withdrawals, fed the deterioration in U.S. troop morale and discipline, and promoted legislation that severed U.S. funding for the war. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

The discussion of the Vietnamese antiwar movement is extremely relevant today. This was the first time in history that the military might of the United States was successfully blocked, that too by the guerrilla movement of a virtually unarmed section of the Vietnamese people. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

This triumph of the human spirit is a significant chapter in history. It made the American people question the almost dogmatic anti-communist focus of the American government. This movement went beyond ideology, encompassing nationalist fervour and ingraining in the American people a national fear of whether every war they participated in would spiral into another Vietnam. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

CHAPTER ONE

A ZEALOUS FORCE TO RECKON WITH : THE IRATE AMERICAN PUBLIC

In 1965, a majority of Americans supported U.S. policies in Vietnam; by the fall of 1967, only 35 percent did so. For the first time, more people thought U.S. intervention in Vietnam had been a mistake than did not. They questioned how the U.S. could be fighting for the freedom of the Vietnamese people if it had to indiscriminately bomb, burn, and imprison the Vietnamese people themselves - for fear that any one of them could be an enemy?

The Vietnam war protests, or Anti-war movement, initiated by the American college students, was instrumental in questioning the policies surrounding America's involvement in Vietnam's bloody affairs. The country's youth, the ones dying in the line fire, began demanding answers to America's high profile presence in Vietnam. They wanted to know what they were fighting for. Through it all, the bombings continued and more and more of America's young GI's came home in body bags.

Aspects Leading to Anti War Protests

Why did the Americans react adversely to the "senseless" War?

During the four years following passage of the Tonkin Gulf resolution (Aug., 1964), which authorized U.S. military action in Southeast Asia, the American air war intensified and troop levels climbed to over 500,000. Opposition to the war grew as television and press coverage graphically showed the suffering of both civilians and conscripts. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Extensive media coverage brought the violent and bloody guerrilla war home each night to every American living room. People realised that the glowing reviews of the war effort their government had been releasing were "sanitised" and far from the truth. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Americans wanted to know why peace talks were organized and continually failed. Alongwith, they objected to the military draft policy.

North Vietnam's bloody TET Offensive of 1968 and the resultant horrendous casualties the Americans suffered eroded the situation in America even further. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy also sparked racial tension and unrest. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

The length of the war, the high number of U.S. casualties, and the exposure of U.S. involvement in war crimes such as the massacre at My Lai helped to turn many in the United States against the war. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

One of the most controversial aspects of the of the U.S. military effort in South East Asia was the wide-spread use of herbicides between 1961 and 1971. They were used to defoliate large parts of the countryside. These chemicals continue to change the landscape, cause diseases and birth defects, and poison the food chain. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Early in the American military effort it was decided that, since PAVN/NLF were hiding their activities under triple-canopy jungle, a useful first step might be to defoliate certain areas. This was known as Operation Ranch Hand. Corporations like Dow Chemical and Monsanto were given the task of developing herbicides for this purpose. When the Americans realized this, they were disgusted. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Richard Nixon's number one campaign promise to Americans was that he'd end the war with "Vietnamization", or systematic troop withdrawals. Yet the American presence in Vietnam remained high and casualties mounted, as did the cost of running the war effort. Taxpayers were paying 25 billion dollars per year to finance a conflict no one believed in anymore. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Nixon's plan to attack communist supply locations in Cambodia in 1970 failed and set off another round of protests. The Kent State student protest in May of 1970 turned deadly when National Guardsman fired into crowds, killing 4 students and injuring dozens more. Students all across the country became enraged and over the next few days campuses all over the US came to a virtual standstill. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

As the year drew to a close Nixon's plans to end the Vietnam war had not been realized. American citizens were not impressed. However, after Kent State Anti-war activism seemed to wane. Yet the people still demanded to know why their country was involved in a war where a resolution seemed impossible. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

1971 also saw the Mylai massacre come to light, an atrocity committed by American soldiers that shocked the world and gained huge media attention. Another round of peace talks were organized on the heels of this controversy but again all attempts to end the fighting in Vietnam failed. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

When the New York Times published the first installment of the Pentagon Papers on 13 June 1971, Americans became aware of the true nature of the war. Stories of drug trafficking, political assassinations, and indiscriminate bombings led many to believe that military and intelligence services had lost all accountability. The top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, commissioned by the Department of Defense, detailed a long series of public deceptions. The Supreme Court ruled that its publication was legal. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Bombings raids on North Vietnam were re-escalated in the spring of 1972, after peace talks headed by Henry Kissinger once again collapsed. The cities of Hanoi and Haiphong were subjected to night raids by American B-52 bombers that was unprecedented and that left the world in shock. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Antiwar sentiment, previously tainted with an air of anti-Americanism, became instead a normal reaction against zealous excess. Dissent dominated America; the antiwar cause had become institutionalized. By January 1973, when Nixon announced the effective end of U.S. involvement, he did so in response to a mandate unequaled in modern times. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Peace talks resumed in Paris and by the end of January, 1973, a pact had been signed by the United States, South and North Vietnam and the Viet Cong. By March, all American troops were pulled out of the country and systematic release of prisoners of war on both sides was initiated. Yet by the time the Watergate scandal came to light, and ruined Nixon's presidency at the close of 1974, Communist forces had overrun Saigon. Within a few short months most of Indochina fell into Communist hands. The Anti-war movement's mantra of "what are we fighting for" seemed eerily prophetic. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

U.S. casualties in Vietnam during the era of direct U.S. involvement (1961-72) were more than 50,000 dead; South Vietnamese dead were estimated at more than 400,000, and Viet Cong and North Vietnamese at over 900,000. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

The U.S. war against Vietnam was over, although the destruction continued. Large parts of Cambodia were devastated, populations were dislocated, and famine and war brought on by the U.S. war against Vietnam led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands there, and the Vietnamese had to cope with thousands of injured, with destroyed industrial facilities, and with burned and poisoned land. But the war was over, and the anti-war movement was over(Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

A Series of Protests: The Anti War Movement

Once the draft was introduced, young people on college and university campuses all around America began to organise protests against the war. Teach-ins and student organizations like the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) held rallies and marches, the first of which happened in Washington in April of 1965. Over the next 2 years the anti-war movement snow balled. Activists, celebrities and musicians like Abbie Hoffmann, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Jane Fonda, Jefferson Airplane, and countless others took up the Anti-war cause and waved Anti-war banners. Their speeches and their music reflected the anger and hopelessness that Americans felt over the Vietnam war. Even the GI's stationed overseas began supporting the Anti-war movement in whatever capacity they could, from wearing peace symbols to refusing to obey orders.

As the American public realized the intensity of its involvement in the Vietnam War, civil unrest fomented. 100,000 Anti-war protesters gathered in New York and thousands more in San Francisco. There were urban riots in Detroit. Johnson's support fell drastically on all fronts.

Anti-war rallies, speeches, demonstrations and concerts continued being organized all over the country. There was a backlash against all that was military.

Soldiers returning home from the war were no longer regarded as heroes but as "baby killers". Young men sought to evade the draft by being conscientous objectors or leaving for Canada.

The Woodstock concert brought 500,000 together from across North America in a non-violent protest against the war. The most famous campus protest of the early 1960's was the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at University of California, Berkeley.

In 1965, demonstrations in New York City attracted 25,000 marchers; within two years similar demonstrations drew several hundred thousand participants in Washington, D.C., London, and other European capitals. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, though acts of civil disobedience-intended to provoke arrest-were common. Much of the impetus for the antiwar protests came from college students. Objections to the military draft led some protesters to burn their draft cards and to refuse to obey induction notices. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

In October, 1967, a large anti-war demonstration was held on the steps of the Pentagon. Some protesters were heard to chant, "Hey, hey, LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson)! How many kids did you kill today?" One reason for the increase in the opposition to the Vietnam War was larger draft.

By 1967 the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) invoked the language of revolution in its denunciations of the war in Vietnam as an inevitable consequence of American imperialism. There was also a more moderate opposition to the war from clergy, elected politicians, and people such as Dr. Benjamin Spock. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Perhaps the most significant development of the period between 1965 and 1968 was the emergence of Civil Rights leaders as active proponents of peace in Vietnam. In a January 1967 article written for the Chicago Defender, Martin Luther King, Jr. openly expressed support for the antiwar movement on moral grounds. Reverend King expanded on his views in April at the Riverside Church in New York, asserting that the war was draining much-needed resources from domestic programs. He also voiced concern about the percentage of African American casualties in relation to the total population. King's statements rallied African American activists to the antiwar cause and established a new dimension to the moral objections of the movement. The peaceful phase of the antiwar movement had reached maturity as the entire nation was now aware that the foundations of administration foreign policy were being widely questioned. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

The antiwar movement became both more powerful and, at the same time, less cohesive between 1969 and 1973. Most Americans pragmatically opposed escalating the U.S. role in Vietnam, believing the economic cost too high; in November of 1969 a second march on Washington drew an estimated 500,000 participants.

The invasion of Cambodia sparked nationwide U.S. protests. On 4th May, 1970, four students were killed by the National Guard at Kent State University during a protest in Ohio, which provoked public outrage in the United States. The reaction to the incident by the Nixon administration was seen as callous and indifferent, providing additional impetus for the anti-war movement. Nixon was taken to Camp David for his own safety. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

Waning Support From Within the Government

As the Anti War movement's ideals spread beyond college campuses, doubts about the wisdom of war escalation also began to appear within the Johnson administration itself. As early as the summer of 1965, Undersecretary of State George Ball counseled President Johnson against further military involvement in Vietnam. In 1967, Johnson fired Defense Secretary McNamara after the secretary expressed concern about the moral justifications for war. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

After the news of My Lai massacre became public in February 1970, new groups-Nobel science laureates, State Department officers, the American Civil Liberties Union-all openly called for withdrawal. Congress began threatening the Nixon administration with challenges to presidential authority. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

As the number of troops in Vietnam increased, the financial burden of the war grew. One of the rarely mentioned consequences of the war were the budget cuts to President Johnson's Great Society programs. As defense spending and inflation grew, Johnson was forced to raise taxes. The Republicans, however, refused to vote for the increases, unless a $6 billion cut was made to the administration's social programs. The Vietnam War claimed more than just victims overseas - at home it claimed reforms aimed at lifting millions of people out of poverty. (Columbia Encyclopedia,6th Ed)

The Americans were no longer going to accept the ongoing nature of American involvement in the Vietnam War. The entire nation was questioning the administration's foundation of foreign policy.

The Anti-War Counter Culture

Alongside the antiwar protest movement, a counter culture arose that most Americans disapproved of. The clean-cut, well-dressed SDS members were being subordinated as movement leaders. Their replacements deservedly gained less public respect, were tagged with the label "hippie," and faced much mainstream opposition from middle-class Americans uncomfortable with the youth culture of the period-long hair, casual drug use, promiscuity. Words like "counter culture", "establishment", "non-violence", "pacification", "draft-dodger", "free love", "Kent State", and "Woodstock" were added to the American vocabulary. It was the beginning of the hippie generation, the sexual revolution and the drug culture. Protest music, typified by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, contributed to the gulf between young and old. A Cultural and political protest had become inextricably intertwined within the movement's vanguard. The new leaders became increasingly strident, greeting returning soldiers with jeers and taunts, spitting on troops in airports and on public streets. unique situation arose in which most Americans supported the cause but opposed the leaders, methods, and culture of protest.

CHAPTER TWO

CONTAINING THE COMMUNIST EXPANSION:THE AMERICAN POLICY OBSESSION

The Domino theory is the notion that if one country embraces Communism, other nations in the region will probably follow. This can be likened to dominoes falling in a line. This absurd argument simply assumed nations to be dominos in a row, to be knocked down or picked up by the world's two largest powers: US and the Soviet Union. (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2007)

The Domino Theory

The cornerstone of U.S. policy was the Domino Theory. The theory argued that if South Vietnam fell to communist forces, then all of South East Asia would follow suit. This theory was popularized by President Dwight Eisenhower's administration. A section of individuals believed that if communism spread unchecked, it would follow them home by first reaching Hawaii and then emerging in the West Coast of the United States. They were thus of the opinion that it was prudent to contain communism in Asia itself. Thus, the Domino Theory provided a powerful impetus for the American involvement in southern Vietnam. (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2007)

Policy of Containment

In a bid to stop this communist expansion, the United States pursued a policy of containment. [1] This policy of containment was first suggested by George F. Kennan in the 1947 "X" article, published anonymously in Foreign Affairs. It remained the U.S. policy for the next quarter of a century. (Columbia Encyclopedia,2007)

The policy of "Containment" adopted the approach of not fighting an all out war with the communist Soviet Union. Rather, it propounded confining communism and the Soviet Union to their existing boundaries. This doctrine led directly to the Vietnam war. "Containment" was based on several arguments: (Chomsky,2003)

That the Soviet Union was always expansionist--the Soviet Union, driven by its dogmatic faith in communism was determined to impose its absolute authority on the world's nations. Containment was necessary for maintaining the worldwide "balance of power" between the US and the Soviet Union. (Chomsky, 2003)

 2. That any newly established communist governments would inevitably be part of Soviet "empire". The Doctrine of Containment believed that there could be no such thing as a "nonaligned nation." No nation could be neutral: it must either align itself with the Soviet block or the democratic American block. (Chomsky,2003)

3. That communist and Soviet expansion must be limited. The Doctrine of Containment advocated that a conventional war should be avoided. However, the US should pledge itself to stopping the formation of any new communist governments and preventing existing communist governments from growing. (Chomsky, 2003)

 4. Most importantly, it was based on a belief in the special mission and destiny of America. Kennedy's advisor McGeorge Bundy believed that the United States was the locomotive at the helm of mankind, and the remaining world was dependent on this mighty nation. They seemed to believe that it was their destiny to protect the world from the evils of communism. (Chomsky,2003)

Thus, we can conclude that the American policy makers believed in a simplistic American vs. Communism stand. The general premise of "Containment" was that every communist government, the world over, was an implement of Moscow and it was the duty of the American government to safeguard the nations of the world from communism. (Chomsky,2003)

Was the Soviet Threat A Realistic Assessment?

The threat of an expanding communism was indeed a realistic assessment. The Soviet Union had certainly acted in an expansionist way in the recent past. More worryingly, the Soviet Union was officially committed to the worldwide spread of communism. A newly acquired nuclear capability and a vast army positioned the Soviet Union as a perilous potential enemy of the United States. In fact, in 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev, while debating with Richard Nixon in Moscow, threatened "we will bury you!." It would indeed have been wrong, as also foolish, to underestimate the force of the Soviet Union as an enemy. (Chomsky,2003)

Subsequently, however, the Domino theory was disproved--communist governments in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China do not act collectively. After a period of great turmoil, most have abandoned communism. Vietnam, surprisingly, is now enthusiastically pro-capitalist, and an inviting place of investment for the United States of America. (Chomsky,2003)

 Americans will, sometimes citing a dozen reasons, argue that "we could have won if". Example: Ronald Reagan frequently asserted that the US would have won if the government had made a wholesale commitment instead of a limited war. (Chomsky,2003)

However, one could argue, "won what?" Can a victory be defined as one that leaves the nation with a devastated landscape, millions of dead civilians and a crippled economy? A victory, by means of which, the US would have ruled repressively over a country whose citizens despised it? It would certainly have been a hollow victory. (Chomsky, 2003)

A Misguided Attempt

The Vietnam War was misguided from its inception. A large number of major architects of the Containment policy -- George Kennan, McGeorge Bundy, Robert MacNamara -- have unequivocally acknowledged they were mistaken about the Vietnam War. They admit that "Containment" was a flawed policy. It was flawed due to its indifference to the history of Southeast Asia. The American obsession with "Communism" led them deeper and deeper into a tragedy. They believed in America's mission, and in the undisputable superiority of America's endeavours. They were erroneous, and consequently, so was the war! (Chomsky,2003)

CHAPTER THREE

PARALLELS OF IRAQ WITH THE VIETNAM WAR

The Iraq war has evoked memories of the Vietnam war, the most significant political experience of an entire American generation. American involvement in both the wars was inspired to contain the expansion of a principle that it rejected: one was expansion of communism and the other is expansion of Islam radicalism.

Vietnam was an event that emerged in the backdrop of the Cold War, a combination of geopolitical and ideological conflict with the expansion of communism.

Iraq is part of an ideological struggle - between radical Islam and the rest of the world - in which the jihadists reject the established order, challenge the structure of the international system based on the nation state. (Kissinger,2007)

1. Was the US unilateral withdrawal from Vietnam an option in 1969 when Nixon took office?

In Vietnam, unilateral withdrawal was not practically feasible. To dispatch over half a million troops, from Vietnam to the US, would have been a logistical nightmare, even under peacetime conditions. But in Vietnam, the US troops were countering over 600,000 armed North Vietnamese Communist forces on the ground, who were being bolstered by guerrilla forces. If the US troops even hinted at withdrawal, these troops may well have been joined by a large section of the 700,000 strong South Vietnamese army as they may have felt betrayed by their allies and tried to work their way back into the good graces of the Communists. The U.S. forces tried to withdraw, they would have become hostages and the ordinary Vietnamese people victims. (Kissinger,2007)

A diplomatic alternative did not exist.

Nixon correctly summed up the choices before him when he rejected unilateral withdrawal: "Shall we leave Vietnam in a way that - by our own actions - consciously turns the country over to the Communists? Or shall we leave in a way that gives the South Vietnamese a reasonable choice to survive as a free people?"

When negotiations stalemated, the Nixon administration moved to implement what could be done unilaterally without undermining the political structure of South Vietnam. Between 1969 and 1972, it withdrew 515,000 American troops, ended American ground combat in 1971 and reduced American casualties by nearly 90 percent. (Kissinger,2007)

In the same vein, unilateral withdrawal is not practically feasible even in Iraq. Whenever gradual withdrawal from Iraq is implemented, it should be done in a way that it prevents a takeover by radical Islam in Iraq. Given that a democratic government has been installed, after much struggle, the US should try to do everything possible to ensure its continuance. The following issues should be kept in mind before implementing a graduated withdrawal:

In Iraq, the military forces of the adversary are less powerful than they were in Vietnam, but the international political framework is more complex. This fragile situation should be handled with caution.

Before withdrawal, a political settlement has to be distilled from the partially conflicting, partially overlapping views of the Iraqi parties, Iraq's neighbors and other affected states. It should be based on a shared conviction that the cauldron of Iraq would otherwise overflow and engulf all surrounding countries and then spread internationally.

2. Did the American domestic debate and American public's protest movement doom the effort in Vietnam?

During the Vietnam war, a point was reached when the domestic debate over American involvement in the War, became so bitter as to preclude rational discussion of hard choices. For a decade and a half, successive administrations of both political parties perceived the survival of South Vietnam as a significant national interest. Starting with the Johnson administration, they were opposed by a protest movement. This impasse doomed the American effort in Vietnam!

The American public should learn to contain their outrage so that it does not lead to an impasse or due consideration to available choices - as and when the time is right. The American public must not repeat the massive show of angst over Iraq.(Kissenger,2007). It is creditable that American officials have gone to great lengths to make sure the American people understand that the American military cannot possibly be defeated in Iraq (PINR,2003).

The strategy of Vietnamese and Iraqi guerrillas was/is to sap the political will of the U.S. public. Is their political will being sapped?

The attacks launched against U.S. forces in Iraq are not the type required or intended to defeat the United States militarily. But the fact is that Washington is not operating in a military vacuum. The strength of the U.S. military means little when faced with an increasingly skeptical U.S. public who has the potential to force Washington to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. In addition, while Washington cannot be overwhelmed by sheer force, there is no evidence that the guerrilla fighters in Iraq can be defeated that way either.

In Vietnam, Washington faced a similar predicament. There was an increasingly organized and brash guerrilla force preventing the U.S. from bringing stability to South Vietnam. Due to the massive technology gap, Vietnamese guerrillas and the North Vietnamese Army stood little chance of defeating the U.S. militarily. Just the same, however, Washington stood little chance of defeating the Vietnamese guerrilla movement militarily.

The effective guerrilla tactics of the North Vietnamese Army were a military strategy aimed at sapping the political will from the U.S. public. This was well known at the time and was often articulated in the speeches of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Always aware of U.S. public opinion, North and South Vietnamese military and guerrilla leaders worked to undermine Washington. When they launched the massive Tet Offensive in over 100 different cities of South Vietnam on January 31, 1968 -- successfully storming and occupying the U.S. Embassy in Saigon -- the attack was orchestrated shortly after U.S. military leaders and politicians claimed that the war in Vietnam was almost over.

The strategy of Vietnamese resistance fighters was successful, and it looks as if resistance fighters in Iraq are following a similar one;

Iraqi guerrillas are most likely aware that they will not be able to crush the U.S. military occupation in Iraq. They do know, however, that if they continue to kill and maim U.S. soldiers, it will only be a matter of time until the American public demands a return of U.S. troops and applies political pressure to the Bush administration. General Abizaid admitted as much, recently warning, "The goal of the enemy is not to defeat us militarily. The goal of the enemy is to break the will of the United States of America, to make us leave."

It is evident that the Iraqi guerrillas have been somewhat successful in this goal. According to a CBS News poll released on November 13, 2006 only 50 percent of the American public now believe that removing Saddam Hussein was worth the loss of American lives and other costs of attacking Iraq. If the losses of U.S. troops continue to mount, this number can be expected to drop further.

Therefore, the strategy of anti-U.S. guerrillas in Iraq will be to launch high profile attacks on U.S. and also coalition troops. Yet, at the same time, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released a report, titled "appraisal of situation," written by the CIA station chief in Baghdad, which contradicted Abizaid's "Whether or not Washington is able to bring stability to Iraq before the U.S. public becomes disenchanted with U.S. objectives there", largely depends on the size and capacity of the guerrilla movement. (Kissinger,2007)

Furthermore, the CIA report concluded that more and more ordinary Iraqis were siding with the insurgency due to their disillusionment with the U.S. occupation and because of the instability plaguing the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein's hold on power. These assessments indicate that the U.S. occupation in Iraq is becoming increasingly precarious, and it is not yet clear how the U.S. public will respond to deadlier and bolder attacks launched on U.S. forces. (Kissinger,2007)

Lessons for the Americans to Apply to the Conflict in Iraq

Two lessons emerge from the American experience in Vietnam.

A strategic design cannot be achieved on a fixed, arbitrary deadline; it must reflect conditions on the ground.

But, at the same time, it must also not test the endurance of the American public to a point where the outcome can no longer be sustained by the American political process.

Therefore, in Iraq, a rapid unilateral withdrawal would be disastrous. At the same time, a political solution remains imperative.(Kissinger,2007)

CONCLUSION

As the decade of the 60's wore on, there became a sense of angst in the air. From the war to civil rights to the outright abandonment of authority, youth set out to find a new path to tread upon.

There were drugs to lead the way. Psychedelics were unleashed on the population. Marijuana became the drug of choice for rallies and protests across the nation. Heroin made its emerged as well. For the first time since Prohibition ended, people were openly enjoying and engaging in drugs.

This was a time of freedom, marked with large gatherings and concerts. In a time of revolution and sadness, the counter-culture looked into the future in hopes of finding a place where the madness could end!

Hopefully the American government has learnt their lesson from the Vietnam and consequently the Iraq War.


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