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The Vietnam War (also known as Second Indochina War or American War in Southeast Asia) lasted from 1959 to 1975. It was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. USSR, China and North Korea supported North Vietnam and United States , Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines supported South Vietnam. The Cold War consisted of the conflict between pro-communist and pro-Democratic countries.
The Vietnam War is almost as remote as World War I was for the soldiers who fought it. Now that the United States and Vietnam have normalized relations, it is especially difficult for many young people to understand why the war continues to evoke deeply felt emotions. The Vietnam War was the longest war in American history and the most unpopular American war of the 20th century. It resulted in nearly 60,000 American deaths and an estimated 2 million Vietnamese deaths. It was the first war to come into American living rooms nightly, and the only conflict that ended in defeat for American arms.
There are various factors contributed to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam: the Cold War fears of communist domination of Indochina; a mistaken belief that North Vietnam was a pawn of Moscow; overconfidence in the ability of U.S. troops to prevent the communist takeover of an ally; and anxiety that withdrawal from Vietnam would result in domestic political criticism.
The architects of the Vietnam War overestimated the political costs of allowing South Vietnam to fall to communism. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson feared that losing South Vietnam would damage their chances for re-election, weaken support for domestic social programs, and make Democrats vulnerable to the charge of being soft on communism. The North Vietnamese strategy was to drag out the war and make it increasingly costly to the United States.
The Vietnam War was a very costly war and affected people in battles, and also those who were left behind with the long term effects everywhere in the world. It was an extremely heavy war. Around 58,000 Americans were dead and over 150,000 were wounded in battle. Many Americans were affected by the war badly for so many had died and many more were wounded. North Vietnam was victorious over South Vietnam and allied forces. The Vietnam War had many long lasting effects on the veterans who fought for America from the 1950s to the 1970s. Some veterans from Vietnam even formed groups against the war. These veterans formed an organization known as Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The organization had a purpose, "It was organized to voice the growing opposition among returning servicemen and women to the still-raging war in Indochina, and grew rapidly to a membership of over 30,000 throughout the United States as well as active duty GIs stationed in Vietnam. Through ongoing actions and grassroots organization, VVAW exposed the ugly truth about US involvement in Southeast Asia and our first-hand experiences helped many other Americans to see the unjust nature of that war."
American leaders also grossly underestimated the tenacity of their North Vietnamese and Viet Cong foes. Misunderstanding the commitment of our adversaries, U.S. General William C. Westmoreland said that Asians "don't think about death the way we do." In fact, the Vietnamese Communists and Nationalists were willing to sustain extraordinarily high casualties in order to overthrow the South Vietnamese government. The United States intervened in Vietnam without appreciating the fact that the Vietnamese people had a strong nationalistic spirit rooted in centuries of resisting colonial powers. In a predominantly Buddhist country, the French-speaking Catholic leaders of South Vietnam were generally viewed as representatives of France, the former colonial power. Communists were able to capitalize on nationalistic, anti-Western sentiment.
The Vietnam War had far-reaching consequences for the United States. It led Congress to replace the military draft with an all-volunteer force and the country to reduce the voting age to 18. It also inspired Congress to attack the "imperial" presidency through the War Powers Act, restricting a president's ability to send American forces into combat without explicit Congressional approval. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees have helped restore blighted urban neighborhoods.
The Vietnam War severely damaged the U.S. economy. Unwilling to raise taxes to pay for the war, President Johnson unleashed a cycle of inflation.
The war also weakened U.S. military morale and undermined, for a time, the U.S. commitment to internationalism. The public was convinced that the Pentagon had inflated enemy casualty figures, disguising the fact that the country was engaged in a military stalemate. During the 1970s and 1980s, the United States was wary of getting involved anywhere else in the world out of fear of another Vietnam. Since then, the public's aversion to casualties inspired strict guidelines for the commitment of forces abroad and a heavy reliance on air power to project American military power.
The United States also paid a high political cost for the Vietnam War. It weakened public faith in government, and in the honesty and competence of its leaders. Indeed, skepticism, if not cynicism, and a high degree of suspicion of and distrust toward authority of all kind characterized the views of an increasing number of Americans in the wake of the war. The military, especially, was discredited for years. It would gradually rebound to become once again one of the most highly esteemed organizations in the United States. In the main, however, as never before, Americans after the Vietnam War neither respected nor trusted public institutions.
The war in Vietnam deeply split the Democratic Party. As late as 1964, over 60 percent of those surveyed identified themselves in opinion polls as Democrats. The party had won seven of the previous nine presidential elections. But the prosecution of the war alienated many blue-collar Democrats, many of whom became political independents or Republicans. To be sure, other issues--such as urban riots, affirmative action, and inflation--also weakened the Democratic Party. Many former party supporters viewed the party as dominated by its anti-war faction, weak in the area of foreign policy, and uncertain about America's proper role in the world.
Equally important, the war undermined liberal reform and made many Americans deeply suspicious of government. President Johnson's Great Society programs competed with the war for scarce resources, and constituencies who might have supported liberal social programs turned against the president as a result of the war. The war also made Americans, especially the baby boomer generation, more cynical and less trusting of government and of authority.
Today, decades after the war ended, the American people remain deeply divided over the conflict's meaning. A Gallup Poll found that 53 percent of those surveyed believe that the war was "a well intentioned mistake," while 43 percent believe it was "fundamentally wrong and immoral."
Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War began as a small commitment of 30 men in 1962, and increased over the following decade to a peak of 7,672 Australians deployed in South Vietnam or in support of Australian forces there.Australia's most longest and most controversial war was the Vietnam war. Australia enjoyed broad support due to concerns about the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia, and there was military involvement increased a vocal anti-war movement developed. To a large extent this all led to conscription,which means it was a compulsory enrollment of people to some sort of national service, most often military service which had been an issue in Australia dating back to the First World War, however, considerable portions of society were opposed to the war on political and moral grounds.
In November 1970 when 8 RAR completed its tour of duties and assigned tasks and was not replaced, the withdrawal of Australia's forces from South Vietnam began at that point of time. A phased withdrawal followed, and by 11 January 1973 Australian involvement in hostilities in Vietnam had ceased. Nevertheless, Australian troops from the Australian Embassy Platoon remained deployed in the country until 1 July 1973, and Australian forces were deployed briefly in April 1975, during the Fall of Saigon, to evacuate personnel from the Australian embassy.
Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War impacted society in a variety of ways. Today we still deal with an indirect effect related directly to the Vietnam War. The War took place between 1959 and 1975, and Australia was directly involved between August 1962- June 1973. It was the longest war Australia was ever involved in and probably the most controversial. The main purpose in the war was to fight communism as part of a treaty to stop the growth of communism within Asia and Europe. This report discusses the fundamental impacts of Australia's involvement in Vietnam and the impact it had on Australian society including attitudes towards Asia and communism, division and dissent within Australian society and the effects of the war on Australia's War veterans.
Attitudes towards both Asia and communism were different for every individual. However, the majority of Australians were against communism. They liked their way of government and their lifestyles and they wanted to stay the way they were, as a democracy. Â They were keen to eliminate communism in Asian countries. They saw having such close connections with Asia geographically as a threat and that by not fighting communism; they were allowing it to play out in their backyards. The main theory was that if we didn't fight communism, the domino theory would play out and Australia would be at risk from communist attacks. With the initial support of the Australian community, the Australian government approved the decision of South Vietnam to defend itself against communist insurgency and infiltration and added support in the form of an 800 man army. Australia felt the need to protect its legacy as a free country. However, Australia's attitudes began to change as the war was seen like no war had been seen before, it entered the living rooms of Australian citizens.