To put the movement in perspective, however, it is essential to examine the unifying themes of the protest in its ties to the domestic politics and social consequences from 968, the height of the movement. The Et Offensive of January 30-31, 1968, resulting in 110 and 20,000 American and Viet Congo casualties, respectively, was the trigger to all of the chaos that was aroused in anti-war sentiments. The series of surprise attacks during the Et Festival came just when the government had proclaimed that they can “see the light at the end of the tunnel. The graphic images of American troops defending the Embassy in Saigon on TV, the pictures of napalm burnt children published on Ramparts magazine, the alliance between the African-American leaders and anti-war ideals, the troop presence in Vietnam of nearly 500,000, as well as the death rate of 25,000, prompted the public to question the real political incentive of America’s involvement in Vietnam, and moreover, the efficiency and truthfulness of the government itself.
American spokespeople had quickly pointed to the military failure of the Vietnamese Communists; the public realized the dramatic scrapping between what the optimistic claims made by the US government that the war had already been won and America’s political and psychological defeat. General William C. Wasteland stated that in order to fully defeat the Viet Congo, 200,000 more American soldiers, and a call-up of reserves (a step no President would want to take) need be sent to the South Pacific.
A day after the New York Times publication for the request for more troops, President Johnson was letdown by the results in the United States Democratic Party New Hampshire Primary, almost losing to Senator Eugene McCarthy, an anti-war candidate for presidency. Robert F. Kennedy, soon after, joined the contest for Democratic nomination and emphasized the failure in Et for Johnson to step down. With three nominees divided on the same war within the same party, it is also clear that the Vietnam War had hit home and divided the entire country.
Evidently, it became clear to the US public, even those who ported the war, that the current government’s strategy was questionable, that domestic political turmoil is not only confusing, but also contributing to the resilience and victory of the Viet Congo. The Et Offensive illustrated the American opposition that branched from the awareness of inefficient political and militaristic strategy and further divided the public and the government, creating more domestic schisms and offensives than that of abroad.
Quintessentially, democratic public, when denied truth and access to accurate information and a prognosis of a war they are fighting, cannot stand beside the government they are supposed to serve. In March, another severe blow on American domestic morale caused a greater magnitude of opposition to the Vietnam War the My Alai Massacre. On March 16, a unit of the U. S. Army division, led by Alt. William L.
Called invaded the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Alai (or Son My), a supposed Viet Congo stronghold and during the course of combat operations, almost 350 unarmed civilians, many of which were women and children, were shot to death, raped and tortured. Made known the next year, the incident shocked the public and raised questions as to why the IIS is involved, whether they are the enemy or liberator of Vietnam, and also the psychological state of the American troops. Another reason why My Alai further provoked opposition to he war is the international feedback and response to the atrocity.
The noted purpose of US troop presence is for the preservation of democracy in Vietnam, yet the world witnessed a war crime which flamboyantly demonstrated the opposite. Many more potential draftees filed for conscientious objector status, and more stories of abuses from soldiers dared come into light. Perhaps a greater troubling factor is the image of Vietnam veterans to the American public, since the event antagonized and distanced the public from the troops they were meant to support. As a result, more soldiers struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and homeless when they returned.
Stronger leadership was needed among troops, and most college educated, draft resisting potential officers were not in the pool of consideration. A final event of 1 968 to note is the failure of the Paris Peace talks which began in May. By the time President Johnson had turned over presidency to Richard Nixon eight months into the talk, as PBS says, “the only thing two sides had agreed on was the shape of the conference table. ” The CSS demanded the absence of northern troops in South Vietnam, and the Viet Congo refused a provisional South Vietnam government which included Unguent Van Tithe.
Very little progress was made until the summer of 1 972, when the Viet Congo wanted the complete withdrawal of US presence and bombing and Nixon had other foreign political targets to pursue. And so, the Paris Peace talks in and of themselves did little to stop the war, rather, at the end of the final peace accord, Singer justified it by saying “We believed that those who opposed the war in Vietnam would be satisfied with our withdrawal, and those who favored an honorable ending would be satisfied if the United States would not destroy an ally. Many more notable events spurred more distrust for the government and disdain for the war, including President Johnny’s resignation from elections in March, the police riot that broke out in the midst of antiwar protests at the Democratic national Convention in Chicago in August, the $2000 million per month in economic resources that the war is costing and the fact that the “Great Society” Lyndon Johnson envisioned had no financial flow to back it.
The chemical warfare, usage of Agent Orange, pesticides and napalm, the indiscriminate killing nature of Search and Destroy missions and the inference by the government that life is not as valuable in Asia were all incentives for opposition against a war against a nonsensical threat of Vietnamese nationalism. All in all, many Americans believed that the war was not only a waste of spending, lives and focus, but also a war that lacked just incentive, firm foresight, and a government capable of uniting a home front in able to win it. Bibliography: “Timeline: Vietnam on the battlefields and the home front.