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The timeline of events for the Vietnam conflict is 1961 through 1964. In 1961, the President Kennedy sent a total of 400 military advisors to Vietnam, and by December 1964, 23,000 advisors were stationed in Vietnam. Many beginning battles of the long war between the South Vietnamese troops led by the US and the North Vietnam army were fought during this time. The Vietnam War was waged between the Communist North Vietnamese and their Communist sympathizers the Viet Cong versus the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, and South Vietnam (Blattberg 12). The main combatants were the United States and the North Vietnam Army together with the Viet Cong guerillas. Most of the events took place in Vietnam. Vietnam is located in South East Asia on the Vietnam Peninsula. It borders China, Laos, Cambodia, and the South China Sea.
This critical thinking essay example focuses on the Vietnam War and some significant aspects related to it. This critical analysis will also explore the concept of ‘Just War Wage Policies’ (JWPs), which was widely used in the Vietnam conflict.
First, Vietnam had been divided by the World War II allies into two separate countries: North Vietnam and South Vietnam, in 1954. Second, the United States and South Vietnam sponsored each other, and the Communists sponsored North Vietnam. Third, the Communist North wanted all of Vietnam to become one country, but they were opposed by the Democratic South. Fourth, the North began military actions to defeat the South and make Vietnam one country.
Indeed, the Just War Wage Policies (JWPs) were famous with the Vietnam War of 1961-64. However, it can be critically argued that the JWPs might fail in certain war cases owing to several challenges such as terrorism, lethal weapons, and genocide issues, which render this policy ineffective. Therefore, it is important to re-think whether this policy was actually important in the Vietnam war, and through such analysis, the scholars of history might be in a position to advise policy makers to either adopt or reject this war strategy.
The Just Wage War Policy can be analyzed under different contexts. First, it is important to argue that the policy constitutes ‘jus ad bellum’, which justifies the underlying principles and reasons of taking the war advances. In addition, the study can be centered on the principle of ‘jus in bello’, which deals with justices concerning war conducts. Another principle to be analyzed under the JWPs approach in the Vietnam War is that of ‘jus post bellum’, which is concerned with war conclusions as well as the establishments of the peace settlement programs after the war (Biondi 119). In essence, the analysis of JWPs in this war would entail critical exploration of the ‘jus in bello’, with the aim of determining the combatants and non-combatants, and this is important in the sense that it makes it possible to prevent unnecessary loss of life among the innocent civilians. This principle is directly linked to that of ‘jus ad bellum’, which can be used to ascertain the causes that justify the conflicting countries going to war (Biondi 120).
In this analysis, the focus is not centered on rejecting or disapproving the relevance of the Just Wage War Policy in the Vietnam’s case, but the essence is to establish its effectiveness in achieving the intended goals. For instance, the JWPs in the Vietnam War led to loss of lives among innocent citizens; thus, it would be important to rethink or even revise this policy approach. Besides, it is important to incorporate religious variants as well as secure elements when addressing the suitability of adopting the JWPs in the Vietnam War since elements of moral and justice should not be overlooked when countries are going into war (Evans 1). Such loss of lives and destruction of property do not justify a country’s engagement in war activities. Therefore, war should be adopted as the last resort only if all the possible non-violent choices have been fully exhausted (Blattberg 12).
Even though the democratic South Vietnam, under the support of the United States, refused to comply with the communist North Vietnam’s request to unite Vietnam as one country, the latter with the backing of other communist countries were not justified in waging war against the former. Under this, the support against the implementation of the JWPs can be evidenced in the sense that there were other possible avenues to address the concerns, which might include the non-governmental organizations, religious based organizations, and International Law on Human Rights (ILHR). Another example was witnessed when North Vietnam attacked the United States in 1964 (Daryl 592). Though the American governments could argue that the war was justified in this case since the North Vietnamese interfered with their sovereignty, still there were other avenues to address the issues and reach a peaceful agreement under the international law (Walzer 1).
Moreover, the adoption of the JWPs in the Vietnam War was not appropriate in the sense that it failed to establish a permanent agreement between the North and the South Vietnamese. In addition, it did not take into account the justice and moral principles; thus, it violated the fundamental human rights. Therefore, it should have just been adopted as the last resort.
In August 1964, North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked two United States destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. This action brought about a justification for the United States to begin sending troops into Vietnam because they were attacked by North Vietnam, but in 1961, American troops were already in Vietnam as Military advisors fighting alongside the South Vietnamese army soldiers. Moreover, in August 1964, the United State Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution instructing the President Johnson to take the required measures to prevent any form of attacks which are directed against the United States force so as to eliminate military aggressions (Biondi 121). According to the American’s public view, this justified the American Military involvement in Vietnam’s important battles or actions of this conflict including the level of violence used and methods/strategies employed.
According to Martin Luther King, it was not a good decision for the America to wage a conflict against the Vietnam. This statement is supported by the following quotations from Luther’s speech: "A Time to Break Silence," was delivered at Riverside Church, New York City, on April 4, 1967. It is a statement against war in principle, in the same sense in which King's "Letter from Birmingham City Jail," published four years earlier, had been a statement against social injustice in principle. Yet like that extraordinary earlier appeal, "A Time to Break Silence" is also addressed to the evils of a particular time and place. It protests the command and deployment by Lyndon Johnson of almost unlimited violence against the people and the land of Vietnam for the declared purpose of protecting them from the menace of world communism (Bromwich 1).
Focusing on this article, Martin Luther King Jr. uses various arguments to support his civil rights purposes and justifications against the conflict. Luther argued that he was capable of successfully leading his oppressed community in championing for their rights. In addition, he wanted to create some rejections to immoral behaviors. Once Luther’s letter was published across America, his audience would definitely react towards his support and commitment to liberating them from oppression, and making sure that justice and morality prevailed in the society. He wanted his audience to come to a conclusion that there was a need for peace and unity. Besides, the audience would come to a conclusion that Luther was championing for their independence through civil rights.
Moreover, David Bromwich reaffirmed Martin Luther King’s position on the Vietnam War and said that: Thus far, the condemnation has been general, but King now moves to speak of the National Liberation Front and North Vietnam – both, in 1967, still considered off limits in public discussion, even though it was generally known that a negotiated settlement without their participation would be meaningless. Whatever our actions might say, American intentions, as all Americans agreed, were unselfish; and, though Vietnam might be the home of the Vietnamese, millions of them had been grossly deceived and misled. As for the North Vietnamese and the NLF, no good would ever come from them. Martin Luther King offered a radical challenge to each of these premises; yet the method (King believed) for showing America the false conceit of its innocence was to acknowledge the harm done to Vietnam alongside a catastrophe nearer to home (Bromwich 1).
Indeed, this justification portrays Martin Luther’s position against waging conflicts, especially the Vietnam War.
This account on the Vietnam War was provided by Phil Caputo, who arrived at Vietnam in the month of March in 1965. As a Marine Lieutenant, he could mainly describe the war experiences rather as a self-destruction. This statement would, therefore, mean that he was against his country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In his opinion, this was a rather costly venture, which should never have been undertaken by the Americans.
The Army Nurse Corps involved in the Vietnam War were mainly female nurses who were deployed to take care of the causalities. Even though this was a difficult task, the officers entrusted with the task of providing medical attention and care did their best:
The officers of the Army Nurse Corps cared for soldiers in their hour of greatest need. They nursed, they comforted, and they made sure no patient died alone. They selflessly endured countless hours of their patient’s pain, sorrow, screams, blood, mutilation and at times death. And when it was over, the officers of the Army Nurse Corps quietly came home. All paid an emotional price for that year in Vietnam (West 5).
Even though, these important achievements were made by the Army Nurse Corps, who were mainly women, it was important to consider deploying more men to the combatant zones. This was due to the fact that it was not prudent to leave such difficult tasks to women alone. Men would also provide their physical might and skills in this noble venture. Moreover, both men and women Army Nurse Corps were to be thoroughly trained on handling critical causalities witnessed during the Vietnam War.
The use of media was mainly employed during the Vietnam conflict to promote propaganda. The North Vietnamese used propaganda effectively during the Vietnam War to eventually stop the war. They used the media to promote their side, portraying North Vietnam as victim to Western aggression by using pictures of bombing victims, leaflets, and using celebrities who were sympathetic to their fight for independence such as Jane Fonda and Mulholland Ali. They influenced college students and young Americans to take up there to stop the war. They tried to change ideas of black soldiers with leaflets reminding them that they were as oppressed as they were.
The United States countered with their own propaganda by dropping leaflets and giving amnesty to any fighter who would change sides. The Americans used the media to foster the belief that it was a just cause to fight the Vietnamese. Indeed, this is what made them portray HoChin Minh as an evil person, whereby the North Vietnamese portrayed him as a benevolent grandfather who looked after his children. Media was mainly used to change the public view on this war. This made the American public believe that the United States was winning the war. However, this strategy of propaganda could not last for a long time, and the Vietnam War ended by the United States troops leaving the South Vietnamese army to fight alone against the North. The North invaded and conquered the South, thus unifying the country (Daryl 594).
Both the Vietnam and Afghanistan conflicts left many casualties. Even though the use of excessive military force was restrained in both cases, there were several victims of these wars. For example, in Afghanistan, the United States military suffered a lot in the fight against the Al-Qaeda terror network. The military suffered injuries, abductions, and losses of life to the terror group’s insurgents. This has compromised security in the Middle East region. However, most of the terror gangs were eliminated and others arrested, but some are still at large. It is worth noting that the result of such an intervention left a majority of civilians caught in the stand-off and great suffering; for example, majority was displaced, while others were abducted. Children and women were raped, while a good number lost their lives. This explains how bad the situation was in both conflicts.
On the contrary, the Vietnam conflict was witnessed earlier than the Afghanistan one. The former was experienced from 1961 to 1964, while the latter was first witnessed in 1978. Moreover, the Afghanistan conflict intensified during the period from 2001 to 2011. Another contrast was seen in the causes of these two conflicts. In Vietnam, the cause of the conflict was mainly due to the differences in the communist ideology between the North and South Vietnamese. The latter sought for the US military support to fight the communist North Vietnamese. The US was further provoked when the communist North Vietnamese launched an attack on them. However, the situation was quite different in the case of the Afghanistan conflict, which was mainly launched to fight Taliban insurgents and other terrorists (Blattberg 13).
In both cases the United States appeared to have lost the wars, but it was not very clear whether the attacked countries won. As a result, peaceful agreements or treaties were signed in both cases. In Vietnam’s case, this took place after 1964, while in Afghanistan, strategic agreements to end the war and completely withdraw the US troops from the country is still ongoing. This poses a worrying concern whether the United States is willing to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan. It would be important to send the American troops back home, especially after killing Osama bin Laden. However, this conflict seems to be far from over since the America is still determined to clear the Taliban insurgents and the Al-Qaeda terror networks.
This group of soldiers complained bitterly about the poor leadership, which was largely witnessed by Saigon. Such poor leadership attributes and qualities affect the operations of the whole army. This is due to the fact that soldiers cannot effectively perform when the army officers are exposed to harsh and inhumane practices, as witnessed in the case of the Vietnam War. The same sentiments can be echoed and supported by military experts who attest to the claim that good leadership and proper management is relevant and necessary in wars. Indeed, these ARVN soldiers were not given good incentives. They were never provided with good training and security facilities, which are necessary in wars. On the contrary, their US counterparts were properly fed, given the best security, and provided with adequate benefits. Besides, their families were also given good treatment and securities (Blattberg 14).
Such grumbling that was witnessed among the ARVN soldiers could not allow them to effectively fight in the battlefields as they were expected to. However, there is no sufficient evidence that can support these claims from the ARVN soldiers. In certain cases, the subjects often complain about their leaders, and this can as well be attested to these claims. Arguably, it is not important to discredit every claim from the ARVN soldiers, and the best a historical scholar can do is to carry out analytical, consultative, and extensive research on these allegations.
Summing up, it can be argued that the Vietnamese at the beginning of the war wanted to unite North and South that had been divided in 1954 into one communist nation; however, at the end of the war, North and South Vietnam was indeed combined into one communist nation. The Americans lost the war, but will not admit it. Moreover, it was evidenced that the misuse of media to communicate war propaganda messages could no longer work to the Americans advantage. In fact, one of the many reasons why the war was lost was that finally the people of South Vietnam did not want to continue fighting the war and the Americans did not want to continue without their help. Their war against the French and the Americans lasted from 1945-1975, thirty years.