How the following were all important to the growth of the peace movement in America
All of the above were important and add to the growth of the peace movement in America. This was basically because it was the first real media war. The people in America actually witnessed on television, what was happening over in Vietnam. They were shocked by what was happening to the point that they created vast peace movements and protested until America finally withdrew in 1972.
To begin with the American people were behind the war. They wished with their government to stop the spread of communism. The Americans were very much afraid of communism, as it had been used in many cases for bad. This was shown for the worse in places like Nazi Germany, as Hitler ruled and also in the conflict with Russia. The American government enhanced this fear along with the media to make the people believe that communism was a bad thing for everyone.
When the Americans did enter Vietnam they were backed with the fact that the people believed that the war would be easily won. They believed that the American might would easily crush the Vietcong and all who opposed them. There were only a few who protested against the war, and they protested on moral or religious grounds. There were also those that believed that it didn’t concern America and that they shouldn’t interfere. The cost of American life and money was also a major factor in the peace movement.
The soldiers who were out fighting the war against communism in Vietnam would frequently write home to let their families know they were ok. They enjoyed receiving letters from their family members, but it was what was in these letters that mattered. The letters contained the detailed accounts of what was going on. The letters would give the families of the soldier a whole new look on the war. They would tell of what terrible things were happening, such as the use of chemical weapons and the murdering of innocent civilians. These accounts shocked the families and the American public as they had no real clue as to what the conditions were like. The number of soldiers that were coming home due to injuries or deaths was catastrophic. This led again to more people opposing the war.
The stories coming home included those of Agent Orange and Napalm. These two very harmful substances shocked the people as they heard of them. Agent Orange was a defoliant that was used to wipe out the trees in the vast jungles of Vietnam. This in time proved disastrous as it contaminated the water supplies of the Vietnamese people. The use of napalm also horrified people as they watched the news and various programs relating to Vietnam.
The Napalm would stick to the bodies of its victims often this would include children, as they would bomb a whole village with it. Many people were opposed to the images they saw in the media because they had never really witnessed a war before. They had no real idea what a war was like, as the most they had heard would probably have been from a family member or someone close, telling them about it. The media turned round the views on the war completely. More People began to protest and campaign for peace because of this.
Key incidents that were reported in the media included; the attack at My Lai. The American people were shocked and could not believe what happened there. The scenes that were expressed and shown in the media turned many to peace and protest. They would watch from their own armchairs as they were shown horrific images connected to, the My Lai incident. Their newspapers were full of facts and bad news about the war. They were upset to find that this had happened in all the wars. The governments had kept the news out of the lives of the public in the previous wars to keep up moral, but in Vietnam almost everything was shown. This is what made so many people turn to protesting.
The protests started of small but grew larger as time went on. The new evidence and scenes being shown on television and in the newspapers led more and more people to protest. Some of the evidence they found out was that the GI’s were using drugs to help them fight better. The American public were worried about this and wished to bring the young men back home. As well as the protests there were young Americans that believed in peace. The young minority called themselves hippies and believed in peace and disobedience. They would reject their parents views and would make varying statements such as, “Make Love Not War!!”. This all added to the opposition of the war in Vietnam.
The protestors would do things like:
-Blocking railway lines with human barricades to stop movement of supplies and troops.
-They held huge protest marches and demonstrations in which thousands of people would gather in a key area.
-Protesting about the war and also burning their draft papers showed their anger towards the government.
-They believed that America should pull out of the war as it was nothing to do with them.
In 1968 two Americans set themselves alight in protest against the war. This shows us that people were willing to die because they thought it was wrong to interfere in Vietnam. By 1969 huge protest marches were taking place. On in April 1971 as many as 500,000 people gathered to protest against the war outside the White House. Of these people it included veterans, lawyers, teachers, doctors and many other educated people. This was a change to the hippies and other such people that would normally protest against the involvement of America.
By 1968 the cost of the war in cash and lives was beginning to have a political impact. They realised the strong views the people had and decided to decrease the amount of troops America had in Vietnam. This was known as the Vietnamisation and was introduced by President Nixon in 1969. As America is and was a democracy, the public were influential on the government in the 1960’s as they wished for peace. The politicians have to be aware and listen to the public, but this can be changed through propaganda. Propaganda was used but because of the mass of input from the media it didn’t have the same effect as it did in the other wars that America had fought in.
By 1971 only a few thousand troops remained in Vietnam. A cease-fire was agreed and the war was over but North Vietnam broke this and invaded South Vietnam. By 1975 the whole of Vietnam was communist. It had seemed that America’s involvement had been highly controversial and unproductive in Vietnam. They had wasted lives, money and angered their own people in an attempt to stop the spread of communism.