American History Paper

Per the syllabus, I will accept rough drafts as well as outlines/thesis statements up until July 9, 8:00 am

Please use a standard format for your paper, such as MLA or Turabian style. The text of your paper should be at least 1150 words in length, written in a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Garamond, size 12, with 1-inch margins. Number your pages.

These topics are meant to be open-ended, but students should incorporate any relevant readings that have been assigned as of the due date of the paper. I also encourage you to use outside sources (the final topic will require outside research). Cite any source you use in-text. Do not use any non-professional sources¿when in doubt, email me.

Choose one of the following topics:

3. Discuss the effects of the Vietnam War on American society

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Ahmad Tarigan

Prof. Lisa Vox

HIST 266


Effects of the Vietnam War on America

The Vietnam War likewise referred to as the Indochina War that involved resistance

against America took place 1964 – 1973 (the war is dated variously, but these are the dates of

active combat) (Lawrence 84). The Vietnam War was fought for a very long time, and it was a

conflict between North Vietnam communist government and the South Vietnam government.

North Vietnam is a communist state that was supported by the Soviet Union and China while

southern Vietnam was supported by the anti-communists states such as the United States as well

as the Philippines. The war was due to the cold war that was going on between the United States

and USSR. Give me a clear thesis here. What are you going to argue with regard to the effects on

the US?

The United States of America decided to join Vietnam because it had the fear that if

communism is advocated it may spread further. Vietnam wanted to make their country one

communist state under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh who came from South Vietnam (Lawrence

84). America believed that if one country fell for communism, then there is a high probability

that the neighboring country as well. This was called the Domino theory, and it arose in part

because of China’s transition to communism.

The United States, therefore, took advantage of anything to wage war against the North

Vietnamese and stop the spread of communism. After an ambiguous incident in the Gulf of

Tonkin in 1964, Johnson concluded that the North Vietnamese had fired upon a US ship, giving

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America a reason to escalate the war against Vietnam (Le Espiritu 94). The US Congress gave

the president the authorization to send combat troops against North Vietnam in the Gulf of

Tonkin resolution, which came with many consequences that affected Americans socially,

economically and even politically. The war was never formally declared.

The involvement of America in the war tarnished its reputation across the world because

it was seen to have supported a corrupt government. The president of Vietnam was known to be

a misusing power by being unfair to the people of his country who profane the Buddhist faith.

Example? Who was the president? The United States was not expected to support a non-

democrat state but often did so when an anti-democratic government was willing to support US

interests. When it was discovered that it joined the war because of some selfish reasons its

respect as a superpower was compromised. When was this discovered? Didn’t people realize it

all along? Source? Provide in-text citations for any information that isn’t common knowledge.

What really lost US respect around the world were atrocities like at My Lai, use of napalm etc.

This paragraph might be better devoted to that.

The war took away lots not lots compared to other wars of lives of innocent Americans

who participated in fighting during the war. Lots of families were grieving for their loved ones

who volunteered and some forced to go fight. The approximate number of American soldiers

who died was 58,000 and others wounded numbers. Some who survived came home with

disabilities and their lives were not meaningful because Americans resented them for the war

(Herzog 152). Because of these deaths not just the deaths. It was also against the war because

many believed it was unjust. therefore an opposition group emerged in the United States, which

led to divisions among the Americans.

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Apart from the division that came to America because of the war, it also changed the

view that the Americans had towards the role of the military and how they are supposed to be put

to use when there are foreign conflicts (Erikson 221). The war had a big impact on the lives of

the soldiers who went to fight in Vietnam. After many of them came back home they were so

much affected to an extend coping to the normal life became hard because of what they

experienced. This is repetitive with the previous paragraph. Also, good place to talk about PTSD

and effects of Agent Orange.

While the US soldiers were in Vietnam the counterculture was also increasing drug use

among Americans. Soldiers used drugs like marijuana and heroin while overseas to cope. When

they came back home, some had to enter rehabilitation because of their addiction (Holm 112).

Even though America thought that fighting the war could help them defeat the communist Soviet

Union in the cold war, it ended up backfiring because of the damage done to the US military.

You’re overstating the crimes.

On the other hand, the Vietnam War impacted a lot on the American culture in that it

changes how the Americans view their place in the world. American people believed that they

were the flag bearers of a democratic government and leadership. They had this belief that it was

their obligation to spread the spirit of democracy around the world but after their involvement in

the Vietnam War, their belief changed. Provide specific examples. This is a good place to discuss

the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the government had been lying about the war, as well as the

secret bombings of Laos and Cambodia under Nixon.

This is because some percentage of the Americans felt that the war was started by the

bourgeoisies but the people who went to fight and some got killed are the poor. The peasants felt

used and not cared for because the people who decided to join the war did not consult them but

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then ordered them to fight (Herzog 152). The leaders at the anti-war resistors were the college

students who divided the people and won some to protest with them against us participation in

the Vietnam War. Good place to discuss Kent State shootings.

It is believed that because of the war, the intellectual’s view of the world changed in that

people’s way of thinking was divided into two (Erikson 221). As compared to the previous wars

that the United States had got involved in, there was no consensus during the Vietnam War.

During the Second World War, the whole nation was in a consensus among the state officials

actually there were some anti-war Americans in WW2, but yes there was a majority consensus

and the citizens hence we can say they all had the same objective. End of Cold War consensus

made détente possible though.

Liberalism went into decline because President Johnson tried to pursue the Great Society

at the same time that he waged the war. He failed to sell the public on either, and both pursuits

suffered. The liberal support for the Cold War resulted in criticism from leftists, who saw it as a

capitalistic war. Some intellectuals therefore aimed at proving that indulging in the Vietnam War

was wrong and hence they decided to focus their energy in campaigning against the war which

was successful and the soldiers were brought back home. Well, not quite. Nixon was elected in

1968 on the promise he’d end the war. Instead the war didn’t end until 1973, and he escalated the

war during that time so that combat deaths actually increased. The protests did have an effect on

public opinion, but it’s not clear that they ended the war.

Another effect of the Vietnam War in the United States in that the members of the public

lost trust in the politicians and the government at large. This is because of the pentagon papers

being released which proofed that the American leaders have been in leadership to mislead

people instead of protecting them (Le Espiritu 94). They realized the interests that the

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government officials had in joining the Vietnam War and they felt betrayed by their own.

Provide a date for the Pentagon Papers, and tell me what they are.

Some of the soldiers who came back from the war ended up getting post-traumatic stress

disorder (Holm 112). This disease could not allow them to sleep because of the vivid flashbacks

of the horrible experiences they had in the war. As much as the individuals are affected, their

families are affected too because erasing those memories may not be easy and it will take time

for them to recover. This makes the affected families feel that they are taking other people’s

responsibilities, feel hopeless and may even get depressions. This is repetitive with a prior

paragraph. Make sure you only make each point once.

Vietnam War changed how people looked at politics and the leaders they elected

(Erikson 221). This specifically is depicted from the incident where leaders lied to the people

about the exact number of body counts that were made in the Gulf of Tonkin. This isn’t quite

accurate. The Secretary of Defense made the decision to measure the progress of the war by how

many North Vietnamese and Vietcong were killed. This led soldiers to count any dead person as

an enemy combatant. But it was also just a poor way to measure progress. When the information

leaked that the politicians fabricated the count, most of them were swayed. Most of the people

who were in the Democratic Party became the first to protest against their leaders and the war


I don’t detract points for grammatical errors, but I’ve made those corrections for your

own knowledge. Please work on: providing in-text citations, giving specific examples with dates,

and organization (don’t make repetitive arguments). Be sure that you discuss events in

chronological order. I expect you to discuss Pres. Johnson prior to Pres. Nixon based on when

they served.

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Erikson, Robert S., and Laura Stoker. “Caught in the draft: The effects of Vietnam draft lottery

status on political attitudes.” American Political Science Review (2011): 221-237.

Herzog, Tobey C. Vietnam war stories: Innocence lost. Routledge, 2017.

Holm, Tom. Strong hearts, wounded souls: Native American veterans of the Vietnam War.

University of Texas Press, 2010.

Lawrence, Mark Atwood. The Vietnam War: A concise international history. Oxford University

Press, 2010.

Le Espiritu, Yen. Body counts The Vietnam War and militarized refugees. University of

California Press, 2014.