Why the United States became involved in the war in Vietnam Essay Sample
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Why the United States became involved in the war in Vietnam Essay Sample
Source A is more useful than not. It is useful because it does actually tell you many reasons why America joined the war, although not directly. For example, when Johnson says “We fight in Vietnam because we have a promise to keep”, he is actually talking about the Truman Doctrine and containment. This is where Truman said that America would help any country fight off the communists if they attacked them. Johnson also talks about many other reasons America joined the war, like The Domino Theory and Political legacy.
The source also tells you the reason the American government used with the public, they said their objective was the “freedom of the people of South Vietnam”. You would also expect Johnson to lie in this source as he is trying to make the war sound good to the public. However he does not lie at all, it is all truthful although he doesn’t tell you everything. However the utility of source A is limited because of the Provenance. Johnson is speaking to the public a month after the war has started so he can not say anything bad about the war or he would sound stupid.
He is trying to win public support for the war. Another thing which makes the source limited is that it misses out a lot of key facts. For example, Johnson does not mention anything about the South being too weak to fight the North as that would make the government look stupid as they have been pumping lots of money into the south to make it stronger. Johnson also misses out all about Diem being unpopular and about the fixed elections and about the rivalry the Americans have with communism.
I am also not entirely convinced that Johnson is telling the whole truth. He doesn’t tell any lies but he could be exaggerating some points. So this source is more useful than not because it does tell you a lot of reasons that the war was started. It has a lot of facts in it. However it is not perfect as it has a lot of problems with it like the provenance. Source B is even more useful than source A. It was also from President Johnson but it was a private conversation. This makes it less likely that he would be trying to hide facts.
Also it was a year before the war started so he is not under as much pressure to talk it up, and as you can see from the source, he actually wants to try and get out of getting in to a war. This source also talks about a lot of reasons that the war started, although again Johnson doesn’t mention them directly, for example when he says “they’d bring a president down if he ran out” he is talking about political legacy that is the other presidents started Vietnam and he has to carry on or he will be run out of office.
There are also other reasons that he mentions, the domino theory and the containment policy are both mentioned and the source also shows that the Americans were scared of communism. The source is also very revealing about what Johnson really thought about Vietnam. He says “I don’t think it’s worth fighting for” which is something he wouldn’t have said in public or maybe Johnson has just not made his mind up about the war yet. This source is also limited. You don’t know who Johnson is speaking to.
If he is speaking to another politician he may still not be saying what he really thinks, or he could be speaking to close friend who he trusts and be telling them everything. It could also be made up as we don’t know how it was recorded, if it was just a private conversation. Also it still does not cover all the reasons that the Americans got involved in the war. It misses out again that the Americans and Diem never had fair elections and fails to mention that nobody liked Diem and the strong north. This means that it is not perfect as it does not give you all the facts.
So overall I think that source B is more useful than source A as it has more reasons to be believable and it is less likely that Johnson is exaggerating. However it is still not perfect as it still has problems with the provenance and the reasons. Together Source A and B are much more useful as they can be used to back each other up. In source A you do not know whether Johnson actually believes what he is saying but because he says it again in what is probably an environment with less pressure it is more likely to be true.
For example Johnson says in source A “The battle would be renewed in one country and then another. ” Here he is talking about the Domino theory that if one country falls to communism then the next one will, then the next one, and so on and so on and in Source B Johnson talks about “They may chase you into your own kitchen” so this means that it is more likely he does believe the domino theory and is genuinely worried about as he not only says it publicly but privately too.
But even together these sources are limited they still don’t mention all the reason America joined the war and if Johnson is still talking to someone who he can’t say what he really thinks then they do not really back each other up at all. Source C is very different. It is not as useful as the others as it does not refer to any facts or information that I know to be true. And it doesn’t actually give any real reason that I can see for the Americans getting involved in the war. He says that the Americans were trying to control the South by bombing it and making it poor but then why did the Americans give the South money.
He also says that the Americans didn’t want Vietnam to improve its economy but that is exactly why they were giving it money. It wasn’t their fault Diem was taking it all for himself. It does not make sense. Noam Chomsky also has personal reasons for making the war seem wrong, as he was banned from speaking during the war and so bears a grudge. Noam Chomsky was also trying to sell his book and being controversial is a very good way of selling his book, so this could have been a reason for making the war look bad.
Noam Chomsky was also biased against the war as he could benefit from hindsight. He already knew that America lost the war so knew that it was a bad idea. He has also got things wrong in the source. He says “There were no Vietnamese around anyway” meaning that there were no North Vietnamese around. I know this to be wrong. The North Vietnamese were assassinating 4000 South Vietnamese government officials a year. And his theory that the war was in fact against the south doesn’t make sense as there were millions of bombs dropped on the north as well.
However there are some useful things about the source. That it is after the war is useful in some ways as there will not be as much emotion about the war and people will be able to speak with out so much backlash and be able to think more clearly. It is also useful to get an alternative view about the war and see what the other side thought. Noam Chomsky did get some things right like that the “south was devastated”. It was. America dropped a lot of bombs on the southern jungle and destroyed a lot of it because it was trying to get the North Vietnamese, who were hiding in the jungle.
So this source is really not all that useful as it does not give many facts or fit with the knowledge that I already have. However it does give another view point which is useful So in conclusion I think that these sources do give you quite a lot of information. However even with all three of them together it does not give you all the reasons why America joined the war. There is no mention of Diem or the strength of the North and the weakness of the south and the provenance of all three of the sources makes them not 100% believable.