The view that US military intervention in Vietnam was ‘more a necessity than a tragic error’ is an orthodox standpoint, the view that US military intervention was necessary may have been perceived by the Americans at that time to be correct because of America’s policy of ‘containment’ and in addition to this, the prestige America invested into the war in Vietnam. However, the lack of benefit Vietnam offered America, America’s blurring of Russian communism and Vietnamese ‘nationalism’ as well as the extremely taxing effects of the war allow for the conclusion that military intervention in Vietnam was in fact, a tragic error.During the Vietnam War, America’s initial policy of ‘limitation’ proved unsuccessful, thus America’s role and consequently their military involvement increased dramatically in the area. The fact that this policy of limitation was adopted in the first place shows that Vietnam was at first not considered a necessity, however as America became more and more involved in the war, so did the importance of military intervention in Vietnam.
The American’s perceived military intervention in Vietnam as necessary due to the American policy of ‘containment’.This fact that North Vietnam was deemed by the Americans as ‘communist’ due to their nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh qualified this policy to come into affect and Vietnam as an area to be contained from communist aggression, military intervention in Vietnam was deemed extremely important as an area to contain from communism because of its proximity to Japan, and the threat of communism spreading to the newly American-leaning Japan offered extreme danger for the Americans and the promotion of their capitalist system.The necessity for containment was exacerbated by the rise of communist China as a powerhouse for communism. This fear of the spread of communism was enforced by Eisenhower’s ‘Domino Theory’ which highlighted the necessity of American intervention in Vietnam in order to prevent the ‘falling of the domino of communism’ which would result in other Asian countries following this pattern of going communist and of other ‘Asian wars of liberation’.The threat of the active spread of communism was confirmed by the ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ incident, which showed that communism was advancing and becoming more aggressive in its means. Therefore, military intervention and its importance presented through the policy of NSC68 was seen as entirely necessary to protect America’s capitalist system against communism, and for the containment of communism as a whole. In addition to this, military intervention was deemed by the Americans as essential because of the American prestige invested into the operation.
America’s reputation was on the line in its dealings with Vietnam because of its role as ‘the world’s leading nation’ due to this America had to intervene militarily to affirm its allies, especially France, Britain and other countries who were within range of the USSR that America would fight, defend and protect them from any Soviet aggression, this was necessary in maintaining the capitalist system in these area’s as well as maintaining these allies and scaring off American opposition.In addition to this, Vietnam was seen as a test of America’s reliability as well as a chance to uphold its promise to protect all ‘Free nations’ of the world. Military intervention in Vietnam was further seen as necessary in fixing America’s reputation after its loss of China, this was seen as an opportunity for America not to make the same mistakes as they did in China, and therefore take a hardline approach in its dealings with Vietnam to assure they could not be blamed (due to lack of military involvement) for losing another Asian state to communism.Military involvement was further seen as necessary to the Americans as they underestimated the power of the Vietminh, due to this America held the belief that they would win the war because of their superiority in air and firepower, this confidence expressed in the speech that highlighted the belief that America was winning the war in Vietnam, through their approach of ‘calculation’ ,nspired the continuation of military involvement in Vietnam. In addition to this, military intervention was necessary because the Americans did not trust the South Vietnamese to do the job of safeguarding capitalist policy in Vietnam.Therefore, the Americans believed that US military involvement was indeed a necessity. However, American military intervention in Vietnam can be seen as a tragic error, this view is supported by the fact that Vietnam held no true benefit to the Americans materially, and was deemed as a war without any true cause for the Americans. This made Vietnam much more of an error than a necessity because Vietnam was not a priority for the Americans or even a land of importance, this is supported by the fact that it was not designated as a key area to protect from communism.
Furthermore, Vietnam was a tragic error because of the wars extremely taxing nature. This is mainly due to the extreme amounts of financial aid pumped into Vietnam by the Americans for the purpose of weaponry; the extreme cost of the war is supported by the bombing campaigns endorsed by the Americans and the fact that more bombs were dropped in Vietnam than in the history of war itself for a war of so little cause to the Americans.The Vietnam war was not only taxing economically but in addition to this, in casualties and in the deaths of American soldiers such as experienced in the Tet offensive this therefore verified that America was most definitely not winning the war and that their policy of military intervention was not working in this area.The consequences of this unsuccessful military intervention shown through television was further detrimental as it inspired extreme ‘anti-war feeling’ at home as well as amongst the US soldiers, this lack of morale amongst the soldiers led to questioning of the American government and loss of support for them, as opposed to the strong support and high morale of the Vietminh and Vietcong. The impotency of American military intervention affirms that military intervention was in fact a mistake; this is due to America’s misunderstanding of the context of the war and of the Vietcong and Vietminh.The blurring of Soviet communism with Asian nationalism by the Americans not only caused them to act in extremities but also disallowed them to take into consideration that the Vietminh were undeterred by all their efforts(such as their bombing raid) as they were fighting for a cause.
The war and the military devotion of the Americans was deemed as an error because of its ultimate insignificance towards the outcome of the war as they did not know how to approach guerrilla warfare, and instead treated it as a conventional warfare case.Therefore, the US military intervention in Vietnam may have been seen by the Americans to be necessary in the containment of communism as well as in affirming Americas reputation as a leading power, however, US military intervention in Vietnam seem as a tragic error due to the extreme losses America suffered both economically and in casualties for a cause that held no true benefit for the Americans (natural recourse-wise). Furthermore, intervention was seen as an error due the lack of morale inspired in American soldiers and America’s misunderstanding of Vietnamese context.