to be achieved. This is something that was, in part, lacking during the Vietnam War. A stable government was never established in South Vietnam, and therefore the people of the south did not feel that they had something worth fighting for. This opened a gulf between the Americans and the Vietnamese as described in the following:
" The Vietnamese people saw the Americans as perpetrators of the suffering
Which the war had brought...the American soldiers did not want to know
The Vietnamese, but wanted only to use them for menial labor, self-
Gratification, and often as scapegoats for the frustrations and anger they felt
Against the enemy and the war...America gave them nothing and expected
Loyalty in return. The Vietnamese people saw only one side of the American
People and the United States and most often it was the worst side."
The lack of support from those the Americans were trying to save, coupled with increasing anti-war protest at home, created a climate unsuitable for winning the war. This situation only worsened as the war progressed up to American withdrawal and the eventual fall of Saigon. The final outcome of the war was inevitable without the full support of the South Vietnamese people.
Eventually, the United States had no choice but to withdraw and leave the war to the South Vietnamese. Even as the fall of Saigon was imminent, America would not re-enter the war despite the mass amounts of money and human life spent in an attempt to halt the spread of communism.
In conclusion, the most important factor in deciding the outcome of the Vietnam War was the lack of support that came both from South Vietnam and from activists at home. Billions of dollars and thousands of lives were sacrificed for a cause that was lost from the start: the liberation of a people who did not want the American brand of freedom being offered. The war left behind an embarrassing legacy as well as deep wounds that have yet to heal even today. Many veterans were left disillusioned as they returned home to be treated as villains rather than heroic defenders of freedom. Casualties were suffered even by those who did not fight in Vietnam, as protestors were shot at Kent State University. The United States had
drastically altered its image throughout the world, driving away her allies as a result of the war. In a war without support, " an entire American army was sacrificed on the battlefield of
Vietnam" and "it will be at least a generation before. Vietnam' will mean anything but a war of agony, frustration, and humiliation."
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2) Fulbright, J. William, The Arrogance of Power. Random House, Inc., 1966
3) McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. Toronto:
Random House of Canada Limited, 1995.
4) Stanton, Shelby L. The Rise and Fall of an American Army: US Ground Forces in Vietnam.
Novato: Presidio Press, 1985.
5) Welsh, Douglas. The History of the Vietnam War. Greenwich: Bison Books Corp, 1981
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7) Winthrop D. Jordan. The Americans. Illinois: McDougal Littell/Houghton Miffin Inc., 1996