The War in Vietnam
The Who, what, when, where, and why of the War in Vietnam
The first troops set foot in Vietnam on November 1st 1955. The U.S. government claimed that they were waging war against Communism in Vietnam. The Vietnamese themselves call this war the "Resistance War against America". With Communism being a big threat in the U.S., the American people saw the war rationalized and supported it. Their perspective wouldn't stay that way, though.
The government gave the war momentum by claiming that they were fighting Communism. The American people not only believed this, but they also supported it as Communism was a big fear of America. Soon afterwords, however, reporters were sent to Vietnam to bring updates on the war to the American population. What they reported made the war seem more barbaric and not worth it though. This turned many Americans against the war, because it looked more like killing civilians and wasting troops than fighting communism. One example would be of how a US ship sank in a port in Vietnam, and the media split between a Vietnamese attack and a government conspiracy. Another example would be napalm. Designed to stick to flesh and burn to the bone, some reporters took photos of discovered enemy bases ablaze. Others took photos of Vietnamese children running from the flames.
Different types of criticism say the same general thing about the Vietnam war: It had good intentions at first, but it wasn't really worth it in the end. Using archetypal criticism, the war in Vietnam could at first be seen as fighting the "good" fight, and then turning for the worst against fighting the power. Through a Marxist lens, it was US imperialism against armed peasants in Vietnam, that somehow managed to drive out the invaders.
The War Against the War
When the war started, American citizens supported it as Communism was a big fear at the time. But, as they never realized the lengths that the government would go to stop it. Vietnam was just this place in Asia that had communists in it to them. When they saw that Vietnam didn't pose much of a threat to the U.S. itself, their opinions changed completely. When they saw that their troops were fighting to keep rice paddies and small villages from coming under communist control, the American people were infuriated. Protesters and rioters are rebelled against the government until they finally began to call the troops back home.