Understanding the Vietnam War

Written by Dr. Thomas Bruce
Category: · History

The Vietnam War, also called the Vietnam Conflict, is one of the great defining wars in American’s history, with an influence on the American psyche only surpassed by the Civil War. The armies of the United States have won and lost many battles during the wars it has become engaged it, but until Vietnam America had never actually lost a war. Lost is probably too strong a word to use. The American homeland was never attacked, and US forces were never decisively defeated in the field. America simply failed to win the war. The nation was unable to find the tactics to defeat the enemies will to continue fighting, while the war drained their own stamina to persevere with the conflict any longer. The ultimate withdrawal of US armed forces from Vietnam bruised America’s ego and shook their confidence, both in the abilities of their armed forces, and in the morality of their actions.

For all the firepower that the most modern and powerful nation in the world could bring to bear, America found itself unable to overcome the incursions of a small and backward third world nation. Used to fighting large scale conventional wars, with well-defined boundaries and clearly identified enemy combatants, Vietnam was America’s first major foray into the dark world of insurgent warfare. With an undefined enemy and an unclear political agenda, America found itself stumbling in turmoil, struggling to find a strategy to end a devastating war that was tearing apart both Vietnam and their own nation.


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