The Vietnam War was not justified and not popular.
The Vietnam War has been a highly controversial war on the subject of whether or not fighting it was worth it, as far as the men who were drafted, and the many lives that were lost in the loosely given truth that we were fighting against communism. First, we will explore the argument against the war from a veteran who was there to witness the war firsthand in his testimony. Next we will look at Richard Nixon’s speech he gave, urging for the war, to the American people via television entitled “Silent Majority” (Nixon). Lastly, we see how Nixon’s claim to be speaking for the silent majority, compared to Kerry’s information from fellow soldiers and his testimony.
John Kerry was the leader of the veterans’ organization and opposed the war in Vietnam who testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry stated that we had gone to war under false pretenses. Although North Vietnam was a communist party, the people he came across could not tell the difference between a Democratic or Communist party who wanted nothing to do with the war and wished that the Americans would leave their country so they can go on living their lives in peace. The Southern Vietnamese “practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Vietcong, North Vietnamese, or American” (Vietnam War Veteran John Kerry’s Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). Vietnam was a country who was in the middle of a civil war that had fought from the colonization from France, and the number of lives lost would have been significantly lower, and the war period perhaps shorter had we simply stayed out of it. Instead of protecting, and helping the Vietnamese people, he and other soldiers had witnessed or had taken part of savage and immoral acts such as decapitation, rape, humiliation, and other war crimes. American presence in Vietnam had only made the lives of the Vietnamese people worse, and it had taken the lives of thousands of Vietnamese and American men, in a war that had already been lost, but we refused to concede.
Former president Richard Nixon was composed and seated in a position of power when he delivered his speech “The Silent Minority” (Nixon) via television. Nixon explained that we were keeping communism from spreading, at first with aide, and then with troops to Southern Vietnam because China and Russia – powerful communist countries – were assisting Northern Vietnam in the war and that the freedom of those people was “everybody’s business” (Nixon). Nixon claimed that South Vietnam was gaining ground, and we would be withdrawing more of our troops through Vietnamization. Nixon also suggested that the people opposed to the war were far lower in number than those for the war, they were simply more vocal. He suggested that what he was doing was not going against popular opinion; he was making decisions in the interest of the silent majority.
Kerry pointed out that “[t]here is no threat. The Communists are not about to take over our McDonald hamburger stands” (Vietnam War Veteran John Kerry’s Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), and that we were not liberating the Vietnamese, we were, in fact, suppressing and killing them. He stated how he “saw firsthand how money from American taxes was used for a corrupt dictatorial regime” (Vietnam War Veteran John Kerry’s Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). Kerry addressed Nixon’s plan of Vietnamization, when he says “[n]ow we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese…” (Vietnam War Veteran John Kerry’s Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), and suggests that the real reason we don’t withdraw is simply because Nixon doesn’t want to be the first American president to lose a war, despite what Nixon has said. Kerry also refutes Nixon’s claim of the silent majority, by mentioning many people who oppose the war who also aren’t speaking up, by presenting a survey and being accompanied by fellow members of the VVAW. The weight of a testimony from a soldier who has paid the price with sweat, tears, and blood, is heavier than that of a man who all he has to loose, is face. Though Kerry had time to prepare for his testimony, not having a speech written ahead of time gives him more credibility in his version of events that has helped me come to the conclusion that the war in Vietnam was not worth the cost in lives and in currency.