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Vietnam War - Research Paper Example

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Instructor name Date Did the Vietnam War Expose the Limitations of American Power? The Vietnam War confirmed that there are indeed limitations to a military superpower’s capacity to enforce its will on other nations and political systems…
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Download file to see previous pages will become mired in other foreign affairs quagmires which again will weaken the military, economic strength and its political status within the world community. This same lesson was never learned by the long defunct Roman Empire. A similar outcome looms for America if it continues to replicate the mistake that was Vietnam. A result of justifications emanating from Cold War, anti-communism sentiments, Vietnam became the standard by which American military power limitations can be measured. Following the allied defeat of Japan in 1945, the U.S. became embroiled in a battle over military power and political ideology with the former Soviet Union that was showcased on a world-wide scale for more than four decades, the Cold War. Communism was America’s declared enemy during this era. The U.S. drew a symbolic line in the sand in Southeast Asia after the Soviets built the Berlin Wall and continued in its aspirations to dominate other Eastern European nations. The fiasco that was Vietnam triggered anti-military reactions for the majority of Americans whose subsequent response contributed to the Cold War’s end. Vietnam also forced America to rethink the fundamental purpose of its military power and question the scope of its capability to force it’s will in foreign nations whether, for example, in the deserts of the Middle East or the jungles of Southeast Asia. In addition the U.S. was forced to question its general foreign policy viewpoint and subsequent strategies. (Hogan, 2006) “U.S. foreign policy, from its abandonment of isolationism at the ending of the 19th century to its status as the sole remaining superpower, has always been centered on the promotion and conservation of its own interests and ‘the advancement of civilization,’ the exercise of power to assert itself beyond the bounds of the American continents in ‘the interest of civilization and of humanity’ and its own selfish interests.” (Olney, 2004) This re-evaluation phase lasted about 40 years, from the mid-1970’s until early 2003. The U.S. enjoined the Cold War period, Vietnam War and invasion of Iraq to ostensibly spread democracy to subjugated peoples of the world (the official explanation) and with great confidence of victory. Both military conflicts offered a comparable paradigm: the capability of the U.S. to utilize its armed forces as a political, social and ideological tool is limited. indisputably, America entered Vietnam with somewhat of a arrogance assuming the North Vietnamese would bow to the powerful American military and that the South Vietnamese would gladly accept and adjust to a western nation style of democratic governance. Former U.S. national Security Advisor under President Nixon and Secretary of State (1973-1977) Henry Kissinger stated America entered Vietnam with a “brash confidence in the universal applicability of America’s prescriptions.” (Kissinger, 2003) The ironic epilogue to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam is that America entered into this horrific and bloody and enduring conflict believing it to be the ‘knight in shining armor’ for the South Vietnamese people. Its leaders did this without appreciating that the South Vietnamese were fighting to be free from a North Vietnamese government that symbolized the same colonialist, imperialistic ideology as did the American government. (Ignatieff, 2003) This lack of military success in Vietnam was not because the U.S. lacked fire-power. It was due to a failure to understand the opponent. Although ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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