The pentagon papers - Essay Example

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Moreover, beyond energizing anti-war protesters and thinkers within society, the publication of the “Pentagon Papers” revealed the fact…
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The impact of the “Pentagon Papers” was that they provided even further fuel for those that were against the involvement in Vietnam. Moreover, beyond energizing anti-war protesters and thinkers within society, the publication of the “Pentagon Papers” revealed the fact that many individuals had begun to tacitly accept; the fact that the United States government was downplaying, covering up, and downright lying about its involvement within the Vietnam War (Small, 2003). The impact with regards to the provision of a society that was founded upon civil liberties and democracy were two fold. Firstly, it came to be known that Nixon had sought a way to illegally discredit and outright stop Ellsberg during his first and only term as president. This understanding and realization was worth more than most people initially realized; due to the fact that the desire to stifle dissent and promote continued engagement in Vietnam was an issue that both political parties tacitly supported. Secondly, the impact upon society with respect to an understanding of democracy was one that encouraged people to question what the government actually was taking part in; no longer was allowing for the luxury of believing spokesmen with respect to the activities that were going on within the military or within governance. As such, the principal values that were eroded with respect to this situation can be determined to be predicated upon public trust in the government.
Further, the impact upon the constitutional strength of the first amendment was also profound. The underlying reason for this has do to with the fact that even though individuals within the government originally sought to prosecute those responsible for the publication of these documents, any effort to do so was eventually understood as causing further damage to the administration. Similar to the situation of Edward Snowden, the ethical concern that is illustrated within this case, and within the film, had to do with the fact that publication of these documents was clearly an abrogation of the law (Freivogel, 2013). However, due to the number of individuals that continued to die in the Vietnam conflict each and every day, Ellsberg was faced with the ethical dilemma of whether or not the lies and fabrications that the government had thus far been responsible for warranted the unprecedented release of information. Ultimately, the answer that was determined was that the loss of trust and outright lies that the US government had been peddling for nearly 8 years was sufficient and worthy of explanation to the American people (Weiskopf & Willmott, 2013). With regards to the long lasting impacts of this publication, this action can be largely understood to have had a powerful impact upon the decision of leadership to begin to reduce US military involvement in the Vietnam conflict. Although there were of course numerous reasons for this course of action being promoted and followed, the renewed outcry from those that did not agree with the premise of why the United States was still involved in Vietnam was most certainly a factor; a factor that was heavily influenced by the publication of such information has previously been detailed.
Freivogel, W. H. (2013). Is Edward Snowden an International Version of Daniel Ellsberg and WikiLeaks the Modern Equivalent of the Pentagon Papers?. Social Education, 75(3), 138-141.
Small, M. (2003). Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Diplomatic History, 27(5), 757-761.
Weiskopf, R., & Willmott, H. (2013). Ethics as Critical Practice: The “Pentagon Papers”, Deciding Responsibly, Truth-telling, and the Unsettling of Organizational Morality. Organization Studies (01708406), 34(4), 469-493. doi:10.1177/0170840612470256 Read More
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