Conflict during 1954-1975 between South and North Vietnam, with increasing United States involvement

The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was a conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and the government of South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese army was supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies; the South Vietnamese army was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war by some US perspectives. The war would last approximately 19 years and would also form the Laotian Civil War as well as the Cambodian Civil War, which resulted in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.

The Quiet American


A Lesson from Vietnam, Part 1, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Jan 2004
Relates key events in Vietnam from the end of World War II and the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North) in 1945 to the forming of the Republic of Vietnam (South) in 1955
"One lesson offered to America by the Vietnam War is the folly of forcing regime change in a nation whose religion, culture, history, and politics differ dramatically from its own. As a story, the folly may begin in September 1945 ... Thirty years later, on April 30, 1975, the U.S. ambassador would flee by helicopter from a Saigon besieged by North Vietnamese troops. His departure would end American involvement in the Vietnam War — a conflict during which one president was assassinated (Kennedy), another declined to run for reelection (Johnson), and a third was discredited (Nixon)."
Related Topics: Freedom of Religion, Vietnam
A Lesson from Vietnam, Part 3, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Mar 2004
Relates key events in Vietnam mostly from the start of the Kennedy in 1961 to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964, and a few concluding paragraphs on this three part series
"On August 7, 1964, Congress overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution supporting Johnson's wish to 'take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States.' The resolution was a response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which the North Vietnamese reportedly fired on an American destroyer. The resolution was tantamount to a declaration of war. ... Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who became commander in chief of the armed forces, was well liked by the Johnson administration. Thieu later became president of South Vietnam, a position he held until the fall of Saigon in 1975."
An Interview With David Theroux, by David J. Theroux, Strike The Root, 2 Sep 2003
Topics discussed include: the Independent Institute, Theroux's life before founding it, possible connection to Thoreau, the Vietnam War, his heroes and influencers, activism, September 11 and book recommendations
"During the Vietnam War, I became increasingly disillusioned over the official claims regarding the war and how these could be squared with basic civilized values. ... I began subscribing to various anti-war and counter-culture publications such as the Berkeley Barb. I found that on clear issues of opposing mass murder and aggression against peaceful people, it was more likely that average students who shared doubts about the war were more libertarian than were the members of such groups as Young Americans for Freedom, who supported the increased bombing of cities while claiming to be for free choice and the Constitution."
"Anti-War" Poseurs: All Whine, No Spine, by Terry Michael, RealClearPolitics, 23 Nov 2005
Criticises liberal Democratic politicians to stand up against the neoconservative arguments that eventually led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq
"It took six years after the American people lost faith in the Vietnam War in 1968 and tens of thousands more young American lives for the Washington political culture to end the madness it created in Southeast Asia."
Related Topic: Iraq War (2003)
Bill Kauffman: American Anarchist, by Laurence M. Vance, 4 Dec 2006
Review of Kauffman's Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists (2006)
"Berry's speech against the Vietnam War, delivered in 1968 to the Kentucky Conference on the War and Draft, is something that Kauffman quotes from and comments on:
Berry speaks only briefly to the particular case of Vietnam, finding it an Orwellian entanglement. "We seek to preserve peace by fighting a war, or to advance freedom by subsidizing dictatorships, or to 'win the hearts and minds of the people' by poisoning their crops and burning their villages and confining them in concentration camps; we seek to uphold the 'truth' of our cause with lies, or to answer conscientious dissent with threats and slurs and intimidations." ...
Ellsberg's Lessons for Our Time, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, May 2008
Reviews Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and how its commentary applies to the then current conflict in Iraq
"In 1967, the Pentagon ordered top experts to analyze where the war had gone wrong. The resulting study contained 47 volumes of material exposing the intellectual and political follies that had, by that time, already left tens of thousands of Americans dead. After the study was finished, it was distributed to the key players and federal agencies. However, the massive study was completely ignored. At the time the New York Times began publishing excerpts in 1971, 'the White House and the State Department were unable even to locate the 47 volumes.'"
Is Capitalism Why We Fight?, by Gregory Bresiger, Mises Daily, 6 Apr 2006
Critical review of the theses presented in the 2005 documentary Why We Fight, also inquirying about topics omitted from the film
"One thinks of Congresses during much of the Vietnam War, sometimes objecting to the war, but rarely exerting its power of the purse to stop president Johnson or Nixon. ... [John Foster] Dulles, along with vice president Richard Nixon, even wanted the United States to intervene in Vietnam after the French were defeated there in 1954, according to General Matthew Ridgeway in his memoir Soldier. This send-American-troops-to-Vietnam-and-save-the-French-Empire proposal was even too ridiculous for Eisenhower, but not, unfortunately, for Jack Kennedy, who followed him in the presidency in 1961."
It Usually Ends With Murray Rothbard: My Long and Winding Road to Libertarianism and Austrian Economics, by Joseph Salerno, 23 Jun 2005
Lengthy autobiographical essay recounting Prof. Salerno's progression from conservatism to anarcho-capitalism, from classical to Austrian economics, and meeting and getting to know Murray Rothbard
"It was the mid-1960's, the era of free speech and Vietnam War protests on college campuses, and just a few miles down the road at Rutgers University Eugene Genovese was dismissed from the faculty for having publicly dissented against the Vietnam war. ... It was in mid-April of my sophomore year that a general student boycott of classes at Boston College began as a protest against a large tuition increase. Leaders of the campus SDS quickly gained control of the amorphous movement and by early May the boycott metamorphosed into a general student strike against the draft and the Vietnam War."
John Kerry's Tender Sensibilities, by Kevin Carson, 29 Aug 2013
Highlights the hypocrisy of State Secretary Kerry's comments on violation of international norms in Syria vis-à-vis the U.S.'s record in previous wars
"This is the same John Kerry who served in Vietnam, ... is it not? One of the most iconic images in the history of journalism is a little girl, naked and burning, running down a Vietnamese road after a chemical weapons attack by the United States ... As for chemical weapons, aren't Agent Orange and napalm — the liquid fire used on that screaming little girl mentioned above — supposed to count? The cumulative effect of US chemical weapons use in Indochina is millions dead during the war in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia — and millions more dead of cancer and genetic defects in the decades since."
Related Topics: Iraq, War, World War II
Karl Hess: Presidential Speechwriter Turned Homesteader, by Karl Hess, Anson Mount, Mother Earth News, Jan 1976
"The Plowboy Interview", shortly after Hess' book Dear America had become a bestseller, questions him about the switch from right wing conservatism to the New Left
"By the time we got mired down in Vietnam, though, the American military establishment no longer expected its troops to think for themselves out in the field. ... Unfortunately for us, however, the Viet Cong were still doing things the way we had done them thirty years before. They were organized from the bottom up. ... We could have fought the V.C. with our bloated bureaucracy for a hundred years and still never won."
Let Us Shape the Future, by Carl Oglesby, 27 Nov 1965
Speech to Students for a Democratic Society on march on Washington, D.C., to protest the Vietnam War
"The original commitment in Vietnam was made by President Truman ... seconded by President Eisenhower ... intensified by the late President Kennedy ... the men who now engineer that war — those who study the maps, give the commands, push the buttons, and tally the dead: Bundy, McNamara, Rusk, Lodge, Goldberg, the President himself."
Peace and Pacifism, by Robert Higgs, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Reviews what prominent classical liberals and libertarians had to say on the subject of peace and war, as well as the history of United States wars from the War of 1812 to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the efforts of those who opposed them
"In 1965, escalation of the U.S. military engagement in Vietnam revived mass antiwar activity, but New Left, religious, and left-liberal organizations led the way, notwithstanding attempts by Rothbard and a few other libertarians to nudge the antiwar movement in a libertarian direction. Opposition to the Vietnam War, however, did create a diverse coalition of people dedicated to seeking peace, and libertarians ... have continued, for the most part, to treat peace as the proper default setting for international relations and to oppose the U.S. government's persistent efforts to remake the world at gunpoint."
Pentagon Whistle-Blower on the Coming War With Iran, by Karen Kwiatkowski, James Harris, Josh Scheer, 27 Feb 2007
Interviewed by James Harris and Josh Scheer of Truthdig; topics include possible conflict with Iran, the Pentagon situation prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Office of Special Plans, Vietnam, terrorism and neoconservatism
"Sure, well sure, Vietnam is filled with examples. And Daniel Ellsberg's information and his Pentagon paper that he released factual information that contradicted what political appointees at the top of the Pentagon were saying to Congress and saying to the American people. ... most people who serve and wear the uniform or give a career of service to the military ... don't think that our bosses will do that. ... But in fact history is full of examples of bald-faced lies being told to sell particular agendas. Often times those agendas include war making, certainly in Vietnam they did, under LBJ and a few other presidents."
Rambo Was A Chump: John Kerry Should Be Ashamed of Vietnam Service, by Ted Rall, 27 Aug 2004
Discusses comments made by then Senator and presidential candidate John Kerry about the 2003 Iraq war, including the change in his Senate appropriations voting record, and the Vietnam War
"Kerry returned from the war in Vietnam in 1971. An early supporter of the conflict, what he saw there changed his mind--prompting him to help found Vietnam Veterans Against the War."
Related Topics: Iraq War (2003), War
Rationalizing Haditha, by Justin Raimondo, 7 Jun 2006
Additional comments on responses to the Haditha massacre and similar incidents, from Rich Lowry, Christopher Hitchens, Nouri al-Maliki and Andrew Walden
"War enthusiast Christopher Hitchens ...follows in Lowry's footsteps ...: "... In Vietnam, the rules of engagement were such as to make an atrocity – the slaughter of the My Lai villagers took almost a day rather than a white-hot few minutes – overwhelmingly probable. The ghastliness was only stopped by a brave officer who prepared his chopper-gunner to fire. In those days there were ... 'free-fire zones,' and 'body counts,' and other virtual incitements to psycho officers such as Capt. Medina and Lt. Calley. As a consequence, a training film about My Lai ... has been in use for U.S. soldiers for some time.""
So What If Freedom Isn't Free?, by Sheldon Richman, 31 May 2013
Examines the "Freedom isn't free" assertion from the viewpoint of free will, negative or positive rights, resource scarcity and common usage
"Even a known critic of the U.S. government's war in Vietnam, will preface any question to John McCain or other Vietnam vets with a 'thank you.' Thank you for what? The North Vietnamese army and the Vietcong had not threatened the freedom of any American in America. The only Americans they harmed or killed were ones who intervened in their civil war or bombed their country. (When McCain was flying missions over Hanoi, before he was shot down and taken into captivity, he wasn't delivering pizzas. He was bombing civilian infrastructure.)"
Related Topic: Liberty
The American Heritage of "Isolationism", by Gregory Bresiger, Future of Freedom, May 2006
Criticizes the use of the word "isolationist" by the media, "internationalists" and other foreign intervention promoters, looking at the heritage of noninterventionism as exemplified by Washington's Farewell Address
"You were a 'dove' in the 1960s and 1970s. You were against America's war in Vietnam. That war still disturbs you to this day. You're upset when you see a movie such as We Were Soldiers or read books such as The Best and the Brightest or Bob Kerrey's horrific story of his time in the Special Forces (When I Was a Young Man). ... Johnson ended up greatly expanding the American commitment to Vietnam, with some 500,000 troops sent to Southeast Asia. ... Richard Nixon ran in 1968 with 'a secret plan' to end the war in Vietnam. In the course of slowly pulling troops out of the war ... he spread the war to Cambodia."
The life and times of Murray N. Rothbard, who showed why private individuals can do just about everything that needs to be done, by Jim Powell
Lengthy biographical essay
"The Vietnam War had intensified while Rothbard was producing scholarly work ... In 1961, ... President John F. Kennedy had sent 900 military 'advisors' to South Vietnam, to help defend against insurgents from the Communist Viet Cong. Two years later, the United States had 11,000 military 'advisors' in South Vietnam. As the South Vietnamese position deteriorated, President Lyndon Johnson sent more 'advisors' over there, and by 1965, the total hit 180,000. In 1967, it was up to 389,000. ... Neither party, unfortunately, offered hope for ending the war. ... U.S. forces in South Vietnam reached a peak of 540,000 in 1969."
The non-debate on the war, by Terry Michael, The Washington Times, 25 Aug 2005
Criticises the media for its lack of discussion about ending the 2003 Iraq War
"... a timely reminder for the Baby Boom leaders of America's newsrooms — who should have learned more than they did in the '60s, when the best and the brightest gave us Vietnam. ... To use the over-used Yogi Berra observation, it's deja vu all over again. We can't cut-and-run, the world won't respect us, Vietnam would be in chaos, the 'serious' voices told us in the '60s. So we stayed for years, spread more of the chaos we created, and thousands more of my generation were sacrificed, so 'serious' men wouldn't have to admit they were wrong."
Related Topic: Iraq War (2003)
The Secret State, by Carl Oglesby, 19 Dec 1991
Details various events from the dismantling of the Office of Strategic Services after World War II to the 1991 death of Danny Casolaro, which Oglesby said are reason to be worried about "a secret and invisible state within the public state"
"August 1967: COINTELPRO. Faced with mounting public protest against the Vietnam War, the FBI formally inaugurated its so-called COINTELPRO operations, a rationalized and extended form of operations under way for at least a year. A House committee reported in 1979 that 'the FBI Chicago Field Office files [in] 1966 alone contained the identities of a small army of 837 informers, all of whom reported on [antiwar activists'] ... political activities, views or beliefs, and none of whom reported on any unlawful activities by [these activists].'"
UpdThe State: Judge in its Own Cause, by Kevin Carson, 22 Aug 2013
Explores, with several historical examples, the United States government's role in judging itself or disregarding its laws
"During the administration of Richard Nixon, who was less vindictive toward whistleblowers than our current President, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, a collection of classified documents showing how the United States had inexorably increased its involvement in Indochina ever since the French withdrawal, lying to the American people about the situation the whole time. That secret decision-making process, uncovered by Ellsberg after the fact, cost over 50,000 American and millions of Vietnamese lives, and turned most of south Indochina into a dioxin-soaked hell."
The State of the Movement [PDF], by Leonard Liggio, The Libertarian Forum, 15 May 1970
Examines the history and status of the New Left movement, in particular of the Students for a Democratic Society and the involvement of libertarians and socialists in SDS
"When the Johnson-Humphrey administration escalated the U. S. intervention in Vietnam in early 1965, a unique grass-roots response developed on college campuses—the teach-ins. Spontaneous individual opposition to the government was offered the dual opportunity of immediate protest and of information for continuing protest. ... A coalition of groups was formed in Berkeley in the fall of 1965 to hold a mass demonstration against the war. ... the Berkeley march was based upon the idea that U. S. aggression in Vietnam could be stopped quickly by the impression made upon the government by a mass demonstration."
Related Topics: Imperialism, Libertarianism
Warring as Lying Throughout American History, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Feb 2008
Recounts how U.S. Presidents and their administrations since James Polk have lied about wars, from start to finish
"... Hannah Arendt noted in an essay on the Pentagon Papers, during the Vietnam War, 'The policy of lying was hardly ever aimed at the enemy but chiefly if not exclusively destined for domestic consumption, for propaganda at home and especially for the purpose of deceiving Congress.' CIA analysts did excellent work in the early period of the Vietnam conflict. But 'in the contest between public statements, always over-optimistic, and the truthful reports of the intelligence community, persistently bleak and ominous, the public statements were likely to win simply because they were public,' Arendt commented. "
Who Killed JFK? The Media Whitewash, by Carl Oglesby, Lies of Our Times, Sep 1991
Examines how several mainstream newspapers and media outlets started criticizing and attacking JFK while the movie was still being made
"Lardner's most interesting error is his charge that JFK mis-states the impact of the assassination on the growth of the Vietnam war. No doubt Stone's first-draft screenplay telescoped events in suggesting that LBJ began escalating the Vietnam war the second day after Dallas. Quietly and promptly, however, LBJ did indeed stop the military build-down that JFK had begun; and as soon as LBJ won the 1964 election as the peace candidate, he started taking the lid off. Motivated by a carefully staged pretext, the Gulf of Tonkin 'incident,' the bombing of North Vietnam began in February 1965. "
Related Topics: JFK, John F. Kennedy
Why I am a Libertarian, by Mark Richards, 21 May 2008
Describes the persons (mainly his mother) and events that influenced him in becoming a libertarian
"As the 1960s wore on, the mess in Vietnam just got worse, and again my mother knew something wasn't right and that the government was lying. ... The Birch Society, which was an organization of 'constitutional conservatives,' had a table full of literature. Much of it had to do with exposing the fraud that was the Vietnam War. To my mom, it only confirmed what she had long expected regarding the lies of the Johnson administration in getting America mired down in Southeast Asia. How could we be 'fighting communism' over there and be promoting a socialistic welfare state under the banner of Johnson's 'Great Society' programs here at home?"
Woodstock May Have Saved Sen. McCain's Life, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Nov 2007
Discusses John McCain's comment regarding Hillary Clinton's proposal for funding a Woodstock museum
"While McCain undoubtedly suffered beyond imagination, the full context of his situation needs to be maintained. ... He and his defenders would respond that he was serving his country and protecting Americans' freedom. He wasn't. North Vietnam never attacked the American people. The public was told it had attacked an American warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, but the U.S. government knew that was not true."
Would a Return to Conscription Substantially Reduce the Probability of War?, by David R. Henderson, 7 Sep 2015
Analyzes the question of whether reintroducing military conscription would incentivize the rich and powerful to object to "military adventurism" and thus prevent war; also includes a moral argument against the draft
"Some people who want to return to the draft to reduce the prospect of military adventurism point to the Vietnam War as Exhibit A for their position. But a much stronger case can be made, as Henderson and Seagren point out, that the Vietnam War is Exhibit A for the exact opposite position. They write: 'First, the existence of a draft did not prevent the Vietnam War or even appear to affect how intense the war became. Second, it took many years of protests and, more important, over 58,000 American military lives lost and over 150,000 wounded before the war ended. Indeed, it took a few years of high casualties before there were widespread protests against the Vietnam War.'"
Related Topics: Ethics, War

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Vietnam War" as of 23 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.