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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


The American Heritage of "Isolationism", by Gregory Bresiger, Freedom Daily, 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 ... Nixon ran in 1968 with "a secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam. In the course of slowly pulling troops out ... he spread the war to Cambodia.
"Anti-War" Poseurs: All Whine, No Spine, by Terry Michael, RealClearPolitics, 23 Nov 2005
Criticizes 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
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)
[Wendell] 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 ..." ...
Ellsberg's Lessons for Our Time, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, May 2008
Reviews Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (2003) and points out 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 ...—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
Leonard P. Liggio (1933–2014), by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 17 Oct 2014
A memorial tribute to Richman's "favorite teacher"
Leonard ... was a sworn enemy of tyranny, imperialism, and war. But he could overcome ideological disagreements with others by finding those areas in which they believed in human dignity and freedom. He was welcome in New Left circles during the Vietnam War (he participated in Bertrand Russell's War Crimes Tribunal on Vietnam in 1971) and some years later at the conservative Heritage Foundation and Philadelphia Society.
A Lesson from Vietnam, Part 1, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, 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, Freedom Daily, 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.
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.
The life and times of Murray N. Rothbard, by Jim Powell
Full title: The life and times of Murray N. Rothbard, who showed why private individuals can do just about everything that needs to be done
Lengthy biographical essay
The Vietnam War had intensified while Rothbard was producing scholarly work ... In 1961, ... 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, ... 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
Criticizes 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
Obama and King, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 30 Aug 2013
Contrasts Martin Luther King Jr.'s April 1967 speech condemning the Vietnam War with Obama's actions (planning to bomb Syria) on the 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech
On April 4, 1967, King spoke at Riverside Church in New York City during a gathering assembled by Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. His speech was titled "Beyond Vietnam — Time to Break Silence." ... King's speech was a radical critique of the savage U.S. interference in Vietnam's attempt to be independent and Johnson's meddling in the ensuing civil war ... King called for five "concrete" steps by the United States: an end to the bombing; a unilateral ceasefire; terminating military activity in neighboring countries; acceptance of the NLF ... as a negotiating partner; and the setting of a date for withdrawal ...
Related Topics: Corporatism, Militarism, Vietnam
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, whose own modern movement sprang from the turmoil of the 1960s, have continued, for the most part, to treat peace as the proper default setting for international relations ...
The Political Sterility of Jon Stewart, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Nov 2014
Laments the dearth of poltical satire, as evidenced by Jon Stewart's backtracking on his answer about not having voted and recanting a 2009 comment about Harry Truman being a war criminal
In America's civic religion, it is heresy to talk about an American war as though it was a massive series of crimes committed by "our" misleaders. You must not say that. Actually, that's not it. You must not think that. Two and two is five. Never forget it. Yes, it is permissible to say the war in Vietnam (never WWII, however) was a blunder, a colossal mistake. But don't say it was mass murder and a humongous criminal operation. Don't say the perpetrators should be brought to justice. Noam Chomsky did that and was thenceforth barred from publications that had regularly published him.
Related Topics: Humor, Voting, World War II
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. "I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones," he told "Meet the Press." ... "I believe that the men ... who signed off the air raid strike areas, ... by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley [found guilty in the My Lai massacre], are war criminals."
Related Topics: Iraq War, 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."
Related Topics: Haditha Massacre, Iraq, Iraq War
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]."
So What If Freedom Isn't Free?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 31 May 2013
Examines the assertion "Freedom isn't free" 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.)
The 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 ... [T]he 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
States, United States: America's James Bond Complex, by Sheldon Richman, 4 Feb 2015
Argues that the doctrine of American "exceptionalism" means U.S. officials appear to have a de facto licence to kill and wonders why officials are treated so deferentially instead of being brought to judgment for their aggressive actions
U.S. rulers have waged aggressive genocidal wars (against the ... Vietnamese, for example) ... When has an American official been placed in the dock to answer for these crimes? Instead, officials from whose hands the blood of countless innocents drips are treated like dignitaries ... When 91-year-old Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state who presided over the deaths of countless Vietnamese and others, appears anywhere, such as a Senate hearing, he's accorded the reverence that parishioners pay to their priests — while peace activists, who want him held responsible, are called "low-life scum" by a fawning senator.
Thank You, Milton Friedman, by Sheldon Richman, 20 Nov 2006
In memoriam, highlighting the many contributions of Milton Friedman both to the economics profession and as a public intellectual through his columns and his television series
At the height of the Vietnam War, ... Friedman ... demanded that conscription be stopped ... as a member of Nixon's Commission on an All-Volunteer Force ... when Gen. William Westmoreland, who commanded American forces in Vietnam, testified in favor of the draft before the commission, he said he did not wish to command "an army of mercenaries." Friedman retorted, "General, would you rather command an army of slaves?" Westmoreland took umbrage, replying "I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves." An undaunted Friedman shot back, "I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries."
War Is Peace and Other Things the Government Wants You to Believe [PDF], by Sheldon Richman, 8 Jun 2008
Transcript of speech given at The Future of Freedom Foundation's 2008 conference, “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy & Civil Liberties”, including audience questions
[T]he opening scene of [Born on the Fourth of July] is a very terrifying scene ... [I]t's a Vietnam village, and ... you see people scurrying around. And you hear ... automatic gunfire, and there's a menacing U.S. helicopter ... shooting people down as they're ... trying to get away ... I'm sure that was not fiction ... But all of a sudden the helicopter just explodes. Somebody on the ground had ... a shoulder rocket launcher or something ... [T]hat's why ... they don't want us to see such things. They learned that we saw too much of this during the Vietnam War on TV every night.
Warring as Lying Throughout American History, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Feb 2008
Recounts how U.S. Presidents and their administrations since James Polk have been deceitful about wars and military engagements
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 ... 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 the author 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
Critiques John McCain's comment regarding Hillary Clinton's proposal for taxpayer funding of a Woodstock festival museum
McCain ... was unable to make Woodstock because ... he was a naval pilot flying an A-4 Skyhawk near Hanoi. The A-4 is an attack aircraft ... It was used to drop some of the first and last bombs on [North Vietnam] during the long war, which is estimated to have killed two million Vietnamese. On October 26, 1967, anti-aircraft fire brought down McCain's plane. He was beaten by a mob, then taken as a POW ... 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.
Related Topic: Taxation
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 ... point to the Vietnam War ... But a much stronger case can be made, as Henderson and Seagren point out, that [it] 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


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
When and how did you become interested in liberty?
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 ... 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 ...
Pentagon Whistle-Blower on the Coming War With Iran, by Karen Kwiatkowski, James Harris, Josh Scheer, 27 Feb 2007
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; includes audio and transcript
KAREN KWIATKOWSKI: ... Vietnam is filled with examples. And Daniel Ellsberg's ... Pentagon paper ... released factual information that contradicted what political appointees at the top of the Pentagon were saying to Congress and saying to the American people ... [M]ost people who ... 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.
The Plowboy Interview: Karl Hess, by Karl Hess, Anson Mount, Mother Earth News, Jan 1976
Karl Hess interview in issue No. 37, Jan/Feb 1976, shortly after his book Dear America (1975) 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 ... the Viet Cong were still doing things the way we had done them thirty years before. They were organized from the bottom up. Their guys—who each only carried something like sixteen rounds of ammunition and a little bag of rice—could get in and out of a tight situation a dozen times while our soldiers were still waiting for an air strike or a hot meal ... We could have fought the V.C. with our bloated bureaucracy for a hundred years and still never won.

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.