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The Issue of Vietnam War
When the Cold War ended, the United States of America and the Soviet Union were the two most powerful states in the world. As that time, the countries with insignificant physical strategic value were engaged in the ideological conflicts of the two superpowers. Vietnam, a country situated in the Indochina region, was among such countries. During that period, the Soviet Union was aimed at gaining control over this third world country. What is more, in 1960s and 1970s, Vietnam was under the influence of China as well. As a result, the US with its protectionist approach to the weaker states had to intervene too. Since Vietnam was rather an obscure target for America to make an attack, it was perfect for the Cold War. Striving to get total supremacy, the US deemed it its obligation to provide continued support to the anti-communist forces in order to lessen the influence of its rivals – the Soviet Union and China. In the same manner, the presence of communists in the third world countries was of utmost importance for the Soviets. Regardless of having domestic problems and quite tough Northern Vietnamese opponent, the government of the United States together with Lyndon Johnson insisted on fighting the war using international political pressure to ensure democracy and eliminate a communist regime.
The Vietnam War from a General Perspective
When looking on the Cold War from a general perspective, many researchers state that the international context of the war and the irresistance of Vietnam to the foreign influence encouraged the war in the first place. The inability of Vietnam to resist outside influences lies in the fact that this country has a colonial past. Therefore, when the Soviet Union was aimed at spreading its regime within the smaller third world nations, the USA believed it was their duty to defend and support democratic principles. Since ideology was a motive force of policymaking, Vietnam had to deal with international context of the Cold War between the two super states. Giving the county to the hands of communist leaders was regarded by American authorities as a failure. Thus, the US had no other choice than to intervene in Vietnamese system immediately.
Vietnam was a strategically important country due to its flexibility in terms of ideology. Therefore, both the United States and the Soviet Union fought for spreading their ideologies there. While the American side employed political containment, the Soviets were introducing their system as well as policies in an aggressive manner trying to widely spread socialist ideas among the citizens. In fact, the USA was making efforts to combat communism. The Marshal Plan was a vivid example of the policy. Material aid was offered to those nations only that adopted democratic forms of government. As a result, some people thought that such approach was a bias that presented the polarized viewpoints of the opposing governments. Therefore, Vietnam was regarded as an important zone in the confrontation between democracy and communist regime. Thus, the straggle for gaining control over the Asian country and spreading its ideology there was the main reason why Vietnam became a war zone from 1960’s to 1970’s.
US’s Reputation at Stake
The main reason behind the intervention of the US was the fact that America’s reputation was on the line. Earlier, its attempts to unify the country adopting one regime were made because of the Northern aggression against the Southern states. When Vietnam fought for the unity of its states, America decided to use that chance to spread democracy. Nevertheless, the US intention to establish democracy was not that noble. Its aim was to make its position in Vietnam stronger. Fear for its reputation in the world made the United States act immediately to establish democratic principles in Vietnam. As the same time, the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev intervened in Vietnam so that the Soviet Union could not lose its influence within the Asian region. As a result, the desire to have control over the third world countries was expressed not only by the US but also the Soviet Union equally. Thus, the issue of dominance of democracy or communism was at stake.
In the Vietnam War, the American government used the attrition strategy in order to set the reputation of the supporter who based its actions on the democratic standards. The US was ready to take risks to prevent the spread of communist regime over the third world countries. No doubt, both American citizens and Southern Vietnamese population were tired of the war. Nevertheless, the attrition war continued because America saw it an important drive in maintaining international democracy. Many researchers state that the main reason why America did not effect from the long-lasting war was the negative implications it could have on the US image worldwide. Therefore, it is obvious that the promotion of democracy was the driving force for the US to intervene.
The Arrogance of Lyndon Johnson and Hubris to International Landscapes
Being a president, Lyndon Johnson made almost the similar steps as his predecessor did. He stated that communist expansion posed a considerable threat to the world order. Therefore, the president adhered to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to have access to military power without any additional consultations or approvals of the senate. Utilizing such approach, Johnson wanted to stop the spread of dictatorship in Vietnam. What is more, adopting such an aggressive method of fighting with communism, he applied attrition and relentless fighting. In fact, different polls proved that the president received limited approval of the US government in 1966. Nevertheless, the fear of losing its position as well as reputation on the international level was not groundless taking into account the fact that the Soviet Union greatly spread its communist ideas throughout different countries after the end of the WWII.
The possible effects of such relentless position were obvious as well. Unfortunately, the US could not mobilize people in Southern Vietnam when combatting the north since they were too tired of the conflict. Therefore, the US had to fight relying on its own resources. Nevertheless, the government in Southern Vietnam started losing its position without people’s support. Despite the reduction of the losses, the Americans were down on the war. The United States used all the methods possible to eliminate the influence of communism. They could not just leave the war because of the risk of losing its international position and reputation as well as allowing the Soviet Union to establish its supremacy.
The aim of the United States, a country that pursues democratic principles and values, was to establish democracy and combat the communist regime in the third world countries. Being unable to do it, the American government would look weak and damage its reputation. In addition, the situation in which Vietnam was could not comfort the US. Vietnam could lose its identity under the rule of China and the Soviets for a long time or even forever. Therefore, on behalf of Southern Vietnam, the US intervened in the country. Aiming to support democracy throughout the world, America could not step aside. Intervening in Vietnam, the US government placed an emphasis on the significance of the democratic system. That was not a common war; that was a global war that was meant to show the possible ways of further development of the third world countries. The United States of America was ready to take risks for the sake of democratic existence of states in the Asian region. What is more, the US wanted to prove that there was no room for dictatorship in the world after the WWII.
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