According to Burrows (2002), the Vietnam War was fought between 1959 and 1975, with the major players being the United States, the Soviet Union. Based not only on my understanding of the conflict but also large volumes of literature that are available on the subject, I believe that the real enemy in the Vietnam War was communism, represented by the Soviet Union. The USSR’s continued support and supply of materiel to North Vietnam and the Vietcong prompted the American government to react so as to prevent the fall of South Vietnam and as a result the spread of communism. During the Cold War, there was an intense and bitter struggle between the two main isms that existed at the time, communism and capitalism. Both the United States and the Soviet Union worked towards containing and minimizing the spread of each country’s ideologies, and if possible eradicate it. Around this time, China, North Korea, and Cuba were also emerging as real challenges and threats to the existence of capitalism and the continued domination of world affairs by the United States. The US government did not want communism to spread and spiral out of control because it already posed enough threat to capitalism. The Vietcong’s invasion of South Vietnam was, therefore, an excuse and the perfect opportunity to fight communism, and it responded quickly (Murray, 2005).
By 1965 the war had escalated into a full-blown conflict, with US troops being involved in a form of warfare that they had never seen before. The Vietcong believed in and practiced guerrilla warfare; they had perfected it to suit their tactics and objectives (Murray, 2005). US troops came face to face with a method of engagement they had never seen before, something very different from conventional warfare but just as effective (if not more effective). The war was heavily punctuated by ambushes, surprise attacks, insurgency, and counterinsurgency, and there were so many casualties on both sides of the war.
Burrows, L. (2002). Vietnam. New York: A.A. Knopf.
Murray, S. (2005). Vietnam War. New York: DK Pub.
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