Vietnam War: What Role Did Propaganda Play?

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The Vietnam War, Americas first defeat in a war and extreme embarrassment of withdrawing its forces. A very ugly war, as everyone knows, and it turned out to be an extremely unpopular war with the American people. The American people backed its government and the quest to stop communist growth, but by the late 60s to early 70s, the vast majority of the population in the United States did not agree with the war and protested heavily against it and called for the withdraw of all forces. The American government had fought this war in shrouded secrecy yet failed to successfully control all media (propaganda) that was being released to the public.

The American government developed an extremely poor propaganda machine, while the North Vietnamese government and American media used propaganda which in the end, made the American citizens have strong feeling about the United States involvement in Southeast Asia. The government also did not have strategic goals in place nor a defined battle plan which did not help the situation. While running for office in the 1968 Presidential Election, Richard Nixon promised if elected, he would get America out of Vietnam. The shift in public perception brought about by negative propaganda had a direct influence on the Nixon Administration, played a very strong role in bringing the major three parties to the conflict (United States, South Vietnam and North Vietnam) to the peace table in 1972 at the Paris Peace Accords, and impacted American policy and individuals in the aftermath of the war. The Paris Peace Accord was an agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam, signed in Paris and effective on January 17, 1973, it called for the United States’ total withdraw from Vietnam.

My hypothesis explores the research and information available to determine what role did propaganda play and how effective was it as a tool in the political environment of Vietnam War. The propaganda that played out in the media worldwide applied significant political pressure to force the Nixon Administration to make a hasty retreat and bring an end to the Vietnam War.

From this project the reader should become familiar with the media’s ability to manipulate the political juggernaut of this country and lead it into making poor military decisions. The reader should also understand what caused America and its allied forces to leave Vietnam. What was the cost of war both financially and in human capital, after United States withdraw. I will be using information that is available for viewing and I will also be using some common knowledge information.

I feel this project is significant because within political, historical, and military circles the debate rages as to why the American government left Vietnam without finishing the job. Why did the politicians run the war instead of military generals? How vital was propaganda usage in this conflict? My project is just one of many explanations as to what brought about an end to the war instead just an asterisk after Vietnam War that states “Americas first defeat”.

I will be using primary sources to research and identify the main influences for bringing the war to an end. Those sources will illustrate the Nixon Administration’s policies and efforts to withdraw from Southeast Asia and will demonstrate that those policies were by changes in public perception brought on by the propaganda machine from the American media and North Vietnamese government which applied the political pressure to force a withdraw of forces.

Background of Conflict

The United States has been involved in war since its inception and is unable to avoid conflict at almost every opportunity, Vietnam was no different. The Vietnam War was also known as the Vietnam Conflict and the Second Indochina War, did not begin with American involvement, but the United States’ self-appointed role as the world’s superpower ultimately lead to our participation. The roots of the conflict can be traced to French colonialism in the 1860’s, but the first actual fighting began in 1946 when French troops were trying to stop the spread of communism by preventing North Vietnam from uniting with South Vietnam to form a single nation under communist rule. “Despite efforts by Ho Chi Minh to come to some compromise with French, war broke out in Vietnam between French and Vietnamese in 1946.”

Like France, the United States under the Truman Administration adopted policy aimed at ending the growth of communist power throughout Southeast Asia. “In the closing months of 1949, the policy of United States was set to block further communist expansion in Asia: by collective security if the Asians were forthcoming; by collaboration with major European allies and commonwealth nations, if possible; but bilaterally if necessary”. This represented a policy of containment aimed at countering the “domino theory” or belief that if Vietnam fell to communist control, so too would the remainder of Southeast Asia. The United States entered Vietnam in support of the domino theory and its promise to South Vietnam, even if the mutual feeling in the Johnson Administration was that this is a no-win situation. “Even as vice-president, he had spoken apocalyptically about the risks of communist advances, warning at one point that the United States would have to surrender the Pacific and take up our defenses on our own shores if the communist prevailed in Southeast Asia” .

By 1965, North Vietnam posed a sufficient risk to America’s policy in the region that the United States determined that active intervention was required to support South Vietnam, both in spite and because of the strength of North Vietnam’s allies: the USSR, Korea, and the Peoples Republic of China.

Cite this paper

Vietnam War: What Role Did Propaganda Play?. (2020, Sep 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/essay-on-vietnam-war/



How was propaganda used in the Vietnam War?
Propaganda was used extensively in the Vietnam War to shape public opinion and sway the hearts and minds of both domestic and international audiences. The US government and military employed various tactics, including leaflets, radio broadcasts, and films, to portray the war as a just cause and to demonize the enemy.
What impact did the news media play in the role of the Vietnam War?
The news media played a significant role in the Vietnam War by reporting on the conflict and providing a platform for anti-war protesters.
Why the Vietnam War became known as the first televised war?
Television crews brought cameras to Vietnam and filmed the war as it unfolded. This was the first time that people at home could see war footage as it happened, and it had a profound effect on public opinion.
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