History Sample Essay


The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War between 1955 and 1975 was fought between North Vietnam backed by the Soviet Union and South Vietnam supported by the United States. The Communist North was opposed to the anti-communist South. Alliances were made on the basis of this ideological schism. The war began with the involvement of Viet Cong, a southern Vietnamese communist group that was aided by the North. However, as the war progressed, and the North adopted conventional warfare tactics, the southern region relied on air warfare to observe and attack: a strategic bombing approach that is characteristic of this strategy.


The War was spread throughout the presidential terms of three American presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. These presidents influenced the participation of the United States in the war and the subsequent outcome. The different political and military strategies and their expected impacts on Vietnam, America and the Cold War were major contributors to the perceived success or failure of the War (Steinberg, 1996). Evidently, for the Vietnamese, the war was a success that led to the unification of Vietnam but for the US, the war was a massive failure that was characterized by poor planning, lack of effective strategies and specific goals.

John F. Kennedy was in great disagreement with the Soviet Union in a situation that threatened to convert the Cold War into a Nuclear War. With a strong commitment to the Cold War foreign policies and several policies on its part to limit the expansion of communism, Kennedy was determined to prevent the victory of communism in Vietnam. Kennedy’s long-term stand was to regulate military deployment to Vietnam which would lead to political consequences and eventually military implications. Furthermore, he did not wish to impose a form of colonial rule as had the French. He then observed that the Southern Region war technique and military which adopted guerilla warfare was not sustainable and efficient. The US military in Vietnam continued to steadily rise as military advisors.


Lyndon Johnson became president following the death of Kennedy and immediately had to get continue with the war. Several coups had occurred and the Viet Cong in the South had grown to almost a million soldiers who consistently attacked South Vietnam stations. At this point, Johnson’s government adopted air superiority warfare in bombings that lasted close to four years. The main goal was to dissipate the support between Viet Cong and North Vietnam. This elaborate military strategy led to a somewhat stable region with reduced coups. Johnson’s strategy also included regulating media coverage of the war and creating the illusion of positive progress. During this period, many US soldiers died or went missing with thousands more being injured. It was during this war that the position of PTSD’s (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)strong impact on the U.S. military was being widely examined.

Richard Nixon’s strategy followed this and sought to reduce the US troop casualties and replacing them with South Vietnamese soldiers in what has popularly come to be known as Vietnamization. In a process that took about five years, he concentrated on the training and equipping of ground South Vietnam military. The large-scale bombings in 1972 led to the signing of a treaty between the US, Viet Cong, Southern and Northern Vietnam in what ended the warfare and withdrawal of US military from Vietnam.

A shallow perspective and analysis may suggest that the US had success in its military efforts. However, this is far from the truth but more of a perception that was further supported by the directed media strategies adopted during Johnson’s presidency. The war was in fact a failure that led to the death of thousands of American soldiers with nothing to show for it in return. The US implemented poor strategies and was continuously outperformed by the Viet Cong and North Vietnam. In addition, the air warfare was extremely ineffective and consequently weakened its own military. Thus, the war was a military and political failure, a position that is further reinforced by America’s reluctance to employ a similar strategy in subsequent wars.


Steinberg, B. (1996). Shame and humiliation: Presidential decision making on Vietnam. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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