The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism

Living Edition
| Editors: Immanuel Ness, Zak Cope

United States War in Vietnam, 1954–1975

  • John MarcianoEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91206-6_49-1

Introduction

The US War in Vietnam was a long, horrific attack against the people and land. Nearly four million Vietnamese were killed, thousands of peasant villages and a traditional way of life were destroyed, and millions of acres of cropland and forests were devastated and poisoned from bombing and chemical warfare. More than 58,000 Americans died, and at least 304,000 were wounded in a criminal war that produced the greatest military and citizen dissent in US history.

The Imperialist Roots of the War

For many Americans, historian Gabriel Kolko writes, the war was “the turning point in their perception of the nature of American foreign policy, the traumatic event that required them to look again at the very roots, assumptions, and structure of a policy that is profoundly destructive and dangerous” (Kolko 1969, p. xi).

Imperialist aggression against Vietnam was directed by the elite managers of the US national security state. The historical record confirms Kolko’s thesis that...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. This essay includes material from Griffen, W.L., and Marciano, J. (1984) Lessons of the Vietnam War: A Critical Examination of School Texts and an Interpretive Comparative History Utilizing the Pentagon Papers and Other Documents; and Marciano, J. (2016) The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?Google Scholar
  2. Appy, C. G. (1993). Working class war: American combat soldiers and Vietnam. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  3. Appy C.G. (2018, March 26). What was the Vietnam War about? New York Times.Google Scholar
  4. Babcock, J. (2018, December 21). 300,000 Missing souls. New York Times.Google Scholar
  5. Binh, N. T. (2003). The Vietnam War and its lessons. In C. Goscha et al. (Eds.), The Vietnam War and Europe 1963–1973. Brussels: Bruylant.Google Scholar
  6. Black, G. (2015, March 16). The lethal legacy of the Vietnam War. The Nation.Google Scholar
  7. Blum, W. (1995). Killing hope: U.S. Military and CIA interventions since World War II. Monroe: Common Courage Press.Google Scholar
  8. Blum, W. (2000). Rogue state: A guide to the world’s only superpower. Monroe: Common Courage Press.Google Scholar
  9. Burchett, W. (1975). The Guardian. New York, May 14.Google Scholar
  10. Buzzanco, B. (1986). The American military’s rationale against the Vietnam War. Political Science Quarterly, 101(Four), 535–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chomsky, N. (1972). The Pentagon Papers as propaganda and as history. In N. Chomsky & H. Zinn (Eds.), The Pentagon Papers, Vol. V. Critical essays. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chomsky, N., & Herman, E. (1973). Counter-revolutionary violence: bloodbaths in fact and propaganda. Andover, Mass.: Warner Modular Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Chomsky, N. (1993). Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War and U.S. political culture. Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  14. Chomsky, N. (2003a). Towards a new cold war: U.S. foreign policy from Vietnam to Reagan. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  15. Chomsky, N. (2003b). For reasons of state. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  16. Chomsky, N. (2005). Imperial ambitions: Conversations on the post 9/11 world. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
  17. DuBoff, R. B. (1971). Business ideology and foreign policy. In N. Chomsky & H. Zinn (Eds.), The pentagon papers: Critical essays. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  18. Dunbar-Ortiz, D. (2003). The grid of history: Cowboys and Indians. Monthly Review 55/3 (July–August).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dunbar-Ortiz, D. (2014). An indigenous peoples’ history of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  20. Ellsberg, D. (2002). Secrets: A memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  21. Falk, R. A. (1970). The circle of responsibility. The Nation, 210(3), 81.Google Scholar
  22. Falk, R., Kolko, G., & Lifton, R. J. (Eds.). (1971). Crimes of war. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  23. Fitrakis, B., & Wasserman, H. (2014). Nixon’s Vietnam treason. Counterpunch, August 13. www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/13/nixons-vietnam-treason/
  24. Fitzgerald, F. (1973). Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  25. Franklin, H. B. (1992). M.I.A. or mythmaking in America: How and why belief in live POWs has possessed a nation. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Franklin, H. B. (2018). Crash course: From the good war to the forever war. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Galston, A. (1970). In E. Knoll & J. N. McFadden (Eds.), War crimes and the American conscience. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  28. Gillen, M. (1991). Roots of opposition: The critical response to U.S. Indochina policy, 1945–1954. Ph.D. Dissertation, New York University.Google Scholar
  29. Goldstein, J., Marshall, B., & Schwartz, J. (1976). The My Lai massacre and its cover-up: Beyond the reach of law? (The Peers Commission Report with a Supplement and Introductory Essay on the Limits of Law). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  30. Grant, J. e. (1988). Black protest: History, documents, and analyses, 1619 to the present. New York: Fawcett World Library.Google Scholar
  31. Greene, F. (1966). Vietnam, Vietnam. Palo Alto: Fulton Publishing.Google Scholar
  32. Heinl Jr., R. D. (1971, June 7). The collapse of the armed forces. Armed Forces Journal.Google Scholar
  33. Herman, E. S., & DuBoff, R. (1969). How to coo like a dove while fighting to win: The public relations of the Johnson policy in Vietnam (2nd ed.). New York: Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam.Google Scholar
  34. Herman E. S., & Porter, G. (1975). The myth of the Hue Massacre. Ramparts, May–June.Google Scholar
  35. Hersh, S. (2015, March 30). Letter from Vietnam: The scene of the crimes. The New Yorker.Google Scholar
  36. Hunt, A. E. (1990). The turning: A history of the Vietnam veterans against the war. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Hunt, D. (2008). Vietnam’s southern revolution: From peasant insurrection to total war. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  38. Hunt, M., & Levine, S. (2012). Arc of empire: America’s wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  39. Indochina Resource Center. (1973). Viet-Nam: What kind of peace? Berkeley: Indochina Resource Center.Google Scholar
  40. Issacs, H. R. (1947). No peace for Asia. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. Kahin, G. M. (1965). Address to the inter-faith seminar for clergy on Vietnam., October 1, 1965, Boston University. Ithaca: Kahin Papers, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  42. Kahin, G. M., & Lewis, J. W. (1967). The United States in Vietnam. New York: Dell.Google Scholar
  43. King, M. L. Jr. (1967). Beyond Vietnam: A time to break silence: Declaration of independence from the war in Vietnam. Reprinted in Common Dreams, 2004, https://www.commondreams.org/views04/0115-13.htm
  44. Klare, M. (1972). War without end. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  45. Knoll, E., & McFadden, J. N. (1970). War crimes and the American conscience. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  46. Kolko, G. (1969). The roots of American foreign policy: An analysis of power and purpose. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  47. Kolko, G. (1971a). War crimes and the nature of the Vietnam War. In R. Falk, G. Kolko, & R. J. Lifton (Eds.), Crimes of war: A legal, political, and psychological into the responsibility of leaders, citizens, and soldiers for criminal acts in wars. New York: Vintage Press.Google Scholar
  48. Kolko, G. (1971b). On the avoidance of reality. In R. Falk, G. Kolko, & R. J. Lifton (Eds.), Crimes of war. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  49. Kolko, G. (1985). Anatomy of a war: Vietnam, the United States, and the modern historical experience. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  50. Kuzmarov, J. (2012). Modernizing repression: Police training and nation-building in the American century. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  51. Lawrence, M. (2008). The Vietnam War: A concise history. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Lembcke, J. (2013). Why students should stop interviewing Vietnam veterans. History News Network. https://www.commondreams.org/views04/0115-13.htm
  53. Lewis, P. (2013). Hardhats, hippies, and hawks: The Vietnam antiwar movement as myth and memory. Ithaca: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  54. Littauer, R., & Uphoff, N. (Eds.). (1972). The air war in Indochina (rev. ed.). Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  55. Marcuse, H. (1969). An essay on liberation. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  56. Marr, D. (1995). 1945: The quest for power. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  57. McCoy, A. W. (2003). The politics of heroin: CIA complicity in the global drug trade. Chicago: Lawrence Hills Books.Google Scholar
  58. McGehee, R. W. (1983). Deadly deceits: My 25 years in the CIA. New York: Sheridan Square Publications.Google Scholar
  59. Miroff, B. (1976). Pragmatic illusions: The presidential politics of John F. Kennedy. New York: David McKay Company.Google Scholar
  60. Morgan, E. P. (2012). What really happened to the 1960s: How the mass media culture failed American democracy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar
  61. Myers, B. (2015). The unknown whistleblower. TomDispatch, May 31, 2015. www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176004/
  62. New York Times (1971, May 25).Google Scholar
  63. O’Connell, C. (2018). The Vietnam War lectures., Sociology 170A. Irvine: University of California.Google Scholar
  64. Oglesby, C. (1967). “Vietnam crucible: An essay on the meanings of the cold war,” Containment and Change. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  65. Oliver, K. (2006). The My Lai Massacre in American history and memory. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Parenti, M. (2010). What do empires do? www.michaelparenti.org/WhatDoEmpiresDo.html
  67. Porter, D. G. (2005). Perils of dominance: Imbalance of power and the road to war in Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  68. Schell, J. (1975, June 23). Reflections: The Nixon years, part IV. The New Yorker.Google Scholar
  69. Shannon, P. (2000). The ABCs of the Vietnam War. Indochina Newsletter, Spring-Summer.Google Scholar
  70. Stavins, R. (1971). A special supplement: Kennedy’s private war. New York Review of Books, July 22, 1971. www.nybooks.com/articles/1971/07/22/a-special-supplement-kennedys-private-war/
  71. The Pentagon Papers. (1971). The Department of Defense History of the United States Decisionmaking in Vietnam, Gravel Edition (1971). Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  72. Torreon, B. S. (2014). Instances of use of United States armed forces abroad, 1798–2014. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Office.Google Scholar
  73. Turse, N. (2013). Kill anything that moves: The real American war in Vietnam. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
  74. U.S. Cong., House. (1971). United States-Vietnam relations, 1945–1967: Study prepared by the Department of Defense, 12 Vols. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  75. Valentine, D. (2013, June 7–9). Dirty wars and the cinema of self-indulgence. Counterpunch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/07/dirty-wars-and-the-cinema-of-self-indulgence/
  76. Washington Post. (1975). May 11.Google Scholar
  77. Westing, A. (2002). Return to Vietnam: The legacy of agent orange. New Haven: Lecture at Yale University.Google Scholar
  78. Wilcox, F. (2011). Scorched earth: Legacies of chemical warfare in Vietnam. New York: Seven Stories Press.Google Scholar
  79. Yates, M. (2015). Honor the Vietnamese – not those who killed them. Monthly Review, 76/1, 10.Google Scholar
  80. Young, M. B. (1991). The Vietnam wars 1945–1990. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  81. Young, M. B. (2004). Resisting state terror: The anti-Vietnam War movement. In M. Selden & A. Y. So (Eds.), War and state terrorism: The United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific in the long twentieth century. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SUNY CortlandCortlandUSA