Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pre-writing activity

Look on the portal in preparation for Friday's writing assignment:

1. “The outcome of the Vietnam War was determined not on the battlefield, but on the television screen.” To what extent is this statement true?


2. Why had President Nixon ended American involvement in the Vietnam War by 1973?

Address them both briefly. What pieces of evidence would be worthwhile to consider when addressing these questions.  Finally, how might the evidence surrounding the My Lai massacre serve to answer both questions?


  1. 1. this statement is relatively true in how it was the pressures coming from home that influenced the way the Vietnam war was dealt with. And this war was documented quite meticulously, images of the soldiers were put on TV for many to see by news reporters which lead to apposing arguments about the war because regular people, outside the government, could finally see what the war was really like.

    2. Well Nixon had to back out because he promised he would in the second election. People wanted their sons and brothers to come home, for the dying to stop. This was also post Watergate, so it could be that this was a last attempt to get people on his side before having to resign when normally, in a presidents second term, he might not have to worry as much about being liked enough to stay in office.

  2. 1. Most of the war was driven by the domestic pressures from the people back home who either repented or advocated escalation. Like the cartoon with the blind-folded man walking up the stairs and the man with his head in the sand, these people were oblivious to what was ACTUALLY going on perhaps because they only got their information from what they saw on TV

    2. By this time, the domestic pressures to get out of the war were immense. So many people at this time were against it and if Nixon were to be liked by the people then he better well get out of the war. Also, things were just getting too out of hand over in Vietnam. Money was being thrown left and right and we really had no obligation to be fighting FOR the South Vietnamese. I guess this "out of controlness" can be seen in the absurdity of the My Lai massacre. As the soldier put it well in his letter back home, "Today we went on a mission and I am not very proud of myself, my friends, or my country. We burned every hut in sight!"

  3. 1: I feel that the the TV here is analogous to the american public. The vietnam war was perhaps the most unpopular war in american history. All the pressure from back home put a lot of stress on Nixon, JFk, and Lyndon B. Johnson's escalation all took place during the televised era. With the addition of television and live broadcasting, the entire political dynamic changed. Since now the american (and other) people could watch and formulate an opinion on political ongoings AS they happened, or even tell when the president was lying this caused immense pressure on the presidents. All the debates of the world leaders in fact were televised for the vast majority to see. Plus now governments had a much harder (or perhaps easier) time fabricating evidence (i.e. the gulf of tonkin incident)

    2:By 1973 the war had been dragging on through a whole decade, 3 presidencies (including Nixon's), and mountains of disapproval foreign and domestic. At the point Nixon gave in it was just his pride prevent him from backing down. He didn't want America to look weak, or lose (many would say that america already had). All Nixon COULD do was depart as posthumously as possible. Everyone including Nixon knew that America had lost, and had most likely just seeing the tip of the iceberg that is the controversy and hatred America was going to face.

  4. 1. I think this relates to "propaganda" in a way or brainwashing the public. Television had a big impact on people's beliefs and their mindset. But, media is extremely bias and during the war, the US tried extremely hard to focus on positive things and not show the reality of the war. The truth was sugar-coated but there ma have been some truth revealed through the news.

    2. Nixon ended the war because of domestic issues. There were many people who opposed the war and that caused tension and uproar. Instead of focusing on foreign policies, it was time to focus back on domestic issues. Also, this was a smart way for Nixon to gain more support from Americans. There was no need to make matters even worse.

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  6. 1. As many people have mentioned, propaganda played a big role in this war. I think Trent's connection of the TV to the American public is interesting and kind of makes sense.The first thing that I think of with this statement is how the people were responding to the war, which was arguably prominent over what happened "on the battlefield." After all, Nixon wanted to please the people who weren't actually fighting in the war.

    2. I'm not sure exactly why the war ended in 1973 rather than 1972 or 1974, but as other posts mention, Nixon was primarily concerned with losing the peoples' support by leaving troops in Vietnam. At that point, the fighting was somewhat pointless, as depicted by the cartoon climbing stairs to nothing. Not to mention, the war was not your average war; it was brutal and absurd.

    I guess My Lai massacre can serve as evidence for both points because it basically describes how scaring the war actually was, meaning how much the soldiers were being affected by all the bloodshed, etc.