Do you think the Vietnam War was a mistake? Many foreign affairs students believe that the war was a mistake. U.S. leaders underestimated the power of nationalism and exaggerated the influence of communism. Whether or not you agree with this view, consider the following:
US involvement began in 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson ordered combat forces to invade North Vietnam. Within a month, U.S. Marines landed on the beaches of Danang, South Vietnam. Their mission was to protect an air base where U.S. jets would bomb North Vietnam, which had been supplying the insurgents with weapons and military aid. By the end of the war, half a million American soldiers had been stationed in Vietnam.
The U.S. military strategy was misguided. The war began with a bombing campaign, and U.S. troops began counterinsurgency operations below the seventeenth parallel. While American soldiers sank to the bottom of the ocean, they still failed to hit the enemy where it hurts. In addition, the United States was not successful in overthrowing the Saigon regime. By following a strategy of attrition, the United States was able to prevent the North Vietnamese from establishing a permanent regime in the country.
While the U.S. government denied the existence of certain health problems associated with the war, many Vietnam veterans suffered from the psychological effects of the conflict. They suffered from nightmares, depression, mood swings, angry outbursts, and other symptoms. These effects made it hard for them to recover from the war. Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTS, became recognized as a real psychological illness and was subsequently recognized as such.