Many would say that we should not have been in Vietnam in the first place and that we were yet again pretending to play the role of global peacekeeper, others would say that we were just promoting our own interests. The U. S role in Vietnam first started in the late 50’s as a mission to help the French with their territory in Indochina. As U. S allies, the U. S was obligated to help France in its territory and try to end any aggression towards them and if helping an ally, conflict is justified.
The true extent of the United States involvement did not really start until the communist division of North Vietnam and South Vietnam after France lost control over its original territory. When asking whether the beginning of a conflict, if not war, is justified the party that is taking the action chiefly has to question whether the human rights of the citizens are put in question or not.
As with any Capitalist nation, it is a goal to fight communism when possible on a global scale because it threatens the people of that country as a whole. This threat comes not only from the likelihood of the country to oppress its populace, but also because by fundamental nature, communistic countries do not trade with Capitalist ones. This conflict was also justified when examining Just War Theory because a country is allowed to protect itself from possible future aggression. One of the chief concerns held by the U.
S was that China, another communist nation, would influence the continuity of communism in Vietnam and that Vietnam would be the next “domino” to strengthen communism as a whole. Another thing that should be examined closely is the overall point of the war in Vietnam, was it to introduce peace and stability to the region, or to win the war against communism. The young President John F. Kennedy, who was continuing the Vietnam War after taking office from Dwight Eisenhower, did not want to seem weak to other countries.
Giving up against a communist power would make the U. S seem weak and give rise to a new rebellion against this western superpower. This “never back down” notion held onto a strong government sentiment to stay in Vietnam and helped to continue this aggression towards North Vietnam; whether it was justified or not. When analyzing Vietnam Just War Tradition must also be taken into account, this tends to set the stage for the proper conduct of war. When the U.
S considered the possibility of maintaining a standing in Vietnam, it most certainly took into account the gravity of threat that the communist North Vietnam posed. As being seen as the next piece on the communist playing field the U. S felt that this “war” with Vietnam was a last resort to stopping global tyranny. Also, in the case of Vietnam there was a distinction that had to be made between combatants and non-combatants; in this case it was the difference between communist North Vietnam and French territorial South Vietnam.
As a part of fighting North Vietnam, Americans were stationed in Southern Vietnam, one of the biggest things that America had to avoid was hurting non-combatants as to maintain friendly relationships and this could be extremely hard because of the use of extremely powerful weapons that some would consider heinous. Close to 200,000 North Vietnamese civilians were killed during the course of our stay making it hard to justify just such a military action. The use of incendiary weapons was very prominent in the heavily forested areas of Vietnam because of the thousands and thousands of miles of underground tunnels.
The in-humanitarian use of heinous incendiary weapons was not outlawed until 1980 in a protocol in the Geneva Convention. The use of these incendiary weapons would be classified today as making the Vietnam War unjust because of the unnecessary suffering that the recipients of napalm and other flammable white phosphorus munitions received. But, did the ends, being the result, justify the means that were used during the war? Many would say that the answer to that question is no simply
because of the senseless nature of the war itself. Yes, preventing a large spread of communism should be the goal of a Democratic nation, but is it worth the sacrifice of almost 60,000 American lives and countless other Vietnamese when almost 80% of the Vietnamese people supported this new regime and the leadership of Ho Chi Minh? These are all good questions to analyze retrospectively 50 years later, but what is important is whether the war was justified or not and whether more good was done than harm.