The Vietnam War was a n experience for all Americans that lasted almost twenty grueling and painful years. Our American Military has taken from the war a vast amount of knowledge and lessons that history cannot replace concerning our involvement in the Vietnam War. This paper will discuss the lessons learned from the following points of view: diplomatic negotiations, presidential leadership, and cultural/social contexts.
A good definition of diplomatic negotiations could be described as a discussion intended to produce an agreement between Nations. The lesson learned by the Americans was the need to communicate with their enemy. So often Lyndon B. Johnson and military leaders used bombing campaigns to negotiate a verbal agreement with Vietnam. Neither the Americans nor the Vietnamese were willing to compromise and enter into discussions. This action of unwillingness to negotiate led to horrible consciences of millions of civilian and military lives. If constructive negotiations could have brought both sides to agreement the war most certainly would have ended much sooner.
Presidential leadership usually takes on unique characteristics depending who has held the Office Of President Of The United States. The appointments of their cabinet members also held a unique partnership and style of leadership. President Eisenhower to Nixon contributed their own unique style how to handle negotiations and win the war in North Vietnam. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy rallied around on foreign aid to South Vietnam as a form of military training in hopes this would prove an effective leadership decision to change the direction of the war. President Johnson sent aid to South Vietnam in the form of military troops while President Nixon negotiated the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam giving him a sense of peace with some kind of honor. One of the best lessons that can be learned from our presidential leadership is that there is a need to admit mistakes. The American public could have shown a sympathetic view towards our leaders if they would have told the entire truth concerning the war efforts both good and bad. America was losing the Vietnam War, but no president ever wanted to admit defeat, as The Rules of Engagement were so restrictive that it made winning a war in Vietnam virtually impossible.
The Vietnam War left lasting impressions on the American people how they really felt towards war. From the beginning of the war Americans were torn by the level of involvement the United States had chosen. One of the lessons learned was that technology can be defeated by resourcefulness and determination of the Vietnamese people. The American Leaders felt the war could be won directly through big guns and big bombs but they clearly underestimated how the will of a Vietnam nation could make victory very difficult. Government and military leaders should have studied Vietnam culture before planning a war. The Vietnamese people were ready to die for the country they loved both civilian and military population. The Vietnamese fully believed in their cause but the American people were uncertain and later multiple protests were held across our country reflecting this uncertainty.
The experiences in Vietnam taught U.S. military and government leaders many lessons on diplomatic negotiations and the importance of learning the cultures of other countries. I have come to understand that the Vietnam War was not just a war that spanned a few years but many years of painful memories for our Historians to write in our childrenâ€™s history books. I have also come to understand that that the outcome of the war in Vietnam was not something that any president expected to have been such a difficult military objective. However, once the war escaladed and American troops were sent over to Vietnam, the restrictions placed on them made it very difficult for soldiers to fight the war. Many soldiers enlistment were for only a year so this left many of the units in the war theater left with inexperienced war veterans. This lack of inexperience among the troops also left a sense of cohesiveness within the unit. President Johnsonâ€™s inability to admit defeat in Vietnam probably cost him his second term as President of the United States. I think Vietnam left our current military leaders with valuable tools to instruct and lead our current military force. Studying history allows us to learn from our mistakes and change the direction or course that is taken during the next major conflict of our nation. I think that the lessons Learned in Vietnam have developed our military force what it is today because Military leaders and the government are able to review past military success and failures but most importantly why they failed.