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John Tirman – The Death Of Others

John Tirman – The Death of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars

Ch.5 – The Vietnam War: The High Cost of Credibility P.123-181

Tirman, John. “The Vietnam War: The High Cost of Credibility.” The Death of Others: The Fate

Of Civilians in America’s Wars. New York, New York: Oxford UP, 2015. 123-81. Print.

Outlined by: Jesus Roldan Summary:

During the course of the Vietnam War there was a lack of concern from the American public for the innocent Vietnamese citizens suffering in the war zones. Throughout the chapter you look at many presidents and their views and actions on Vietnam. Then towards the end of the chapter is you see the rise of the antiwar movement in America such as street protests.

Key Terms/People:





Franklin Roosevelt

John F. Kennedy

Politics Introduction:

The High Cost of Credibility

“For several years, it shaped American politics and society as few wars ever had.” (Tirman 123)

“The “real war” was the savage war fought by all combatants for hamlets and hearts and minds. (Tirman 125)

“That one to two million Vietnamese civilians (or more) died in the war, which is not the source of the politician’s aversion, remains an obscure and scarcely relevant number.” (Tirman 124)

Overall, this shows how the war was viewed from the Vietnamese side and how the American public treated them as if they were the enemy.

The War

The American public was divided on the war.

The war began in the 1960s.

The reason the United States was in Vietnam was to for, “The defeat of communism and establishment of predominant influence in Asia. (Tirman 125)

The war began to peak towards the end of the 1960s as violence in Vietnam was rising and protesting back in the US was beginning to grow.

Entering Vietnam

South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem declared itself a sovereign state

Eisenhower’s plan was to circumvent the Geneva Accords and support South Vietnam

Eisenhower becoming president while the French were routed by the Ho forces, “ spoke darkly of the falling dominoes in Indochina, those teetering pro-Western that could collapse from the destabilizing aggression of communism from India to the Philippines.” (Tirman 126)

The Kennedy Mistake

“John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960 as the paragon of a new generation, seeking new ways to extend American power and keenly interested in Southwest Asia.” (Tirman 132)

His assassination led to a turning point on the war such as an expanded military action in Vietnam.

Johnson’s War

Johnson’s thinking was split in two ways: one was amplify LBJ’s that another loss in Asia would be politically disastrous and the other being that acting as a restraint on the bombing in the North

Air warfare to height and targeted railroads, military barracks and main routes

Nixon’s Peace

His plan to end the war was “madman” pose to scare opponents

This included bombing and diplomatic maneuvering to have and “honorable’ exit


US soldiers pursued “search and destroy” in the South with young soldiers

In the South

Soldiers would go home to home searching for Viet Cong and would interrogate the locals

The Homefront

Turmoil started in the US with the majority of the public still in support of the war

Bringing War Home

Displays at home by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War brought light to what actually occurred during the war with reenactments which was named Operation RAW. Conclusion

The Vietnam War was one of the most devastating wars in American history. Not only because of the sheer amount of deaths, but the fact that most of those deaths were innocent civilians that didn’t know what was happening. If anything the men that were sent there came back more hurt mentally that thinking they succeeded in doing something right.

Personal Reaction

This reading really opened my eyes to how power can really get ot one’s head that you forget who suffers from your actions. The US was merely concerned with having control in Asia that it forgot that people lived in these areas. Also that even the people they were there to support were also killed merely because they all looked alike.

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