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Vietnam War: David Halberstam’s “The Making of a Quagmire” Essay

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Updated: Mar 15th, 2022

Introduction

In his account, the author of the book The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era, is categorical about the dealings of the Americans in the Vietnamese affair. Reading these writings that put facts to paper in a journalistic viewpoint gives someone an insight into how things went haywire and what led to the wrongs that created the quagmire. This essay purposes to analyze the book to understand a variety of aspects of this war. It will, first, bring forth some of the most important lessons that are learned from this war, being specific to events and persons. Second, a close evaluation of “big” figures in the war will be made, with a focus on their roles and conduct before, during, and even after the war as explained by Halberstam. Further, this essay will purpose to establish, based on these writings, which was right between the government and the press, and an insightful conclusion drawn from the premises of the argument (Halberstam, 36).

Lessons to Be Learnt from the War

The political climate within which most of the policies that governed the Vietnam War is to blame for the eventual negatives that occurred during the fighting. John P. Vann, a Lieutenant in the U.S Force, resigned after the then Secretary of Defense, McNamara, created a very hostile environment for the men on the ground. Mr. McNamara was high-handed in his dealings with the Force and this affected the nature of operations during the war. It should, thus, be a basic lesson that the environment within which policies are made- especially International policies, plays a vital role in the outcome of intended operations. Had the environment been harmonized, without letting loose the touch of reality, things would have been different and this should guide policymakers during their policy-making sittings.

The role played by Amb. Henry Cabot Lodge

In 1963, John F. Kennedy, the then President of the United States, appointed Henry Cabot Lodge as the ambassador to South Vietnam. By being a stern socialist, Ambassador Lodge soon became frustrated by the Vietnamese leader, Ngo Dihn Diem, as he perceived him as being short of the ability to be the President. He, therefore, advised for a coup to oust Mr. Diem. It was that directive for a military topple of Diem’s government, which was acting upon a telegram sent to the ambassador by the State Security Department, that set the ground for the war. It should be noted that the ambassador was a keen adherent of the U.S government, a government that was against the suppression of the Buddhists in South Vietnam. Therefore, he had a direct link to the policies that governed the war in Vietnam (Halberstam, 25).

Who was right between the Government and the Press?

An assessment of the roles of both the government and the press reveals that had the facts presented by the press to the government during its footage of the war been given an eye of concern, the war would have been a success. However, the government maintained its stance and never came down to embrace the reality that was being presented by the press. As far as the Vietnamese war is the subject, the press was clear and categorical about the reality of the situation.

Conclusion

It was realized that the U.S government, through its representatives, was high-handed and lacked the touch of reality to the situation. Further, it was noted that Ambassador Henry Lodge played a central role during the Vietnamese War. Finally, following close analysis of the writings, it was noted that the press was clear about the situation on the ground, unlike the government.

Work cited

Halberstam, David. The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era. (Revised Ed). New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc, 2007.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Vietnam War: David Halberstam's "The Making of a Quagmire"." March 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-making-of-a-quagmire-by-david-halberstam-essay/.

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