Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Week Five: Liberal Academic Perspective

Darrell Y. Hamamoto: Empire of Death and the Plague of Civic Violence

In this article, Hamamoto compares the culture of murders to the America’s increasing culture of domestic violence. He argues that domestic violence has increased in American society due to the legitimization of a militarized American culture. This militarized American culture takes its origins from the Viet Nam war. According to Hamamoto, most murderers’ profile is usually white Caucasian male and is a war veteran or has relations to someone who is a veteran. Following this logic, it is argued that the United State’s investment in the war in Viet Nam (before, during, and after its involvement) and Southeast Asian has installed in war veterans and their children hatred for the “yellow” people. This is depicted through an example given in the article: Purdy was the son of a soldier who was in combat in Viet Nam—who had a hatred for Asians that were tied to the war in Viet Nam. As a result of the enmity, Purdy killed five Southeast Asian students at his former elementary school (Cleveland Elementary).

Due to the tremendous amount of US troops in Viet Nam, the killing of Asian American has been somewhat made to seem less atrocious than they really are. This taps into the psychological aspect of this issue; because former soldiers were used to killing Vietnamese (and other individuals of Asian descent) during their involvement, the current violence committed to individuals of the same descent has less of an impact—because it could be said that they have already seen it happen many times before. Therefore, domestic violence is related with the hyper-militarist American culture which has desensitized individuals to acts of violence.

Sucheng Chan: The American Involvement

Sucheng Chan exposes the “true” story of the United States involvement in the Viet Nam war in this article. Most Americans are given the impression that the United States’ involvement of the war only started while the Viet Nam war was already in full swing (around 1965), but the involvement actually started during the French’s colonization of Viet Nam. The US was not physically involved, but rather funded 78% of the French’s war cost. Following this, America supported a regime under a man name Ngo Dinh Diem, but later came to question their support for his regime as he became more violent—especially towards individuals who were opposed to his rule. Eventually Diem was murdered by a military coup (whom the US supported); Diem’s murder brought about a cycle of short lived governments in south Viet Nam. The final government came under the lead of Nguyen Van Thieu and lasted until the fall of Saigon in 197.

As the Viet Nam war took off, there were various actions committed by Americans that seemed somewhat dishonest and one could say ominous. One would be the Gulf of Tokin attack where the US claimed that it was attacked by North Vietnamese boats while in water. However, this claim was later declared to be untrue as there were no North Vietnamese boats in sight of American ships that night. Despite this fact, this false claim gave the US passage into the war—it gave the American government a reason to justify its involvement to the American people. As the war progressed, the United States began to conduct negotiations with the north Vietnamese, on behalf of the South Vietnamese (and behind the backs of the south Vietnamese). These negotiations came to be called secret talks in Paris and occurred during the Nixon administration. These talks resembled the fear of the United States -- fear of the possibility of losing a war; by trying to reach an agreement, the US was looking for a way out of the war that would save its reputation as a country and military might.

As the north Vietnamese closed in on Saigon, American evacuation took place—where Americans and anyone in danger due to a north Vietnamese victory was evacuated. Although protocols only called for these evacuees, many inhabitants of Viet Nam tried to escape with the Americans as well as after the war (“boat people”).

William Shawcross: The Doctrine and The Strategy

In this article, Shawcross discusses US involvement in Cambodia during the Viet Nam war. Despite telling the American public that the US would not be involve and that minimal aid would be given to Cambodia so that it would be able to defend itself, the US was actually controlling military actions there. Under Henry Kissinger, an army was being built under the leadership of Lon Nol. This militarization and increased US involvement in Cambodia has to do with President Nixon’s determination to keep an anti-government alive in Phnom Penh. There were conflicting opinions on what should be done in Cambodia between US representatives (Rives versus Haig). As Nixon continues to keep the US in Cambodia in the forms of secret military aids: “supply of automatic rifles and several thousand Khmer Krom troops from South Vietnam.” (162). “Operations” in Cambodia was made possible by the Nixon-Kissinger years where the State Department was mostly excluded from policymaking—in terms of Cambodia. All this eventually resulted in the Congress’ decision to restrict Nixon’s power (the first time in the history of war). Despite doing so, US involvement in Cambodia continued with the recruiting of foreign troops to fight in place of American armies and arming the armies under the Nixon Doctrine. Casualties were high each year as the war continued to spread on—larger than what was expected by many in the United States.


Jonathan Neale: Protesters 
This article exposes the anti-war sentiment and actions taken in the United States during the Viet Nam War. Neale focuses his attention mainly towards the strikes conducted by college students, but does not fail to mention the large-scale strikes that happened in Washington. According to Neale, many liberals started calling for withdrawal out of Viet Nam during Johnson’s administration and continued throughout Nixon’s administration as well. These strikes were peaceful in nature (as Martin Luther King was an inspiring figure before his death), but needless to say they often took a violent turn—most of the time, the violence started by the defenders rather than the protesters. The protests that occurred during this time period was different from many before its time—the difference laid in the amount of people who showed up to support anti-war sentiment and demands. Some of the protests that happened included the largest number of supporters up to that time.
In hindsight, the main goal of protesters was to withdraw from Viet Nam. There were various reasons for this demand. Many did not see the Vietnamese as the enemy, but rather the only noble people (according to Neale); others did not approve the scale of violence that was being conducted in Viet Nam; and many more just did not believe that the US had any reason to be involved in a foreign civil war. Regardless of their reasons, protesters were able to limit the killings and pressured the government to pull out of the war.

Discussion Questions:
1) What is your opinion on the current violence committed in American society? Do you believe it is connected to American involvement in wars of the past? What is the impact of this on society?

2) Based on Sucheng Chan’s “The American Involvement,” and your current knowledge, what do you think was the reason for the United State’s involvement in Viet Nam? Do you agree with Chan. Why or why not?

3) Do you believe in the effectiveness of protests to yield results? Apply this to the Viet Nam War and our current war in Iraq. What are the similarities and differences?

4) How does the US's policies and military involvement in Cambodia reflect that of their involvement in Viet Nam? 

5) To what extent do you believe the anti-war protests played a role in the US's decision to withdraw from Viet Nam?