Involvement of the United States in the
Vietnam War received a vehement protest from the Americans back home. In 1964,
when American forces launched an offensive on Vietnam, a social movement
started taking shape in the US. The movement polarised the debate on America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and continued
from the second half of the war in the 1960s to the early 1970s on how to end the war.
People who joined the peace movement in the
United States were children, mothers and anti-establishment youth. Opposition
towards the war became intense when African-American civil rights, second-wave
feminist movements, Chicano Movements, and sectors of organised labourers
joined the movement. Additional involvement came from many other groups,
including educators, clergy, academics, journalists, lawyers, physicians – such
as Benjamin Spock – and military veterans.
The movement was largely peaceful and
nonviolent; few events were deliberately provocative and violent. In some
cases, police used violent tactics against peaceful demonstrators. By 1967,
according to Gallup polls, an increasing majority of Americans considered
military involvement in Vietnam to be a mistake, echoed decades later by the
then-head of American war planning, former Secretary of Defence Robert
Opposition to the war grew during a time of
unprecedented student activism, which followed the free speech movement and the
Civil Rights Movement. The growing opposition to the Vietnam War was partly
attributed to greater access to uncensored information through extensive
television coverage on the ground in Vietnam.
The anti-war protesters also objected US’s
involvement in Vietnam. The protestors accused the United States of having imperialistic
goals in Vietnam.
The protestors also raised the issue of
civilian deaths, which were censored by Western media.
Another reason for the Americans’ opposition
to the war was the perception that US intervention in Vietnam was not legally
justifiable. Some Americans believed that the communist threat was used as a
ploy to hide imperialistic intentions, and others argued that the American
intervention in South Vietnam interfered with the self-determination of the
country and felt that the war in Vietnam was a civil war that ought to have
determined the fate of the country and that America was wrong to intervene.