Why did Americans protest the Vietnam War?
- The Vietnam War continued from 1955 to 1975
- Americans protested the war, alleging that it was an imperialistic goal of the US
- Americans, especially the students, raised the issue of civil rights of innocent people who were killed by American bomber jets
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 McNamara.
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.