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HIS311H5 (2)

HIS311Y1February 9.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Chris Pennington

HIS311Y1 February 9 2012 In the broader scheme of the Cold War it was a crucial eventthe longest lasting war that was fought during the period of the Cold War by the US US first major defeat Great failure of the strategy of containment Vietnam WarUS containment and domino theoriesthe best and brightest Robert McNamaraThe battle for hearts and mindsThe Viet CongOn a far greater scale 34 million Vietnamese died during the war Enormous game changing event Vietnam Syndrome for some years afterward and leading up to the Iraq war in 2003 there was a concern over involving in an international affair would lead to a disaster American policy makers were less willing to go and commit American forces overseas than they had been prior to that From the Canadian perspective it was important in part because it created a lot of tension in Canadian American relations Canada did not contribute troops directly to the war and was not a combatant at war But Canada was a part of the International Control Commission in Vietnam and could represent American interests there greatly complicated matters Canadian policy makers were doing things that American policy makers disagreed withimportantOnly on occasion was there a public reach It was usually running under the surface It badly damaged relations between US and Canada Also on a social and cultural note as well Vietnam caused Canadians to lose faith in Americans and American government In the 1950s relations between US and Canada had been closer and happier than they had ever been In the 1960s in part because of civil rights and the Vietnam war many Canadians started to have serious doubts about the US Believed Americans were a flawed people who were pursuing flawed and dangerous policies There had always been some antiAmerican sentiment in Canada but this became much more pronounced in the 1960sit became okay to openly complain about American policies Canadians never really looked at Americans the same after Vietnam And when they looked at themselves they very much liked what they sawgreat surge in Canadian nationalism due to Vietnam They could look at Vietnam and say they had avoided it as well as the civil rights riots Avoided political assassinations A lot of Canadians felt that their country was better than the US that they lived in a more peaceful and sensible and free society Whether we were really separate from this is something we will discuss today Hard to overestimate the significance of the Vietnam War in American and Canadian culture The premise behind the war in the States there isnt a very honest or open reckoning about what the war was The basic premise of the war was a benevolent premise It was a sincere and honest premisethe US did not get itself involved because there was some financial gain in it or because they were seeking to grab territory from another country there was no imperialist or economic impulse that drove American involvement in Vietnam It was instead two very closely related theories which formed the basis of American strategy throughout the Cold Warthe containment theory originated with Truman Doctrine the mission of the US to contain the spread of communism to prevent innocent and non communist countries from falling under the sway of the communist menace Based on the assumption all communist action was directed by Moscow Only by vigilance and if necessary military force could the expansion of communism be prevented Why was it so important to contain communism Second theory domino theory Premise that if one country were allowed to fall to communism others in the surrounding region would be likely to fall as well Domino theory has been criticised for being overly simplistic Countries do not fall like dominoes but this was at the heart of American strategy during the war Those who had come up with and implemented the containment strategy the best and the brightest Americans Rob McNamara believed any problem could be resolved if you accumulated enough data and arrived at logical conclusions and solved them through well thought out policies Not inclined to accept the limitations of American power nor did they appreciate the circumstances on the ground in Vietnam Much more complicated than knocking over a domino
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