Why Did America Withdraw Its Forces from Vietnam in 1973?
By 1973, after a decade of brutal armed contact and with nearly 60,000 Americans dead, the once proud and mighty USA had been brought to its knees. Feeling isolated the USA decided to abandon its commitment in Vietnam after rising pressure from years of mistakes. America withdrew from Vietnam due to several main reasons; some were long-term e.g. Protests of the American citizens, and others were short-term factors e.g. Morale of American soldiers. In this essay I will discuss the main factors for American withdrawal from Vietnam and try to process the most important ones. I will show how the US media combined with protests in the USA was the most important reason for American withdrawal and ultimately led to the American withdrawal from
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The main issue was land reform and the Vietcong made sure to take land from the rich landowners and give it to the poor peasants, a decision the South Vietnamese government were unwilling to make. Happy with the communist’s ideas peasants would give food, weapons and intelligence to the Vietcong as well as housing them, making it almost impossible for American soldiers to distinguish between friend and foe. Soldiers were angry they were fighting an enemy that could not be seen and would mercilessly kill them in surprise attacks, and so felt they had no choice but to eliminate all threats from nearby-by villages, always suspecting anyone could be a Vietcong and believing it was better to be safe than sorry. “Zippo raids” were frequently carried out on villages (which mostly weren’t collaborating with the Vietcong) where soldiers would destroy all supplies in the village including animals and then execute suspected communists. Defoliants would be sprayed on all the food and surrounding forest area so Vietcong wouldn’t be able to find supplies or hide (with the most used defoliant called Agent Orange, which was known to cause cancer, and would be washed into the streams by rain and drunk by soldiers on both sides). Although soldiers were directly told not to harm civilians, most peasants couldn’t be