Cold War Files: All Units: Activities: Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

  1. Many Americans who fought in Vietnam (and many at home) felt the government had never made it sufficiently clear why we were there. How important is that to a successful war effort?

  2. In the words of one Vietnam veteran: "You never knew who was an enemy and who was a friend." Why? What behavior resulted from such uncertainty?

  3. A North Vietnamese officer, when told the communists had never beaten the United States troops in a major battle, responded: "That is correct. It is also irrelevant." Why? How does a dictionary or encyclopedia define "guerrilla warfare"? Find several other examples of guerrilla warfare in world history.

  4. A U.S. Air Force pilot was quoted as saying: "You really just don't have time for personal thoughts when you're up there flying around at five, six hundred miles an hour. It's just strictly professionalism. . . . The reality of the screams or the people being blown away or their homeland being destroyed just was not part of what I thought about." Was this impersonal detachment less possible for the foot soldier? Why or why not?

  5. In a speech (at Akron, Ohio, on October 21, 1964) President Johnson said: "[We] are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves," but also: "[We] will not permit the independent nations of the East to be swallowed up by communist conquest." Could the latter have been accomplished without the former?

  6. Would the war have ended differently if Lyndon Johnson had sought and secured a declaration of war by Congress in 1965?

  7. The war in Vietnam was brought into America's living rooms on the evening television news. Report to the class on your reactions to specific television news broadcasts of conflict in the world today. Do the events seem "real" to you? Does TV tend to glorify war or to expose its horrors?

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