The Truth of War Project:
During our interview of Bob Hedge’s a veteran from the Vietnam war he told us many interesting things. However the thing he said that stuck out to me the most was how divided the war made America. The Vietnam war was probably when of the main factors for why America is so divided today. Some people were excited about the war and wanted the U.S to be involved in the war whereas others wanted the war to end and would go on protests in the streets. One thing I did not know about the war was the boredom that was in the war, our veteran said that when they were not in active combat they were lying around the camp waiting for something to happen.
One of the hardest things about preparing for the interview was making sure that all our questions were professional and something he would want to answer. I was very worried that we might offend him. However when he arrived we had him read over our questions to see if there was any he did not want to answer. After reading over all of them he said he would answer all of the questions which was really cool, I did not expect him to be as open with us as he was. One thing I would like to change is there was a couple of questions that seemed to ask the same thing twice. We were in dress code, however we still could have dressed more professionally.
Gulf of Tonkin Reflection
When we were reading the packet that Ally gave us with all of the compiled quotes and letters It was hard to to find which side of the story the evidence pointed to more. That the attack did happen or that it didn’t. Because of the lack of information I chose to write mine about how it is impossible to know the events in the gulf of Tonkin that day. Sorting through all of the evidence was the hardest part of the project you would think that you had found a solid piece of evidence but then you would find more evidence that would cancel it out. I think it would have been better to have more sources to collect evidence from because the packet and the book was not enough to back up your claims.
By reading the book the things we carried, it gives a greater understanding of war and allows us to make more accurate and thoughtful pieces of work. One thing the book talks about is how to tell a true war story. This is an important thing to know how to do when you write, you want to be able to write both story truth and happening truth. When you tell a story you want to make sure that if the story in not happening truth that you try to capture the feeling of what happened. It is important to know the history of the world around you, knowing the mistakes and deeds of the past helps avoid calamity in the future. When you are answering difficult questions it is good to have information from several different sources so you know what you are talking about. This book was helpful when we were writing our essays on the Gulf of Tonkin. The pact we had was all quotes and letters from politicians and military higher ups who had probably never been in war, so it was good to have the perspective of someone who was on the ground in Vietnam.
The Gulf of Tonkin
Did the attack on the Gulf of Tonkin take place? While there is evidence both supporting and denying the attack on the U.S.S Maddox it still remains unclear of what the true events of that day were in the Gulf of Tonkin.
In the Gulf of Tonkin the attack is neither acknowledged nor denied by the people’s army of vietnam. The reason why it is not posible to know what had really happened that day is because there is equal evidence that says both that the attack did happen, as well as that it didn’t happen. Just like any American court of law you are innocent until proven guilty. Until the day comes when more information on the events of that day are released, it pointless to point fingers at each other making uneducated assumptions on what really happened.
The evidence supporting that the attack didn’t happen is promising but it does not stand when compared with other evidence supporting the attack did happen. However this goes both ways. This is a quote from the People’s Army of Vietnam, (Pg 8). “In the last two days, American news agencies made a fuss about the so-called “unprovoked attack” by Navy ship of the democratic republic of Viet Nam’s on the U.S destroyer Maddox which took place on August 2 off North Vietnam's coast.” This quote from the People’s Army of Vietnam, suggests that they did fire upon the U.S.S Maddox, However they never outright took ownership of the attack. But by saying, “the so-called “unprovoked attack,” They seem to be saying ‘yes we did attack you but it was not random nor unprovoked you had it coming.’ Which is true because we had been provoking them with violent attacks well before the Gulf of Tonkin incident. This is a quote from President Johnson, (Pg 2). “There have been some covert operations in that area that we have been carrying on - blowing up some bridges and things of that kind, roads and so forth. So I imagine they want to put a stop to it. So they … fired and we responded immediately with five inch artillery shells from the destroyer and with planes overhead.” Because of the U.S using military force, it makes sense that the People's Army of Vietnam would have retaliated.
The evidence going against the attack taking place is not as conclusive as the letter from the People’s army of Vietnam, however it still throws in enough doubt to make it impossible to name as fact what really happened. Evidence going against the existence of the attack is as follows from, (Pg 5) in a telegram sent from the Captain of the U.S.S Maddox. “Review of action makes many reported contacts and torpedoes fired appear doubtful. Freak weather effects on radar and overeager sonarman may have accounted for many reports. All subsequent Maddox torpedo reports are doubtful in that it is suspected that sonarman was hearing the ship’s own propeller beat.” As it was said from the Captain there are plenty of other reasons that may have caused the sonarman to believe that the ship was under attack. The U.S.S Maddox was never even struck by any torpedo, no explosion and no hull damage was sustained by the U.S.S Maddox. These pieces of evidence add enough doubt so that this can continue to be debated and makes it impossible to know the true events of that day in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Regardless if the attack on the U.S.S Maddox really did take place or not, it was inevitable that war would have broken out between the People’s army of Vietnam and the U.S. There was conflict between the U.S and Vietnam long before the U.S officially declared war on Northern Vietnam. This is shown in a quote from Johnson the President of the U.S (Pg 2). “There have been some covert operations in that area that we have been carrying on - blowing up some bridges and things of that kind, roads and so forth. So I imagine they want to put a stop to it. So they … fired and we responded immediately with five inch artillery shells from the destroyer and with planes overhead.” This level of violence can not happen between two country for long before the other side retaliates and war breaks out. Even before we begin the covert operations in Northern Vietnam we were supplying the French with money, weapons, and ammunition. This is the kind of thing that almost always leads to war even though the country is not directly involved. When the American ships and supplies are being sent over to supply the French they are often attacked by the enemy force which will leads to indirect battles between the U.S and Vietnam. This is the same thing that got the U.S involved in WW2 we were supplying the allied forces with supplies and weapons, so because of this the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor the area where all supplies was gathered to be sent to the war front. There was also a political battle going on at the same time with fighting Communism, this is shown on (Pg 1). “Whereas naval units of the Communist regime in Vietnam, in violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law, have deliberately and repeatedly attacked the United States naval vessels lawfully present in international waters and have thereby created a serious threat to international peace; and” (SIC) In conclusion because of these reasons it was inevitable that war between the U.S and Northern Vietnam would have broken out, regardless if the events in the Gulf of Tonkin really happened.
Gulf of Tonkin Write up Link:
Truth of War Art Project:
The Paris Peace Accords
Acrylic on Paper
In my art piece I express how in the Vietnam War there was no victory. It ended in stalemate neither side was willing to continue fighting. There had been too many deaths, and there was no sign of the war ever coming to an end without treaties being instituted between the opposing nations. So on January 27, 1973 a treaty was signed in Paris ending direct U.S military involvement in Vietnam, temporarily stopping the fighting between North and South Vietnam. The war did not end for several years, however this movement placed a need in many countries to end the war. In my art piece this is shown through the three different flags: The American flag on the left, the Vietnamese flag on the right, and the flag of truce in the center. The building in the background is in Paris where the Treaty which ended the war was signed. All of these things together express my truth of war: there was no victory.