Of all the historical events that happened in Vietnam, one lesson stands out from the rest – it is completely impossible to win a protracted war without support from the public. When the Vietnam War began, the American government believed that protecting Vietnam from communist groups should be on top of their priorities. Communism has started to threaten democratic governments, implying that lack of US intervention might encourage communist forces to revolt elsewhere.
The Peace Movement of the 1960s started when Americans became concerned about escalating military costs and the increasing number of casualties from the war. Read on to find out how this small movement eventually transformed into an unstoppable force that pressured the United States to reconsider its commitments.
Peace Movements – An Overview
Anti-war leaders opposed the war for economic and moral reasons. They believed that the North Vietnamese were only fighting a war to set themselves free from foreign aggressors. As they watched innocent civilians being killed in the crossfire and American planes wreaking havoc on Vietnam’s environment, they started to support a movement that will change the world forever. Even young American soldiers were dying and suffering, which was more than enough to spark the Peace Movement of the 1960s.
In the late 1960s, the tension between the government and the anti-war movement continued to increase. Activists realized that demands were being ignored and their peaceful demonstration suddenly became violent. Members of peace movements felt harassed when the police tried to arrest them, so they often resorted to retaliation. Students started occupying buildings across college campuses, ROTC buildings were burned and roads were blocked by barricades of protesters.
Banning the Bomb
In the early 1960s, the United States found out that Russia is stocking Communist Cuba with nuclear weapons. President Kennedy responded to this by threatening to invade Cuba if they fail to withdraw the missiles immediately. But the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War is considered as the main precursor of peace movements. It called up 40,000 draftees a month, forcing college students to leave home and participate in the war against communism.
When the aftermath of the war was televised, ordinary Americans started protesting against the US involvement in the Vietnam War. Celebrities and anti-war leaders started drafting peace-making agendas. Anti-war radicals popped up everywhere, adding more strength to the Peace Movement of the 1960s. When President Nixon announced its plans of sending US troops to Cambodia in May 1970, four students who joined the anti-war protest were massacred by Ohio’s National Guard soldiers.
All of these events opened people’s eyes to the harsh reality of the US War against Terror. Even famous actors and singers joined the movement, inspiring more and more people to join mass protests and to condemn the growing number of human rights violations.