Historical Investigation

Historical Investigation - To what extent were college...

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To what extent were college antiwar movements of the SDS in the U.S during the Vietnam War a response to military actions? Stephanie Pham K. Napoleon IB Historical Investigation November 7, 2009 Word Count: 1822
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Pham 2 Part A: Plan of Investigation The aim of the investigation is to study the antiwar sentiment present on the American home front during the Vietnam Conflict, which took place from 1959-1975. Arguably one of the most controversial wars in American history, there was an obvious lack of support for U.S involvement in Vietnam, and this sentiment manifested itself in many ways. Opposition to the war was particularly noticeable in the form of student demonstrations, and became increasingly more violent with each major military engagement that was received negatively by the public. The purpose of this investigation is to examine the relationship between the two. In other words, to what extent were college antiwar movements in the U.S during the Vietnam War a response to military actions? To answer this question, major military encounters of the war will be studied as well as antiwar demonstrations that occurred immediately after them to examine how they are connected. The investigation will be conducted using both secondary sources and primary sources in order to gain both an objective and subjective perspective of the time. Part B: Summary of Evidence The beginning of the antiwar movement was launched when Johnson’s policy of escalation came in effect. In 1964, two U.S navy destroyers on the North Vietnamese Coast, USS C. Turner and USS Maddox reported being attacked by unidentified vessels. However, evidence was lacking that proved the North Vietnamese were to blame. Nevertheless, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed by Congress in 1964 and gave President Johnson the ability to take any measures necessary to prevent further attacks of aggression. As a result, he ordered numerous air strikes and bombings on North Vietnamese territory, such as Operations Pierce, Flaming Dart, and Rolling Thunder. According to Johnson, “the necessities of war have compelled [the US] to
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Pham 3 bomb North Vietnam” (McMaster 277). Angered by such actions in the face of little proof, a group at the University of Michigan known as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized numerous campus demonstrations, sit ins and teach-ins in protest of the war. According to them, “the war [was] immoral at its root... [and they] are anxious to advance the cause of democracy; [they] do not believe that cause can be advanced by torture and terror” (Gjerde 412). Their most prominent demonstration took place in 1965 in Washington D.C and was attended by more than 20,000 people (Maxner and Ronald). The Vietnam War was unique because it was heavily covered by the media. Americans were able to watch television broadcasts corresponding to the war and could read about it in newspapers as well. In January 1967, the New York Times covered a story about dispatches from
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