It might seem strange that the Vietnam War generated so much
opposition when the Korean War had not, but by the time young men were being
drafted for Vietnam attitudes had changed. A much larger proportion of the
population were going to college and the idea of completing their course only
to be immediately conscripted did not appeal to many. It was the college
generation which led the initial opposition to the war. The poor white and
black kids who were most likely to be called up were also more likely to see it
as an opportunity.
There was also a new rhetoric in the air. Thanks in part to
the communists being able to use the anti-imperialist banner to support
so-called liberation wars, many young people throughout the world saw the US as
a successor to France in Vietnam, in denying the country true freedom. The US
had a bad history of suppressing nationalism where ever it interfered with US
interests, such as Latin America.
TV and Newspapers had almost unrestricted access in Vietnam
for the first time in the history of warfare. People could see the battles
nightly on TV, and the faces of the dead were displayed in news bulletins, and
famously in a Life Magazine photo spread. Journalists questioned generals"
decisions live from the battlefield, and some were conducting their own
As the war progressed it became clear that the decision
making at the top was based on false information. See the Pentagon Papers.
Secretary of State Robert McNamara was shown to have consistently misled
President Johnson as to the situation on the ground. The CIA was running its
own war and organizing the over-throw of South Vietnamese Presidents, who were