The Responsibility of the West

Perhaps one of the most controversial and universally disputed wars in American history is the Vietnam War. Kept out of mind and excluded from textbooks, this portion of American past is kept under wraps; and it is very clear why that is after even a brief investigation into the matter. During this time period, America acted under the premise of a responsibility to fight for freedom, and a responsibility to liberate an oppressed people. On the contrary, even while keen to interfere, the true responsibility of Americans in Vietnam was to let the independent country manage its own affairs. Sadly, Americans did indeed interfere, and a disastrous impact was made on both American and Vietnamese society.

There is no doubt that America had no business or claim in Vietnam when they became involved in the 1960s. While addressing John Hopkins University in April of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson admitted, “Vietnam is far away from this quiet campus. We have no territory there, nor do we seek any.” Why, one might wonder, would America then become so involved? President Johnson goes on to argue that America’s involvement was due solely to the unspoken promise and responsibility America has to protect other nations in their fight for freedom. And while assisting struggling countries in the struggle for independence from various oppressors and tragic circumstances is indeed both heroic and moral, these actions are entirely unjustified if the country aiming to give that assistance, in this case, America, is in need of help itself. In Senator J. William Fulbright’s 1966 speech, The Arrogance of Power, Fulbright confronts America’s overenthusiastic zeal for international independence at the cost of the amenities of the American public:

“In [America’s] excessive involvement in the affairs of other countries, we are not only living off of our assets and denying our own people the proper enjoyment on their resources; we are also denying the world the example of a free...