American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam: U.S. by Trevor McCrisken

By Trevor McCrisken

American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam examines the effect of the idea in American exceptionalism at the heritage of U.S. overseas coverage because the Vietnam warfare. Trevor B. McCrisken analyzes makes an attempt by way of every one post-Vietnam U.S. management to restore the preferred trust in exceptionalism either rhetorically and by means of pursuing international coverage supposedly grounded in conventional American ideas. He argues that exceptionalism regularly supplied the framework for international coverage discourse yet that the behavior of overseas affairs used to be restricted through the Vietnam syndrome.

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Modernization theorists believed that all societies pass through sequential stages of progress from ‘traditional’ to ‘modern’ and that because the West, and in particular the US, was the ‘common endpoint’ to which all peoples must irresistibly move, Americans could help underdeveloped countries along the way from being stagnant, traditional societies to active, modern ones. 14 The rhetoric of exceptionalism was also used to justify major uses of force during the Cold War, even when clear strategic and political justifications could be found.

Public frustrations at the inconclusiveness of the war and the sense that the nation’s highest officials could not be trusted were further fuelled by actions taken during Nixon’s presidency. 48 The Paris peace accords, which officially brought an end to the American war on January 27, 1973, could barely be considered to have achieved ‘peace with honor’. The peace did allow for the complete withdrawal of US forces, but it was a cease-fire in place, enabling North Vietnamese troops to remain inside South Vietnam.

Americans became increasingly concerned about what the war was doing to freedom and democracy in the US. Johnson had lied to Congress about the true nature of events in Vietnam from the outset. As argued above, though, it was nothing new that the justifications for escalating the Vietnam War were based on dubious premises; in fact it can even be regarded as part of a long tradition. As the war dragged on, however, the sense that Americans could not trust their leaders grew as rapidly as the credibility gap between official pronouncements of progress in the war and 30 American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam the reports from the fighting in Vietnam.

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