Kelly Teel, Kent State, Post 7

Last week, Alec was able to set up an interview with Alan Canfora, one of the survivors of the Kent State shootings. During the interview, Canfora was very clear that he believed the Vietnam War was unjustifiable. He described it as “a war by choice”. He felt that the United States did not have to become involved with the war, but they chose to anyway. He kept reiterating that the Vietnam War was not like World War II, when we had a clear justification in attacking the enemy, but instead the Vietnam War dragged on with no apparent victory in sight, with extremely high casualties, for a cause that he did not find adequate. He also described it as a civil war between the North and South Vietnamese. In class, we’ve talked about the extent to which the Vietnam War should be classified as a civil war, and Canfora felt that internal conflict was the basic nature of the war. I asked him whether he had bought into the explanation of the Domino theory at all, and he said that he had at first. However, as the war continued on, and people started to realize that the enemy were determined to keep fighting for their cause and that there wasn’t that much hope of winning the war, he started to question whether there was any reason for us to be in Vietnam at all. He also felt that the war could have easily been avoided, but American military officials wanted to go to war. He specifically mentioned the Gulf of Tonkin incident as an example of how the military manipulated events in Southeast Asia in order to justify the war. He said that the protest at the 1968 Democratic Convention and the resulting police riot is what ultimately convinced him to denounce the war and join the antiwar movement. His view of the United States and its military was cynical, but practical at the same time. He did not understand the reasons we fought the war, and he wanted greater transparency within the government. He did not feel as if the end result of the Vietnam War would justify the means. This was ultimately why he joined the movement against Vietnam.

 

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