If anything the Vietnam War was a conflict that changed the discussion about war in America. Both sides (America and North Vietnam) fought a war based on the perceptions of public opinion and would achieve victory only through wining the desired effect on the civilian population. The US wanted to win the hearts and minds of Vietnam, while the Vietnamese communists’ objective the whole time, as General Giap puts it, relied on “… absolute political superiority, on the righteousness of our cause, and on our people’s unity in struggle”. In the end Giap’s objective was more easily achieved.
By 1969 the majority of Americans had grown to disapprove of the Vietnam War, only a minority (a very vocal and substantial one) of people actively mobilized against it. The end of the Vietnam War (or at least US involvement in it) would be a major cause in the growing counterculture and hippy movement mainly populated by young, liberal, middle class “kids”. While this group might not have been very representative of most of America, it was also a key point of American focus during the war and helped to put pressure on the American government. This population would find refuge and a place to grow in the hot bed of idyllic middleclass white “kids” that is college campuses. The Students for a Democratic Society or SDS would help create this.
Even at the small private college where my mother went (Phillips University) there was a hunger strike against the war. College campuses across America became the incubator for political dissent against the war. Then the shootings at Johnson State and Kent State truly showed how impactful college campuses were on the anti-war movement. The youth and educational institutions of America would continue to be a focal point for political discussion and a hot bed for discontent keeping with the developments of the Vietnam War.
Giap, Vo Nguyen. The Political and Military Line of Our Party