Give Back to Your Country

The Statue of Liberty knows what she stands for, do you? Isn’t it time you gave back? Questions like this were asked and advertised constantly during the 1960s in an attempt to get men to enlist in the Vietnam War. Uncle Sam posters, government leaders on the radio and on the television asking men to enlist were certain types of propaganda techniques used by the government to have men support and enlist in the war.

Propaganda was used quite often during the Vietnam War. “The “Domino Theory” coined by President Eisenhower in 1954 could be seen as the first propaganda attempt to justify U.S. assistance for [the] South Vietnamese government.” The Domino Theory, implied that once one country fell to communism, all the surrounding countries would follow suit. By scaring people with the prospect of communism people started to enlist; however, when broadcasts came out of what was occurring over in Vietnam people started to back out, causing propaganda to increase.

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For example, Colonel Edward Lansdale “used a number of gimmicks to swell the ranks of the refugees. South Vietnamese soldiers dressed in civilian clothes [and] were sent North to spread unfavorable rumors.” He sent South Vietnamese over to Northern Vietnam to get them to change their minds about communism, and spread rumors about how bad communism was for Vietnam.

Not only was propaganda spread on television, over the radio, or in face-to-face conversation, but also in newspapers. Reporter Seth King writes in The New York Times, You are only being used as bullet shields by the Communists. Your government will help you return to your homes.” This was written for the South Vietnamese, meanwhile a propaganda ad for the Vietcong reported Seth King said, ‘”struggle for better pay and guarantee a long life. Do not support the Government in its fighting. If you do you will die and your life will be wasted.” People knew propaganda was how the government got people to enlist, the government made propaganda “part of a new campaign of psychological warfare inspired and financed by the United States and pressed upon the South Vietnamese Army by young American military advisors.”

Propaganda was not introduced during the Vietnam War but it had a significant impact on the war. Men enlisted due to the propaganda ads, but when broadcasts showed the bombings, the victims, and what was really going on over in Vietnam the American support for the war declined. Propaganda ads, speeches, and posters increased both in America and in Vietnam targeting anybody that would listen to go against communism, and to enlist in the war to stop it.

-Katherine Clark
(Published 4/7/2015)
(Revised 4/25/2015)

References

King, Seth S. Special to The New,York Times. 1965. U.S. widens vietnam propaganda aid. New York Times (1923-Current file), Mar 17, 1965. http://search.proquest.com/docview/116759174?accountid=12756 (accessed April 8, 2015).

Kubia. “Domino Theory – The Vietnam War.” The Vietnam War. December 3, 2013. Accessed April 7, 2015. http://thevietnamwar.info/domino-theory/.

Kubia. “U.S. Propaganda in the Vietnam War – The Vietnam War.” The Vietnam War. March 27, 2014. Accessed April 7, 2015. http://thevietnamwar.info/u-s-propaganda-vietnam-war/.

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