Aspects of World War II

Subject: Warfare
Pages: 3
Words: 953
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

World War I was a grand-scale conflict that started in 1914 and ended in 1918 with the defeat of Germany and its allies. After the signing of a peace treaty in Versailles, a French general, Ferdinand Foch, said “This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years”. There were many reasons why World War II, which started in 1939, was influenced by the unsolved problems of World War I. According to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany lost some of its territories, including Alsace and Lorraine, which were important to the German economy; it was forced to pay reparations. For many years, Germans were suffering from economic and political crisis, until they found salvation in the Nazi ideology and Adolf Hitler, who promised he would make Germany great again.

World War II started on September 1st, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany, but the United States entered the war only on December 7th, 1941 when it was attacked by Japan, an ally of Germany. The attack on Pearl Harbor made the entry of the US into war with Japan inevitable. However, Americans also fought against Germany and Italy and provided material support to allies in the form of the lend-lease program. The US supplied food, oil, and materiel to the USSR, which defeated the Nazis on the Eastern Front and whose victory in the Battle of Stalingrad was one of the turning points of the war. Another watershed moment in the war was the Battle of Midway, which was the most important clash on the Pacific front.

World War II is characterized by a rise in American consciousness and patriotism. Moreover, the Second World War contributed to the unification of Americans of different origins, because the Anglo-Saxons, Irish, Poles, Jews, Hispanics, Blacks, and Native Americans fought in the American army (Jeffries 93-94). The war against Germany was perceived not only as a war against a hostile army but also as a war against the ideology of racism and Nazism.

After World War II, the US started to play the most important role in international relations along with its main rival, the Soviet Union. Further foreign policies of these countries can be characterized as a confrontation between the two great powers for influence in the world (Mayers 13-17). The Korean War and the Vietnam War were some of the battlefields in this confrontation, in the so-called Cold War. Thus, the Second World War is the most important military conflict of the XX century, as well as a pivotal event in American history, which influenced both domestic and foreign American policies.

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was a military conflict that took place in Vietnam between the US and the Republic of Vietnam on the one hand and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) on the other hand. At first, it started as a civil war between the anti-communist forces located in the south of the country against northern pro-communist forces led by the Vietnamese revolutionary politician, Ho Chi Minh. The chance of the communists’ winning was very high and their victory would be a great failure for American foreign policy in Asia. The American government considered the establishment of another communist regime a high threat, so in order to stop the North Vietnam Army, the United States decided to directly intervene in Vietnam.

During the conflict, the US army fought against forces that used a different way of conducting a war. The Northern Vietnamese did not have enough firepower, equipment, and personnel, while the U.S. had complete air, land, and sea superiority. However, the DRV army and Vietcong (pro-communist partisan formations in the south) used guerilla warfare tactics the US was not ready to combat against (Šimko 145). The American army had extensive experience of fighting against regular armies during WWII and the Korean War. However, they did not know how to oppose the Vietnamese guerrillas, who used secret traps and tunnels to take advantage of the jungle areas.

Also, the DRV army gained the support of the local people, because it stated it served the interests of ordinary people. Vietnamese women also played an important role in the Vietnam War (Chaguri and Paniz 900-901). They served on the home front, distributed revolutionary literature, and formed their own military units. In one of his speeches, Ho Chi Minh described Vietnamese women as “heroic, indomitable, faithful and responsible” (Chaguri and Paniz 900). Thus, another factor that led to the victory of the DRV was that a large part of the Vietnamese population supported its ideals and was ready to fight for them.

In 1968, the Vietcong launched the Tet Offensive, which is considered to be the most important turning point of this conflict. It was a series of simultaneous and sudden attacks on the infrastructure and personnel of the American and South Korean armies. It did not result in significant military success for the Vietcong, but it did manage to psychologically destabilize US troops. People on the front line and at home began to think that the war would not end soon, as opposed to what the authorities had promised them. Another reason why American soldiers were demoralized was American public opinion during the war.

Unlike in WWII and the Korean wars, there were many activists who denounced the war and opposed it. For example, a great American boxer, Mohammed Ali, openly declared that he would not go to war, for which he was condemned by a jury. The Vietnam War left a dark legacy for the United States because the war was lost and the Americans failed to defeat the DRV regime. Moreover, many people died during it and many veterans returned home with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Works Cited

Chaguri, Mariana Miggiolaro, and Flávia X. Paniz. “Women’s War: Gender Activism in the Vietnam War and in the Wars for Kurdish Autonomy.” Sociologia & Antropologia, vol. 9, no. 3, 2019, pp. 895–918. Web.

Jeffries, John W. Wartime America: the World War II Home Front. Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

Mayers, David A. America and the Postwar World: Remaking International Society, 1945-1956. Routledge, 2018.

Šimko, Juraj. “Vietnam War – The New Aspect of Warfare.” International Conference KNOWLEDGE-BASED ORGANIZATION, vol. 25, no. 1, 2019, pp. 144–149. Web.