How did conflicts in Vietnam, Cuba and Latin America challengeAmerican Values?
After the World War II in1939-1945, America dominated almost all theglobal affairs especially in the economic, political and culturallevels. Unlike other areas, Europe being a good example, Americaremained undamaged by the after-effects of war and both its citizensand the world at large became confident in it. Its citizensespecially enjoyed its success and dominance in the War. However,slowly some citizens began to question the dominance of the Americanlife in contrast to other regions. In the early 1960s, some citizensprotested the American’s involvement in other countries especiallythe post-cold war in Vietnam and challenged the America’s values.
American’s struggled to define their role in the world: whether tobe involved or intervene in other countries hence promoting theirwelfare or to intervene and flourish themselves[CITATION Chr13 p 4 l 1033 ].American’s political issues left no one adamant especially itsinvolvement in the Vietnam War. Its social and mainstream lifestylevalues were put in question especially on issues of gambling, alcoholuse, legalization of marijuana and abortion, women rights amongothers in the 1960s.
During 1945-1965, US had previously supported France re-colonizing ofVietnam and when that failed, they stopped the elections promised bythe Geneva peace accord with its military for reasons unknown whichquestioned its values globally[CITATION Dav06 p 67 l 1033 ]. Aroundtwo million lives of Vietnamese were taken in this attempt whichcould be stopped by the American’s troops. As Marilyn Young putsacross, US used propaganda to intervene in the Vietnam War.‘”Vietnamese who lived and worked north were more foreign toSouth Vietnam than the Americans, for the Americans were invited asguests, while North Vietnam individuals was the enemy of thecountry”[CITATION Mar91 p 104 l 1033 ]. This strategy was onlysuccessful in the early 1960’s but later the South Vietnameserealized. This involvement and propaganda spread of Americanschallenged both their identity and values. Young claimed that Americadid not live up to its values in this war and their involvement waschallenged globally. Good news is that they tried to reconcile withtheir identity after the War. However, there was no justificationfrom the daily horrors imposed to American’s soldiers in Vietnam asYoung states. She deems America’s intervention as an unworthy causebased on careless inaccuracies. She further portrays America’ssoldiers as ‘blood thirsty soldiers’.
Over years, rumors have emerged that this war was as a result of UStrying to impose a western regime against the will of the Vietnampeople which continued to challenge its values.
After Castro revolution in 1956, Cuba and America were not best offriends. In 1961, the US sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion in order toeliminate Castro out of his power: who was a democrat and a people’schoice. Sadly, the US failed in their attempt and they went ahead toinfluence the Organization of American States (OAS) to expel Cubawhich strengthened their relationship with Russia. In late 1962, alsotermed as Cuban missile crisis their relationship with the US wasworsening. Despite the strong US opposition, Cuba continued toprogress. Mills, a sociologist and critic in America challenged theUS involvement in Cuba to overthrow Castro and instead supportedCastro revolution especially on matters of education and health. Hebelieved that, ‘knowledge properly put into use would change thesociety in a desirable way’[CITATION CWr p 313 l 1033 ]. In hisbook, Castro was neither a capitalist or communist, he was asocialist hence believed that Cuba had a good chance of growing bothpolitically and economically despite their dismissal by Americansfrom OAS[CITATION CWr p 317 l 1033 ].
In Latin America countries, US supported leaders who overthrew freelyand independently elected parties and established the general brutalmilitary rule yet they were supportive of democracy that questionedits values. America’s intervention was for Latin America countriesto simply accept change thus ensure their own survival which was agood course. Latin America accepted gradual reform and not revolutionas Americans which destroyed both political institutions and socialorder.[CITATION Jua61 p 11 l 1033 ], believes that ‘the U.Smilitary intervention in Latin America manipulated a system of localrevolutions’. Further, he believes that the big businesses that hadchanged North America exploited and victimized Latin Americancountries and their people. As a result, the relationship betweenLatin American’s and America was as expected although he believesthat their relationship could be rebuilt but efforts would first beput to place by treating them differently. In his book, he challengesAmerica’s values as committing crimes in the name of its citizenswhich views them as selfish and self-centered.
John F. Kennedy challenged the communist revolution by the American’sin Latin America and when he entered office and he made efforts torevive the cold war. Kennedy’s main concern was fighting andwinning the Cold War. Driving for the Alliance for Progress andadministration policies, he believed that Latin America was not likeother areas such Africa and they would reap some benefits hence heoffered his aid. However, Alliance of Progress by J. F. Kennedy wasmainly because of the Cuban revolution.
Generally,silence is better than intervention in matters of conflicts. DespiteAmerican’s intentions in the involvement of Vietnam, Cuba and LatinAmerica’s conflict which some were good and others questionable,their values remained challenged both globally and by its citizens.As a result of our above argument, America will never be the same.
Anderson, David, et al. "Legacies of Vietnam War." Journal of American History (2006): 452-490.
Arevalo, Juan Jose. The Shark and the Sardines. 1961.
Burket, Christopher. Remaking the World: Progressivism and American Foreign Policy. Washington, 2013.
Mills, C. Wright. Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba. New York: Balantine Books, 1960.
Young, Marilyn. The Vietnam Wars:1945-1990. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.