Political Control of the Military

"No new taxes." This is a quote that most all of us remember

from the 1992 presidential election. Along with it we remember that

there were new taxes during that presidents term in office. There are

a myriad of promises made and things done in a presidential election

year that have questionable motives as to whether they are done in the

best interest of the people or in the interests of the presidential

candidate. These hidden interests are one of the biggest problems

with the political aspects of government in modern society. One of

the prime examples of this is the Vietnam War. Although South Vietnam

asked for our help, which we had previously promised, the entire

conflict was managed in order to meet personal political agendas and

to remain politically correct in the world?s eyes rather than to bring

a quick and decisive end to the conflict. This can be seen in the

selective bombing of Hanoi throughout the course of the Vietnam War.

Politically this strategy looked very good. However, militarily it

was ludicrous. War is the one arena in which politicians have no

place. War is the military?s sole purpose. Therefore, the U. S.

Military should be allowed to conduct any war, conflict, or police

action that it has been committed to without political interference or

control because of the problems and hidden interests which are always

present when dealing with polit

United States involvement in the Vietnam War actually began in

1950 when the U. S. began to subsidize the French Army in South

Vietnam. This involvement continued to escalate throughout the 1950?s

and into the early 1960?s. On August 4, 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin

incident occurred in which American Naval Vessels in South Vietnamese

waters were fired upon by North Vietnam. On August 5, 1964 President

Johnson requested a resolution expressing the determination of the

United Sates in supporting freedom and in protecting peace in

southeast Asia ( Johnson ). On August 7, 1964, in response to the

presidential request, Congress authorized President Johnson to take

all necessary measures to repel any attack and to prevent aggression

against the U. S. in southeast Asia ( United States ). The selective

bombing of North Vietnam began immediately in response to this

resolution. In March of the following year U. S. troops began to


Although the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution specifically stated

that we had no military, political, or territorial ambitions in

southeast Asia, the interests back home were quite a different story

( Johnson ). The political involvement in Vietnam was about much more

than just promised aid to a weak country in order to prevent the

spread of communism. It was about money. After all, wars require

equipment, guns, tools and machinery. Most of which was produced in

the United States. It was about proving America?s commitment to stop

communism. Or rather to confine communism in its present boundaries

But most of all it was about politics. The presidential political

involvement in Vietnam had little to do with Vietnam at all. It was

about China for Eisenhower, about Russia for Kennedy, about Washington

D.C. for Johnson, and about himself for Nixon ( Post ). The last two

of which were the major players in America?s involvement in regards to

U. S. Troops being used ( Wittman ).

The military involvement in Vietnam is directly related to the

political management of the military throughout the war. The

military controlled by the politicians. The micro management of the

military by the White House for political gain is the primary reason

for both the length and cost, both monetary and human, of the Vietnam

War ( Pelland ). One of the largest problems was the lack of a clear

objective in the war and the support to accomplish it. The

predominant military opinion of the military?s role in Vietnam in

respect to the political involvement is seen in the following quote by

General Colin Powell, "If you?re going to put into something then you

owe the armed forces, you owe the American People, you owe just you?re

own desire to succeed, a clear statement of what political objective

you?re trying to achieve and then you put the sufficient force to that

objective so that you know when you?ve accomplished it." The

politicians dictated the war in Vietnam, it was a limited