The United States’ war in Vietnam and the American Revolution are two completely different historical events. During the American Revolution, the US was trying to gain independence and in Vietnam, it was playing a role of a minor character. Surely, the roots, passing, and results of these two conflicts were different as well.
The American Revolution and its three phases
“The American Revolution was the first modern revolution” and the time when people, in fact, began to think about independence and rights, law and constitution (Overview of the American Revolution n.d., para. 1). This revolution can be called the backbone of the US character and history as such.
After the ending of the Seven Years’ War, Britain consolidated its position on American land and began to “tighten imperial reins” (Overview of the American Revolution n.d., para. 4). The empire needed money and decided to take it from its colonies. To collect duties and raise revenue several acts were signed: the Sugar Act, the Indemnity Act, the Revenue Act, and others. These actions were the last straw for Americans, and thirteen states that were under British command started the rebellion.
The American Revolution can be perceived according to Mao’s three phases of an insurgency, which are the organization, expansion, and, finally, the closing of the conflict that can be either a decision or defeat. During the first phase of the American Revolution, people began to gather supporters, Americans were divided into Patriots who wanted to rebel and Loyalists who preferred to stay loyal to Britain. Then first protests (the Boston Tea Party, for example) escalated. The second phase was the War of Independence or the Revolutionary War, the major battles of which took place in Canada, New York, Trenton, Princeton, Saratoga, Charleston, and others. Finally, the peace treaty signed in 1783 marked the third phase, and the United States became an independent country.
The Vietnam War, its three stages, and comparison to the Revolution
The Vietnam War, which is also called the Second Indochina War, had nothing in common with the American Revolution and was an opposition between North and South Vietnam. Starting as a civil war, the Vietnam War became large-scale when the north part of Vietnam provided itself with the Soviet Union and China’s support, and the United States sided with South Vietnam (Connable & Libicki, 2010).
For the United States, this war was an opportunity to beat communism and prevent its spreading to Vietnam and neighboring countries. Therefore, unlike the American Revolution, the US was playing a minor role here. It did not fight on its territory and could leave the war any time. In this war, the United States, in fact, repeated the mistakes that Britain made during the American Revolution, it “had forgotten most of the lessons… learned a generation before” (Boot, 2013, p. 4).
The Vietnam War can be perceived according to Mao’s three phases as well. The first one, an organization, started when the United States began to help South Vietnam but did not fight on its side yet. For example, Americans provided the government of South Vietnam with 2,000 military advisors (Vietnam War Summary, 2013). After the attack on the US Navy, the US entered the war and the second phase began. It embraced several massive attacks from both sides, for example, Tet Offensive, which “threatened U.S. position in both South Vietnam and its own country”, and the My Lai massacre that was committed by US soldiers (Vietnam War Summary, 2013, para. 3). Finally, because of numerous anti-war protests held not only in the US but also in other countries, the US army retreated. The third phase of the Vietnam War ended with the reunified communist country of Vietnam.
Therefore, one more distinction between these historical events is that in the American Revolution US achieved its goal while in the Vietnam War it did not.
Boot, M. (2013). The Evolution of Irregular War. Foreign Affairs, 1-9.
Connable B., & Libicki, M. C. (2010). How Insurgencies End. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Overview of the American Revolution. (n.d.). Web.
Vietnam War Summary. (2013). Web.