Going to College? Don’t miss this page!
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 worldÕs 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 militaryÕs 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 1950Õs
and into the early 1960Õs. 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 AmericaÕs 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 AmericaÕs 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 militaryÕs role in Vietnam in
respect to the political involvement is seen in the following quote by
General Colin Powell, “If youÕre going to put into something then you
owe the armed forces, you owe the American People, you owe just youÕre
own desire to succeed, a clear statement of what political objective
youÕre trying to achieve and then you put the sufficient force to that
objective so that you know when youÕve accomplished it.” The
politicians dictated the war in Vietnam, it was a limited war, the
military was never allowed to fight the war in the manner that they
thought that they needed to in order to win it ( Baker ).
To conclude on the Vietnam War, the political management of
the war made it unwinnable. The military was at the mercy of
politicians who knew very little about what needed to be done
militarily in order to win the war. There is an enormous difference
between political judgment and military judgment. This difference is
the primary reason for the outcome of the Vietnam War ( Schwarzkopf ).
The Gulf War in the Middle East was almost the exact opposite
in respect to the political influence on the war. In respect to the
military objective of the war the two are relatively similar. The
objective was to liberate a weaker country from their aggressor. The
United NationÕs resolution was explicit in its wording regarding
military force in the Persian Gulf. The resolution specifically
stated “by all means necessary.”( Schwarzkopf ).
The President was very aware of the problems with political
management of warfare throughout the war. He was very determined to
let the military call the shots about how the war was conducted. He
made a specific effort to prevent the suggestion that civilians were
going to try to run the war ( Baker ). Painful lessons had been
learned in the Vietnam War, which was still fresh on the minds of many
of those involved in this war ( Baker ).
The military was given full control to use force as they saw
fit. Many of the top military leaders had also been involved in the
Vietnam War. These men exhibited a very strong never again attitude
throughout the planning stages of this war. General Schwarzkopf made
the following statement about the proposed bombing of Iraq in regards
to the limited bombing in Vietnam, “I had no doubt we would bomb Iraq
if I was going to be the Military Commander.” He went on to say that
it would be absolutely stupid to go into a military campaign against
his, IraqÕs, forces who had a tremendous advantage on us on the
ground, numbers wise. It would be ludicrous not to fight the war in
the air as much, if not more, than on the ground ( Schwarzkopf ).
The result of the Gulf War in which the military was given
control, as we know, was a quick, decisive victory. There were many
other factors involved in this than just the military being given
control, particularly in contrast to Vietnam, but the military having
control played a major part in this victory.
In conclusion, although there are some major differences
between the two conflicts one fact can be seen very clearly. That is
the fact that the military is best suited for conducting wars.
Politicians are not. It is not the place of a politicians to be
involved in the decision making process in regards to war or military
strategy. The White House has significant control in military
matters. That control should be used to help the military in
achieving its goals as it was in the Gulf War where George Bush said
specifically to let the military do its job. The only alternative to
this is to use political influence in the same way that it was used in
Vietnam. If we do not learn from these lessons that are so obvious in
the differences between these two conflicts then we are condemned to
repeat the same mistakes. Lets just pray that it does not take the
death of another 58,000 of AmericaÕs men to learn that the politicians
place is not in war but in peace ( Roush ).
“Interview with General Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander-in-Chief,
Central Command.” Frontline WGBH Educational
Foundation. PBS, College Station. 9-10 Jan. 1996.
“Interview with Secretary of State, James Baker.” Frontline WGBH
Educational Foundation. PBS, College Station. 9-10 Jan. 1996.
Johnson, Lyndon B. “The Tonkin Gulf Incident.” Message to Congress.
Aug. 5, 1964. Department of State Bulletin 24 Aug. 1964: n.p.
Leyden, Andrew P. “The Operation Desert Storm Debriefing Book”
Internet Page. University of Notre Dame Law School. 15 Feb.
Pelland, Paul. E-mail to the author. 25 June 1996.
Post, James N. E-mail to the author. 26 June 1996
Roush, Gary. Statistics about the Vietnam War Internet Page. Nov.
United States, Joint Resolution of Congress H. J. RES 1145. Aug. 7,
1964. Department of State Bulletin 24 Aug. 1965.
Wittman, Sandra M. “Chronology of the Vietnam War.” Vietnam:
Yesterday and Today Oakton Community College. Skokie, Illinois. 16
May 1996: n.p.
[Image] [ Back To the Top ] [ Essay Search ] [ Cyber Essays Home ] [Image]
[Click Here for Great Fake IDs]
Click here for great FAKE IDs! “They’re Fantastic” – Webmaster
[Image] Please Submit your good papers to us and help Cyber Essays [Image]