In this article, Appy and Bloom present a discussion with regard to the Vietnam War. In this discussion, there are arguments alluding to the fact that there were several myths presented by policy makers regarding the Vietnam War. There is convincing evidence that is presented to support the fact the information presented by the policy makers was mythological rather than factual. This evidence is revealed through concrete historical realities that have been used by Appy and Bloom to counter these misleading facts dubbed myths.
The first myth is that the intervention of the US in the Vietnam War was devoid of any political interests and colonial based ambition contrary to that of the French. This is a myth because the conquest of Vietnam by France was supported by America. The US had also refused to recognize Vietnamese independence.
The second claim is that regarding South Vietnamese nationhood. The US leadership maintained that Vietnam had been partitioned into two different nations by the Geneva accords and that the US was protecting South Vietnamese from being attacked by the North. Appy and Bloom refute this claim by asserting that Vietnam was not divided by the Geneva accord but rather by Viet Minh (communist-led). Also, the US opposed the ability of the two parts to be reunited.
The third claim that the two authors refute as a myth is that by American officials that they were guarding South Vietnam’s democracy and freedom. On the contrary, all South Vietnamese regimes supported by America exercised oppression, gross corruption and dictatorship.
Fourth, there’s the myth that portrayed South Vietnam to Americans as independent. Appy and Bloom argue that this cannot be true since the US supported South Vietnam in the military sense and in other aspects without which South Vietnam could have failed.
The fifth fact presented by Appy and Bloom as a myth is the one portraying the US military support to South Vietnam as mere assistance when the truth is that the American soldiers fought most of the battle and where the South Vietnam troops were used, they were fully funded and equipped by the US. Therefore, to say that the US was merely ‘assisting’ in the combat would be a lie since they were actively involved.
Sixth, Appy and Bloom also provide strong evidence to oppose the myth that there was economic modernization during the Vietnam War. Although South Vietnam was full of American aid, the truth is that it did not promote economic stability but rather led to inequalities and encouraged economic dependence. The creation of refugees and devastation of farmland encouraged rural – urban migration which resulted to prostitution, drug use and the black market (p. 57-58).
On the other hand, some aspects of the evidence presented by Appy and Bloom is not fully convincing. For example, in the myth of progress, there are two points that are not convincing enough. First, the authors are opposed to the myth that there was progress in the war and as such, the evidence given to oppose this myth should indicate points of defeat for the American troops in the war.
However, explanations such as US troops killed more people and that the blocking of the troops’ movement from the north towards the south was not effective are self defeating. This is because if the American troops succeeded in killing numerous bodies, that is a mark of progress.
Also, if they blocked troops from moving from north to south, it was an indicator of progress, only that it was not effective. Moreover, Appy and Bloom assert that some of the myths summarized above were outright lies. That means that not all the myths were lies, meaning that some were truthful and were therefore not myths.
Generally, most of the arguments presented by the authors are convincing, making a greater part of the work to hold water.