General Westmoreland Mindset

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In the documentary “Hearts and Minds”, General Westmoreland dismisses the value of the Vietnamese people, arguing that they do not value life. He denotes that unlike the Westerners, the Vietnamese do not place a high value of life and human dignity. From this assertion, it is possible to denote that it such kind of a mindset that influenced the policies and war strategies on General Westmoreland. In fact, the General is accused of carrying out war atrocities, because his troops were guilty of killing a large number of Vietnamese and some of them were civilians. On this note, the statement made by General Westmoreland about the Vietnamese people value of life was very surprising, because it came from a military leader was involved in a very costly war with the Vietnamese, in terms of resources and human lives. It is because of this mindset that General Westmoreland failed to defeat Northern Vietnam.

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Nevertheless, had the Americans appreciated the culture and histories of the Vietnamese people, chances are high that General Westmoreland would have won the war for the Americans.  For instance, it is because of the belief that the Vietnamese did not value life, that made American soldiers to commit atrocities against the Vietnamese, and this includes killing innocent civilians (McAllister 102). Such kind of indiscriminate killings motivated the Vietnamese to fight hard, against the Americans, who they saw as oppressors. However, Americans should have won the local Vietnamese people, and this is by valuing their culture and way of life. It is the support that Viet Cong got from these local people that enabled them to successfully wage a war against the Americans.

Finally, the mindset that General Westmoreland had against the Vietnamese is one of the factors responsible for the inability of Americans to subdue Viet Cong. The best approach was to value the culture and history of Vietnamese people, for purposes of winning over the local population. It is the support that these civilians gave to the Northern Vietnamese Army that contributed to the inability of Americans to win the war.

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  1. Hearts and minds. Dir. Peter Davis. N.p., 1974.
  2. McAllister, James. “Who lost Vietnam? Soldiers, civilians, and US military strategy.” (2011).
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