Just or Unjust: The United States’ Involvement in the Vietnam War
Since the beginning of the Vietnam War in 1954, United States’ involvement has
been a topic of great controversy. The Vietnam War was part of a larger conflict known as
the the Second Indochina War and a “manifestation” of the Cold War between two great
world powers, the United States and the Soviet Union1. The human causalities were devastating; almost 60,000 American lives were lost, and in Vietnam, as many as “2 million
civilians on both sides…1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters… and between 200,000 and 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died”2. Among these causalities
were South Korean, Australian, New Zealand, Thai, Filipino, Chinese and Soviet soldiers.
The United States entering the Vietnam War has been a topic of great debate for decades.
However, philosophical arguments including; the Just War Theories of Saint Augustine, the
Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Military philosophy of East Asia, support and
justify the United States’ involvement in the war.
The Just War Theory deals with the justification of why wars are fought. In
400 CE, Saint Augustine was faced with the question, “What should one do if one sees an
H. Spector, “Vietnam War,” Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2013, Encyclopedia Britannica, April
3, 2014 .
individual attacking an innocent, defenseless victim?” His response was “Do whatever is
necessary to protect the victim, even up to the point of killing the aggressor”3. According
to the Just War Theory, “The moral reality of war is divided into two parts”4. First, the
principles that would have to be satisfied for a nation to be justified in using military force,
or whether the particular war is just or unjust. Secondly, the principles governing the conduct of military action, or whether the particle war is being fought justly or unjustly5.
These principles are known as jus...