"When I saw the Americas . . .
...arrive, I knew the war was about to get harder — it was going to be more ferocious, and it was going to last a lot longer. A lot more people were going to die, and if we weren't very determined, we weren't going to win."
— from the series America in the 20th Century
One could argue that many issues of American foreign policy in the twentieth century had their origins in the emergence of the United States as a major world power at the end of the 19th century. The Spanish-American war was the great conflict of the era, Teddy Roosevelt its great warrior. For nationalist Americans, empire building was intoxicating. The Washington Post editorialized:
“A new consciousness seems to have come upon us—the consciousness of strength—and with it a new appetite, the yearning to show our strength. . . . Ambition, interest, land hunger, pride, the mere joy of fighting, whatever it may be, we are animated by a new sensation. We are face to face with a strange destiny. The taste of Empire is in the mouth of the people even as the taste of blood in the jungle. It means an Imperial policy, the Republic, renascent, taking her place with the armed nations.”
Of course, not everyone was infected with the blood fever. Sober citizens, Mark Twain among them, vehemently opposed American imperialism in general and the Spanish-American War in particular. With the benefit of more than a century of hindsight, we know the consequences of that "splendid little war" were monumental. Indeed, its lesson endures today: "'Tis much easier to win the war than to secure the peace."
Vietnam is the seventh volume in the award-winning video series America in the 20th Century. This riveting installment traces the roots of the U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia from the period of French colonial rule, through the First Indochina War and America’s long engagement in Southeast Asia. The program examines how the war was conducted by the several U.S. administrations from Eisenhower through Ford and the conflict’s lasting effects in America.