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Dodd’s Characterizations Of The Vietnam War Essay, Research Paper

It is apparent in his essay that Dodd is a devoted citizen and representative of his country. Through his characterizations of Americans, Communists, and Vietnamese in his speech given to the Senate in 1965, his patriotism and love of his country becomes even more clarified. With these three different groups- the Americans, the Communists, and the Vietnamese- Dodd describes the perfect situation of a fairy tale story of any damsel in distress. I do not say this to lessen the extreme significance of the situation in Vietnam, but say it to make his characterizations of the three more clear.

In the fairy tale, there are most often three main characters: the hero, the damsel, and the villain. Firstly, Dodd characterizes Americans as, of course, the heroes. This is evident in several areas of his speech in which he describes America as the symbol of strength, power, wisdom, honesty, wealth and goodness. He begins by exclaiming that even though America is being faced with the debate of negotiating in Vietnam, it is not a signal of weakness. Rather, Dodd says, It is a testimony to our strength (810). It is strength because within this debate, America proves itself to be a hero.

The hero is always moral, strong, and willing to fight. We are in Vietnam, Dodd says, Because our own security and the security of the entire free world demands that a firm line be drawn against the further advance of Communist Imperialism (811) [italics added]. America, not only defending itself, is a fighter for everyone in the world who desires liberty. Because of goodness and morality, as well as power, America has the ability to defend and fight on such a large scale. America, therefore, is the rescuer of Vietnam, the damsel in distress. Unselfishly, Americans risk their lives in hopes to save Vietnam from Communism.

Dodd construes America s heroic qualities best when he quotes Filipino political commentator Vincente Villamin, in his warning against America to refuse negotiations in Vietnam. Villamin said that the abandonment of Vietnam would be an indelible blemish on America s honor. It would reduce America in the estimation of mankind to dismal third-rate power, despite her wealth, her culture, and her nuclear arsenal… It would make every American distrusted everywhere on earth (814). America, therefore, risks its admirable and heroic qualities in its negotiations in Vietnam.

Although Dodd believes that American s are heroes, he finds that those who do not support the war are ignorant. Dodd says, To me the reasons for our presence in Vietnam are so crystal clear that I find it difficult to comprehend the confusion which now appears to exist on this subject (810). Dodd, therefore, does not find all Americans to be characterized as heroic. Perhaps only those who are wise enough are the true heroes that represent America.

Dodd characterizes Communism as the evil villain. These peoples he characterizes as cruel, dishonest, inhumane, as well as primitive. This is evident in Dodd s descriptions of the Communist long war strategy. This strategy is based upon longevity and persistence in warfare in which other nations that do not practice such perseverance would be forced to surrender over time. This communist strategy, according to Dodd, is the most cruel test of courage ever wagered by any political power.

Dodd also characterizes communists as being untrustworthy, as well as inhumane. Dodd says, The history of negotiated agreements with the Communists underscores that fact that their promises are worthless (811). He bases this argument on the communists repeated violations of the Korean armistice, and the Geneva accords. Dodd s characterizes the Communists as inhumane because of their total disregard of human life. This is evident in their massacre of the Vietnamese. This orgy of bloodletting has always accompanied the establishment of Communism, says Dodd. Untrustworthy, merciless, and cruel, the Communists are characterized by Dodd to be the villains.

Lastly, Dodd construes the Vietnam as the damsel, unable to fend for herself with the presence of the enemy. When describing the events in Vietnam, Dodd explains that the killing of the Vietnamese is a massacre of innocents . The Vietnamese are being oppressed, and it is therefore the hero s job to fight for their salvation. [The Vietnamese] certainly understand the meaning of freedom when the word is used to mean independence from foreign rule. They are, in fact, a people with a long and proud history and strong sense of national identity, Dodd explains (819). Dodd believes that the Vietnamese are being robbed of their national liberty, and being oppressed by the Communists. Unable to fend for themselves, therefore, Americans must come to the aid of the Vietnamese.

Dodd gives many valid reasons for continuing the war in Vietnam. These reasons are based upon his characterizations of American s, Communists, and Vietnamese. Because of the three s positions and strength- as the hero, the damsel, and the villain- Dodd finds that it is America s duty to defend Vietnam.

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