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By Trevor McCrisken

American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam examines the impression of the idea in American exceptionalism at the heritage of U.S. overseas coverage because the Vietnam struggle. Trevor B. McCrisken analyzes makes an attempt by way of every one post-Vietnam U.S. management to restore the preferred trust in exceptionalism either rhetorically and via pursuing international coverage supposedly grounded in conventional American ideas. He argues that exceptionalism continuously supplied the framework for international coverage discourse yet that the behavior of international affairs used to be restricted through the Vietnam syndrome.

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In many ways, it had the desired effect. In the four years leading to the Paris peace accords which ended the American war, the level of US troops in Vietnam was reduced from 550,000 to 24,000, the weekly American casualty rate declined from hundreds to less than 25, and the annual expenditure on the war fell from a high of $25 billion to around $3 billion. The South Vietnamese regime had also been bolstered with military equipment and training assistance to a point where the Nixon administration believed the Saigon regime had a ‘better than even chance’ of holding off the communists.

17 Despite their expansionist history, Americans were unable to imagine that their own actions could be anything but just and moral with regard to the Cold War. In their own eyes, Americans carried out their policies towards the Soviet Union not for purely self-interested strategic reasons, but for the higher purpose of securing a better, safer future for all of mankind. In October 1962, Kennedy emphasized these exceptionalist convictions as he explained the course of action the US would follow in response to the Soviet attempts to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba: The path we have chosen … is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world.

The nature and extent of these limits, however, continue to be a major source of debate and have come to dominate discussions over foreign policy in each post-Vietnam administration. Public officials, military strategists, journalists, scholars and the American public could find no definitive answer to the question of what the lessons of the Vietnam War were for American society. The term ‘Vietnam syndrome’ became widely used to describe the collective lessons and legacies of the war, particularly in the political-military realm.

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