Debate over the Vietnam War - Mid-Pacific Institute

Academics News

Debate over the Vietnam War

Posted on November 19, 2015 by Scot Allen

In the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class, IB Diploma seniors have been reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of historical knowledge. To make class discussions more relevant, with the guidance of Mr. Wiesner, IB 20th Century History teacher, students focused on the Vietnam War.

In a joint TOK/IB History project, team-taught by Dr. Viehl and Mr. Wiesner, students debated the question:

Could the U.S. have left Vietnam in 1965?
The key was not should the U.S. have left Vietnam, but could we? To prepare, students researched the situation in Vietnam in 1964/5. This focused on how that situation had developed, the points of view of Johnson's top people on both sides of the "should" question, and the Cold War situation in general.

For the actual debate, students split into three groups:

1. The U.S. could have got out of Vietnam in 1965.
2. The U.S. could not have got out of Vietnam in 1965 even if they wanted to.
3. There is no way to really tell if the U.S. could have got out of Vietnam in 1965.

The TOK focus was how (and if) it is possible to really know the answer to a historical question. For IB History, it was understanding why the U.S. got involved in the Vietnam War.