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The legislative mechanisms by which the United States became involved in the Vietnam War influence how we intitiate and understand war today. The policies and decisions that determine whether or not the U.S. engages in foreign conflict are set by the country's leaders, and have far-reaching implications.
The discussion guide below, and the presentation and additional questions included in the support materials, review the process by which war is initiated and the reasons the U.S. has declared war throughout history. What scope of conflict is necessary to qualify as war? How do the underlying circumstances of wars the U.S. initiated compare to those underpinning wars that the U.S. did not initiate, but eventually joined? Why is it important to understand and evaluate the political decision associated with past conflicts before deciding to commit forces to a new conflict?