The Conflict In Vietnam Essay

This essay has a total of 1568 words and 7 pages.

The Conflict In Vietnam

The Vietnam conflict began in the late nineteenth century. The French conquered Vietnam
and made it a protectorate. For nearly forty years, Vietnam had not experienced settled
peace. The League for the Independence of Vietnam ( Viet Minh ) was formed in 1941,
seeking independence from the French. On September 2nd,1945, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed it
independent of France. The French opposed their independence from 1945 to 1954. The first
representatives of de Gualle's government landed by parachute in Saigon and Hanoi on
August 23rd, 1945. The French wanted to reestablish their rule in Vietnam but were beaten
at the battle of Dien Bien Phu on May 7th, 1954. The French Expeditionary Force tried to
prevent the Viet Minh from entering Laos and Dien Bien Phu was the place chosen to do so.
The French were not very careful and this allowed the Viet Minh to cut off their airway to
Hanoi. After a siege that had lasted for fifty - f! ive days, the French surrendered. Ho
Chi Minh led the war against France and won. After the war there was a conference in
Geneva where Vietnam was divided into two parts along the seventeenth parallel. North
Vietnam was mainly Communist and supported Ho Chi Minh, while the south was supported by
the United States and the French were based there. There was still some Communist rebels
within South Vietnam. These were the Viet Cong. The South Vietnam ruler was Ngo Dinh Diem
who was anti - Communist. At the conference, Laos and Cambodia became independent states.

North Vietnam wished to unify North and South Vietnam through military force. Since the
United States feared the spread of communism in Asia, John F. Kennedy provided economic
and military aid to South Vietman to prevent the takeover by North Vietnam. At this time,
this was still a civil war. The United States were not yet officially involved. The North
Vietnamese resented the little intervention by the United Sates and so, three Vietnamese
torpedo boats fired on the U.S. destroyer, " Maddox " on August 2nd, 1964. The " Maddox "
had been in the Gulf of Tonkin ( international waters ), thirty miles off the coast of
Vietnam. On August 3rd, 1964, Johnson gave the right " to attack with the objective of
destroying attacking forces " ( Pimlott 1982, 36 ). Retaliation air attacks began on
August 3rd. Their aim was to destroy North Vietnam's gunboat capability. As two more
United States destroyers were supposedly sunk, more air and sea forces were sent ( Wicker
August 5, 1964, 1 ). Up until now, the U.S. had refrained from direct combat. This is when
the United States formally entered the Vietman War. The U.S. did this for two reasons. We
wished to maintain the independence of South Vietnam and we had to prove to allied nations
that we would help t! hem resist Communist overtaking. As Congress was about to vote
whether or not to allow the combat to move into North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese
attacked a major U.S. airbase at Bein Hoa. On February 7th, 1965, Johnson ordered
retaliation bombing on North Vietnam. Rolling Thunder was the name of this operation. It's
purpose was to put pressure on Hanoi and convince them that Communism could not and would
not win. At the end of 1965, one hundred and eighty thousand Americans were in South
Vietnam under General William S. Westmoreland (Encyclopedia Britannica, 12, 361 ). The
U.S. mainly depended on superior firepower and helicopters. The Viet Cong and North
Vietnamese depended on surprise attack and concealment.

The United States soldiers realized that the war would last for many more years and
wondered if the U.S. war effort could succeed. At the end of 1968, The number of American
troops in South Vietnam reached it's peak of 542, 000 men ( Pimlott 1982, 53 ). The Viet
Cong and North Vietnamese launched a major invasion against the United States called the
Tet offensive from January 30th to February 25th, 1968. At the Khe Sanh U.S. firebase,
there was a major ground battle. There was a siege from January 21st to April 14th. It was
thought to be the " American Dien Bien Phu ". The United States turned it around however,
with their victory at Hue. By 1969, combat decreased rapidly and American troops began to
return home.

The role of Communism was extremely important in this conflict. Communism was one of the
main reasons of why the United States entered the war in the first place. The U.S. " had "
to enter the war to stop the spread of Communism in Asia since North Vietnam was
Communist. If North Vietnam were to succeed in converting Vietnam into a Communist
country, it could become very powerful and go on to " pursuade " other countries to become
Communist. The U.S. believed that Vietnam could become powerful. They were amazed that
France, an Allied power, had been beaten by the Vietnamese.

North Vietnam was a Communist country. The man who had proclaimed Vietnam independent, Ho
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