The Vietnam Conflict and Its effects

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The Vietnam Conflict and Its effects

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 - five days, the French surrendered. Ho Chi Minh led the war against France and

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 them 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
Chi Minh, was a Communist. He was a Marxist and believed in " national Communism " (
Encyclopedia Britannica, 5, 955). During the war with the French, Ho Chi Minh took refuge
in northern Vietnam and settled there with his followers. He founded the Indochina
Communist Party and the Viet Minh. The Viet Minh

did not become Communist until the 1950's. He became the president of North Vietnam from
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