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A Fatal Mistake The Vietnam Wa

2832 words - 11 pages

Robert S. McNamara, appointed by John F. Kennedy to the position of U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1961, said about the Vietnam War, "It is important to recognize it's a South Vietnamese war. It will be won or lost depending upon what they do. We can advise and help, but they are responsible for the final results, and it remains to be seen how they will continue to conduct that war," (McNamara 72). Despite these guidelines for assisting in the war, the U.S. would end up doing much more than just advising. The Vietnam War was supposed to be a demonstration of how willing the U.S. was to battle communism, but ended up a personal vendetta against the North Vietnamese as the U.S. escalated its commitment in Vietnam infinitely greater than it had ever intended. After World War II, France returned to Vietnam to reclaim their Indochinese colonies after the Ho Chi Minh had declared Vietnamese independence in 1945 (Goldstein 3). The U.S. had just ended a war started by German conquest in Europe, and now was being asked to help France conquer the colonies it lost control of during the war. The Vietnam Nationalists, the same ones who had supported the U.S. in the war against the Japanese not more than a year previous, sought only to peacefully gain their independence from France (Chant 25). In January of 1950, the Viet Minh gained recognition by the governments of the USSR and China, who supplied weapons and places to train (Chant 25). Because the two Communist superpowers recognized the Viet Minh, the Vietnam war became to the U.S. a struggle between capitalism and communism, especially since the Viet Minh were openly communist themselves. By aiding the French, the U.S. thought they were helping their free-trade ally France fight communism, the Communist Party was very strong in France (Goldstein 3). The U.S. feared that Vietnam would fall to communism, and set-off the "domino effect" for other communist satellites in Indochina (McNamara 76). With weapons and training from Russia and China, the Viet Minh forced France to request help from the U.S. Fearing the spread of communism under Ho Chi Minh's regime, the U.S. was glad to offer France assistance, but even after the French humiliation at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the U.S. continued their involvement in Vietnam (Encarta "Vietnam War"). The Vietnam situation became another indirect way to confront communism, which was a perfect excuse to implement Kennedy's very aggressive policy of "Flexible Response" in the early 1960's, when the U.S. was eager to get into battle (Chant 9). After the French conceded defeat and were forced to withdraw by the Geneva Accords, the U.S. decided to escalate its involvement, believing the South Vietnamese wanted assistance in driving out communism. The U.S. knew of South Vietnam's weak military condition, and became more and more involved despite an uncooperative government. Suggestions the U.S. made were ignored, and the army avoided combat (Chant 38). Without complete...

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