Containment Through Military Power Essay

2427 words - 10 pages

In the fallout of World War II, decolonization around the world was taking place after colonial rulers had been wasted of any feasible measure to retain them. At the same time, the communist superpower of the USSR began a campaign to set up a buffer zone of satellite states, against their former allies and the emerging North American Treaty Organization (NATO). A feeling of mutual antagonism between the two created a global stalemate, and the only measurable way to demonstrate their power was in small conflicts: such as in Afghanistan for the Communists and Vietnam for the Americans. For the United States, their duel with the Communists led to a strategy to hold Communist sympathies in controllable, isolated areas. The American strategy became known as containment, most aptly through military power. Since their fellow NATO allies were unable to provide substantial support the United States would be alone in their venture of containing the rapidly expanding Communist regimes
Apart from other NATO allies, France, who was embarrassingly conquered by the Germans in a matter of weeks, attempted to regain past prestige by re-establishing their dominance within the Indochina sphere. The war pitted the French against a highly fervent population against the colonial rulers. When the war turned in favor of the Vietnamese after the battle of Dien Bien Phu, America attempted to provide support until the eventual exodus of the French. Vietnam, now, was becoming an American issue, due to a substantial support in the North for a Communist regime. A plan of action would then have been deemed necessary to keep communism out of the Southern, American friendly, sector of Vietnam. I, therefore, submit the American test case for containment in Vietnam failed due to two major factors: one, including the allies failure to properly organize or react meaningfully against the Communists; two, due to the North Vietnamese battle hardened troops and their overarching strategy of guerilla warfare.
In what must have appeared as another conflict for the Vietnamese, during the American reign, this would have been the fourth conflict in, nearly, fifty years. Before, during World War II, the Japanese forces drove southward into Vietnam. Under Japanese rule, the Vietnamese began a guerilla war utilizing developing tunnel systems for surprise attacks. After the Japanese, the French came. Both before and after the Japanese internment, after their embarrassing defeat from the Germans, the French were determined to control their colonies. Subsequent military failures by the French enabled the Vietnamese a promising position at Geneva during the peace talks. For once the Vietnamese appeared free, but not for long. The Geneva peace talks split the country in two along the seventeenth parallel. Back in Vietnam, the political climates drastically differ: the North was Communists and the South was democratic, though the government in the South went through a coup. Thus began a civil...

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