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The War That Changed America Forever

1102 words - 5 pages

The Vietnam War was a war that changed America forever. It was a long, costly war between Communist North Vietnam, with the aid of the Viet Cong, and Capitalist South Vietnam, aided by the United States. It was a controversial war at the time, but today, it remains embedded in America's history as a war to be remembered.
The reasons for the Vietnam War took place long before the war even began. For years, the Vietnamese had been under French colonial rule. But, when Communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh came back to Vietnam, he established a group called the Viet Minh, the goal of which was to remove all French occupation from Vietnam. So, the fighting started, and Ho Chi Minh tried to get the US to support them. But, being true to their policies of containment, the US started supporting France. The United States' thoughts about Communism's potential growth can be summed up in one basic idea: the Domino Theory. This theory stated that if one country in a region fell to Communism, the surrounding countries would soon follow. Because of this, the US committed to keeping the North Vietnamese contained once the French withdrew from Vietnam. But, the thing that really pushed the US into sending troops into Vietnam was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. On August 2nd and 4th, 1964, the North Vietnamese fired upon two US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. Following this, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964, which gave the president authority to send military troops into Vietnam without declaring war. So, President Johnson sent troops into Vietnam, which had already erupted into civil war, to aid the South Vietnamese.
After Vietnam erupted into civil war, both sides started employing clever tactics and new technology to help win. One of the greatest tactics used by the North Vietnamese was the Viet Cong. Being a guerilla fighting group disguised as South Vietnamese citizens, they were very difficult for the US to find, let alone fight. Also, because of the dense forestry in the jungles of Vietnam, it was difficult for US troops to see their enemy. So, they developed napalm and Agent Orange. Napalm was a jellied gasoline mixture which stuck to whatever it touched. The US developed bombs with this material which exploded when dropped, causing the forests to burn. And Agent Orange was a herbicide that was sprayed over the jungles, killing plant life. Both of these developments helped improve visibility, plus got rid of most of the Viet Cong's hiding places. But, unfortunately, the Viet Cong still had one more trick up their sleeves. On January 31, 1968, the North Vietnamese launched a major surprise attack on the Tet holiday, which is now known as the Tet Offensive. The North Vietnamese used secret passageways through the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos to attack over 100 different cities in South Vietnam, including the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. The US were completely taken by surprise, but...

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