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Vietnam War Essay

1824 words - 8 pages

The War in Vietnamdirect U.S. military participation in The Vietnam War, the nation's longest, cost fifty-eight thousand American lives. Only the Civil War and the two world wars were deadlier for Americans. During the decade of Vietnam beginning in 1964, the U.S Treasury spent over $140 billion on the war, enough money to fund urban renewal projects in every major American city. Despite these enormous costs and their accompanying public and private trauma for the American people, the United States failed, for the first time in its history, to achieve its stated war aims. The goal was to preserve a separate, independent, noncommunist government in South Vietnam, but after April 1975, the ...view middle of the document...

Harry S. Truman and other American leaders, having no sympathy for French colonialism, favored Vietnamese independence. But expanding communist control of Eastern Europe and the triumph of the communists in China's civil was made France's war against Ho seem an anticommunist rather than a colonialist effort. When France agreed to a quansi-independent Vietnam under Emperor Bao Dai as an alternative to Ho's DRV, the United States decided to support the French position.The American conception of Vietnam as a cold war battleground largely ignored the struggle for social justice and national sovereignty occurring within the country. American attention focused primarily on Europe and on Asia beyond Vietnam. Aid to France in Indochina was a quid pro quo for French cooperation with America's plans for the defense of Europe through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. After China became a communist state in 1949, the stability of Japan became of paramount importance to Washington, and Japanese development required access to the markets and raw materials of Southeast Asia. The outbreak of war in Korea in 1950 served primarily to confirm Washington's belief that communist aggression posed a great danger to Asia . Subsequent charges that Truman had 'lost' China and had settled for a stalemate in Korea caused succeeding presidents to fear the domestic political consequences if they 'lost' Vietnam. This apprehension, an overestimation of American power, and an underestimation of Vietnamese communist strength locked all administrations from 1950 through the 1960s into a firm anticommunist stand in Vietnam.Because American policy makers failed to appreciate the amount of effort that would be required to exert influence on Vietnam's political and social structure, the course of American policy led to a steady escalation of U.S. involvement. President Dwight D. Eisenhower increased the level of aide to the French but continued to avoid military intervention, even when the French experienced a devastating defeat at Dien Bien Phu in the spring of 1954. Following that battle, an international conference at Geneva, Switzerland, arranged a cease-fire and provided for a North-South partition of Vietnam until elections could be held. The United States was not a party to the Geneva Agreements and began to foster the creation of a Vietnamese regime in South Vietnam's autocratic president Ngo Dinh Diem, who deposed Bao Dai in October 1955, resisted holding an election on the reunification of Vietnam. Despite over $1 billion of U.S. aid between 1955 and 1961, the South Vietnamese economy languished and internal security deteriorated. Nation building was failing the South, and, in 1960, communist cadres created the National Liberation Front (NLG) or Vietcong as its enemies called it, to challenge the Diem regime.President John F. Kennedy concurred with his predecessor's domino theory and also believed that the credibility of U.S. anticommunist commitments around the world...

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