The Vietnam War escalated from a Vietnamese civil war into a limited international conflict, in which the United States was deeply involved. The Vietnam War was fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerilla forces aided by the North Vietnamese. Despite increased American military involvement and signed peace agreements in 1973, the Vietnam War did not end until North Vietnam's successful invasion of South Vietnam in 1975. The Vietnam War may have been the longest war in American history, but after South Vietnam collapsed, America was left to question their highly controversial involvement in a lost cause.
The Vietnam War originated as a civil war between the North and South. However, soon enough, the United States would find interest in the Vietnam War. American involvement stemmed from several areas of concern, as Communist North Vietnamese guerilla forces attempted to overthrow the current government in Vietnam.
The United States, as a Democratic nation, fears the spread of Communism throughout the world, which has led to the "domino theory." In an interview with Robert Richards, President Dwight D. Eisenhower explained the importance of Indochina to the free world. Specifically, Eisenhower cited that Indochina was crucial in the production of and tungsten. Furthermore, Eisenhower argued that Indochina was facing a dictatorship that was detrimental to the free world. Therefore, the "falling domino" principle said that Communist pressures gaining in the southwest Pacific threatened Australia and New Zealand, stating that they would fall if the free world, in this instance the United States, failed to protect them. Therefore, Eisenhower suggested American involvement in Vietnam to protect the interests of the free world and Indochina.
The United States began to assist more nations in Southeast Asia in the early 1960's. Initially, the United States patrolled international waters with lawfully present naval vessels, assisting Vietnam "to protect their freedom," having "no territorial, military, or political ambitions in that area, but desires only that these peoples should be left in peace to work their own destinies in their own way." However, the Northern Vietnamese did not welcome American naval vessels, as they "deliberately and repeatedly attacked United States naval vessels lawfully present in international waters." The attacks got the attention of the American public, prodding the government for retaliation.
The United States issued the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964. It said that Congress empowered the President, as Command in Chief, "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the U.S. and to prevent further aggression." Most importantly, the memorandum gave the President the permission to retaliate North Vietnam's threats to international peace, as the attacks were reason enough for further American involvement in Vietnam, as...