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Why The United States Became Increasingly Involved In The War In Vietnam

4823 words - 19 pages

Why the United States Became Increasingly Involved in the War in Vietnam

In the years after the Second World War, it became necessary for the
Allies to decide the future of the French colony, Indochina, when the
Japanese who had been occupying the country, surrendered. Prior to the
Second World War, the French had ruled over the regions of Vietnam,
Laos and Cambodia. The French ruling was unpopular, forcing ideas of
democracy upon the Vietnamese people and the French overthrew any
efforts of resistance. When the Japanese invaded the French colony, to
resist the Japanese rule, an organisation was founded, the Vietminh,
led by Ho Chi Minh. In order to defeat the Japanese, it was essential
for the Vietminh to co-operate with the Allies and at the end of the
war, Vietnam was declared independent. Unfortunately, the French
returned and responded to Ho Chi Minh's declaration of the Vietnamese
independence by enlisting British help in order to expel the Vietminh
from the south of the country, resulting in a division between Ho Chi
Minh's North Vietnam and the French's South Vietnam.

This division was followed by futile attempts to negotiate between the
French and the Vietnamese, which lasted a year. For the Vietminh, it
was vital that the country reunited as the majority of the food
production was in the south, but the French refused and so the Vietnam
war began in 1946, when the French killed over 5,000 civilians.

The American President, Roosevelt, disliked the French method of
colonialism but conceded to pressure to conform in order to respect
the United State's Ally Britain. When Truman came into power in 1945,
he favoured the French in order to gain a sense of strength in Europe
against the Soviet Union. Truman saw the Vietnam War not as a civil
war but as communist expansion.

During the first three years of the war, the US began to finance the
French and so Ho Chi Minh was ultimately forced to seek support from
the Soviet Union and China, confirming US fears. Although the French
were being supported by the United States, the Vietminh of the north
was being equipped with weapons by China and the Soviet Union, who
were both communist. The French greatly underestimated the force of
the Vietminh, who used guerrilla warfare tactics against the
conventional tactics of the French. In 1954, the weakening French army
experienced a breaking defeat after surrendering a siege of 55 days at
Dien Bien Phu. This fractured the French morale to continue fighting
the Vietminh; they could not comprehend such a small nation had
defeated a renowned European power. Due to pressure, humiliation and
great losses of troops, the strain was clearly beginning to show and
in the same year, the French pulled out of the war.

When China fell to Communism in 1949, the US treated the Chinese with

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