In the 1950’s, John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State, had formulated the Domino Theory. However, the US started direct military action in Vietnam in 1964 until 1973. One American crawled for three days to take a single shot that would change the course of the war. On April 22, 1971, speaking of losses in Vietnam and the desire to remain in the war, Kerry asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”. By August, the number increased to 100,000. ” It was a scary thing and the U. S. ealized what it was up against and why they needed to go to war with Vietnam. Learn why a country that had been barely known to most Americans came to define an era. It was assumed by Johnson’s advisers that air attacks alone would cause the North Vietnamese to negotiate an end to armed conflict. The American government, like some others, was very afraid that the communists might win, so they intervened on behalf of Vietnam to try to stop the spread of Communism. Few decisions in American foreign policy have been more consequential than the series of events that led the United States to become involved in the Vietnam War. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The military suffered over 58,000 casualties, and America withdrew in defeat. Send the First Troops to Vietnam? That same year, the Korean War began, pitting Communist North Korean and Chinese forces against the U.S. and its UN allies. Timeline of the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War), "President Warns of Chain Disaster If Indo-China Goes. In the 1950’s, John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State, had formulated the Domino Theory. The South was fighting against the Viet Cong, a communist party based in South Vietnam which was allied with North Vietnam. It was against this backdrop that the first U.S. military advisers were sent to help the French battle the communists of Northern Vietnam in 1950. American did not go to war with Vietnam in general, it/we went to war with/against the Communists who were concentrated in North Vietnam supposedly in concert with … This stated that if one country fell to communism, then its neighbour would and then the neighbour to this country. The United States government viewed involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam and part of their wider strategy of containment. With the departure of the French, South Vietnam was left as an anti-communist dictatorship with U.S. backing. Ho Chi Minh helped initiate the First Indochina War, which took place from 1946 to 1954. "Military Advisors In Vietnam: 1963." President Dwight Eisenhower invoked the Domino Theory in a press conference held in Washington on April 7, 1954. Even though U.S. politicians, military experts and leaders of foreign affairs generally agreed that Communism violated democracy and infringed on political freedoms, conflicts in Vietnam posed no direct threat to the U.S. government or to the freedoms Americans enjoyed. The McCarthy Era was marked by dramatic accusations that communists had infiltrated the highest levels of American society as part of a global conspiracy. The Johnson administration began a series of airstrikes against targets in North Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh began a campaign to fight a weakened France and seize independence through force. Should we trace it back to the 1940s when President Harry Truman authorized U.S. financial support of the French war in Indochina? The French were fighting in Vietnam to maintain their colonial power and to regain their national pride after the humiliation of World War II. This is a question historians continue to debate. Why the United States Went to War in Vietnam, https://history.state.gov/milestones/1953-1960/seato, https://millercenter.org/president/eisenhower/foreign-affairs, https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/JFK-Speeches/Vietnam-Conference-Washington-DC_19560601.aspx, https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/JFK-Quotations/Inaugural-Address.aspx. Anti-communist sentiment at home influenced foreign policy views. The basic principle was that if French Indochina (Vietnam was still a French colony) fell to the communist insurgency, which had been battling the French, the expansion of communism throughout Asia would be likely to continue unchecked. Photo of Senator Joseph McCarthy. This stated that if one country fell to communism, then its neighbour would and then the neighbour to this country. Under the Party’s leadership, Vietnam fought wars against Japan (1945), France (First Indochina War, 1946-1955), and America (Second Indochina War, 1954-1975). The Kennedy foreign policy was rooted, of course, in the Cold War, and the increase of American advisers reflected Kennedy’s rhetoric of standing up to communism wherever it might be found. Japanese forces invaded Vietnam during World War II. The President is shown here standing before a map of Cambodia. “The U.S. Army in Vietnam: Background, Buildup, and Operations, 1950–1967.” American Military History: The United States Army in a Global Era, 1917–2008, II, Center of Military History, pp. On 23 July 1962, fourteen nations, including China, South Vietnam, the Soviet Union, North Vietnam and the United States, signed an agreement promising to respect the neutrality of Laos. In the 1950s, Vietnam descended into civil war, with the Southern government and US forces attempting to stop the spread of communism. By the end of 1967, American troop totals peaked in Vietnam at 490,000.. In March 1965, President Johnson ordered U.S. Marine battalions to defend the American airbase at Da Nang, Vietnam. Following the French withdrawal from Indochina, the solution put in place established a communist government in North Vietnam and a democratic government in South Vietnam. Under the Party’s leadership, Vietnam fought wars against Japan (1945), France (First Indochina War, 1946-1955), and America (Second Indochina War, 1954-1975). Here, retired Colonel William C Haponski, co-author of ‘Autopsy of an Unwinnable War: Vietnam’, explains that the British were in fact one of five main players in early post-World War 2 Vietnam. With the vacuum caused by the defeat of Japan, an opportunity arose for the Communists to declare the "independence" of Vietnam in 1945. The role of American advisers increased and by late 1963, there were more than 16,000 Americans on the ground advising South Vietnamese troops.. Japanese forces invaded Vietnam during World War II. However, the forces of the South, without American combat support, could not hold off the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. The Korean War, sandwiched between the romanticism of World War II and America's traumatic experience in Vietnam, is often forgotten among the conflicts of … During the administration of Richard M. Nixon, the levels of combat troops were reduced from 1969 onward. One reason is resurgent public interest in a topic that had lost some of its salience in American life during the 1990s. The Domino Theory held that communism would spread if Vietnam became communist. The U.S. involvement in South Vietnam stemmed from a combination of factors: France's long colonial history in French Indochina, the US War with Japan in the Pacific, and both Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong's pledge in 1950 to support Ho Chi … One was the Civil Rights War within the country, the other was the Vietnam War and another was the Cold War. However, by the early 1970s the USA was forced to withdraw. Internationally, following World War II, country after country in Eastern Europe had fallen under communist rule, as had China, and the trend was spreading to other nations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia as well. Given Eisenhower’s credibility on military matters, his prominent endorsement of the Domino Theory placed it at the forefront of how many Americans for years would view the unfolding situation in Southeast Asia. Vietnam might not have become a zone of conflict for the United States had she adhered to Franklin Roosevelt’s wartime opposition to the return of French colonialists and his support for independence for Indochina once the Japanese had been defeated. In May 1954, the French suffered a military defeat at Dien Bien Phu and negotiations began to end the conflict. The United States government viewed involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam and part of their wider strategy of containment. During the Second World War, Japan invaded the country. Tensions escalated into armed conflict between the two sides, and in 1961 U.S. President John F. Kennedy chose to expand the military aid program. Also, during that time the President of the United States declared that any country from their allies if demanded help to end communism, the US would provide it. April 30, 1970, Washington, DC. In the 1972 presidential campaign, Democratic nominee George McGovern campaigned on a platform of withdrawing from Vietnam. During World War II the Japanese occupied Vietnam and disarmed the French. The U.S. entered the Vietnam War in an attempt to prevent the spread of communism, but foreign policy, economic interests, national fears, and geopolitical strategies also played major roles. What for? Vietnam war facts are also ones of remarkable feats of courage, determination, and sacrifice. The fighting in Vietnam finally ended with the collapse of Saigon in 1975. Robert J. McNamara is a history expert and former magazine journalist. That attitude was held up to scrutiny in a televised Capitol Hill testimony by a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, future Massachusetts senator, presidential candidate, and secretary of state, John Kerry. Stewart, Richard W., editor. Its legacy was 58,220 American soldiers dead, a huge drain on the nation’s finances, social polarisation and the tarnishing of the reputation of the United States. There were a couple of reasons for this. Beginning in September, the Khanh government was succeeded by a bewildering array of cliques and coalitions, some of which stayed in power less than a month. ", "Transcript of President Eisenhower's Press Conference, With Comment on Indo-China. A prisoner of war blinked in Morse code to send one chilling word home to the U.S. government: "torture." No nation recognized the new regime and the French returned and swept it away, with remnants hiding in the mountains. Thuan delivered a letter from President Ngo Dinh Diem dealing with the Communist threat to his country. When Did the U.S. The United States enters the war Between the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the U.S. presidential election in November 1964, the situation in Vietnam had changed for the worse. Office of Academic Affiliations. After Nixon left office as a result of the Watergate scandal, the administration of Gerald Ford continued to support the government of South Vietnam. There was an exchange of gunfire, though disputes about what exactly happened and what was reported to the public have persisted for decades. Learn why a country that had been barely known to most Americans came to define an era. But did his government listen? ... On the other hand, the United States did manage to stay out of the First Indochina War between France and the … Throughout the whole article every paragraph talks about why America did what they did over in Vietnam and how it affected us. By January 1966, the number was more than 200,000. All in all America went to war with Vietnam for many of reasons. Why did America fight the Vietnam War? McCarthy saw communists everywhere in America and encouraged an atmosphere of hysteria and distrust. All Rights Reserved. Also the U.S. was afraid of communism taking over countries along with the reasons why America did not like the government of North Vietnam. Instead his time in office is mostly associated with deepening American involvement in the war in Vietnam which ultimately proved futile. Throughout the early 1950s, the Viet Minh forces made significant gains. By 1972, the idea that Vietnam posed a threat to Cold War America was so discredited, it sometimes sounded as if America’s only remaining war aim was to … Nguyyan Dinh Thuan, Chief Cabinet Minister to President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, confers with President Kennedy in his White House office today. First, the Americans were an … Tensions escalated into armed conflict between the two sides, and in 1961 U.S. President John F. Kennedy chose to expand the military aid program. Even though the cause of the Vietnam War was generally unknown to the public, the government pressed on with the attacks. The Vietnam War displayed the limits of US military power - 58,000 Americans died, millions of Vietnamese were killed. After decades of conflict, more than 2.7 million Americans served in Vietnam and an estimated 47,424 lost their lives; and still, the reasons why the U.S. entered the Vietnam War to begin with remain controversial.. Throughout the late 1960s, the mood in America transformed. America’s involvement in Vietnam, that was to lead to a full-scale military attack on North Vietnam, was all part of the Cold War scenario that had enveloped world politics. The conflict between the French and the Viet Minh came to a head at the … Basically because the Vietnamese wanted to win more than the Americans did. What Americans call the Vietnam War was the second of three wars in Indochina during the Cold War, in which the United States, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China intervened in shifting patterns of enmity and alliance. The main reason for the U.S. involvement in Vietnam was to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. The United States backed France and its puppet emperor Bao Dai. In 1954, the French lost and Vietnam was divided between north and south. At the time, the capitalist South Vietnamese region was losing their fight against the communist North Vietnamese. The U.S. government had an interest in the conflict in Indochina from the end of World War II until the mid-1950s when France found itself fighting against a communist insurgency led by Ho Chi Minh. Causes of the Vietnam war. The Gulf of Tonkin incident appeared to be a provocation for war. Whatever happened in the confrontation, the Johnson administration used the incident to justify a military escalation. The Cold War soon turned hot in divided Korea and Vietnam. The first wave of U.S combat troops invaded South Vietnam on March 8, 1965. That did not happen. American naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin, on the coast of Vietnam, reported being fired upon by North Vietnamese gunboats. The escalation continued throughout 1965, and by the end of that year, 184,000 American troops were in Vietnam. The main reason for the United States of America to become apart of the Vietnam War was to end communism and since the Soviet Union was involved already, it seemed more inviting for them. Vietnam unfurled a massive celebration on Thursday to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of its long war with the United States. It marked the first time combat troops were inserted into the war. The Real Reason America Lost the War in Vietnam: Japan. Why did the U.S. go to war in Vietnam? These are boom times for historians of the Vietnam War. France'… As 1963 progressed, the issue of Vietnam became more prominent in America. Out of fear of a great power confrontation with the Soviet Union, the United States fought a limited war, with the South China Sea to the east and … The U.S. involvement in South Vietnam stemmed from a combination of factors: France's long colonial history in French Indochina, the US War with Japan in the Pacific, and both Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong's pledge in 1950 to support Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh's guerrilla forces. But there was still considerable support for the war, and Nixon had campaigned in 1968 pledging to bring an "honorable end" to the war. The country spent much of the 1950s under the influence of the Red Scare, led by the virulently anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy. McGovern lost in a historic landslide, which seemed, in some part, to be a validation of Nixon’s avoidance of a speedy withdrawal from the war. The sentiment, especially among conservative voices in America, was that the sacrifice of so many killed and wounded in Vietnam would be in vain if America simply withdrew from the war. Why did the USA become increasingly involved in the Vietnam War? In Korea, the objective was to drive the aggressors back into North Korea and occupy that portion of … The U.S. felt that it was losing the ​Cold War and needed to "contain" communism. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed by both houses of Congress within days of the naval confrontation. National Archives. Ousting and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm Ho Chi Minh helped initiate the First Indochina War, which took place from 1946 to 1954. His reference to Southeast Asia becoming communist was major news the following day. The U.S. entered the Vietnam War in an attempt to prevent the spread of communism, but foreign policy, economic interests, national fears, and geopolitical strategies also played major roles. The United States had provided funding, armaments, and training to South Vietnam’s government and military since Vietnam’s partition into the communist North and the democratic South in 1954. The first wave of U.S combat troops invaded South Vietnam on March 8, 1965. One reason included how they thought it would be an 'easy' war to fight and for that reason, they would be able to easily win and the war would not go … Kallie Szczepanski contributed to this article. It gave the president broad authority to defend American troops in the region. On February 8, 1962, the Kennedy administration formed the Military Assistance Command Vietnam, a military operation intended to accelerate the program of giving military aid to the South Vietnamese government. One reason America went to war was because President Harry Truman authorized a military aid to the French. In retrospect, the United States did not do much to end communism and it ended on its own. Top Essentials to Know About the Vietnam War. The role of the United States in the Vietnam War began after World War II and escalated into full commitment during the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1973. By 1969, there were half a million American soldiers fighting in the war. The US invaded Vietnam to contain Soviet and Chinese influence, simply put. The main reason for the U.S. involvement in Vietnam was to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. But things changed with an incident in the summer of 1964. 289–335. In 1966, the troop totals rose again to 385,000. Beginning in the mid-1950s, the American foreign policy establishment tended to view the situation in Southeast Asia in terms of the Domino Theory. The anti-war movement mobilized Americans in vast numbers, and public protest demonstrations against the war became commonplace. Taken to its extreme, the Domino Theory suggested that other nations throughout Asia would become satellites of either the Soviet Union or Communist China, much like nations in Eastern Europe had come under Soviet domination. Fifty years ago, during the first six months of 1965, Lyndon Johnson made the decision to Americanize the conflict in Vietnam. One of the main reasons it remains a source of argument is that it is difficult to say when the U.S. war actually began. The United States supported the anti-communist government in South Vietnam. In a TV speech to the Nation from the White House, President Nixon announced that several thousand American ground troops entered Cambodia to wipe out Communist headquarters for all military operations against South Vietnam. The Americans began supporting the South Vietnamese with political and military advisers in the late 1950s. At the end of this war, North Vietnam was a communist dictatorship led by Ho Chi Minh while South Vietnam was all that remained of French colonial rule. Anti-involvement theorists argue that the U.S. shouldn’t have invaded Vietnam because Vietnam’s internal conflicts and political battles didn’t directly influence or affect America. The attack was made near the Communist Chinese held island of Hainan. Since the 19 th century, Vietnam had been under colonial rule. The New York Times headlined a page one story about his press conference, “President Warns of Chain Disaster if Indo-China Goes.”. 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