A majority of the American wars have had obvious starting points like the capture of Fort Sumter in 1861, the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the invasion of North Korea into South Korea in June 1950. However, for the war in Vietnam, there is no fixed beginning. The United States got into that war incrementally via a series of steps that took place between 1950 and 1965 (Asselin 337). The Vietnam war is considered to be America's longest war and it took place for 25 years (1950-1975). This was a proxy war because the opposing powers were using third parties to fight on their behalf.
As has been pointed out the United States joined the war incrementally and it all begun in May 1950 when President Harry Truman sanctioned a modest program of military and economic aid to the French who at that time were fighting in order to retain control of their Indochina colony. This colony included Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. The French forces were defeated by the Vietnamese Nationalist (and Communist-led) Viet Minh army forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 (Brown 15). This forced the French to yield to the creation of a Communist Vietnam north of the 17th parallel and leaving a non-Communist entity south of the line. While the French were okay with the arrangement, the United States did not accept this arrangement. In order to ensure that Vietnam does not fully become a communist nation, the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower attempted to build a nation from the plausible political entity that was South of Vietnam. This was done by fabricating some sort of government there that took over from the French. The United States dispatched some military advisers to train the South Vietnam army and it also unleashed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA was charged with conducting psychological warfare against the North.
The reasoning behind sending help to the French was that President Dwight Eisenhower believed it the Domino Theory that stated that if one nation fell to communism the rest would also fall just like dominos (Lawrence 70). However, the Viet Minh launched a scathing and major offensive that resulted in the defeat of the French. After the defeat, there was talk that took place between the two sides and the United States was included at the Geneva Conference on April 26. The meetings did establish a provision for removing the French from Indochina and partitioning the country at the 17th parallel (Tonnesson 148). There was a call for reunification election in 1956.
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The country was renamed Vietnam from Indochina. The accords were not signed by the United States and this resulted in the creation of South Vietnam under the leadership of Ngo Dinh Diem. This was the United States shield against communist expansion in Southeast Asia. In order to protect its allies against the communist expansion, the United States created the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Immediately after the Geneva Conference, President Eisenhower began infusing South…
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…expected that contiguous nations would also fall to communism. When the Communist Party came to power in China in 1949, Washington feared the next Asia domino would be Vietnam. This was the reason why Truman made the decision in 1950 to assist the French who were at the moment fighting the Viet Minh.
By assisting the French in Vietnam, Truman hoped that this would help to shore up the developed, non-Communist nations (Isaacs 86). The fate of these nations was tied to the preservation of Vietnam. Without Communist leadership in the region, the markets would open up and numerous countries would benefit. The presidents who took office after maintained the conflict. However, the initial ambitions were forgotten. Losing the country to communism was the one thing that all presidents did not want to happen in Vietnam. Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all stood by the word they had given to their South Vietnamese allies that the United States would stand by South Vietnam (Price 180). Had the United States abandoned them, other countries would have regarded the United States as unreliable. Therefore, there was need to maintain credibility and this was another reason for the war in Vietnam.
The temperament, personality, and experience of each president did play a role in deepening the commitment of the United States. Eisenhower, having commanded troops in battle doubted the United States could fight a land war in Southeast Asia. Kennedy, on the other hand, used his youthfulness to prove his resolve to the American people. Johnson saw the Vietnam war….....
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Isaacs, Arnold R. \"Remembering Vietnam.\" Military Review 93.5 (2013): 86. Print. Questia School, www.questiaschool.com/read/1G1-346007659/remembering-vietnam. Accessed 9 Apr. 2019.
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Logevall, Fredrik. The Origins of the Vietnam War. New York, NY: Routledge, 2013. Print. Questia School, www.questiaschool.com/read/126018883/the-origins-of-the-vietnam-war. Accessed 9 Apr. 2019.
Neu, Charles E. America\'s Lost War: Vietnam, 1945 - 1975. Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2005. Print. Questia School, www.questiaschool.com/read/117980132/america-s-lost-war-vietnam-1945-1975. Accessed 9 Apr. 2019.
Price, Joanna. \"Remembering Vietnam: Subjectivity and Mourning in American New Realist Writing.\" Journal of American Studies 27.2 (1993): 173-86. Print.
Taylor, Keith W. \"Vietnam: A New History by Christopher Goscha.\" Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 32.2 (2017): 405-11. Print. Questia School, www.questiaschool.com/read/1G1-500163643/vietnam-a-new-history. Accessed 9 Apr. 2019.
Tonnesson, Stein. Vietnam 1946: How the War Began. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2010. Print. Questia School, www.questiaschool.com/read/124874429/vietnam-1946-how-the-war-began. Accessed 9 Apr. 2019.