U.S. Involvement in Vietnam War - Essay Example

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The history of America’s involvement in Vietnam is clouded with immense controversy and complexity. Herring provides an analysis of complex diplomatic, military, political and social issues that led to U.S involvement in Vietnam and why it failed…
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U.S. Involvement in Vietnam War
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Download file to see previous pages In his analysis, Herring points out that success of Vietnam War was mainly hindered by Vietnamese spirit of nationalism1. Vietnam’s history is characterized by centuries of imperialism. It was first dominated by China and later by France, which established French Indochina2. Vietnam rose against imperialism and won under Ho Chi Minh, the leader of a nationalist movement known as Viet Minh. With the escalation of the cold war, America opted to aid France’s recapture of its South East Asian colonies, which the French had lost during the Japanese war. America declined to support Ho Chi Mihn due to his communist tendencies. The French war against Ho Chi Mihn led to division of Vietnam into North Vietnam, under Ho and South Vietnam. The dividing line was on the 17th parallel, determined by the Geneva Accord. The cold war played a key role in the Vietnam War. America got involved in Vietnam to safeguard its ideology and to ensure a balance of power. It considered Vietnam strategy to its national security. America, being capitalist, wanted to keep Vietnam from the Communist ideology. It was led by the domino theory, which believed that that fall of North Vietnam to communism would lead to a chain reaction that would foster the spread of communism. After the division of Vietnam, America found it vital to assist Ngo Dinh Diem, an anticommunist leader. With America’s support, Diem took control of South Vietnam. Diem’s rule was unpopular and very oppressive, of which Ho Chi Mihn fought against, backed by the Viet Cong. Following the incident of the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy “conceded that commitment in third world nations could be painful, risky, and costly, but warned that we dare not weary of the test.”3 Hence, when Kennedy realized how unpopular Diem was, he organized a military coup that ousted Diem. However, a more unpopular leader succeeded Diem. America increased aid and financial support to South Vietnam. This made South Vietnam greatly dependent on America’s financial support to the extent that it could not rise on its feet and become self-reliant. “More than any other single factor, America’s aid enabled South Vietnam to survive the first few critical years after independence. By the late 1950s the new nation was flourishing”4 Herring further points out that “although U.S aid prevented an economic collapse and served to maintain a high standard of living in Saigon, it did little to promote economic development or to improve living conditions in the villages where more than 90% of South Vietnam resided”5. After Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson took over, determined to perpetuate Kennedy’s policy on Vietnam. U.S involvement in Vietnam intensified after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. A report on August 1964 that U.S ships had been attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin by the Viet Cong led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The resolution was passed by Congress to increase military involvement in Vietnam. The following year, Johnson used the same resolution to stage Operation Rolling Thunder after Viet Cong attacked American militant. As a result, more troops were deployed in Vietnam. On January 31 1968, Viet Cong staged the Tet offensive, which attacked U.S targets and other cities in South Vietnam simultaneously. This led to major anti war critics from home after America severely retaliated and injured the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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