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Why did the Americans become increasingly involved in the affairs of Vietnam

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Introduction

Kirsty Singleton 11MG Assignment 2, Question 1 Why did the Americans become increasingly involved in the affairs of Vietnam between 1954 and 1969? After the end of WWII the Americans with their Capitalism became bitterly opposed against the Soviet Union and their Communism in a rising ideological war. This was because of broken wartime promises on both sides which led to both suspicion and hostility between the two super nations. France, being an ally of the U.S. during WWII were meanwhile involved in the Indochina war as they tried to reclaim Vietnam. When the French were defeated in Vietnam in 1954, almost eight years after they began the fighting, the Geneva Peace Convention took place. It was agreed that the country(Vietnam) should be split into two, and that one half, the North, would go to the Communists, and that the South would go to the Saigon government. It was also said to prevent a permanent partition elections would take place in 1956 for reunification. The U.S. and the Saigon government both disagreed and the then U.S. president, Dwight Eisenhower sent out 'military advisors' to train the South Vietnamese troops as they were concerned that all of their previous efforts to prevent communism from spreading would be wasted if they allowed South Vietnam to fall to communism at this point. ...read more.

Middle

After accusations were set that regular North Vietnam troops were taking a direct part in these attacks the Vietcong set up their own political group, called the National Liberation Front to prove that they were indeed independent. In 1961 President Eisenhower left office and was succeeded by President John F. Kennedy. He sent a further 16,000 'military advisors' to Vietnam and set up the 'safe village' policy, which was conceived to try and isolate the Vietcong by moving entire villages into fortified hamlets, thus cutting off the Vietcong. The policy failed though, as the majority of the Vietcong were peasants anyway and continued their activities inside the hamlets. After Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, re-elections took place and Lyndon Johnson won after the American public favoured his more cautious approach compared to Goldwater's over the top 'We'll kill 'em all' policies. Johnson maintained the same policy of Kennedy's force of advisors but knew he would have to justify America's involvement in Vietnam. Also in November 1963, the much hated Diem was overthrown by a military coup and assassinated. Over the next 18 months ten different governments were elected but not one could deal with the situation and in 1965 General Thieu and General Ky created a more capable council. ...read more.

Conclusion

They wanted to stop the spread of communism at all costs, but only after over 2 million people were killed and more than 3 million were injured. Most of these lives were those of innocent Vietnamese civilians. And also the effects of chemicals such as Agent Orange and Napalm are still affecting the lives of the Vietnamese today, their land is contaminated, along with there water and food supplies. More bombs were dropped on Vietnam by the Americans than were dropped in the entire WWII, which perhaps really does prove the U.S. were really ready to do anything to prevent the 'Domino Effect' from becoming a reality. There are other factors as well, the French were great allies to the Americans during the Cold war and it was really expected of the American's to move in on Vietnam. There was also SEATO which stated that the American's had to prevent the spreading of communism. With Vietnam being such a small country with primitive technologies, how much opposition could they be against a super power like the Americans? Apparently quite a lot. President de Gaulle of France warned Kennedy at the time that Vietnam was 'a bottomless military and political swamp.' It's a pity that Kennedy and his advisors chose to ignore the warning, a lot of lives could've been spared. ...read more.

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