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Why did the USA become involved in Vietnam in the 1950’s and 1960’s?

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Introduction

David Gray Why did the USA become involved in Vietnam in the 1950's and 1960's? The USA became involved in Vietnam in the '50s and '60s because of their fear of communism. On of the underlying theories that supported their belief was the domino theory. This was stated by President Eisenhower in 1954, 'You have a row of dominoes set up. You knock over the first one. What will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. Asia has already lost some 450 millions of its peoples to communist dictatorship. We simply cant afford greater losses.' This was re-iterated by President Kennedy in 1956, 'Vietnam represents the cornerstone of the Free World in Southeast Asia, the keystone to the arch, the finger in the dike. Burma, Thailand, India, Japan, the Philippines and obviously Laos and Cambodia are among those whose security would be threatened if the red tide of Communism overflowed into Vietnam'. The USA wanted to maintain a policy of containment, trying to contain Communism and prevent it spreading. ...read more.

Middle

After World War Two, the USA and USSR emerged as the superpowers and Britain and France were 'second division', not big enough, rich enough or strong enough to exercise real international leadership. The US was aware that there was responsibility attached to being a superpower. At the beginning of the 1950's, Presidents Truman and Eisenhower as well as many US citizens believed that the USSR wanted the whole world to become communist, although they did not approve France fighting to get its colony back, they were willing to supply money because they believed in the 'domino theory'. In the statement policy towards Indo-China made in 1948, the United States had 4 long-term objectives, two of which were: ' (1) To eliminate so far as possible Communist influence in Indo-China and to see installed a self governing nationalist state which will be friendly to the US and which, commensurate with the capacity of the peoples involved, will be patterned upon our conception of a democratic state as opposed to the totalitarian state which would evolve inevitably from Communist domination. ...read more.

Conclusion

The anti-communist government in the South was very corrupt and many of the South Vietnamese supported Ho Chi Minh because they saw him as an effective representative of the peasants and a 'fair' leader unlike President Diem whose rule was harsh and corrupt. Diem persecuted Buddhists and they protested against their persecution in extremely inhuman ways. In 1960, the NLF (National Liberation Front) was set up to oppose Diem. Its members consisted mainly of communists and received aid from North Vietnam. Diem was assassinated in a military coup in November 1963, supposedly with the approval of the approval of the CIA. The Vietcong, who were being supplied by Hanoi and communist China, occupied several rural areas of South Vietnam. President Kennedy was assassinated 3 weeks later, and US policy had reached a crisis. The new president Lyndon Johnson already had plans to escalate the war, but was unable to carry them out unless he could show that there was a reason to do so. The US navy was patrolling the Vietnamese coast, looking out for NLF soldiers. The North Vietnamese retaliated towards this and attacked an American Destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. This incident gave Johnson the excuse he needed to escalate the war. ...read more.

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