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Why did the United States become involved in the war in Vietnam?

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Introduction

Question 1- Why did the United States become involved in the war in Vietnam? The United States entered the Vietnam War incrementally, in a series of steps between 1950 and 1965. Furthermore prior to this America had been historically engaged in Vietnam for a number of years. In fact during the Second World War when Japan had overrun Vietnam (the French Indo-China colony) the US had supported and supplied the Vietminh as they shared a common enemy. After World War 2 the US had emerged as one of the two world superpowers, the other being the USSR with whom they embarked on a Cold War due to an extreme clash in ideologies. As a result of this the US promoted anti-communist thinking and developed further their policy of containment of which the Truman Doctrine was an outcome. Initially the US was present in Vietnam in a military advisory capacity however the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 triggered an assertion of an active military presence. The first American ground troops landed in South Vietnam in March 1965 and this number escalated to 150,000 stationed in the country by December 1965. The war was soon to dominate public opinion through its representation by the media not only for the huge loss of lives but also for the colossal economic impact it had on America. ...read more.

Middle

As a result of involvement expanding incrementally they supported and installed a puppet government led by Ngo Dinh Diem which became another basis for their future militarial role in the war in Vietnam. Diem's government were corrupt and deceitful, and failed to gain the favour of the South Vietnamese people, as a result there was a rapid spread of sympathy towards the Vietminh and in 1959 the Vietcong was formed which consequently meant that the USA had to enhance their support to stop South Vietnam falling to communism. Diem's catholic government were regarded even less because the religious composition of the country estimated the Buddhist majority to be between 70 and 90 percent. They also used unfavourable tactics such as election rigging, for instance in Diem's election in 1955, he won with an extremely unrealistic 98.2 per cent of the vote in fact in Saigon there were 450,000 people entitled to vote yet 605,000 managed to cast their vote for Diem. The way that democracy, the fulfilment of promises and the reliability of the government (all things that the US desired to promote and uphold in South Vietnam) were being demeaned gave the Vietminh regime additional attraction. ...read more.

Conclusion

As a consequence of the Gulf of Tonkin incident America's involvement extended into active conflict and military involvement in the war. In conclusion the most significant cause of America's involvement in the Vietnam War was her anti-communist policies in particular the domino theory which made her reject her traditional isolationist views and determine to contain communism. After communism had taken root in China in 1949 the threat seemed to have augmented. The United States and the United Nations had successfully aided the South Koreans in repelling the Communist invasion in the proxy Korean War in 1950 and Vietnam was seen as the next hill to climb in the battle against communism. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers. Despite attempts by the west to demonise the Viet Cong, it is probable that by 1962, over 75% of all south Vietnamese peasants supported the Viet Cong as they were seen as liberators from the unacceptable government of Diem. This in the short term made the risk of South Vietnam turning communism increase, which in the long term heightened America's involvement and led inevitably to a full scale conflict triggered by the Gulf of Tonkin incident. ...read more.

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