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

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GCSE History - Vietnam Coursework 1) Why did the USA become involved in Vietnam in the 1950's and 1960's? The USA became involved in Vietnam in 1949, under fear of communism spreading further into South East Asia as Mao Ze Dong had won a communist victory in China in the same year. The USA and USSR were the two most powerful nations in the world at this time and were both involved in a Cold War with each other. Each had opposed the way in which the other country was run, with USA being Capitalist and USSR being Communist. When the USSR exploded its own atom bomb in 1949, it became clear to the US that they were on equal level with the Soviet Union, as it appeared that they were no longer the only country with nuclear power. Every time a nation fell towards communism, the USSR became stronger, weakening the USA and other capitalist nations. Vietnam at this time was a French colony, which was occupied by the Japanese during World War Two. ...read more.


He said, "You have a row of dominoes set up. You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly". They thought that if Vietnam would fall into the hands of communism, then other countries that used to belong to Indo-China would also follow suit, in the same way as a row of dominos. With the US determined not to let the 'Domino Theory' take affect, they decided to increase involvement in Vietnam in order to fight back the spread of communism. The USA first got involved in Vietnam with financial aid. The USA sent money to France first to help fight against the Japanese. They then sent money to South Vietnam in order to help fight back the Vietcong, which were also given a helping hand by China. In 1954, the USA began to greatly fear the spread of communism and therefore prevented elections taking place as they felt that Ho Chi Minh in the North supporting communism would win. ...read more.


This lead the US congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution on the 7th August 1964, which gave Lyndon the freedom and power to "take all necessary measures to prevent further aggression and achieve peace and security" in Vietnam. This meant that Lyndon could take the USA into a total war in Vietnam, and lead to Operation Rolling Thunder to begin in 1965. This was a gigantic bombing raid in North Vietnam where 8 millions bombs fell to the ground killing thousands of people over 8 years. Military involvement increased further and by 1969, there were half a million US soldiers present in Vietnam. With all the military involvement in Vietnam, it shows the commitment the USA had in stopping Communism and the USSR from getting stronger, and giving them the 'one-up' in the Cold War. Therefore the USA became involved in Vietnam to stop the spread in communism, and to stop the USSR from getting stronger as China had fallen into communism back in 1949. The USA did not want the 'Domino Theory' to take affect, and firmly believed in maintaining Capitalism, so consequently had no choice but to get involved in Vietnam. ...read more.

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