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

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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. In fact the Gallup poll showed that the public viewed Vietnam as the most important problem facing the country from 1965 to 1968. The war had cost her one billion dollars a day at its peak and she had dropped 7 million tons of bombs - more than the entire total of all participants in World War Two. The cost of the war in 1968 alone was $88 billion while the combined spending on education, health and housing in that year was $24 billion. The fundamental reasons for the war were America’s historical involvement, the unpopularity and failure of Diem’s regime, the cold war, America’s policies and presidents and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

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America’s involvement in the war was caused by the Cold War background and anti-communist foreign policies that America desired to maintain which resulted in a drive to restrict the looming threat of the expansion of the Soviet sphere of communism. The US saw Vietnam as a key battle in their policy of containment and the domino theory stipulated by Eisenhower in 1954 was used as grounds for action. The falling ‘domino’ principle speculated that if one land in a region came under the influence of communism then the surrounding countries would succumb to this evil ideology in a ...

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