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

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Charlotte Allen                                                                                                                                           Vietnam

Question 1:

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

          Before the Second World War, Indo-China was occupied by the French, however, during the war; South-East Asia was under Japanese control. In 1945, the French decided that they wanted Indo-China back. The Vietminh (a Vietnamese communist group) decided they would rather have independence, so they tried to drive out the French. In 1954, the Vietminh surrounded and wiped out the French army at Dien Bien Phu. The French realised that they needed help, and over the next two decades, America was dragged into a costly and disastrous war in Vietnam.

          The first reason that the USA got involved in Vietnam was because of the USA’s fear of communism. After the Second World War, there was an emergence of two superpower countries, America and Russia. America was a capitalist country, and Russia was communist. America hated the idea of communism because they knew that it would change their whole way of life if the USA became a communist country. The citizens of America, especially the rich, did not want communism at all. Henceforth, America and the Soviet Union went to war. However, the two countries did not physically fight each other, because they new they were equally powerful, and therefore undefeatable. Instead they started the ‘Cold War’. It was more of a competition between the two countries, Russia was trying to get as many countries communist as it could, and America was trying to stop it from doing this.

However, in 1949 the USA received a major blow. China had now also become communist. This was very bad for America, because China was also a very big and powerful country. The USA was right to be scared, China started to convince its surrounding countries in South-East Asia to become communist, and it also gave support to communist groups like Ho Chi Minh. The USA knew it had to do something, so President Truman tried to encourage countries to favour capitalism through the Truman Doctrine. The Truman Doctrine was a proclamation that stated that the USA would support any countries economically and militarily to prevent them falling under the wrath of communism. An example of this is the $17billion in Marshall Aid given to European countries to help rebuild after the Second World War.

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The other main factor that contributed towards America’s communism fear was the Korean War. North Korea was communist and South Korea was capitalist, and the North was trying to convert the South to communism as well. America helped the South, whilst China helped the North. For 3 years from 1950-1953 America fought tirelessly against the North, however, an armistice was signed, with neither side achieving anything. America now knew that communism really was a force to be reckoned with, for it was so powerful and relentless, and America was really scared by this. President Eisenhower came up with a theory ...

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