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    The Vietnam Conflict Began In The Late Nineteenth Century. The Essay

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    French conquered Vietnam and made it a protectorate. For nearly fortyyears, Vietnam had not experienced settled peace. The League for theIndependence of Vietnam ( Viet Minh ) was formed in 1941, seekingindependence from the French. On September 2nd,1945, Ho Chi Minhproclaimed it independent of France.

    The French opposed theirindependence from 1945 to 1954. The first representatives of deGualle’s government landed by parachute in Saigon and Hanoi on August23rd, 1945. The French wanted to reestablish their rule in Vietnam butwere beaten at the battle of Dien Bien Phu on May 7th, 1954. TheFrench Expeditionary Force tried to prevent the Viet Minh fromentering Laos and Dien Bien Phu was the place chosen to do so. TheFrench were not very careful and this allowed the Viet Minh to cut offtheir airway to Hanoi. After a siege that had lasted for fifty – fivedays, the French surrendered.

    Ho Chi Minh led the war against Franceand won. After the war there was a conference in Geneva where Vietnam wasdivided into two parts along the seventeenth parallel. North Vietnamwas mainly Communist and supported Ho Chi Minh, while the south wassupported by the United States and the French were based there. Therewas still some Communist rebels within South Vietnam.

    These were theViet Cong. The South Vietnam ruler was Ngo Dinh Diem who was anti -Communist. At the conference, Laos and Cambodia became independentstates. North Vietnam wished to unify North and South Vietnam throughmilitary force.

    Since the United States feared the spread of communismin Asia, John F. Kennedy provided economic and military aid to SouthVietman to prevent the takeover by North Vietnam. At this time, thiswas still a civil war. The United States were not yet officiallyinvolved.

    The North Vietnamese resented the little intervention by theUnited Sates and so, three Vietnamese torpedo boats fired on theU. S. destroyer, ” Maddox ” on August 2nd, 1964. The ” Maddox ” hadbeen in the Gulf of Tonkin ( international waters ), thirty miles offthe coast of Vietnam. On August 3rd, 1964, Johnson gave the right ” toattack with the objective of destroying attacking forces ” ( Pimlott1982, 36 ).

    Retaliation air attacks began on August 3rd. Their aim wasto destroy North Vietnam’s gunboat capability. As two more UnitedStates destroyers were supposedly sunk, more air and sea forces weresent ( Wicker August 5, 1964, 1 ). Up until now, the U. S. hadrefrained from direct combat.

    This is when the United States formallyentered the Vietman War. The U. S. did this for two reasons. We wishedto maintain the independence of South Vietnam and we had to prove toallied nations that we would help them resist Communist overtaking.

    AsCongress was about to vote whether or not to allow the combat to moveinto North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese attacked a major U. S. airbaseat Bein Hoa. On February 7th, 1965, Johnson ordered retaliationbombing on North Vietnam.

    Rolling Thunder was the name of thisoperation. It’s purpose was to put pressure on Hanoi and convince themthat Communism could not and would not win. At the end of 1965, one hundred and eighty thousand Americanswere in South Vietnam under General William S. Westmoreland(Encyclopedia Britannica, 12, 361 ). The U. S.

    mainly depended onsuperior firepower and helicopters. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamesedepended on surprise attack and concealment. The United States soldiers realized that the war would last formany more years and wondered if the U. S.

    war effort could succeed. Atthe end of 1968, The number of American troops in South Vietnamreached it’s peak of 542, 000 men ( Pimlott 1982, 53 ). The Viet Congand North Vietnamese launched a major invasion against the UnitedStates called the Tet offensive from January 30th to February 25th,1968. At the Khe Sanh U. S.

    firebase, there was a major ground battle. There was a siege from January 21st to April 14th. It was thought tobe the ” American Dien Bien Phu “. The United States turned it aroundhowever, with their victory at Hue. By 1969, combat decreased rapidlyand American troops began to return home.

    The role of Communism was extremely important in this conflict. Communism was one of the main reasons of why the United States enteredthe war in the first place. The U. S.

    ” had ” to enter the war to stopthe spread of Communism in Asia since North Vietnam was Communist. IfNorth Vietnam were to succeed in converting Vietnam into a Communistcountry, it could become very powerful and go on to ” pursuade ” othercountries to become Communist. The U. S.

    believed that Vietnam couldbecome powerful. They were amazed that France, an Allied power, hadbeen beaten by the Vietnamese. North Vietnam was a Communist country. The man who hadproclaimed Vietnam independent, Ho Chi Minh, was a Communist.

    He was aMarxist and believed in ” national Communism ” ( EncyclopediaBritannica, 5, 955). During the war with the French, Ho Chi Minh tookrefuge in northern Vietnam and settled there with his followers. Hefounded the Indochina Communist Party and the Viet Minh. The Viet Minhdid not become Communist until the 1950’s.

    He became the president ofNorth Vietnam from 1945 to 1969. North Vietnam was a poor area and wascut off from the agricultural benefit of South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minhwas forced to ask assistance from major Communist allies – the SovietUnion and China. Both aided North Vietnam before and during the war. The North Vietnamese invaded South Vietnam. They wanted to usemilitary tactics to force unification.

    The United States didnot allow their unification. The U. S. knew that the Viet Cong andNorthVietnamese wished to establish one ruling government,the Communist Party. This led to the Vietnam War and U.

    S. intervention. On January 27th, 1973, South Vietnam Communist forces ( VietCong ), North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the United States agreed onmany things during peace talks that were held in Paris. The talks hadlasted for over two years before any agreements were made that suitedall of them. The forces involved agreed that U. S.

    troops wouldgradually withdraw from Vietnam and all prisoners of war would bereleased. They also agreed that South Vietnam had the right to choosetheir own future, whether or not to unite with North Vietnam. NorthVietnamese troops were given the right to remain in South Vietnambut they could not be reinforced. Nixon was the U.

    S. president whofinalized the accepted treaty and began to remove United Statestroops. Even after the peace talks, fighting continued between the Northand South Vietnamese. After the majority of American soldiers hadleft, North Vietnam went against all that was enforced at the peacetalks. North Vietnam planned a major invasion on the south in 1975 or1976. By April 30th, 1976, North Vietnamese tanks had occupied Saigon,the capital of South Vietnam, with no trouble.

    On July 2nd, 1976, the country was united as the SocialistRepublic of Vietnam. The capital became Hanoi and it was underCommunist rule. Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after theinstigator of Communism. The North Vietnamese had won. Forty – seventhousand Americans were killed in action and three hundred andthirteen soldiers were wounded, physically as well as mentally. Thewar had cost the United States an estimated two hundred billiondollars ( Encyclopedia Britannica, 12, 361 ).

    There were two thousand,two hundred and sixty – one United States servicemen listed as missingin action ( Time, February 15, 1993, 44 ). The tally is stillincomplete. Some say that this war was fought for nothing. There wereonly losses and nothing was gained. After the war, southern Vietnam’s agriculture, business andindustry were devestated.

    The newly Communist Vietnam, Laos andCambodia became an important South – Asian power. Today, Vietnamremains under Communist rule. The Vietnamese Communist Party is themajor political party. The State Council Chairman is Vo Chi Chong. ThePrime Minister is Do Muoi.

    After the Vietnam war, United States Presidents tried to punishVietnam for the losses suffered by their country. They cut off alltrade to Vietnam. Vietnam’s economy was severely damaged. This cameabout by the U. S. decision to stop trade and the new efforts toinstall a Soviet – style system in the unified country.

    By 1985, tenyears after it’s ” liberation “, Vietnam had to beg for help from theSoviet Union ( Time, February 15, 1993, 43 ). In 1986, the government leaders began an economic plan, doi moito get Vietnam back on it’s feet. When aid from the Soviet Unionstopped, the country was able to stand on it’s own. The Vietnameseveterans don’t regard the Americans as enemies but the governmentleaders do. The government fears that if contact with the UnitedStates increases, it might result in a revolution that would destroytheir authority.

    Meanwhile, even without United States help, Vietnamis seen to be an important exporter in the future. Japan has alreadyexported goods to Vietnam and the United States is afraid that theywill soon gain economic control over the entire region.

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