A Fatal Mistake The Vietnam War Essay — страница 3

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1955, the U.S. removed Bao Dai from power, and he chose Ngo Dinh Diem to replace him as Premier. After his official election, Diem declared the Republic of Vietnam s independence, as advised by the U.S., and this entire affair was seen as an effort by the U.S. to interfere with the independence promised at Geneva by Vietnamese Nationalists, both communist and non-communist (Encarta Vietnam War ). Now the reunification elections were to be held in 1956, but Diem feared Ho Chi Minh would win, and with U.S. support, decided not to hold the elections (Encarta Vietnam War ). Following World War II, President Truman saw the growing Communist threat to the free world. The idea of Containment was first addressed in the Truman Doctrine, which was at first meant to help anti-Communist

forces in Greece and Turkey. Containment was the perfect justification for U.S. involvement in Vietnam, or any other country the U.S. felt was threatened by communism. At the time that France began requesting U.S. aid, the Cold War was just escalating to a nuclear standoff, and the U.S. wanted to show its superiority over the communist USSR, but the use of nuclear arsenals meant devastation to both countries. Cold War tensions intensified immensely as the U.S. used its nuclear superiority to keep the USSR in check (Chant 8). Keeping the Soviets in check was part of the U.S. policy of containment, (Hunt 2). The threat of a massive retaliation was the first U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, created under Eisenhower s administration, which quickly became obsolete. In the 1960 s,

Kennedy was demanding that the U.S. have the ability to make quick responses, which could mean the difference between victory and defeat in the numerous military situations the USSR could create in which nuclear weaponry was not an option (Chant 9). Vietnam was one of these situations, although it had not been created directly by the USSR. The Flexible Response policy prepared the U.S. with specific countermeasures for distinct confrontations. The army became the new focus of military expansion and advancement, with increased funding and recruitment (Chant 9). By 1964, the U.S. had begun surveillance of the North Vietnamese coast, and was supporting South Vietnam s commando missions, destroying bridges, railroads, and coastal installations, throughout North Vietnam (Encarta

Vietnam War ). After Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail, the Viet Cong began recruiting and organizing and army to face a full-scale U.S. military intervention (Encarta Vietnam War ). Just like in Korea, Vietnam became the newest stage for a competition in military superiority with the Communist world. With the U.S. supporting South Vietnam, and the USSR supporting North Vietnam, the chess-match was set for an indirect Cold War confrontation. The Communist powers were simply maintaining the Viet Cong s efforts by supplying weapons and tactics, but saw little value in Vietnam s independence. Despite the fact that Vietnam was never a true Cold War confrontation, the U.S. pushed South Vietnam to battle communism to show its own willingness to battle

communism in any form. Now the U.S. was at war, with an insignificant nation struggling for autonomy, the same way the original thirteen colonies had struggled against Britain two hundred years previous. If the U.S. won, it would achieve very little, but the goal did not seem to be to reunite the country under a specially crafted democratic government, and there would be nothing to gain from victory. Most American soldiers had no idea why they were fighting, while Viet Cong and Vietnam nationalists were fighting to be free. The U.S. based its decisions on assumptions and underestimates, and lacked the necessary understanding of the region s history (McNamara 219). The U.S. never established any clear goals, besides crushing communism, an oversight that led to military confusion,

ambiguous efforts, and poor distribution of troops and supplies (McNamara 219). By 1961, President Kennedy saw South Vietnam s weakened condition as a sign pointing to escalated involvement (Chant 31). Up until that point, U.S. involvement of military personnel had been limited to advisors. The total of eleven thousand was more than two-thirds American (Chant 31). In October of that year, Kennedy sent General Maxwell D. Taylor to Vietnam to assess the situation, and Special Forces to provide tactical training to the Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (Chant 31). The first true military engagement the U.S. experienced came on August 2, 1964 (Encarta Vietnam War ). The Maddox, a U.S. destroyer, was accused of violating North Vietnamese waters, and was consequently fired