Vietnam War Essay Research Paper Vietnam War

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Vietnam War Essay, Research Paper Vietnam War From the 1880s until World War II, France governed Vietnam as part of French Indochina, which also included Cambodia and Laos. The country was under the control of an emperor, Bao Dai. In 1940 Japanese troops invaded and occupied French Indochina. In December of that year, Vietnamese nationalists established the League for the Independence of Vietnam, or Viet Minh, seeing the turmoil of the war as an opportunity for resistance to French colonial rule. The United States demanded that Japan leave Indochina, warning of military action. The Viet Minh began guerrilla warfare against Japan and entered an effective alliance with the United States. When the Japanese signed their formal surrender on September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh used the

occasion to declare the independence of Vietnam, which he called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Emperor Bao Dai abdicated the throne. The French, however, refused to acknowledge Vietnam?s independence, and later that year drove the Viet Minh into the north of the country. Ho Chi Minh wrote eight letters to U.S. president Harry Truman, imploring him to recognize Vietnam?s independence. But, the foreign policy of the United States during the Cold War was driven by a fear of the spread of Communism. Eastern Europe had fallen under the domination of the Communist USSR, and China was ruled by Communists. United States policymakers felt they could not afford to lose Southeast Asia as well to the Communists. The United States therefore condemned Ho Chi Minh as an agent of

international Communism and offered to assist the French in recapturing Vietnam. In May 1954, the Viet Minh mounted a massive assault on the French fortress at ?ien Bi?n, in northwestern Vietnam. The Battle of Dien Bien Phu resulted in perhaps the most humiliating defeat in French military history. Already tired of the war, the French public forced their government to reach a peace agreement at the Geneva Conference. France asked the other world powers to help draw up a plan for French withdrawal from the region and for the future of Vietnam. Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 8 to July 21, 1954, diplomats from France, Great Britain, the USSR, China, and the United States, as well as representatives from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, drafted a set of agreements called the

Geneva Accords. These agreements provided for the withdrawal of French troops to the south of Vietnam until they could be safely removed from the country. Viet Minh forces moved into the north. Vietnam was temporarily divided at the 17th parallel to allow for a cooling-off period and for warring factions among the Vietnamese to return to their native regions. Ho Chi Minh maintained control of North Vietnam, while Emperor Bao Dai remained head of South Vietnam. Also in 1955, the United States picked Ngo Dinh Diem to replace Bao Dai as head of the anti-Communist regime in South Vietnam. With U.S. encouragement, Diem refused to participate in the planned national elections, which Ho Chi Minh and the Lao Dong, or Workers? Party, were favored to win. Instead, Diem held elections only

in South Vietnam, an action that violated the Geneva Accords. This led to the start of the war. The United States became involved in Vietnam because it believed that if all of the country fell under a Communist government, Communism would spread throughout Southeast Asia and beyond. This belief was known as the ?domino theory.? The U.S. government, therefore, supported the South Vietnamese government. When some of the soldiers of the U.S. 9th Marine Regiment landed in ?? Nang in March 1965, their orders were to protect the U.S. air base, but the mission was quickly escalated to include search-and-destroy patrols of the area around the base. This corresponded in miniature to the larger strategy of General William Westmoreland. Westmoreland, who took over the Military Assistance