That same year, the Korean War began, pitting Communist North Korean and Chinese forces against the U.S. and its UN allies. Maddox DD-731 was the victim of an 'unprovoked attack' in international waters off Vietnam, the Navy announced in Honolulu 8/1. But did his government listen? In 1954, the French lost and Vietnam was divided between north and south. Instead his time in office is mostly associated with deepening American involvement in the war in Vietnam which ultimately proved futile. ", "Transcript of President Eisenhower's Press Conference, With Comment on Indo-China. He was Amazon.com's first-ever history editor and has bylines in New York, the Chicago Tribune, and other national outlets. In the 1950s, Vietnam descended into civil war, with the Southern government and US forces attempting to stop the spread of communism. When Did the U.S. In a TV speech to the Nation from the White House, President Nixon announced that several thousand American ground troops entered Cambodia to wipe out Communist headquarters for all military operations against South Vietnam. With the departure of the French, South Vietnam was left as an anti-communist dictatorship with U.S. backing. One reason America went to war was because President Harry Truman authorized a military aid to the French. The military suffered over 58,000 casualties, and America withdrew in defeat. The reasons for entering the Vietnam War no longer seemed so vital, especially when weighed against the cost of the war. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed by both houses of Congress within days of the naval confrontation. The fighting in Vietnam finally ended with the collapse of Saigon in 1975. McCarthy saw communists everywhere in America and encouraged an atmosphere of hysteria and distrust. Following Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, the administration of Lyndon Johnson continued the same general policies of putting American advisers in the field beside South Vietnamese troops. Kallie Szczepanski contributed to this article. During World War II the Japanese occupied Vietnam and disarmed the French. Throughout the late 1960s, the mood in America transformed. One American crawled for three days to take a single shot that would change the course of the war. Ho Chi Minh helped initiate the First Indochina War, which took place from 1946 to 1954. The McCarthy Era was marked by dramatic accusations that communists had infiltrated the highest levels of American society as part of a global conspiracy. That did not happen. On the home front, beginning in 1949, fear of domestic communists gripped America. The role of American advisers increased and by late 1963, there were more than 16,000 Americans on the ground advising South Vietnamese troops.. Decades later, the US is again trying to extract itself from costly wars. Few decisions in American foreign policy have been more consequential than the series of events that led the United States to become involved in the Vietnam War. There were a couple of reasons for this. The New York Times headlined a page one story about his press conference, “President Warns of Chain Disaster if Indo-China Goes.”. It was assumed by Johnson’s advisers that air attacks alone would cause the North Vietnamese to negotiate an end to armed conflict. The United States had provided funding, armaments, and training to South Vietnam’s government and military since Vietnam’s partition into the communist North and the democratic South in 1954. Office of Academic Affiliations. Photo of Senator Joseph McCarthy. By August, the number increased to 100,000. This stated that if one country fell to communism, then its neighbour would and then the neighbour to this country. In the 1972 presidential campaign, Democratic nominee George McGovern campaigned on a platform of withdrawing from Vietnam. Taken to its extreme, the Domino Theory suggested that other nations throughout Asia would become satellites of either the Soviet Union or Communist China, much like nations in Eastern Europe had come under Soviet domination. Ho Chi Minh began a campaign to fight a weakened France and seize independence through force. What Americans call the Vietnam War was the second of three wars in Indochina during the Cold War, in which the United States, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China intervened in shifting patterns of enmity and alliance. The French were fighting in Vietnam to maintain their colonial power and to regain their national pride after the humiliation of World War II. During the administration of Richard M. Nixon, the levels of combat troops were reduced from 1969 onward. Why the United States Went to War in Vietnam, https://history.state.gov/milestones/1953-1960/seato, https://millercenter.org/president/eisenhower/foreign-affairs, https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/JFK-Speeches/Vietnam-Conference-Washington-DC_19560601.aspx, https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/JFK-Quotations/Inaugural-Address.aspx. The first wave of U.S combat troops invaded South Vietnam on March 8, 1965. The main reason for the U.S. involvement in Vietnam was to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. The escalation continued throughout 1965, and by the end of that year, 184,000 American troops were in Vietnam. In the 1950’s, John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State, had formulated the Domino Theory. Basically because the Vietnamese wanted to win more than the Americans did. The main reason for the U.S. involvement in Vietnam was to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. There was an exchange of gunfire, though disputes about what exactly happened and what was reported to the public have persisted for decades. Throughout the early 1950s, the Viet Minh forces made significant gains. Vietnam unfurled a massive celebration on Thursday to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of its long war with the United States. However, by the early 1970s the USA was forced to withdraw. ” It was a scary thing and the U. S. ealized what it was up against and why they needed to go to war with Vietnam. The Real Reason America Lost the War in Vietnam: Japan. The Korean War, sandwiched between the romanticism of World War II and America's traumatic experience in Vietnam, is often forgotten among the conflicts of … One was the Civil Rights War within the country, the other was the Vietnam War and another was the Cold War. The U.S. involvement in South Vietnam stemmed from a combination of factors: France's long colonial history in French Indochina, the US War with Japan in the Pacific, and both Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong's pledge in 1950 to support Ho Chi … The US invaded Vietnam to contain Soviet and Chinese influence, simply put. This stated that if one country fell to communism, then its neighbour would and then the neighbour to this country. At the end of this war, North Vietnam was a communist dictatorship led by Ho Chi Minh while South Vietnam was all that remained of French colonial rule. The Vietnam War displayed the limits of US military power - 58,000 Americans died, millions of Vietnamese were killed. The U.S. entered the Vietnam War in an attempt to prevent the spread of communism, but foreign policy, economic interests, national fears, and geopolitical strategies also played major roles. ... On the other hand, the United States did manage to stay out of the First Indochina War between France and the … In retrospect, the United States did not do much to end communism and it ended on its own. America’s involvement in Vietnam, that was to lead to a full-scale military attack on North Vietnam, was all part of the Cold War scenario that had enveloped world politics. On 23 July 1962, fourteen nations, including China, South Vietnam, the Soviet Union, North Vietnam and the United States, signed an agreement promising to respect the neutrality of Laos. Robert J. McNamara is a history expert and former magazine journalist. The U.S. entered the Vietnam War in an attempt to prevent the spread of communism, but foreign policy, economic interests, national fears, and geopolitical strategies also played major roles. The Gulf of Tonkin incident appeared to be a provocation for war. The President is shown here standing before a map of Cambodia. But there was still considerable support for the war, and Nixon had campaigned in 1968 pledging to bring an "honorable end" to the war. Also the U.S. was afraid of communism taking over countries along with the reasons why America did not like the government of North Vietnam. Why did the U.S. go to war in Vietnam? But things changed with an incident in the summer of 1964. Winston Churchill, and later Harold Wilson, may be thought of as having kept Britain out of Vietnam, but in actual fact, that was only once it had begun to escalate.. Why did America fight the Vietnam War? American did not go to war with Vietnam in general, it/we went to war with/against the Communists who were concentrated in North Vietnam supposedly in concert with … France'… One of the main reasons it remains a source of argument is that it is difficult to say when the U.S. war actually began. April 30, 1970, Washington, DC. ", “The U.S. Army in Vietnam: Background, Buildup, and Operations, 1950–1967.”, "Military Health History Pocket Card for Health Professions Trainees & Clinicians.". It was against this backdrop that the first U.S. military advisers were sent to help the French battle the communists of Northern Vietnam in 1950. Fifty years ago, during the first six months of 1965, Lyndon Johnson made the decision to Americanize the conflict in Vietnam. Tensions escalated into armed conflict between the two sides, and in 1961 U.S. President John F. Kennedy chose to expand the military aid program. Ho Chi Minh helped initiate the First Indochina War, which took place from 1946 to 1954. The Johnson administration began a series of airstrikes against targets in North Vietnam. Since the 19 th century, Vietnam had been under colonial rule. The United States had provided funding, armaments, and training to South Vietnam’s government and military since Vietnam’s partition into the communist North and the democratic South in 1954. Out of fear of a great power confrontation with the Soviet Union, the United States fought a limited war, with the South China Sea to the east and … Under the Party’s leadership, Vietnam fought wars against Japan (1945), France (First Indochina War, 1946-1955), and America (Second Indochina War, 1954-1975). After decades of conflict, more than 2.7 million Americans served in Vietnam and an estimated 47,424 lost their lives; and still, the reasons why the U.S. entered the Vietnam War to begin with remain controversial.. What for? In March of that year, US troops landed in Da Nang. With the vacuum caused by the defeat of Japan, an opportunity arose for the Communists to declare the "independence" of Vietnam in 1945. In March 1965, President Johnson ordered U.S. Marine battalions to defend the American airbase at Da Nang, Vietnam. During the Second World War, Japan invaded the country. The Americans began supporting the South Vietnamese with political and military advisers in the late 1950s. It began to send military advisors to help train and support the South Vietnamese army . The South was fighting against the Viet Cong, a communist party based in South Vietnam which was allied with North Vietnam. Why did the USA become increasingly involved in the Vietnam War? During the Vietnam War, there were a variety of reasons why USA became increasingly involved. Related to this, the U.S. was adamantly against providing any aid to France that would in any way prop up France's … Even though U.S. politicians, military experts and leaders of foreign affairs generally agreed that Communism violated democracy and infringed on political freedoms, conflicts in Vietnam posed no direct threat to the U.S. government or to the freedoms Americans enjoyed. Here, retired Colonel William C Haponski, co-author of ‘Autopsy of an Unwinnable War: Vietnam’, explains that the British were in fact one of five main players in early post-World War 2 Vietnam. However, the US started direct military action in Vietnam in 1964 until 1973. The U.S. government had an interest in the conflict in Indochina from the end of World War II until the mid-1950s when France found itself fighting against a communist insurgency led by Ho Chi Minh. The Kennedy foreign policy was rooted, of course, in the Cold War, and the increase of American advisers reflected Kennedy’s rhetoric of standing up to communism wherever it might be found. After Nixon left office as a result of the Watergate scandal, the administration of Gerald Ford continued to support the government of South Vietnam. Given Eisenhower’s credibility on military matters, his prominent endorsement of the Domino Theory placed it at the forefront of how many Americans for years would view the unfolding situation in Southeast Asia. Should we trace it back to the 1940s when President Harry Truman authorized U.S. financial support of the French war in Indochina? Beginning in the mid-1950s, the American foreign policy establishment tended to view the situation in Southeast Asia in terms of the Domino Theory. In 1966, the troop totals rose again to 385,000. In the 1950’s, John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State, had formulated the Domino Theory. The United States supported the anti-communist government in South Vietnam. All Rights Reserved. As 1963 progressed, the issue of Vietnam became more prominent in America. The Domino Theory held that communism would spread if Vietnam became communist. The sentiment, especially among conservative voices in America, was that the sacrifice of so many killed and wounded in Vietnam would be in vain if America simply withdrew from the war. His vice-president, Hubert Humphrey advised him against it. Timeline of the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War), "President Warns of Chain Disaster If Indo-China Goes. The Cold War soon turned hot in divided Korea and Vietnam. At the time, the capitalist South Vietnamese region was losing their fight against the communist North Vietnamese. America’s involvement in Vietnam, that was to lead to a full-scale military attack on North Vietnam, was all part of the Cold War scenario that had enveloped world politics. Vietnam war facts are also ones of remarkable feats of courage, determination, and sacrifice. Under the Party’s leadership, Vietnam fought wars against Japan (1945), France (First Indochina War, 1946-1955), and America (Second Indochina War, 1954-1975). In the article “The Causes of the Vietnam War” Andrew Rotter talks about all kinds of reasons why America went to war with Vietnam along with things that promoted America to get involved with Vietnam. The U.S. felt that it was losing the Cold War and needed to "contain" communism. Vietnam might not have become a zone of conflict for the United States had she adhered to Franklin Roosevelt’s wartime opposition to the return of French colonialists and his support for independence for Indochina once the Japanese had been defeated. However, the forces of the South, without American combat support, could not hold off the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. One reason included how they thought it would be an 'easy' war to fight and for that reason, they would be able to easily win and the war would not go … Japanese forces invaded Vietnam during World War II. By 1969, there were half a million American soldiers fighting in the war. By the end of 1967, American troop totals peaked in Vietnam at 490,000.. National Archives. One reason America went to war was because President Harry Truman authorized a military aid to the French. All in all America went to war with Vietnam for many of reasons. Also the U.S. was afraid of communism taking over countries along with the reasons why … As war continued, desire to find an "honorable peace" was motivation to keep troops in Vietnam. The main reason for the United States of America to become apart of the Vietnam War was to end communism and since the Soviet Union was involved already, it seemed more inviting for them. Whatever happened in the confrontation, the Johnson administration used the incident to justify a military escalation. Its legacy was 58,220 American soldiers dead, a huge drain on the nation’s finances, social polarisation and the tarnishing of the reputation of the United States. Internationally, following World War II, country after country in Eastern Europe had fallen under communist rule, as had China, and the trend was spreading to other nations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia as well. American naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin, on the coast of Vietnam, reported being fired upon by North Vietnamese gunboats. Throughout the whole article every paragraph talks about why America did what they did over in Vietnam and how it affected us. So, the US actually had its plate full of problems to deal with. The United States government viewed involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam and part of their wider strategy of containment. 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