Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945-1995
In Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945-1995, James S. Olson and Randy Roberts provide a compact history of the war and its resulting aftermath. The authors work to explain one of the most important and difficult issues in war history - the U.S. And its involvement in the Vietnam War. Throughout the years since the war ended, people have said that it was the wrong war, the wrong time, and the wrong place. That sentiment is accurate in explaining the basic gist of the book, as well. The entire ordeal is explained by the authors, and the historical facts to back it up are provided. Since there is so much confusion that often surrounds talk of the Vietnam War, Olson & Roberts (2008) sort out the information and allow the reader to simply see the facts and interpret the meaning on his or her own. That is far different than many other books on the war, as they often focus on issues such as propaganda and how a person should feel about the war, as opposed to simply providing facts and information that allow a person to decide his or her own feelings about the U.S. presence in Vietnam during the war and all that took place.
The overall content is very entertaining, and there is a lot that can be learned from this particular book. The narration is in a chronological style that allows for clarity. People who are not familiar with the Vietnam War can follow the events and understand everything that is taking place. It is not necessary for the reader to have a good, working knowledge of the war before starting to read the book, and that helps all readers of the book feel comfortable with the presented information. Readers will not get lost in this book in any way, whether they are war buffs or they are…… [Read More]
Vietnam -- Rules of Engagement
There are many reasons given for the fact that the United States lost the war in Vietnam, and that America was basically pushed out of the country by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army even though the U.S. had far more firepower. Among the more credible reasons America lost the war was the failure on the part of the political leaders back in Washington to allow soldiers, marines, Air Force pilots and others to take the fight to the enemy. In short, the rules of engagement (ROE) were misguided. The rules of engagement were those authorized by politicians, and not only were they very difficult to follow, they tied the hands of those men fighting the war. This paper reviews the ROE from the perspective of: a) the soldiers on the ground; b) battalion commanders; c) division commanders; d) General William Westmorland; e) Robert McNamara (secretary of defense); and f) President Lyndon Johnson.
Soldiers on the ground
The rules of engagement for soldiers on the ground in Vietnam were constricting, according to authors John Nichols and Barrett Tillman. "In Vietnam the political leadership adopted rules of engagement that ensured that America could not win the war" (Nichols, et al., 1987). The civilian authority constantly "overruled the unanimous recommendations of the military commanders," Nichols explained.
Douglas Willoughby explains that the infantry (troops on the ground) were "forced to follow" a strategy that was devised in order to "…reduce the risks to the Vietnamese civilians" (Willoughby, 2001). The rules that were handed down were "rigidly enforced" and when there were "perceived" violations, careers were "destroyed," Willoughby writes on page 23 of his book. Often soldiers needed to contact headquarters "to get permission to shoot at the enemy," and sometimes permission was granted but it "…came too late, if at all" (Willoughby, 23). The rules dictated "…when and how troops…could employ…… [Read More]
To that end, the northern Vietnamese forces and the Viet Cong in the south were looking to actually unify with the southern portion of this country -- which is evinced by the fact that shortly after the end of the war Vietnam was indeed united once again. Although this conception of the significance of the war is primarily political in nature, U.S. military forces could have used a more savvy understanding of the culture of the Vietnamese and their viewpoint of this martial conflict to its advantage, which perhaps could have shortened this encounter that was both lengthy and costly to virtually all of its participants.
Even the involvement of the Marines, which was initially sent to Vietnam to protect the Air Force which was conducting aerial raids, could have been utilized more effectively. This occasion was one of the few in which this military branch (or virtually any in the U.S. For that matter) was charged with a defensive mission, and valuable time and lives were lost while the Marines guarded the Air Force and the communist forces defeated the Southern Vietnamese contingent. Had these interdepartmental forces had a better strategy and planning for this armed conflict, the U.S. may have had more success in the war. But the initial imprudence in the usage of the Marines, when coupled with the indiscriminate bombing of the Air Force and the autonomy of the CIA in the assassination of President Diem, all proved to be ineffective uses of its interagency capabilities. This ineffectiveness, when combined with a lack of cultural understanding about the Vietnamese regard for the war and failure of cultural programs such as the Strategic Hamlet Program, would prove highly difficult for the U.S. To overcome.… [Read More]
South Vietnam, it believed, could be a base for the desired ability to mount military and economic operations throughout the globe and regardless of the insidious presence of communist influence, a premise which stood in direct contrast to Ho Chi Minh's dream.
Indeed, as an official policy, leaders in Washington considered that the fall of South Vietnam to communism would be a pathway to the prevalence of communism in other venues, such as Cambodia, Laos and even France, where the ideological movement was very robust amongst student movements. As stated a U.S. Department of State representative during the period in between the first and second Indochina wars, "the recognition by the Kremlin of Ho Chi Minh's communist movement in Indochina comes as a surprise. The Soviet acknowledgment of this movement should remove any illusions as to the 'nationalist' nature of Ho Chi Minh's aims and reveals Ho in his true colors as the mortal enemy of native independence in Indochina."
As point of fact, Ho had ingratiated himself to the support of Russia and China in so extreme a manner as to validate this concern, exchanging supportive propaganda in his own nation in exchange for tactical girding. This would reflect the key decisions made in Hanoi inducing the heightened conflict as it would exist in the period between 1964 and 1968.
The United States would attend to its motives by continuing the training and arming of South Vietnamese soldiers. At the juncture that a proxy war was waged through native forces on both sides, the United States and the Soviet Union would resist dirtying their hands with combat action for another five years. Nonetheless, outright civil war was now a product directly resultant of the divisive imperialism originating in Washington D.C. And bouncing back through a defiant and Soviet-supported leadership in Hanoi.
After a 1964 attack in the Gulf of Tonkin sunk an American warship, the conflict reached…… [Read More]
Minorities tended to live in more impoverished and less urban areas. The Hoa and ethnic Chinese were the exception to the rule however, typically living in more urban areas, and isolated from mainstream Vietnamese culture for some time. However, despite these seemingly unsolvable problems, there is ample evidence suggesting the government has continuously worked to help end discrimination and support a unified front. In recent years policies have been developed in an effort to restore relationships with the formerly isolated Hoa and Chinese; this has resulted in a better economy in Vietnam, suggesting ethnic minorities may realize a better quality of life in the coming years.
In an earlier observation of Vietnam, Mackerras (2003) suggests that discord in the country resulted in part because of the government's lack of realization as to the poor quality of life endured by many ethnic minorities especially those living in the highlands. Schrock, et al., 1966 demonstrated the changing percentages of the ethnic minority populations of Vietnam during the years leading up to its current status; Currently policies in Vietnam have been shifting to improve the living standards and quality of life especially during the last decade among ethnic minorities (Vietnam Living Standard Survey, 1993). Many infer that stronger protection policies (Keyes, 2002) are what are now necessary to ensure continued improved quality of life for ethnic minorities in Vietnam. Given the history of government policy, this seems an acceptable conclusions. Up to this point in time the government has focused primarily on unity. This, while a strong aspect of government policy, does not take into account the ethnic minorities living in the highlands that are still living in poverty, and those that may not have access to the resources available to individuals living in more urban areas.
Greater autonomy of ethnic classes may be possible even in a state where unity is emphasized if the government were to work on protecting minority classes most at risk for living under…… [Read More]
S. mission in Vietnam. Whenever he had the chance, he restated the nation's moral commitment. His morally-grounded idealistic rhetoric gained him definite advantages. His arguments made him sound tough and pleased those with an equally hard-line position against communism in Southeast Asia. He could also use these arguments to justify and support his policies, such as when Congress threatened to reduce foreign aid. He insisted that foreign aid was an all-or-nothing proposition because principles were at stake. He pressed that Congress could provide all the aid he believed should be given or Congress must assume the responsibility and culpability in the event of a victory of Communism and the defeat of freedom in those nations at risk. He maintained that representatives and senators must make policy decision in the light of the larger moral consequences to which these policies would inevitably lead. At the Economic Club of New York in 1962, he commented that Vietnam would instantaneously collapse if the U.S. did not assist it. He consistently presented and idealistically argued that Vietnam as the conflict or a battle of principles and urged all citizens to commit themselves to an all-out support to that commitment. If they did not, they would then have to prepare for a communist victory, which would negate and destroy the cause of freedom all over the world (Bostdorff and Goldzwig). #
Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy all gave their word and best to the commitment to freedom in South Vietnam (Bostdorff and Goldzwig 1994). Their individual experience, personality and temperament played a role in this commitment. It was a commitment they and other U.S. Presidents could not abandon or neglect, as it put U.S. credibility at stake (Bostdorff and Goldzwig).… [Read More]
As has been apparent all semester, Vietnam had a profound and individualized effect on vast numbers of people. When you consider the stories we have read do you think these are purely the result of people living through a war, or are there distinctive features of the Vietnam War that shaped their experience?
Dang Thuy Tram's diary Last Night I Dreamed of Peace, offered a view from the opposing side of the Vietnam War that Americans have almost never heard, either during or after the war. Originally from Hanoi, from 1968-70 she worked as a surgeon in South Vietnam where she died in combat with American forces. Military intelligence officers captured her diary and ordered it burned, but Frederic Whitehurst disobeyed this order and kept for 35 years, finally arranging to return it to Tram's family in 2005. Naturally, the Vietnamese government made use of the story of a young heroine who gave her life for the cause, and the diary became a bestseller and was also made into a movie. Dr. Tram's experience of the war resembled that of many Americans in that she also experienced the heat, monsoons, homesickness, loss of friends and fear just as they did, although she was far more certain about the cause for which she was fighting. Indeed, anyone who has ever fought in a war had all of the same experiences as Dr. Tram, and this serves to humanize the other side in ways that few Americans ever have in regard to the Vietnamese. For example, she wrote on May 1, 1968 that "I miss Hanoi, Dad, Mom and my siblings terribly" (Tram 15).
At the same time, Dr. Tram mentioned her disappointment at not having yet been accepted as a Communist Party member, which is one of her main goals throughout the diary. She often referred to how certain people were suspicious of her…… [Read More]
The Vietnam Syndrome also made the public suspicious of the government, distrusting official government pronouncements. Many Democratic politicians also questioned the necessity of fighting Communism all over the world and in its all manifestations.
The syndrome also manifested itself during the Reagan Administration when it became harder for the Reagan government to support anti-Communist guerilla forces in El Salvador and Nicaragua. The government could not convince the public of the necessity to send U.S. troops to either of the countries, and because of the public and congressional constraints placed upon the government activities, the Reagan Administration was involved in the Iran-Contra affair to finance the Nicaraguan anti-Communist rebels. The Vietnam Syndrome continued to influence America during the first Persian Gulf War. The U.S. military used overwhelming force against the forces of Iraq, relying heavily on air power, to secure an easy and quick victory, with minimal losses to American lives. After the war, President Bush proclaimed that "by God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!" (Sitkoff, 1999).
The Vietnam Syndrome, however, continued to affect the United States even after the first Gulf War. Political commentators continued to echo the specter of Vietnam during Clinton Administration's limited military involvement in Somalia and the Balkans. It should be noted that the Gulf War did weaken the Vietnam Syndrome and in the early 2000s the United States again embarked on a costly military adventure. But the failure to secure an easy victory in the second Gulf War resurrected the Vietnam Syndrome. The Vietnam Syndrome now has been complemented with the Iraq Syndrome.… [Read More]
In comparison to Kovic, Reynolds joined the war precisely because she was acquainted with its unjustness and with the suffering that it provoked. She too had initially been inclined to support the war, particularly considering that her brother was already on the front and her father performed efforts with the purpose of having more Americans involved in the conflict. However, as time passed, she realized that the war was immoral and that the government was practically encouraging young people to risk their lives for an absurd cause. Moreover, when she actually came to witness the war directly, she discovered that the U.S. showed no interest whatsoever in the fate of people in Vietnam. Its only purpose was apparently that of eradicating communism, regardless of the consequences of such an act. The war no longer seemed to be glorious when considering that U.S. soldiers were reported to have committed war crimes.
The effects of the Vietnam War became obvious at the time when President Nguyen came to lead the country. Americans understood that all of their efforts were in vain and that South Vietnam came to be nothing as people expected it to be. The U.S. virtually struggled to keep communism out of South Vietnam only to have the territory controlled by a corrupted individual. Moreover, the North-Vietnamese forces rapidly took over the south of the country consequent to the Americans leaving the land. It is basically unbelievable for someone today to understand why the U.S. got involved in a conflict that did not have anything to do with it and why it got innocent individuals to lose their lives for an unjust cause. Reynolds quickly understood that the war was much more complex than she initially believed. Even though she expected to see a lot of suffering, it was impossible for here to prepare for what she was about to experience.
The Vietnam War changed Bao Ninh's life forever, considering that he lost his loved one, his innocence, and his ability to appreciate society as a result of experiencing the conflict. The great complexity of the war is partly reflected in the nonlinear…… [Read More]
Vietnam Turning Point
The Alleged Attack on U.S. Maddox in 1964
Why is your chosen turning point actually a turning point and not just another event?
The incident leading up to the claim of an attack against the U.S. Maddox, a Destroyer naval vessel is a turning point in history. This is because it sparked the beginning of a war with Vietnam that would last nearly ten years and divide and change U.S. citizens feelings about government authority forever. Up until this time Americans were unified in support of the President and Congress for the most part and willing to send their young men into war. Fathers and Mothers felt it was their patriotic duty to support the U.S. Military and citizens admired and respected those that served in the Armed Forces. This would change dramatically over the course of this war with Vietnam which in reality was not between the U.S. And Vietnam but a conflict of the ally of the U.S. South Vietnam with North Vietnam. The decision to engage in the war in support of South Vietnam came after an attack on U.S. Maddox was reported to President Johnson. President Johnson felt that since his naval forces were under attack, he had no choice but to seek Congress for authorization to go to war. It was later proven that the attack was not genuine which prompted a backlash across America of distrust and outrage against the American government for sending our young soldiers to die based on a lie.
Why were the events immediately preceding the turning point necessary and essential in preparing for the turning point?
The events before this turning of the American support of military actions significantly affect the cold war standoff between North and South Vietnam. President Johnson believed that South Vietnam was losing a battle against Communism brought on by the Viet Cong. The President then lended support to the South Vietnamese struggle by sending naval patrol boats and…… [Read More]
Lessons learned from the American experience of the Vietnam War.
Vietnam has been called America's first and only completely 'lost' war, even though it was never officially declared to be a war at all. The clumsy diplomatic relations which characterized American involvement in Vietnam from the beginning were a harbinger of troubles to come. The roots of the conflict can be traced to the aftermath of World War II, when French-backed forces seized control of Vietnam in the South while Ho Chi Minh's Viet Cong seized the North. Even after the French were driven out, the U.S. thought it could successfully bolster the fanatically anti-communist Catholic leader Ngo Dinh Diem, despite Diem's lack of popularity amongst his own people and the taint of colonialism that all European powers harbored in the eyes of the Vietnamese. "In December 1960, Diem's opponents within South Vietnam -- both communist and non-communist -- formed the National Liberation Front (NLF) to organize resistance to the regime. Though the NLF claimed to be autonomous and that most of its members were non-Communist, many in Washington assumed it was a puppet of Hanoi" (Vietnam War, 2012, History.com).
Rather than assess the real situation on the ground in Vietnam or act as an objective broker between the two sides, the United States instead emerged as a partisan in this complex civil war. The United States must learn the dangers of such an action, given that it is still embroiled in a similarly factionalized conflict in the Middle East, and many factions exist of which the U.S. must be wary: simply because one group is aligned against a particular terrorist group because it is Sunni rather than Shiite Moslem does not mean it has the same interests as the United States, nor does it necessarily mean that it is democratic in its intentions.
Another lesson to be learned from Vietnam is the dangers of autocratic presidential leadership in domestic politics. One of the reasons that the Vietnam conflict was never officially declared a war was the secretive fashion with which it was waged. "Congress soon…… [Read More]
Since the end of World War II, the United States and some of the other western countries were agreed that Communism was the greatest scourge and danger to the free world that was currently in existence. Following the creation of the Truman Doctrine and the heightened fear of Communism in the 1950s and early 1960s, the United States made it clear that they would do whatever was necessary to prevent the spread of Communism. The Domino Theory was one wherein the people believed that if Asia fell into Communism, then the rest of the world could potentially fall to it as well. France was the colonial ruler of Vietnam and had a continued presence in that country well into the twentieth century. Negotiations between various leaders established the creation of North and South Vietnam in the hopes that the Communist Vietcong would remain satisfied with dominion in the North, a belief which proved incorrect when South Vietnam was later invaded.
During the latter half of the 20th century, the country of Vietnam became a warzone. North Vietnam, led by the Communist leader Ho Chi Minh, invaded the Capitalist governed South Vietnam and it embroiled the United States into an armed conflict from which the world would not soon recover. From 1955 until 1963, South Vietnam was led by a man named Ngo Dinh Diem who was made president of the country following the French decolonization of the country. Despite his support from other Capitalistic governments, Diem was a vastly corrupt man who created a governmental policy based on religious intolerance and severe restrictions of personal freedoms. On November 2nd, 1963 a coup d'etat overran Diem's government and resulted in his death. The United States and the people of South Vietnam…… [Read More]
Moral and Ethical Issues
Clearly technological development, especially in terms of IT, has significantly impacted social and family life within Vietnam. In terms of family life, the structure and view of the family as a unit has changed in several ways. In terms of society, the globalization as a result of IT development has significantly impacted on Vietnamese philosophy and ethics.
Globalization and Social Pressure
According to Duiker (119) the dominant philosophy of Confucianism resulted in an increased rigidity within the social and family structure. The preceding philosophy of Buddhism on the other hand emphasized the individual to such an extent that women for example had many of the rights enjoyed by men. Confucianism had the opposite effect, and women were severely oppressed under its prevalence.
The development of telecommunications however resulted in an increase of global business and contacts. The relative isolation in which Vietnam conducted its business and social matters was broken down and global pressure changed the way in which society, women and families were seen. Hence the breakdown of certain, perhaps more traditional families, while others became stronger.
Furthermore pressure from international ethicists served to make both men and women increasingly aware of ethical social issues such as women's rights and the environment. Such awareness has then translated to the family unit and to the way in which Vietnamese women saw themselves and their role in society. Through the use of technology then, as described in Section II, families are able to keep in contact with each other, communicate and relate to each other by means of telecommunication. But information technology has not only had a local impact on Vietnamese society. It has also changed the way in which the country is seen from an international viewpoint.
Vietnam and International Business
International pressure has not only impacted on family and social life within Vietnam, but also on the business world, especially in terms of information technology. According to Ramsay, Vietnam stands at the dawn of huge economic growth and the…… [Read More]
During the latter half of the 20th century, the country of Vietnam became a warzone. North Vietnam, led by the Communist leader Ho Chi Minh, invaded the Capitalist governed South Vietnam and it embroiled the United States into an armed conflict from which the world would not soon recover. From 1955 until 1963, South Vietnam was led by a man named Ngo Dinh Diem who was made president of the country following the French decolonization of the country. Despite his support from other Capitalistic governments, Diem was a vastly corrupt man who created a governmental policy based on religious intolerance and severe restrictions of personal freedoms. On November 2nd, 1963 a coup d'etat overran Diem's government and resulted in his death. What makes this moment a turning point in world history rather than a singular historical event is the fact that it led to the southern invasion of the North Vietnamese and the deaths of innumerable human beings.
Following France's release of the nation of Vietnam as an empirical colony, the country had a political struggle with various factions fighting for power. Eventually Diem became President of South Vietnam through a referendum which was rigged by his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu to ensure victory. The governmental system that was subsequently created gave Diem the power to pass any legislation he wished (Jacobs 2006,-page 80). Over the course of the next seven years, Diem imprisoned any persons who opposed him politically. A Catholic, Diem also targeted the Buddhists of the country and heavily promoted those who shared his religious beliefs even if they were less qualified for positions. By August of 1963 the United States, which had been an ally of South Vietnam, began exploring potential replacements for the Diem regime in order to protect its own interests.
The actual coup itself was a marvel of strategic planning. Several attempts had been made on Diem's life in the subsequent eight years, but none had been successful. It became apparent that in order to remove the man from power, there must…… [Read More]
Vietnam and U.S. Economic Relations
Vietnam's economy stagnated for 10 years after the war ended in 1975. In 1986, the Sixth Party Congress approved a broad economic reform package called 'Doi Moi' or renovation that was geared to dramatically alter and improve Vietnam's business climate, both at home and abroad.
Vietnam became one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, averaging around 8% annual GDP growth from 1990 to 1997." (Bureau of Public Affairs)
Vietnam's inflation rate stood at an annual rate of more than 300% in 1987 and fell below 4% in 1997. Investments and domestic savings grew and agricultural production doubled which led to the country being the second largest exporter of rice in the world.
Throughout the 1990s, Vietnam began to recognize that global economic interdependence was key to growth and stability. The country stepped up its efforts to attract foreign capital from the West and normalize relations with the world financial system. In the mid-1990s, the United States lifted the veto on multilateral loans to Vietnam. Vietnam in turn, became a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank.
Virginia Foote, president of the U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council which represents American companies trying to do business in Vietnam, spoke about the state of relations between the U.S. And Vietnam in 1997. At that time, Foote said American businesses were "looking for economic normalization and the support system of the U.S. government on full trade relations." (May 15, 1997) American companies had excellent reputations in Vietnam and the Vietnamese were looking to American management skills, capital and technology in order to bolster their own economic viability. The economic system the Vietnamese government had been following from 1975 to 1985 did not work. The country was not developing technologically and it was not getting richer. Production in the state-run manufacturing sector was down.
In the new process of doi moi, the economic reform policy was structured to build a free market society piece by piece. "The development of a private sector in Vietnam will be important for American companies. There are still…… [Read More]
Given the prevailing view today, though, that the war was an error and achieved nothing except to destroy a lot of lives on both sides, Lind's belief that his view will one day prevail seems disingenuous at best. The biases of the time are not as strong today as they were 30 years ago, and yet no real change in how the war is viewed has taken place. The idea that Vietnam was a morass into which the United States should not have ventured is strongly held by millions of Americans today, and the idea is reinforced through repetition so that it seems unlikely that one or two generations more will make that much difference. Many of the people repeating this idea today do not really remember the Vietnam War at all except as a history lesson, and the lesson is not being given as Lind predicts it will.
3. The war had been under way for some time when Johnson inherited it upon the death of President Kennedy. Johnson had to decide whether to commit large number of American troops to this war, and he decided to do so and expanded the war greatly. This decision was the closest thing to a declaration of war that occurred with respect to this war. This began the process of Americanizing the war, whicuh until then had been fought largely by the South Vietnamese with some American advisors offering assistance. The war had been going on for more than a decade when Johnson made his decision. Johnson had approval for conducting the war in the form of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. By 1965, Johnson feared that South Vietnam would lose the war. Johnson could have abandoned the South Vietnamese, but he decided that this would hurt him politically at home and also might lead to the fulfillment of the domino theory. Still, the situation weas deteriorating, and…… [Read More]
Cultural Social Contexts:
Something that would become all to apparent as the War in Vietnam wore on, and that should perhaps be more immediately evident to us in reflection, would be the pointed cultural pride and identity that distinguished the people of Vietnam. In all aspects of the Cold War, there was a clearly stated imperative on the part of both the United States and the Soviet Union to impose certain cultural norms upon those nations over which they fought. For each, the channel of popular governance would be seen as a way to infuse such developing nations as Vietnam with inherently American or Soviet features. But a reflect on the history of Vietnam and its people would demonstrate this to be a culture poorly suited to this imposition.
So denotes the text by Moss, which reports on its history of violent opposition to foreign occupation. This would be true even where the occupying force seemed to offer more culture common ground than would a nation such as the U.S. According to Moss, "although the Vietnamese admired many features of Chinese culture and benefited in many ways from their long, close association with the magnificent Chinese civilization, they fiercely resented Chinese political domination and economic exploitation. They also resented Chinese effort so Sinicize them and steadfastly refused to embrace Chinese identity." (p. 5)
A reflection on the Vietnamese history of rebellion would in fact show the people to be less immediately moved to armed resistance by military occupation but virulently called to action by the cultural conceits foisted upon them. For the United States, then, the notion that this people could somehow be forced into quiet submission to its cultural will would represent a major miscalculation on the part of the United States military and the political apparatuses which gave root to military endeavor. With respect to the lessons which might have been garnered from this experience, it is fair to suggest that the…… [Read More]
Although Diem initially appeared to assist the Westerners in their efforts to install democracy in the country he proved to be corrupt, being more interested in his own well-being and in his financial situation than in conditions in the country.
The Vietnamese were determined to support theories relating to personal leadership because they could no longer accept being controlled by the French, the Japanese, or by the Americans. It was not necessarily a matter of who provided the most for the country at the time, but of who granted it independence. Because of the support it received from communist states in declaring its independence and because Western powers were against Vietnam's independence, the Vietnamese were sympathetic toward Ho Chi Minh.
Whereas the Vietnamese simply considered Ho Chi Minh and Ngo Dinh Diem to be individuals assisting them in their struggle to achieve independence, the Americans saw presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy as extensions of the people, characters who would passionately fight for the benefit of the U.S. Eisenhower was reputed for his diplomacy and for the fact that he did not express a desire the position of the U.S. By getting involved in a foreign war that would further attract debates in regard to the Cold War. In contrast, Kennedy saw the involvement of U.S. troops in a foreign conflict as the best opportunity for the country to emphasis its power and better its relations with other countries in opposition of communism. Eisenhower was well aware that the American public expected him to improve the way the U.S. was perceived by the international public and thus feared that an intervention in Vietnam would result in failure, similar to how the French did not manage to expand their sphere of influence in the country.
"Liberty" was an essential matter both for the American public and its president in the early 1960s and it was this…… [Read More]
Vietnam and 20th Century History
Turning Point in the History of the Vietnam War
American indirect involvement in the Vietnam affairs began under the Administration of Harry Truman. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy took a more direct role, politically and economically supporting the provisional South Vietnamese regime and sending American Special Forces as well as CIA agents to Vietnam. It was Lyndon Johnson who turned American involvement into a full-scale war. To understand the decision of President Johnson, one needs to look at the preceding events. Of those events, the North Vietnamese attack on the U.S.S. Maddox was crucial, as it made American full-scale involvement inevitable. One may justifiably argue therefore that the attack on the U.S.S. Maddox was the turning point in the history of Vietnam War.
Before the U.S.S. Maddox attack, the United States government was committed to preserving a non-Communist South Vietnam and the American public supported government attempts to curb the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia. At the same time, neither Congress nor the nation wanted a full-scale war unless there was a deliberate provocation justifying it. For these reasons, Eisenhower and Kennedy only deployed spies and Special Forces to Vietnam. Johnson's initial plan was to continue those limited war efforts. The Congress and the American public did not want to see a weak President, but they did not want a full-scale war without a provocation either. The U.S.S. Maddox attack changed all of it. It was the kind of provocation that not only justified American retaliatory attack against North Vietnam but an event that pressured President Johnson to act decisively.
The attacks on USS Maddox took place in the Gulf of Tonkin. At the time, American military and civilian leadership were confused over the events at the Gulf of…… [Read More]
Vietnam Strategic Culture
The conflict in Vietnam was part of a larger global strategy on the part of the United States and the Communist nations of the Soviet Union and China. The Communist's sought to spread the ideology of Communism through their support for likeminded revolutionaries throughout the world. On the other hand, the Free World, led by the United States, instituted a policy of containment and actively supported those nations fighting Communist uprisings. The most famous of these conflicts was the war in Vietnam, where the United States supported the South Vietnamese while the Communists supported the North Vietnamese. Vietnam was an example of the strategic culture of both the United States and the Communist Bloc played out in the real world.
In the aftermath of the Second World War the Soviet Union, followed in 1948 by Communist China, sought to spread Communist ideology by actively encouraging Communist revolutions around the globe. One place where this strategic plan was initiated was southeast Asia, particularly French Indo-China (Vietnam) and Malaysia. These conflicts were "characterized by Communist exploitation as the Soviet Union and China sought to challenge the U.S.A. indirectly by encouraging supporters to attack U.S. allies." (Black 2005, 58) After the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu and sought to withdraw from Vietnam, the Geneva agreements of 1954 stipulated that Vietnam was to be unified and democratic elections were to be held. However, the U.S. believed that elections would favor the Communists and go on to have a "domino effect;" leading "to all the countries of South East Asia falling one after the other into communist hands." (Carver 1990, 172) The United States supported Ngo Dinh Diem, who assumed the role of Prime Minister in the South, while the Communists supported Ho Chi Minh, leader in the North. The nation was thus divided at the 17th parallel forcing a conflict between the two.
On…… [Read More]