This example of a critical essay explores the history of that violent and divisive event. Eisenhower began the United States' involvement with the Vietnam War by creating the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization to help squelch communist uprisings in the area. New Zealand's involvement in the Vietnam War was highly controversial, sparking widespread protest at home from anti-Vietnam War movements modelled on their American counterparts. 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. What he needed to do was to remove the remaining American soldiers in Vietnam. Bombarded by horrific images of the war on their televisions, Americans on the home front turned against the war as well: In October 1967, some 35,000 demonstrators staged a massive Vietnam War protest outside the Pentagon. A regional approach to the Vietnam War is important because U.S.-Vietnam relations and the Vietnam War did not occur in a vacuum. New York: Free Press, 2002. The anti-war movement, which was particularly strong on college campuses, divided Americans bitterly. WHAT COUNTRIES WERE INVOLVED IN THE VIETNAM WAR? Despite the concerns of some of his advisers about this escalation, and about the entire war effort amid a growing anti-war movement, Johnson authorized the immediate dispatch of 100,000 troops at the end of July 1965 and another 100,000 in 1966. By 1972, the idea that Vietnam posed a threat to Cold War America was so discredited, it sometimes sounded as if America’s only remaining war aim was to … In 1976, Vietnam was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, though sporadic violence continued over the next 15 years, including conflicts with neighboring China and Cambodia. Every war is caused by the decisions of the people involved; and the war in Vietnam was no different from the rest. Tens of thousands of soldiers received dishonorable discharges for desertion, and about 500,000 American men from 1965-73 became “draft dodgers,” with many fleeing to Canada to evade conscription. Why Were Vietnam War Vets Treated Poorly When They Returned Home. The global context is also important because Cold War tensions between the U.S., the Soviet Union, and China also shaped events related to the Vietnam War. Eisenhower began the United States' involvement with the Vietnam War by creating the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization to help squelch communist uprisings in the area. Prince Norodom Sihanouk “basically felt that he was surrounded by dangerous enemies, and he had to make nice with some of them,” Moise says, adding that “he could not afford to offend” the North Vietnamese despite being “anti-communist in Cambodian politics.”. Invasion of Panama: United States vs. Panama: 1990–1991: Persian Gulf War: United States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq: 1995–1996: Intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina During World War II, Japanese forces invaded Vietnam. The United States, France, China, the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Laos and other countries would over time become ...read more, Vietnam War protests began small among peace activists and leftist intellectuals on college campuses but gained national prominence in 1965, after the United States began bombing North Vietnam in earnest. With the Cold War intensifying worldwide, the United States hardened its policies against any allies of the Soviet Union, and by 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower had pledged his firm support to Diem and South Vietnam. READ MORE: Why Were Vietnam War Vets Treated Poorly When They Returned Home. The Vietnam War was described as a civil war within South Vietnam, although it became a proxy war between Cold War powers. The Vietnam War started in the 1950s, according to most historians, though the conflict in Southeast Asia had its roots in the French colonial period of the 1800s. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. Unexploded munitions from the Vietnam War-era continue to kill Laotians (and Vietnamese and Cambodians) to this day. In March 1965, Johnson made the decision—with solid support from the American public—to send U.S. combat forces into battle in Vietnam. The main participating countries. For other Americans, opposing the government was considered unpatriotic and treasonous. North Vietnam wanted to reunite the country under Communism , its political and economic system. In addition to this Vietnamization policy, Nixon continued public peace talks in Paris, adding higher-level secret talks conducted by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger beginning in the spring of 1968. The USA were unable to defeat the Vietcong and were met with growing opposition to … In December 1960, Diem’s many opponents within South Vietnam—both communist and non-communist—formed the National Liberation Front (NLF) to organize resistance to the regime. But perhaps their biggest role was preemptive: They made it clear that if U.S. ground troops invaded North Vietnam, then they would respond in kind. The ensuing political instability in South Vietnam persuaded Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to further increase U.S. military and economic support. America and South Korea were the biggest supporters of Saigon. At first the United States only aided France with military aid and advisors, but after the French suffered a major defeat at Dien Bien Phu in the north-western hills, the French pulled out and the United States took over the burden of the war. During one, on May 4, 1970, at Kent State University in Ohio, National Guardsmen shot and killed four students. Westmoreland pursued a policy of attrition, aiming to kill as many enemy troops as possible rather than trying to secure territory. Financial aid, along with a desire to curry favor with the United States, drew in additional countries as well. Cambodia, while officially neutral, tolerated communist intrusions—and was bombed by the United States for those intrusions. The Vietnam War and active U.S. involvement in the war began in 1954, though ongoing conflict in the region had stretched back several decades. As the Pentagon Papers later revealed, “the Diem regime certainly, and an independent South Vietnam almost as certainly, could not have survived” without U.S. help. First of all, the United States could not expand the war. Newly communist China had supported Ho Chi Minh during the war with the French, and continued to do so during the war with the U.S. by providing weapons, expertise and manpower. When the Second Indochina War, or Vietnam War, as it’s known in the United States, began soon after, France stayed well away. As the original communist state, the Soviet Union aided North Vietnam, with increasing support in the late 1960s. However, it contributed to peacekeeping forces in 1973 to help enforce the Paris Peace Accords.. In March of 1975, he ordered for there to be an airlift in Da Nang for 237,000 anti communist Vietnamese refugees, most were brought to the US. The North Vietnamese also came to dominate a communist insurgency against the royalist government of Prince Souvanna Phouma, relegating the local Laotian Communists to what Moise describes as “junior partners.”. Second-wave feminism. Sovfoto/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. Known as the Christmas Bombings, the raids drew international condemnation. In 1962, the United States, both Vietnams, and several other nations agreed to respect the neutrality of and not interfere in the affairs of Laos, which borders Vietnam to the west. 320,000 military personnel, more than 4,000. In 1955, however, the strongly anti-communist politician Ngo Dinh Diem pushed Emperor Bao aside to become president of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (GVN), often referred to during that era as South Vietnam. By the end of 1967, Hanoi’s communist leadership was growing impatient as well, and sought to strike a decisive blow aimed at forcing the better-supplied United States to give up hopes of success. Bombs ready to be loaded onto a French aircraft for the long drawn out Dien Bien Phu Battle of the Indochina War on April 10, 1954. After a while, “no one thinks they’re going to win,” says James McAllister, a political science professor at Williams College, “but they’re damn sure a loss is not going to take place under their watch.”, READ MORE: How the Vietnam War Ratcheted Up Under 5 US Presidents. “They were determined to go on holding it, both as a matter of national pride and because if they let one colony go loose, then the others might get ideas.”. Elections were planned to reunite the country within two years, but Diem, with U.S. approval, never submitted to a vote that he feared losing. In addition to the United States, South Korea, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand also committed troops to fight in South Vietnam (albeit on a much smaller scale). The Vietnam War The USA became involved in Vietnam because it feared the spread of communism. Many returning veterans faced negative reactions from both opponents of the war (who viewed them as having killed innocent civilians) and its supporters (who saw them as having lost the war), along with physical damage including the effects of exposure to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange, millions of gallons of which had been dumped by U.S. planes on the dense forests of Vietnam. As the first U.S. troops were withdrawn, those who remained became increasingly angry and frustrated, exacerbating problems with morale and leadership. Learn why a country that had been barely known to most Americans came to define an era. It wanted no part of the new conflict. Despite being in bad economic shape at the time, newly Communist China aided Ho during the war with the French, and did so again during the war with the Americans, providing weapons, expertise, and manpower. The South Vietnamese then led their own invasion of Laos, which was pushed back by North Vietnam. That insurgency drew heavy U.S. bombing. The Canadian government did not officially participate in the war. More than one million Vietnamese soldiers and over 50,000 Americans were killed in the war. France had been a long-time occupier of Vietnam before 1954. But while Ho and his supporters wanted a nation modeled after other communist countries, Bao and many others wanted a Vietnam with close economic and cultural ties to the West. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. The Soviets even allegedly shot down some U.S. planes. There is no question that few conflicts have been as violent, long lasting and complex as the Vietnam War. By 1972, the idea that Vietnam posed a threat to Cold War America was so discredited, it sometimes sounded as if America’s only remaining war aim was to … How eight countries got bogged down in the Vietnam War's Cold War proxy battle. Key Takeaways: U.S. Involvement in Vietnam In 1964, however, the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incident prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to commit combat troops and launch a massive bombing campaign, and U.S. involvement only deepened from there. Vietnam, The Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America’s Most Disastrous Military Conflict. The main countries involved in Vietnam included North Vietnam, South Vietnam, United States of America, Peoples Republic of China, South Korea and USSR. Ford was ready to end US involvement in the Vietnam War once and for all. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. By 1966, large areas of South Vietnam had been designated as “free-fire zones,” from which all innocent civilians were supposed to have evacuated and only enemy remained. The United States became involved in the Vietnam War after the defeat of the French forces in 1954. In August of 1964, after DRV torpedo boats attacked two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, Johnson ordered the retaliatory bombing of military targets in North Vietnam. Before World War II the French controlled most of Indochina, today’s Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The nation spent more than $120 billion on the conflict in Vietnam from 1965-73; this massive spending led to widespread inflation, exacerbated by a worldwide oil crisis in 1973 and skyrocketing fuel prices. Vietnam War The Vietnam War pitted communist North Vietnam and the Viet Cong against South Vietnam and the United States. The United States and many other countries intervened, propping up both sides—but especially South Vietnam—with troops, weapons and supplies and turning what started as a small guerrilla uprising into a major Cold War-era conflict. America began sending aid to the French fighting … President Nixon believed his Vietnamization ...read more, The Vietnam War was ostensibly a civil war between the communist North and pro-Western South. The Kingdom of Thailand, under the administration of military dictator Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, took an active role in the Vietnam War and second Indochina war. U.S. soldiers searching for the Viet Cong near Tuy Hoa, 2/27/1966. What effect did American military intervention have on nearby Cambodia between 1969 … The Vietnam War was an international conflict. On January 31, 1968, some 70,000 DRV forces under General Vo Nguyen Giap launched the Tet Offensive (named for the lunar new year), a coordinated series of fierce attacks on more than 100 cities and towns in South Vietnam. South Korea was the main U.S. and South Vietnamese partner, providing over 300,000 troops and suffering some 5,000 deaths. By Mark Atwood Lawrence. The Vietnam War had its origins in the broader Indochina wars of the 1940s and ’50s, when nationalist groups such as Ho Chi Minh ’s Viet Minh, inspired by Chinese and Soviet communism, fought the colonial rule first of Japan and then of France. China and the Soviet Union didn’t have to do as much as the Americans, Moise explains, because they were buttressing the stronger side. Vietnam War. The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam that is located in the north of the country. Not wanting to be seen as going it alone, the Johnson administration pressured other countries to join in the Vietnam War, much as George W. Bush would later form a “coalition of the willing” to fight in the Iraq War. The number of troops from South Korea was much greater than those from Australia … From 1965 to 1969, the U.S. was involved in a limited war in Vietnam. The Vietnam War was ostensibly a civil war between the communist North and pro-Western South. Nixon sought to deflate the anti-war movement by appealing to a “silent majority” of Americans who he believed supported the war effort. In 1970, a joint U.S-South Vietnamese operation invaded Cambodia, hoping to wipe out DRV supply bases there. The subsequent treaty signed in July 1954 at a Geneva conference split Vietnam along the latitude known as the 17th Parallel (17 degrees north latitude), with Ho in control in the North and Bao in the South. In 1971, the Pentagon Papers were leaked, revealing confidential information about the war. By the end of June 1972, however, after a failed offensive into South Vietnam, Hanoi was finally willing to compromise. All told, the Chinese claimed to have spent over $20 billion in support of North Vietnam and deployed 320,000 military personnel, more than 4,000 of whom died. Other Countries Involved: 1. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001. Brutal tactics were the norm during the Vietnam War, and no one suffered more than the Vietnamese themselves, both in the North and the South. Despite speculation that the victorious North Vietnamese would, in President Nixon's words, "massacre the civilians there [South Vietnam] by the millions," there is a widespread consensus that no mass executions took place. The Soviets wanted to “make life difficult for the United States,” McAllister says, “but they didn’t want to do it in a way that got them in a conflict with the United States.”, Soviet involvement in the war increased in the late 1960s, just as China’s influence was lessening. While some citizens believed that maximum force was necessary to quickly squash the opposition, others believed that the conflict in Vietnam was a civil … A converted T-28 trainer aircraft is seen near 250-pound bombs used by Meo pilots of Vang Pao's "mini-Air Force" against North Vietnamese in northern Laos. Thailand was the third-largest provider of ground forces to South Vietnam, following the Americans and South Koreans. What he needed to do was to remove the remaining American soldiers in Vietnam. In fact, they believed that the United States was involved in a war in which they shouldn’t be involved at all. Below is a list of nations that played a role in the Vietnam War, and details on what motivated them to get involved. More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians. These crimes were committed by US military operatives ranging in rank from infantrymen to high command. In an attempt to limit the volume of American casualties, he announced a program called Vietnamization: withdrawing U.S. troops, increasing aerial and artillery bombardment and giving the South Vietnamese the training and weapons needed to effectively control the ground war. South Vietnam : was backed by anti-communist countries and members of the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) which included the United States, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, Khmer Republic (later overthrown by Khmer Rouge), Kingdom of Laos and Republic of China (Taiwan). It began in 1954, after the country of Vietnam was split into two parts, North Vietnam and South Vietnam. By TPT Originals July 30, 2019 Fearing the spread of communism deeper into Southeast Asia, the US Government held fast to the belief that, if Laos fell into the hands of the National Liberation Front (also known as the Viet Cong), then other nearby nations would also tumble like dominoes. The other four were the French, the Japanese, the Chinese and, of course, the Vietnamese themselves. Though Vietnamese communists allied with the Khmer Rouge during the Vietnam War, they eventually deposed the regime in 1979. As the original communist state, the Soviet Union aided North Vietnam, with increasing support in the late 1960s. Yet, no matter what they tried, the Americans never succeeded in seriously disrupting North Vietnamese supply lines, nor did they prevent the fall of Laos to the communists in 1975. Warfare had demolished the country’s infrastructure and economy, and reconstruction proceeded slowly. The United States got involved to prevent South Vietnam from falling into communist hands. In response to these North Vietnamese transgressions, the Americans covertly rained down billions of pounds of bombs on Laos. (The two countries were undergoing a bitter split at the time.). U.S. officials eventually soured on Diem, tacitly approving a 1963 coup that resulted in his death. Nov. 5, 1968: Nixon is elected president, promising to end the war in Vietnam. According to History Learning Site, some cons of the Vietnam War included its bloody guerrilla warfare, the loss of innocent lives, the draft-- which removed men's choice to serve-- and the belief that it was not the United States' war to fight. South Vietnam was backed by anti-communist countries and members of the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) which included the United States, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, Khmer Republic (later overthrown by Khmer Rouge), Kingdom of Laos and Republic of China (Taiwan). Working under the “domino theory,” which held that if one Southeast Asian country fell to communism, many other countries would follow, Kennedy increased U.S. aid, though he stopped short of committing to a large-scale military intervention. 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