The Vietnam War started long before the involvement of the United States and was fought originally between North Vietnam
and South Vietnam. The Vietnam was the result of a growing number of tensions in Vietnam along with foreign involvement in
the area. The Vietnam War was not the result of an attack on the United States or United States property, but involvement
took place gradually over the course of many years due to the fear of another Communist power to be formed in Indochina.
The Vietnam War is also known as the Second Indochina War and the First Indochina War is one cause of the second. France
controlled Vietnam prior to World War II, but during the war Vietnam fell under Japanese control. With the defeat of Japan
following World War II, Vietnam was no longer under the control of Japan, and two groups wanted control of Vietnam, France
and a group of nationalists known as the Viet Minh. This nationalist group was led by Ho Chi Minh ever since its creation
in 1941. In 1945 the Vietminh stated Vietnam to be an independent nation and created a nationalist government led by Ho Chi
Minh in Hanoi. In 1946 the French returned to Vietnam in an attempt to regain control of the area, and by 1949 the French
had driven Ho Chi Minh out of Hanoi and had placed an ineffectual ruler in charge so that the French remained in control.
After 1950 the United States began offering aid to the French war effort after recognizing Bao Dai regime in Vietnam. (http://home.att.net/~r.hodgeman/history1.html)
The First Indochina War ended with the battle of Dien Bein Phu with the French government removing its forces from the area
now controlled by Ho Chi Minh and his forces.
Before the start of the Vietnam War, France was involved due to its colonial rule. The French controlled a large portion
of Indochina until 1954 when the French suffered a defeat at Dienbienphu, a military base near the Laos border. The French
base could only be supplied by air, and in March 1954, the Viet Minh army with 49,500 troops surrounded the 13,000 French
troops. After 56 days on May 7th, the French position fell and pleas for intervention by the United States failed and the
French no longer had any power in Indochina. (http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/world/A0815476.html) This end of French control
gave the Vietnamese a chance to rule their own land, and this then led to the Vietnam War.
Following Ho Chi Minh’s victory at Dien Bien Phu the 1954 Geneva Conference took place. This conference was created
to end the hostilities in Indochina, and the Geneva Accords were created at this meeting as a set of treaties to help ensure
peace. This conference also divided Vietnam into North and South Vietnam until elections for unification were to be held
in July of 1956. Resulting from this partition was a mass migration of people from mainly North Vietnam to South Vietnam
in order to escape from the Communist control. The Communist Northern Liberation Front led guerilla attacks against the RVN
government wanting unification under the rule of North Vietnam, a Communist state. The Northern Liberation Front was opposed
to the South Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem, who was backed by the United States, for the South Vietnam president was a proponent
of democracy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conference_%281954%29). The Geneva Conference was a major cause of the
Vietnam War for it separated two sections of one country giving power to two opposing political viewpoints.
The war taking place between only North and South Vietnam was bad, but its effect on America increased dramatically when the
United States became involved militarily. The United States had a policy of containment set up in order to stop the spread
of Communism from beyond the borders of the Soviet Union due to a fear of a domino effect. “Another way to maximize
the damage done due to containment was, after creating a situation of relative isolation, to subvert the enemy. In practice,
this is achieved using espionage and sabotage. The anticipated result is that, due to the isolation, any subversion introduced
will have a high cost and will take a long time to rectify if left alone, or will consume resources (particularly in the form
of security measures) to avoid. This serves the purpose of maintaining a strategic upper hand. Eventually, the United States
and allies hoped, containment would cause the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellite nations.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Containment)
Through the use of containment the United States hoped to quell the insurgency in Vietnam and to also prevent the Communists
from controlling yet another country in the East.
A major event taking place just prior to major United States involvement in Vietnam was the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem
in November of 1963. Following numerous suicides of Buddhist monks by setting themselves on fire, President Kennedy realized
that Diem would not be successful in uniting South Vietnam against North Vietnam. Even though Diem was not the person the
United States wanted in control, Kennedy had ordered the United States military and CIA to protect Diem. “In order
to obtain a more popular leader of South Vietnam, Kennedy agreed that the role of the CIA should change. Lucien Conein, a
CIA operative, provided a group of South Vietnamese generals with $40,000 to carry out the coup with the promise that US forces
would make no attempt to protect Diem.” (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/VNngo.htm) Diem was ultimately assassinated
on November 2, 1963 and it created more problems in Vietnam than the United States had wanted.
All of these events and people greatly influenced the world, and in Indochina they created a conflict which is extremely well
known and also cost the lives of many United States soldiers. The Cold War being waged between the United States and the
Soviet Union affected the actions of both countries including involvement in foreign affairs. Had it not been for the Cold
War and the looming threat of nuclear annihilation the United States probably would not have become so extensively involved
in the Vietnam War.
"Containment." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Online. Internet. 30 May 2006. Available http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Containment&oldid=55216344.
"Dienbienphu." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Online. Internet. 29 May 2006. Available http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/world/A0815476.html.
"Geneva Conference (1954)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Online. Internet. 30 May 2006. Available http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Geneva_Conference_%281954%29&oldid=55253284.
Hodgeman, Cedric. “The First Indochina War.” Online. Internet. 30 May 2006. Available http://home.att.net/~r.hodgeman/history1.html.
“Ngo Dinh Diem.” Online. Internet. 29 May 2006. Available http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/VNngo.htm.