Nov. 5, 1968: Nixon is elected president, promising to end the war in Vietnam. THE WAR IN VIETNAM was one of the 20 th Century’s most intractable conflicts. 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. Vietnam eventually fell completely to communism. In January 1973, the United States and North Vietnam concluded a final peace agreement, ending open hostilities between the two nations. The Vietnam War was a long conflict in Southeast Asia. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Vietnam War was a long-lasting conflict in Southeast Asia. The main participating countries. 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. 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. More than one million Vietnamese soldiers and over 50,000 Americans were killed in the war. During one, on May 4, 1970, at Kent State University in Ohio, National Guardsmen shot and killed four students. How did the Vietnam War shape or affect the relationship between the United States, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China? After World War II, France reoccupied Vietnam as part of its attempt to reclaim its prewar empire. Vietnam War. A Cold War-era billboard in Moscow showing bombs raining down on Uncle Sam reading, 'Aggressors out of Vietnam!' But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! In 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled in Washington, D.C. On it were inscribed the names of 57,939 American men and women killed or missing in the war; later additions brought that total to 58,200. https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/vietnam-war-history. 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 November 1967, the number of American troops in Vietnam was approaching 500,000, and U.S. casualties had reached 15,058 killed and 109,527 wounded. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. Their involvement was originally shaped by the Cold War. The war had pierced the myth of American invincibility and had bitterly divided the nation. 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. Unlike during the Korean War, the United States yielded to this threat. The Vietnam War had considerable effects on Canada, but Canada and Canadians also affected the war.. It was fought in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia between North and South Vietnam. The United States, France, China, the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Laos and other countries would over time become involved in the lengthy war, which finally … Under a broad free market policy put in place in 1986, the economy began to improve, boosted by oil export revenues and an influx of foreign capital. However, they were also being paid off by the United States in the form of economic and military assistance. North Vietnam was backed … Though the NLF claimed to be autonomous and that most of its members were not communists, many in Washington assumed it was a puppet of Hanoi. In 1954, Ho’s forces won a decisive victory at Dien Bien Phu and succeeded in evicting the French once and for all. By Mark Atwood Lawrence. The role of the United States in the Vietnam War began after World War II and escalated into full commitment during the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1973. While some citizens believed that maximum force was necessary to quickly squash the opposition, others believed that the conflict in Vietnam was a civil … When the Second Indochina War, or Vietnam War, as it’s known in the United States, began soon after, France stayed well away. The Soviets even allegedly shot down some U.S. planes. President Nixon believed his Vietnamization ...read more, The Vietnam War was ostensibly a civil war between the communist North and pro-Western South. 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.”. 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. What effects did the Vietnam War have on American government and society between 1965 and 1975? In the case of China, scholars have long assumed that Beijing played an important role in supporting Hanoi's efforts to fight the United States. 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. The United States got involved in the Vietnam conflict to keep communism from spreading throughout Southeast Asia. What he needed to do was to remove the remaining American soldiers in Vietnam. In May 1968, Johnson announced formal peace talks would soon begin in Paris. This example of a critical essay explores the history of that violent and divisive event. The bombing campaign was meant to disrupt the flow of supplies across the Ho Chi Minh trail into Vietnam and to prevent the rise of the Pathet Lao, or Lao communist forces. Though Vietnamese communists allied with the Khmer Rouge during the Vietnam War, they eventually deposed the regime in 1979. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. New York: Free Press, 2002. 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. 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. There were a number of long-term and short-term reasons to explain why the USA became involved in Vietnam in the late 1950s. As the original communist state, the Soviet Union aided North Vietnam, with increasing support in the late 1960s. In the end, almost 60,000 Australians served (521 of whom died), about 40,000 Thais served (321 of whom died), and over 3,000 New Zealanders served (37 of whom died). Was the Vietnam War Necessary? South Korea  was the main U.S. and South Vietnamese partner, contributing more than 300,000 troops to the war. 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. 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. America began sending aid to the French fighting … 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. 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). The Vietnam War is also known as the Second Indochina War. The United States responded with a secret bombing campaign that Nixon drastically ramped up in 1969. Once … 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. READ MORE: Why Were Vietnam War Vets Treated Poorly When They Returned Home. There are two main reasons why Australia got involved in the Vietnam War. The nine-year campaign was so intense that, on average, a planeload of explosives fell every eight minutes, making Laos, per capita, the most heavily bombed nation on earth. After Ho’s communist forces took power in the north, armed conflict between northern and southern armies continued until a decisive the northern Viet Minh’s decisive victory in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. 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. 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 Vietnam War and active U.S. involvement in the war began in 1954, though ongoing conflict in the region had stretched back several decades. By June, 82,000 combat troops were stationed in Vietnam, and military leaders were calling for 175,000 more by the end of 1965 to shore up the struggling South Vietnamese army. By entering the Vietnam War without a goal to win, Johnson set the stage for future public and troop disappointment when the U.S. found themselves in a stalemate with the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. Nixon then sent troops across the border in 1970, taking advantage of a coup that ousted Sihanouk in favor of a pro-American general. ...read more. All Rights Reserved. Ho led the North, whereas the U.S.-backed Ngo Dinh Diem took charge of the South. To fight off both Japanese occupiers and the French colonial administration, political leader Ho Chi Minh—inspired by Chinese and Soviet communism—formed the Viet Minh, or the League for the Independence of Vietnam. 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. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001. Trade and diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the U.S. resumed in the 1990s. The anti-war movement, which was particularly strong on college campuses, divided Americans bitterly. 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). The U.S. Coast Guard's Role in the Vietnam War Crew of the cutter Point Comfort firing a mortar, An Thoi, 1965 (USCG) By William H. Thiesen 06-22-2018 11:11:50 As the original communist state, the Soviet Union aided North Vietnam, with increasing support in the late 1960s. Vietnam War, (1954–75), a protracted conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam and its allies in South Vietnam, known as the Viet Cong, against the government of South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. While the U.S.S.R. supplied some troops, their biggest contribution was in weaponry.Though it originally took little interest in the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union secretly ramped up its aid to North Vietnam following Nikita Khrushchev’s fall from power. More than 58,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died in the war. It was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Unexploded munitions from the Vietnam War-era continue to kill Laotians (and Vietnamese and Cambodians) to this day. The first combat troops were sent to Vietnam under Johnson's term as president. Vietnam War - Vietnam War - The United States enters the war: Between the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the U.S. presidential election in November 1964, the situation in Vietnam had changed for the worse. The student movement and the antiwar movement. Starting off, the U.S. got involved in the Vietnam War in 1950 and the main reason they got involved was because they wanted to take action against communism and communists. U.S. officials eventually soured on Diem, tacitly approving a 1963 coup that resulted in his death. Additionally, supported by aid from China and the Soviet Union, North Vietnam strengthened its air defenses. 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. Introduction Map of Vietnam. Against the background of the Cold War, the Vietnam War embroiled the United States, South Vietnam, and regional allies in a long and costly conflict against the regular forces of North Vietnam and the Communist Viet Cong guerillas. Vietnam War: United States and South Vietnam vs. North Vietnam: 1961: Bay of Pigs Invasion: United States vs. Cuba: 1983: Grenada: United States intervention: 1989: U.S. The majority of the war was caused by the actions of the most powerful politicians, on both sides of the fighting. Canadian corporations sold war material to the Americans. Opponents of the war argued that civilians, not enemy combatants, were the primary victims and that the United States was supporting a corrupt dictatorship in Saigon. The young Navy pilot John McCain, son of a ...read more, Vietnamization was a strategy that aimed to reduce American involvement in the Vietnam War by transferring all military responsibilities to South Vietnam. 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. (National Archives Identifier 66956688) In contrast, the pro-war supporters regarded anti-war … Four years after President John F. Kennedy sent the first American troops into Vietnam, Martin Luther King issued his first public statement on the war. It started after World War II and ended in 1975. In response to these North Vietnamese transgressions, the Americans covertly rained down billions of pounds of bombs on Laos. The main countries involved in the Vietnam War were North and South Vietnam. There were a couple reasons why Pro-Saigon supporters lost the Vietnam war. The Vietnam War was described as a civil war within South Vietnam, although it became a proxy war between Cold War powers. Westmoreland pursued a policy of attrition, aiming to kill as many enemy troops as possible rather than trying to secure territory. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam. Oct. 15, 1969: The first Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, a … 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. Instead, a communist insurgency broke out, pitting the so-called Viet Cong, who were sponsored by North Vietnam, against Diem’s forces. The South Korean government, under the administration of Park Chung-hee, took an active role in the Vietnam War.From September 1964 to March 1973, South Korea sent some 350,000 troops to South Vietnam.The South Korean Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force all participated as an ally of the United States. The war also consumed hundreds of billions of dollars, scarred the landscape of … North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China and North Korea, while South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, Thailand, Australia, New … Saigon is the city located in South Vietnam that resides next to Ho Chi Ming City. 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 … 10 POINTS FOR THAT! Yet, as Moise points out, they both learned one important lesson: “It’s dangerous to get in a fight when the other side cares about winning more than you do.”. The later years of the war saw increased physical and psychological deterioration among American soldiers—both volunteers and draftees—including drug use, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mutinies and attacks by soldiers against officers and noncommissioned officers. Ford was ready to end US involvement in the Vietnam War once and for all. The United States and many other countries intervened, propping up both sides—but especially South Vietnam—with troops, weapons and ...read more, From air power to infantry to chemicals, the weapons used in the Vietnam War were more devastating than those of any previous conflict. With his approval ratings dropping in an election year, Johnson called a halt to bombing in much of North Vietnam (though bombings continued in the south) and promised to dedicate the rest of his term to seeking peace rather than reelection. “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.”. North Vietnam immediately broke the accord, however, moving troops and supplies through Laos rather than traversing the heavily guarded demilitarized zone that separated it from South Vietnam. At first, the U.S. operated behind the scenes, but after 1964, sent combat troops and became more deeply mired in the war. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. All Rights Reserved. Though it originally took little interest in the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union secretly ramped up its aid to North Vietnam following Nikita Khrushchev’s fall from power. “Their function is as a tripwire,” Moise says, “a warning to the Americans: ‘Don’t go too far… or you’ll be fighting us.’”. 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. Seeking to regain control of the region, France backed Emperor Bao and set up the state of Vietnam in July 1949, with the city of Saigon as its capital. By 1957, the Viet Cong and other opponents of Diem’s repressive regime began fighting back with attacks on government officials and other targets, and by 1959 they had begun engaging the South Vietnamese army in firefights. 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.”. Although there were aerial bombings of the North, President Johnson wanted the fighting to be limited to South Vietnam. The Vietnam War was an international conflict. Anti-war marches and other protests, such as the ones organized by ...read more, Of the nearly 1 million Americans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War era (1964-75), many were or went on to become famous in diverse fields such as politics, entertainment, sports and journalism. On 2 July 1976, North and South Vietnam were merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The Vietnam War was an international conflict. The main countries involved in the Vietnam War were North and South Vietnam. Most Vietnamese, however, opposed colonial rule, and a rebellion broke out led by communist and pro-independence leader Ho Chi Minh. 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. For other Americans, opposing the government was considered unpatriotic and treasonous. Among other weapons, the USSR provided surface-to-air missiles that the Chinese weren’t yet technologically capable of producing. According to a survey by the Veterans Administration, some 500,000 of the 3 million troops who served in Vietnam suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and rates of divorce, suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction were markedly higher among veterans. 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