* -To stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, the US used its military to support South Vietnam.
America Supports France in Vietnam
* -Americans became involved in Vietnam in 1950, during the French Indochina War, the name given to France’s attempt to reestablish its rule in Vietnam after WWII. * -To help France fight the spread of communism, the US provided the French with massive economic and military support.
French Rule in Vietnam
* -From the late 1800’s until WWII, France ruled most of Indochina, including Vietnam, Laos, & Cambodia. * -The Indo-Chinese Communism Party, founded in 1930, staged a # of revolts under the leadership of *Ho Chi Minh. * -He was condemned to death for his rebellion activity, but fled Vietnam & was exiled. * -In 1940 the Japanese took control of Vietnam.
* -Ho Chi Minh returned to help form the *Vietminh- an organization whose goal it was to win Vietnams independence from foreign rule. * -France had no intention of relinquishing its former colony. * -French troops moved back in to Vietnam in 1945 & reestablish control in the cities & in the countries southern half.
* -In 1950, the US entered the Vietnam struggle.
* Lt. Col. *A. Peter Dewey- was sent to assess the explosive situation in Vietnam. He believed that the French & British were not going to be able to hold on to it & that the US should clear out of SE Asia. * -He was presumed to be a French soldier by Vietnamese soldiers & was shot in the head. * -Dewey was the first American to die in Vietnam.
* -President Truman sent $15 million in economic aid to France. * -Over the next 4 years, the US pumped more than $1 billion into the effort to defeat a man America had once supported. * -The US had come to view its one-time ally as a communism aggressor.
* -President Eisenhower continued Truman’s policy of supplying aid to the French war Effort in 1953. * -The US would just settle on a stalemate in communist Korea. (1950-1953) * -Ike’s *Domino theory- is where he linked the countries on the brink of communism to a row of dominoes waiting for one to fall after the other. * -Despite the massive US aid, the French could not retake Vietnam. * -French surrendered in May of 1954, when the Vietminh overran the French outpost at *Dien Bien Phu- in northwest Vietnam.
* *Geneva Accords- a 1954 peace agreement that divided Vietnam into communism controlled North Vietnam, lead by Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, & a non-communist South Vietnam in Saigon until unification elections could be held in 1956. * -This temporally divided Vietnam along the 17th parallel.
The US Steps In
* -An election to unify the country was called for in 1956. * *Ngo Dinh Diem- a strong anti- communist, who became the president of South Vietnam. * -Diem refused to take part in the countrywide elections of 1956. * -The US supported this because they sensed an election would spell victory for Ho Chi Minh. * -The Ike administration promised military aid & training to Diem in return for a stable reform govt in the South. * -Diem failed to hold up his end of the bargain.
* -He ushered in a corrupt govt that suppressed opposition of any kind & offered little or no land distribution to peasants. * -Diem was also a devout Catholic who angered the country’s majority Buddhist population by restricting Buddhist practices.
* *Vietcong- the South Vietnamese communists, who, with North Vietnamese support, fought against the govt of South Vietnam in the Vietnam War. * -By 1957, the Vietcong had begun attacks on the Diem govt, assassinating thousands of South Vietnamese govt officials.
* -In 1959, Ho Chi Minh began supplying arms to the Vietcong via a network...