Marking one of the most traumatic periods of U.S. history, the Vietnam War spanned more than a decade and caused massive disruption both in Southeast Asia and on the American home front. Although U.S. leaders were often ambiguous about American involvement in Vietnam, they nevertheless pursued a fairly unbroken policy of interference in the country in an effort to halt the spread of communism during the cold war. In the end, the U.S. defeat in Vietnam proved costly, both financially and in terms of the number of lives lost, and diminished America's reputation as the defender of democracy and freedom throughout the world.
When the French moved into Indochina in the mid-19th century to capitalize on trade potential in Asia, the U.S. government voiced concern that the French posed a threat to American interests in China. Nevertheless, the French quickly colonized Indochina (primarily the country of Vietnam), holding control over this Asian colony for nearly the next century, despite a growing nationalist movement within Vietnam led by a group known as the Viet Minh.
Although America continued to show its disapproval of France's colonial domination of Indochina through World War II, by 1945, growing fear of Russian activity worldwide prompted the United States to reverse its position and support French colonialism in Southeast Asia. When the nationalist movement, led by the devoted communist figure Ho Chi Minh, threatened to topple the French government right after World War II and usher in a communist regime, President Harry Truman committed limited U.S. resources to assist the French in reestablishing their presence in Vietnam. Abc Clio data base
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