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