The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, military struggle fought in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975, involving the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (NLF) in conflict with United States forces and the South Vietnamese army. From 1946 until 1954, the Vietnamese had struggled for their independence from France during the First Indochina War. At the end of this war, the country was temporarily divided into North and South Vietnam. North Vietnam came under the control of Vietnamese Communists who had opposed France and who aimed for a unified Vietnam under Communist rule. The South was controlled by non-Communist Vietnamese.
The United States became involved in Vietnam because American policymakers believed that if the entire country fell under a Communist government, Communism would spread throughout Southeast Asia. This belief was known as the "domino theory." The U.S. government, therefore, helped to create the anti-Communist South Vietnamese government. This government's repressive policies led to rebellion in the South, and in 1960 the NLF was formed with the aim of overthrowing the government of South Vietnam and reunifying the country.
In 1965 the United States sent in troops to prevent the South Vietnamese government from collapsing. Ultimately, however, the United States failed to achieve its goal, and in 1975 Vietnam was reunified under Communist control; in 1976 it officially became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. During the conflict, approximately 3.2 million Vietnamese were killed, in addition to another 1.5 million to 2 million Lao and Cambodians who were drawn into the war. Nearly 58,000 Americans lost their lives. (Atwood, Paul, http://encarta.msn.com)
2. "Peace with honor"
During the Presidential campaign of 1968, Nixon understood the key issue was the war in Vietnam. In a low-key campaign, Nixon promised to bring peace with honor in Vietnam and to unite a nation deeply divided by the Vietnam War and the racial crisis. He defeated his two opponents, Hubert H. Humphrey and George C. Wallace, but won only a plurality of the popular vote. (Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2005)
He needed to show the American people he had a viable plan to end the war. Yet, as of that point in the race Nixon had no such plan. In a speech to a Republican audience at the American Legion Hall in Nashua, New Hampshire, on 5 March, Nixon pledged to "end the war and to win the peace in the Pacific."(Kimball, J. p 40) Nixon implied during his speech that evening that he had a "secret" plan to end the war and succeeded in attracting the attention of the press.( Ibid.,p 41) He denied however, that there was a magic formula to achieve peace and he tried to avoid the political trap of providing a concrete plan.( Ibid.,p 41) For the growing anti-war faction (known as doves) and moderates in the country, Nixon spoke less of escalating military measures and protecting vital interests and more of taking non-military steps towards peace. For the pro-war advocates (known as hawks) and conservatives, he continued to talk about keeping firm pressure on Vietnam and winning the peace.
On Jan. 23, 1973, President Richard Nixon announced "peace with honor" had been achieved following a costly war launched for the express purpose of preventing a communist takeover of South Vietnam by the North. Nixon said the agreement between the United States and North Vietnam would ensure a "stable peace," guaranteeing the right of the people "to determine their own future, without outside interference." Less than two years later, Vietnam was unified and communist.
North Vietnam was happy to sign any agreement that would get the United States out of Vietnam, knowing it would never abide by its provisions and no mechanism existed for holding the communists accountable. (Thomas, C.)
2.1. Peace with honour -achieved with the help of the "Nixon doctrine"