Vietnam in South East Asia had always been a desirable country. Since the 19th century, it was ruled by France and called Indo China. Apart form one rebellion in 1930, France had total control of the country until they surrendered to Germany in the Second World War in 1940. Japan, Germany's ally, took control of Vietnam and the resources in it, such as coal, rice, rubber, railways and roads. An anti-Japanese resistance organisation, which was called the Viet Minh and led by Ho Chi Minh, a communist, was formed. At the end of the war, the Viet Minh controlled the North Vietnam and had ambitions to control the rest. Japan had gone when they entered Hanoi in 1945 and declared Vietnamese independence. When war broke out between France and Vietnam in 1946 because the French wanted to regain control of Vietnam, the Viet Cong, which was a communist-supporting group against the Americans set up in the South of Vietnam, used guerrilla tactics against the French. These involved hit and run raids and other tactics that the French hadn't experienced before and made them almost impossible to beat.
To begin with, the USA was sympathetic towards the Viet Minh because they viewed the situation as Vietnam wanting to have independence and they did not agree with countries having colonies anyway. However in 1949, when communists took over China and began to give help to Ho Chi Minh, the USA became afraid that the Viet Minh were the puppets of China. The Americans then became increasingly involved in Vietnam because they hated communism and were very much afraid of a communist spread. They feared the Domino effect, which meant that if Vietnam fell to communism, they expected nearby countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma and India to become communist one after the other, very quickly. The USA had a policy known as the Truman Doctrine, which meant that they would send money, equipment and advice to any country threatened by a communist take over. Therefore, they provided Ngo Dinh Diem, who was helped to set up the anti-communist Republic of South Vietnam, with $1.6 billion in the 1950's. The other policy that the USA had was containment, which was to prevent communism spreading any further than it already had done in Eastern Europe. The USA stopped the proposed elections taking place in Vietnam for fear that the communists would win, so Vietnam was divided into North and South Vietnam in 1954. This communist victory over the French led the Americans to believe that communists were taking over the world and must be stopped.
Sources A to C show two people's views towards America going into war against North Vietnam and the Viet Cong. Source A is a speech made by US President Johnson in April 1965, one month after the start of Operation Rolling Thunder. He is justifying the reasons for going into war against Vietnam, which are to keep the peace and freedom of the people in South Vietnam. Its content can be trusted because, being the President, he was directly involved in Vietnam so he knew what was happening and understood what he was talking about. However, it is untrustworthy because he is speaking after Operation Rolling Thunder so he has a need to justify the reasons for the bombing and attacks on Vietnam, and he could just be identifying reasons that will help receive most support from the public for the war. He is speaking after the Gulf of Tonkin incident where two American ships were attacked so he is speaking in the 'heat of the moment' and perhaps at a time where he feels that he can convince most of the public that they are going into war to keep the peace and security.
After the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the US Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. This gave Johnson the power to 'take all necessary measures to prevent further aggression and achieve peace and security.' The Congress meant that...