At the start of the 20th century Vietnam was of very little concern to the USA but by 1968 the Vietnam War was at its peak with about 500 000 American troops there. This drastic change came about for many reasons.
From the mid-19th century Vietnam had been a French colony (known as Indochina) but in 1940, during WWII this changed as Japan invaded the country. The USA helped Indochina fight the Japanese as they were the enemy. They secretly joined forces with communist Ho Chi Minh and this resulted in the formation of the Vietminh who defeated the Japanese in 1945.
Since Japan had been conquered, the French wanted their colony back to strengthen a dying empire. Ho Chi Minh and the rest of the nationalists wanted to unify the country as a Republic but were ignored. Vietnam was taken over by the French. The Vietminh fought the French with help from the recently communist China (who recognised Vietnam as a country) and the French obtained military help from the USA although no troops were sent. The French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 after a terrible battle.
In a meeting in 1954, Vietnam was divided along the 17th parallel; Ho Chi Minh’s communists received the North and Ngo Dinh Diem was declared as president of The Republic of South Vietnam. North Vietnam wanted to be united with South Vietnam but this idea was rejected, especially by the USA. Ho Chi Minh thus declared a People’s War to unite all of Vietnam in 1959 and Viet Mihn guerrillas (later known as the Vietcong) were sent to infiltrate South Vietnam.
As the war in Vietnam got worse the USA grew worried that Vietnam would be unified as a communist country. Communism had come to be seen as a menace that the USA had to stop from being spread. According to the Domino Theory, as one country ‘falls victim’ to communism, so do the surrounding ones. After China became communist it seemed as though Vietnam was next. American President Kennedy decided to send 400 ‘special advisors’ to train the...
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