There are many particular reasons why the United States chose to involve itself in the region.
To some, the Vietnam War was a crime — an attempt by the United States to suppress a heroic Vietnamese national liberation movement that had driven French colonialism out of its country. To others, the Vietnam War was a forfeit, a just war needlessly lost by timid policymakers and a biased media.
For many who study foreign affairs, the Vietnam War was a tragic mistake brought about by U. Another interpretation, a fourth one, has recently emerged, now that the Vietnam War is history and can be studied dispassionately by scholars with greater, though not unlimited, access to records on all sides.
The emerging scholarly synthesis interprets the war in the global context of the Cold War that lasted from the aftermath of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall in and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in In this view, Vietnam was neither a crime, a forfeit nor a tragic mistake.
It was a proxy conflict in the Cold War. Unlike the first two world wars, the Cold War began and ended without direct military conflict between the opposing sides, thanks to the deterrent provided by conventional forces as well as nuclear weapons.
Instead, it was fought indirectly through economic embargoes, arms races, propaganda and proxy wars in peripheral nations like Vietnam.
The greatest prizes in the Cold War were the industrial economies of the advanced European and East Asian nations, most of all Germany and Japan.
With the industrial might of demilitarized Japan and the prosperous western half of a divided Germany, the United States could hope to carry out its patient policy of containment of a communist bloc that was highly militarized but economically outmatched, until the Soviets sued for peace or underwent internal reform.
The Soviet Union could prevail in the Cold War only if it divided the United States from its industrialized allies — not by sponsoring communist takeovers within their borders but by intimidating them into appeasement after convincing them that the United States lacked the resolve or the ability to defend its interests.
For this reason, most crises of the Cold War, from the Berlin Airlift and the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Korean and Vietnam wars, occurred when the United States responded to aggressive probing by communist bloc nations with dramatic displays of American resolve.
The majority of these tests of American credibility took place in four countries divided between communist and non-communist regimes after World War II: Germany, China, Korea and Vietnam. The Cold War soon turned hot in divided Korea and Vietnam.
Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Direct Chinese military intervention in the Korean War ensured a bloody stalemate rather than reunification of the peninsula under a non-communist regime.
If we had pretended otherwise for such a long period, it was only because during the war we were not obliged to unveil our cards. Inthe Johnson administration won congressional passage of the Southeast Asia Resolution after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, using as a pretext for U.
The number of American forces peaked inwhen more than half a million U.
At great cost in American and Vietnamese lives, the attrition strategy of Gen. William Westmoreland succeeded in preventing the Saigon regime from being overthrown by insurgents.
The Tet Offensive of Januaryperceived in the United States as a setback for American war aims, was in fact a devastating military setback for the north.
In the United States, public opinion grew opposed to the costs in blood and treasure of the controversial war.
Following the Paris Peace Accords ofU. Inupon uniting Vietnam under their rule inthe victorious heirs of Ho Chi Minh imposed Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism on the south and helped their allies win power in Laos. The Third Indochina War soon followed. Of the three great powers that intervened in Indochina after the ouster of France in the s, the Soviet Union gained the most.
Just as the Soviets and Chinese had armed and equipped Vietnamese opponents of U. The Soviet war in Afghanistan was the third major proxy war in the Cold War.
Inthe year in which the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War effectively ended, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, as the United States had withdrawn its troops from Indochina a decade and a half earlier. The discredited secular creed of Marxism-Leninism has survived in only a few dictatorships, including China, North Korea and Vietnam.
As the narrative of the 20th century is interpreted, historians are regarding the Vietnam War in a global context that spans decades and concludes with the fall of the Soviet Union. No matter their differences of perspective, they will define the Vietnam War as the Cold War in Indochina.
This provides an answer to those who claim that the United States, by its intervention, mistakenly turned a pure civil war in Vietnam into part of the Cold War. Was South Vietnam too marginal an interest to justify a U.
Viewing the Indochina wars as Cold War proxy wars, along with the conflicts of that era in Korea and Afghanistan, answers one set of critics: It also provides an answer to other critics who claim that the United States should have been more aggressive toward North Vietnam.
In my view, it was partly because political and diplomatic circles in Washington were disproportionately concerned with the possibility of Chinese and Soviet intervention. Fifty percent of all Soviet foreign aid went to North Vietnam between and Soviet anti-aircraft teams in North Vietnam brought down dozens of U.
It is now known that in a secret meeting between Ho Chi Minh and Mao in the summer ofChina agreed to enter the war directly if the United States invaded North Vietnam.
According to Beijing, between andthere wereChinese troops assigned to North Vietnam, with a maximum of— roughly a third of the maximum number of U. Harry Summers had been taken by Washington in Vietnam, there would have been a real danger of a Sino-American war with dire consequences for the world.This officially ended direct U.S.
involvement in the Vietnam War, created a ceasefire between North Vietnam/PRG and South Vietnam, guaranteed the territorial integrity of Vietnam under the Geneva Conference of , called for elections or a political settlement between the Provisional Revolutionary Government and South Vietnam and .
The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was a conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November to the fall of Saigon on 30 April In April of , an all-time high of over , US troops were in Vietnam.
A total of more than 58, US troops died in Vietnam, and over , were wounded. US involvement in the war continued until , shortly before the North Vietnamese captured the southern capital at Saigon.
The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The conflict was. “The US government became involved in Vietnam slowly.
Each step of the way, for more than 20 years, policy-makers debated options, considered alternatives, and ultimately chose deeper involvement. By March all U.S. combat forces have been withdrawn from Vietnam and all U.S. prisoners released Just prior to Saigon’s capture by North Vietnamese forces, the last remaining U.S.
personnel are evacuated from Vietnam.