"A seemingly unreal nightmare was playing out. But it was very real and people were dying. Those who did return home would never be the same."
- Robert J. George
( Vietnam war Veteran )
THE VIETNAM TRAGEDY
The Truman Doctrine started the change in United States foreign policy, from isolationist to internationalists. Because of this the United States was drawn into various foreign conflicts. The largest of which was Vietnam. The aftermath of World War II inspired the U.S. to try and thwart the spread of communism. A noble cause in the name of democracy, but was the United States or its people in jeopardy? Was the preservation of world democracy really worth the U.S. going to war? The answer is Yes'. Communism never worked and could never work. Especially on such a large scale. There are too many variables that need to be controlled. Everybody needs to contribute in order for communism to work and in order for everyone to contribute everyone needs to believe in the cause. That is just too much to ask. People of all races and creeds have the ability to think freely and free thinking means differences of opinions. In past attempts at communism namely Russia and Cuba. Those who expressed their difference of opinion were systematically jailed or killed. Another problem communism faces is the "No rewards" ideal. This means that a doctor and a person who hands out individual sheets of toilet paper at public washrooms receive the same salary. Since people aren't perfect and a lot are lazy how does one convince someone to spend eight years at Med School when they can get the same wages with little to no effort? You can't, yet governments still wanted to implement communism, which meant that peoples lives were still in danger. It was the United States duty, as the last democratic superpower to protect the free-thinking lives of all those threatened by communism. This is why the American government sent troops into Vietnam.
The Vietnam conflict began in the late nineteenth century. The French conquered Vietnam and made it a colony. For nearly forty years, Vietnam had not experienced settled peace. The League for the Independence of Vietnam ( Viet Minh ) was formed in 1941, seeking independence from the French. On September 2nd, 1945, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed it independent of France. The French opposed their independence from 1945 to 1954. The first representatives of de Gualle's government landed by parachute in Saigon and Hanoi on August 23rd, 1945. The French wanted to reestablish their rule in Vietnam but were beaten at the battle of Dien Bien Phu on May 7th, 1954. Ho Chi Minh led the war against France and won.
After the war there was a conference in Geneva where Vietnam was divided into two parts along the seventeenth parallel. North Vietnam was mainly Communist and supported Ho Chi Minh, while the south was supported by the United States and the French were based there. There was still some Communist rebels within South Vietnam. These were the Viet Cong. The South Vietnam ruler was Ngo Dinh Diem who was anti - Communist.
North Vietnam wished to unify North and South Vietnam through military force. Since the United States feared the spread of communism in Asia, John F. Kennedy provided economic and military aid to South Vietnam to prevent the takeover by North Vietnam. This marked the beginning of the Vietnam conflict. Kennedy was very much against communism and very much for the preservance of democracy. But he didn't want to go to war over it. Kennedy kept military force in Vietnam down to a minimum he was unwilling to risk soldiers lives for the sake of democracy. The whole conflict may have been settled through political means hadn't Kennedy been assassinated.
After the unfortunate death of Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson took office. Johnson was by nature a temperamental and insecure man. A harsh contrast to JFK. As a result of a supposed North Vietnamese attack on two American ships Johnson ordered the bombing in North Vietnam. This caused the beginning of armed conflict, and what is now referred to as the Vietnam War. Johnson was extremely enraged by the endurance of the North Vietnamese as well as the lack of stability in the south and needed only one reason to wage war in Vietnam. That reason was the Tonkin Gulf Incident'. Although the bombing appeared successful at first the North Vietnamese learned quickly how to avoid the bombs and the campaign was then useless. This in combination with other factors in the Johnson administration led to his downfall. He did not run for re-election
The next administration to face the task of solving the Vietnam crisis was Richard Nixon.
Nixon had aggressive feelings towards communists but by the time he made it to office a majority of Americans were opposed to the conflict. It was Nixon who brought in his theory of Vietnamization' a term coined in reference to a strategy by which American Troops would be replaced by South Vietnamese troops. It took Nixon five years in office and three years of secret negotiations between national security advisor and North Vietnamese agent, Le Duc Tho to completely end the war in Vietnam.
Although the U.S. Did not win the war they didn't lose it either, bot by any means. The U.S. suffered no where near the amount of casualties that the North Vietnamese did. The North lost 851,000+ soldiers in the war. Almost eighteen times the amount of American soldiers killed. Although the United States did not stop the expansion of communism in Vietnam they did help prevent its spread across Asia, and they also sent a message to other governments trying to employ communism that if they're going to kill for their cause then America's going to put up a fight and that country wouldn't be as lucky as Vietnam. Though fruitless the war had to have been fought. The U.S. could not stand idly by as countries were being over run by corrupt leaders and guerilla forces. They had to fight, in the name of democracy and in the name of Free Will.
Related Essays on Communism