WHY WE FOUGHT
The United States got involved in Vietnam to prevent the spread of Communism. The U.S. was in the midst of the Cold War against the U.S.S.R. With Communism threatening U.S. prosperity as well as the cultures and religions of the free world, the U.S. believed it had to act. China and eastern Europe had fallen under the red tentacles of the Soveit menace and the United States was determined to stop them there.
It began with the support of France in Europe and in turn, the support of the French colonies in Asia. Then it was necessary to reassert the strength of the American superpower. While mistakes were made and the outcome was tragic, America was dedicated to fighting the "evil empire" and all of its satillite nations. The Vietnam war can be seen as the darkest hour of the fifty year war that would see America emerge victorious.
The Vietnam conflict was part of a larger conflict called "the Cold War." This centered around the fear of and struggle against Communism. Communism threatened America in several ways.
1. Communism is at odds with Capitalism.
2. Communism is largely atheistic.
3. Communism is a globally expanding ideology.
The Vietnam conflict played a role in stopping the spread of Communism in Asia.
"You have a row of dominoes set up. You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
THE DOMINO THEORY: The domino theory was a foreign policy theory, promoted by the government of the U.S.A. that speculated that if one land in a region came under the influence of communism then the surrounding countries would follow in domino effect. The domino effect suggests that some change, small in itself, will cause a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence, by analogy to a falling row of dominoes standing on end. The domino theory was used by successive U.S. administrations during the Cold War to justify American intervention around the world.
Ho Chi Minh was a tiny man, frail in appearance and extremely deferential. He wore simple shorts and sandals. To his followers, he was known simply as “Uncle Ho.”
Ho Chi Minh was born in 1890 in a village in central Vietnam. In 1912, he left his homeland and signed aboard a French freighter. For a time, he lived in the United States-- visiting Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Ho was struck by Americans’ impatience. Later, during the Vietnam War, he told his military advisers, “Don’t worry, Americans are an impatient people. When things begin to go wrong, they’ll leave.”
After three years of travel, Ho Chi Minh settled in London where he worked at the elegant Carlton Hotel. He lived in squalid quarters and learned that poverty existed even in the wealthiest, most powerful countries. In Paris, he came into contact with the French left. He was still in Paris when World War I ended and the peace conference was held. Inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s call for universal self-determination, Ho wrote,”all subject peoples are filled with hope by the prospect that an era of right and justice is opening to them.”
Ho wanted to meet Wilson and plead the cause of Vietnamese independence. Wilson ignored his request.
Ho then traveled to Moscow, where Lenin had declared war against imperialism. While in the Soviet Union, Ho embraced socialism. By the early 1920s, he was actively organizing Vietnamese exiles into a revolutionary force.
In 1941, Ho returned to Vietnam. The time was right, he believed, to free Vietnam from colonial domination. Ho aligned himself with the United States. In 1945, borrowing passages from the Declaration of Independence, Ho declared Vietnamese independence.
However, the French, who returned to Vietnam after World War II, had different plans for Vietnam.