Essay on Reasons for United States' Involvement in Vietnam
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Reasons for United States' Involvement in Vietnam
In this essay I will be writing about why America got involved in the Vietnam War, between the 1950s to the 1960s. This was a steady and slow process with many deaths all because of communism. It was very costly and bloody. This essay will focus on political reasons, military reasons and economy reasons.
Firstly the political reasons. The involvement in Vietnam started off with the cold war, when Russia and America the emerging super powers after WW2, two different styles of living had emerged the capitalists (America) and the communist (Russia), both with two different beliefs. The cold war was a war of words, America hated the fact more…show more content…
The French got this help by persuading the Americans they were combating communism. A 8-year guerrilla warfare occurs between the French and the Vietminh. 1954 The French make a heavily fortified base Dien Bien Phu they waited for Giap (general of the Vietminh) and the Vietminh troops to attack. Navarre the French general didn't think the Vietminh had heavy guns and with a surprise the Vietminh opened fire on the French with their artillery destroying the base and the Vietminh broke through the remains of the French lines and won the battle. The French then left Vietnam agreeing to most of their demands. This conference was held at Geneva and a treaty was signed called the Geneva peace agreement. As a result of this a portion line was set up dividing the south and north of Vietnam. This line was also demilitarised. America did not sign this; they saw this as giving into communism and hated it completely. America supported the non-communist South Vietnam while the communist Vietnam the north was still ruled by Ho Chi Minh. "It was generally agreed that had a election been held, Ho Chi Minh would have been elected premier. At the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader." President Eisenhower writing after the Vietnam War. Diem
United States' Involvement in the Vietnam War
- Length: 2939 words (8.4 double-spaced pages)
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United States' Involvement in the Vietnam War
Source A is about US fear of communism. The nature of this source is a
presidential speech to the US public. It is clear that source A is a
primary source as it says on the bottom 'president Lyndon B Johnson
speaking in April 1965.' That shows that the source is a primary one.
There is a great possibility that the US presidential advisors
produced this source to give president Lyndon B Johnson a speech to
publish in front of the US public, one month after operation 'Rolling
Thunder', which was a military operation, in which the US forces used
massive fire power against North-Vietnamese forces. The aim and
purpose of this source is to persuade the US public to back and
understand the United States' violence in Vietnam, and to justify the
president's actions in Vietnam to his nation.
After the Second World War, France found it difficult to maintain
control over indo-china. America supplied $1.2 billion of military aid
to the French forces but in 1954, after a serious defeat in the battle
of Dien Bien Phu, the French government decided to withdraw from
Vietnam. At the Geneva conference, May 1954, it was agreed that
elections would be held within two years and that in the meantime
Vietnam would be divided into two halves with North Vietnam under the
control of communist, Ho Chi Minh. These elections did not take place
and the United States continued to supply military aid and advisors to
help protect South Vietnam from communist guerrillas (national
On August 2nd 1964, North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the US
destroyer Maddox. The United States government retaliated by bombing
North Vietnamese naval bases and oil refineries. In March 1965,
president Lyndon B Johnson started sending troops to South Vietnam to
protect a government that appeared to be in danger of falling to the
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Vietnam War United States Involvement North Vietnam French Government Ho Chi Minh United States Government
national liberation front.
The United States of America always feared the spread of communism.
They believed that is South Vietnam had fallen to communist power then
all of South East Asia would also fall into communist hands (the
The domino theory:
The theory had a precedent, of sorts: the Eastern Bloc. At the end of
World War II, the Stalinist Soviet Union tried to starve West Berlin
into submission during the Berlin Blockade, maintained tight control
over East Germany, and mentored the rapid rise to power of
totalitarian Communist regimes in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary,
Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. A totalitarian Communist regime also
arose in Albania under Enver Hoxha, but without explicit Soviet
In Asia, Soviet forces occupied Manchuria at the end of World War II,
and then expanded military aid to allow the Communists under Mao
Zedong to regain control over China during the final stages of the
Chinese Civil War from 1946 to 1949.
On June 25, 1950, Soviet ally Kim Il-Sung of North Korea launched an
invasion of South Korea. The United Nations agreed to defend South
Korea, and the crisis escalated into an explicit confrontation against
the Chinese and Soviet military in the Korean War.
The aggressive momentum of this expansion of Communism in Europe and
Asia echoed the swift and steady progress Nazi Germany had achieved
just years earlier, first with its conquest of Poland, followed
rapidly by conquests of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and
Moreover, the Soviet Union had armed itself with technical knowledge
about the atomic bomb using information from its espionage network
that included Klaus Fuchs embedded in the Manhattan Project, Donald
Maclean and the Cambridge Five, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. The
detonation of a Soviet atomic bomb on August 9, 1949, and a Soviet
hydrogen bomb on August 12, 1953, raised alarms that Soviet expansion
and Stalinist-style domination would be unstoppable.
The Domino Theory was first espoused by President Eisenhower in an
April 7, 1954 news conference and was originally applied to Indochina,
which includes Vietnam. If Communists aided by the Soviet Union
succeeded in conquering Indochina, Eisnehower argued, they would then
successively conquer Burma, Thailand, and Indonesia. This would give
them a geographically strategic advantage, from which they would be
able to conquer Japan, Formosa, the Philippines, Australia, and New
The theory was actively embraced by his successors, presidents John F.
Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon.
The Truman doctrine:
The Truman Doctrine stated that the United States would support "free
peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or
by outside pressures."
U.S. President Harry S. Truman made the proclamation in an address to
Congress on March 12, 1947 amid the crisis of the Greek Civil War
(1946-1949). The doctrine was specifically aimed at assisting
governments resisting communism. Truman insisted that if Greece and
Turkey did not receive the aid that they needed, they would inevitably
fall to communism with the result being a domino effect of acceptance
of communism throughout the region (explained above).
Truman signed the act into law on May 22, 1947, which granted $400
million in military and economic aid to Turkey and Greece.
Source A contains limited information, as it is not the whole complete
speech, however the information given is enough to satisfy the reader.
It shows that president Lyndon B Johnson is trying to relate him self
with all of the other American presidents who were involved in the
Vietnam conflict so he could show the public that he is not the only
American president to show some extent of violence in Vietnam so that
the public would understand that he would "have to show support for
the people of south Vietnam." It also explains, in a very biased way,
why the Americans are fighting in Vietnam; it says, "We are there to
strengthen world order" and "We fight because we have a promise to
Some historical questions could be raised from this source like:
* Why did the United States of America get involved in the Vietnam
* What are America's aims in the war?
* Did America really need to join the Vietnam War?
As I said earlier, this source is not complete; therefore it cannot
answer many historical questions, like, what exactly happened to the
USS Maddox? Or, Why does America have to show commitment in other
This source is definitely a biased source as it only shows America's
point of view towards fighting the war in Vietnam. It shows a lot of
feelings and emotions to persuade the public to back the war. This
source is an unreliable source as it is not the complete speech and
also because it shows a biased point of view. This source is a useful
source to explain why the US got involved in the Vietnam War.
Source B is a private conversation with the US president. This source
has an unknown producer. It is also is a primary source and it is
about: Is Vietnam worth it? The conversation itself took place in May
1956. It is a useful source to explain why the Unites states of
America got involved in Vietnam as it comes directly from the US
president in a private conversation. It explains well, but not in
great detail, why the US got involved in the Vietnam War. It also
shows how the cold-war tension was a major reason of this involvement
in the war.
Source B is a written account on the US president Lyndon B Johnson's
private conversation. It was only months after fighting his
presidential elections in America. President Johnson thought that a
tough Vietnam policy would increase his votes in the elections. As I
said earlier, the producer of this source is unknown. But he/she had a
definite purpose for publishing this private conversation. This
purpose was to let the American public know what their president
thought about fighting in Vietnam.
Some historical questions could be raised from this source, like:
* Why did the untied states of America join the war in Vietnam?
* What was Vietnam really worth to America?
* Did the people of America know much about the war in Vietnam?
This source has lots of information about what the president thinks
about fighting in Vietnam. It tells the reader that the president does
not think much Vietnam. "What the hell is Vietnam worth to meâ€¦ what is
it worth to this country?" the president doesn't want to fight in
Vietnam but is forced to. "I don't think it's worth fighting forâ€¦â€¦â€¦and
I don't think we can get out."
This source is a biased source as it shows the American point of view.
"What is it worth to this country?" that shows that the source is
shown only from one country's point of view, therefore it is a biased
source. It shows great emotion from the US president as he is confused
and does not know what to do. "It's just the biggest damn mess." This
source is not quite reliable as it is biased and incomplete. This
source is a useful source to explain why the US got involved in the
This source is a written account of an interview to professor Noam
Chomsky, an American war critic, in October 1982, way after the end of
the Vietnam War this shows that this source is a primary source. The
producer of this source, professor Noam Chomsky, had a definite
purpose of producing this source. This was to spread his thoughts of
fighting the Vietnam War to the US public and to show that the United
States covered-up the "real causes of the war".
Noam has always been interested in politics, and it is said that
politics has brought him into the linguistics field. His political
tendencies toward socialism and anarchism are a result of what he
calls "the radical Jewish community in New York." Since 1965 he has
become one of the leading critics of U.S. foreign policy. He published
a book of essays called American Power and the New Mandarins, which is
considered to be one of the most substantial arguments ever against
American involvement in Vietnam. He believed that America's
involvement in Vietnam was because America wanted to dominate and
control countries. He believed that the United States did not want an
independent South Vietnam that was no longer dominated by America. He
also believed that the US feared that South Vietnam might be able to
reform and improve itself and develop its economy the US feared that
because they wanted to dominate and control the south.
This source contains information on what Noam Chomsky thought about
the war in Vietnam. It shows what he believed on why the US got
involved in the Vietnam War. It also shows that professor Noam Chomsky
did not like the US's actions in Vietnam.
Some historical questions could be raised from this source, like:
Â· Why did the US get involved in Vietnam?
* Why did America fear independence of South Vietnam?
This source is an objective source as it shows both sides of the
conflict, the US's and Vietnam's. It shows a lot of emotions of
professor Noam Chomsky as he is trying to get his point of view across
to other people. This source is quite reliable as it is objective and
also quite true! This source is a very useful source to explain why
the United States got involved in the Vietnam War.
Conclusion: Sources A to C are quite important to explain why the
united states got involved in the war in Vietnam as they show
different reasons and point of views for the matter.
Did the power of television force the
United States to leave Vietnam?
(Sources D to L)
This source is a North Vietnamese poster produced and published during
the war. It shows the problems faced by the Americans fighting a
This poster presents a particular point of view of how the Americans
struggled to fight guerrilla fighters and how they found it difficult
to bring in fresh supplies of ammunition and other necessaries.
This poster is intended to influence Vietnamese people into thinking
that the Americans are getting defeated and look confused. I would
think that this source was produced to influence young Vietnamese men
to join the National Liberation Front (guerrilla fighters), as it
looks easy to defeat the confused Americans.
This source shows that the Americans did not belong there as it is not
their territory and they didn't know this particular type of warfare
and they were not used to this type of war terrain. In this source,
the Americans look confused, as they didn't know their enemy well and
also because they were fighting for the wrong reason on the other hand
Vietnamese guerrilla fighters look skilled and ready for any
opposition, as they know this type of warfare and terrain very well
because they are fighting in their own country. The trucks shown at
the corner of the poster show how US supplies break down easily as
they come from very far distances. That leads to great economic loss.
This source answers the question positively as it would have forced
the US into leaving Vietnam as it helps them to realize that their
soldiers are not quite skilled in this type of warfare and it would
help them to realize the great economic loss caused by this war.
As this source is a photograph it is quite easy to tamper with it. But
looking at this photograph I do not think it has been tampered with.
The photographer of this might have actually selected the view so this
image might be objective rather than subjective. This photograph is
showing the cruelty of American firepower as it hurts innocent young
children this picture shows a young girl afraid and running away from
Americans as she was hit by napalm (a US military bomb used frequently
in the Vietnam war which is a chemical weapon which inflicts terrible
burns causing huge pain.) this shows the cruelty of American military
The photograph is trying to show American cruelty towards Vietnamese
Source E answers the question positively because when photographs of
this nature (cruelty and pain) were published in the US a lot of
Americans protested against the war giving the president more pressure
to pull back force from Vietnam.
Source F is a written document on the account of Richard Hamer, an
American journalist, writing in 1970. It is clearly a primary source.
It was produced for a clear reason, which was to inflict his opinion
of the difficulties of fighting guerrillas.
This source is an opinion, not a fact; therefore the information given
might not be totally true. The information given in this source
explains how the US found it difficult to combat their enemy, as they
didn't know whom it is. "Did one of them (peasants) lob the mortar? If
so which one? Should you kill all of them or none of them?" this shows
US troops' confusion and struggle against enemy forces. Richard Hamer
explains in this source that the Americans should at least give a
warning before blasting whole villages apart with napalm. "One does
not blast hamlets to dust with high explosives from jet planes miles
in the sky without warning."
Source F contains lots of various information however it does not
agree with the question of Did the power of television force the
United States to leave Vietnam? This source shows that the enemy are
the ones who caused most damage to US forces.
Source G is the reaction of an American soldier, in 1968, after having
been told about the massacre of 347 unarmed civilians at My Lai.
Source G could be a letter or diary extract from an American soldier
fighting in Vietnam. The producer of this source is unknown, but his
views and opinions have been recorded. The soldier tells us how he
thought they came to Vietnam "to do something courageous on behalf of
their countryâ€¦something in the American ideal" The soldiers came to
fight in Vietnam because they felt that they wanted to something for
their country, but after the My Lai massacre they started realizing
that that is not what they came for; the American ideal "didn't mean
slaughtering whole villages of women and children."
Source G gives us an individual reaction to the war, the soldiers
don't like themselves for killing innocents, and they have realized
their role in the war is not 'courageous' or in the 'American ideal',
they put themselves in comparison with nazi's. This gives us the
impression that they are unhappy with their massacre killings of
innocent unarmed civilians. The US soldiers are killing the innocent
in Vietnam because they think they are killing off communism but, in
fact, they do not know who their enemy is. This proves the war has no
valid purpose. Source G was written in order to help the soldiers make
sense of the war and their actions. They have started to think about
the war and are writing to try and sort out their thoughts and
feelings towards the war. The soldiers are confused as to what point
there is to the war.
Source G does not help me prove that the power of television was the
reason the U.S was forced to leave Vietnam. This source suggests that
the reason for the American defeat was the confusion and unwillingness
of the soldiers involved in the war and the fading public support
forced the Americans to leave Vietnam. This source suggests that the
guilty feelings of the soldiers were the reason for the defeat.
Source H is a cartoon published in the British magazine Punch in 1967;
it shows the effects of President Johnson's war policy on Americas
'Great Society'. Source H presents the opinion of its producer. The
cartoon shows International biased opinions on the war. The cartoon
shows a train (representing the Vietnam war) using the wood
(representing America's great society) it is made out of, as fuel. The
cartoon shows the affect the war is having on the U.S Economy, the
Vietnam War is being powered by the sacrifice of a Great Society. The
cartoon shows how when more and more have the great society is
destroyed; the faster the train (war) is going. The cartoon is showing
how the American society is suffering because of the war in Vietnam.
Johnson's vision to "feed and shelter the homelessâ€¦to provide more
education and medical care" is suffering because of the major cost of
the war. Johnson's promise for the great society to the American
Nation is being broken because of Vietnam. The war is affecting
Medical care, Education, welfare and benefits, resources and leisure
(The 'Great Society'). The money that would have gone into maintaining
Johnson's great society is now being spent on the Vietnam war, the
cartoon represents the money spend on Vietnam as the burning wood. The
Vietnam War is deciding how to spend the U.S economy.
Source H answers the question, of 'Did the power of television force
the United States to leave Vietnam?', positively as it uses propaganda
to tell the viewer that the Vietnam war is costing America great
economical loss which helps the US president realize that it would be
more successful if he pulled out of the war.
Source J is a photograph from an American school textbook showing an
anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in 1970. I do not
think the photograph has been tampered with. But the photographer
might have chosen the view e captured, though source J has not been
taken at any specific time to capture a particular moment. The picture
is of normal everyday people that attend Kent State University; the
crowd is made up of the teachers and students of Kent State. All the
people gathered are protesting against the war in Vietnam. There is a
mix of both genders gathers in the protesting crowed, however there a
majority of white people as they had more rights and money than any
other race at the time. The photograph itself was not intended for
propaganda reasons however there is propaganda present in the
The photograph shows us that the Americans protesting are passionate
about their beliefs on the war, which means that there are lots of
Americans against government decisions on the war in Vietnam. It also
shows that there were speeches made on the matter as you can see in
Source J; the photograph was taken from behind people standing on a
type of platform, which shows how strongly people are against the war.
The people demonstrating are trying hard to get their message of
anti-war across to higher authorities.
Source J was published in a school textbook in 1970, after the end of
the war. For this reason, the source would have had no influence on
the war decisions, as it would have been over however it would have
had a slight impact on the war decisions at the time of the war.
Source J doesn't agree with the set question of Did the power of
television force the United States to leave Vietnam? However it does
show the commitment of the American public against the war.
Source K is a public opinion poll asked in Australia during 1969-1970
(Australia fought alongside America in the war in Vietnam). The public
were asked if they wanted their forces to continue fighting in Vietnam
or be brought back home. I think the Australian government organized
this type of poll so that they could find out public opinions on the
war. The results of the poll would have probably been published in a
Source K is an Australian factual opinion. However it would have no
impact on American decisions on the war. This source could have easily
been tampered with so the results probably correspond well with the
producer's opinion. The source shows that in 1970 50% of the voters
wanted to bring their forces back home. This shows that there is a
majority against the war, it also means that producer probably had a
negative view on the war. Source K does not provide me with enough
evidence to prove that the power of television forced to United States
to leave Vietnam.
Conclusion: The power of television did force the United States to
leave Vietnam, but only to some extent. There are plenty of other
factors for the defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War.