Canada's Complicity & U.S Aggression in the Vietnam War
Canada and The United States
July 11, 2013
Canada’s status during the Vietnam was officially that of a non-belligerent passive observer. Despite this, Canada would remain a major supplier of goods to the United States during the war, many of which would end up going to Vietnam to support the war effort. Canada traded raw materials to the United States as well as military gear, munitions, napalm, and allowed U.S military testing of Agent Orange in Canadian grounds. This supported their ally and also provided Canadian industries with a great deal of prosperity in their trade by way of the war. The attraction to prosperous trading opportunities may have contributed to Canada’s overall apologetic and compliant attitude towards American war policy during the Vietnam War era.
After the end of the Second World War, the world was left with two superpowers with competing ideologies: The United States of America and the Soviet Union. The Americans had come out of the war with a surging economy and served as the flagship for the capitalist nations of the West. The Soviets on the other hand practiced Communism, an ideology that was seen as a great threat to the Western way of life. 1 Though they had been allied at the end of the war, both nations quickly moved to bolster their military and economic infrastructure to prepare for the era of pseudo-colonialism and competition between the two powers they both knew would follow. By 1949, the Soviets would become the world’s second nuclear power, launching most of the world into a full out cold war between the communist East and the capitalist West. Competition between these ideologies meant that each side would fight to protect their influence in foreign nations, to spread their ideologies to new nations, and to protect against the spread of their enemy’s ideology to new nations; a policy the West called “containment.”2
During the Cold War period, Vietnam was in a state of flux. Before WWII, the region consisting of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, known as Indochina, had been a French colony. Following the defeat of France by the Germans in 1940, control of the area was given to the Japanese. After the war, France returned to resume authority over Vietnam which was permitted by Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, a communist, under the assurance that the country would gain its independence as an ally to France. When talks between the two countries broke down, a war ensued resulting in a divided Vietnam split between a Communist North led by Ho Chi Minh, and a capitalist south, now without the protection of the French military.3 Following the departure of France in 1954, America quickly moved in to South Vietnam to protect its interests in the region. At this time there had been growing support in the South for Communism and unification with the North. America feared that Communism would gain momentum after having failed to fully defeat the Communist threat in North Korea. From 1955 on, American and South Vietnamese troops and installations in South Vietnam were exposed to terrorism tactics and guerilla warfare from Communist sympathizers in the South known as the Viet Cong. The first major American death toll came in a 1957 terrorist bombing in Saigon. 4 During this period, America was becoming increasingly concerned over the aggression by communist Vietnamese revolutionaries, and more so by their growing influence in South Vietnam. The infamous 1964 incident known as the “Golf of Tonkin Incident” would provide the excuse for escalation that the Americans desperately wanted. The incident involved alleged attacks on U.S. naval vessels by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. In a recently released NSA report on the incident concluded that in actuality the North Vietnamese boats were fired upon first by the USS Maddox, and the alleged second attack was...
Cited: 1. "Text of U.S. Note to Soviet Union on Vietnam." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973), Jul 24, 1966. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/142783257?accountid=13631.
2. Black, Eric and Staff Writer. "Containment // Policy Directive from 1950 Still Guides our Dealings with the Soviet Union." Star Tribune, Aug 15, 1988. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/417922174?accountid=13631.
3. Carter, James M. "Inventing Vietnam: The United States and Statemaking in Southeast Asia." Order No. 3153740, University of Houston, 2004. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/305195878?accountid=13631.
4. Compiled by DAVE VENDITTA, The,Morning Call. "VIETNAM TIMELINE - WAR STORIES -- VIETNAM WAR: DEFINING THEIR LIVES." Morning Call, Apr 30, 2000. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/392913787?accountid=13631.
5. "Joe" Vasey, Lloyd,R. "TONKIN: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT." United States Naval Institute.Proceedings 136, no. 8 (08, 2010): 66-71. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/744716118?accountid=13631
10. Wagner, Lorraine. "Reader 's View on this Memorial Day, Consider Cost of Going to War." South Florida Sun - Sentinel, May 28, 2012. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1018000340?accountid=13631
12. Arsenault, Christopher. "CANADA: AGENT ORANGE SETTLEMENT COVERS LIMITED TIME FRAME." Global Information Network, Sep 20, 2007. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/457541595?accountid=13631
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