WHY AND HOW DID AMERICA GET INVOLVED IN VIETNAM?
America first became involved in Vietnam helping the French against the Vietminh during the Indo-China war by indirect means. This meant America did not send troops into Vietnam until 1964. They were not prepared to send more American soldiers into war after the Second World War. Instead it funded the French army to fight against the Vietminh. They supported the French campaign in Vietnam. In 1950 president Truman agreed to send the French $15 million of supplies, but over the next four years USA spent nearly $3 billion helping the French in Vietnam. They sent supplies and arms to the French fighting in Vietnam.
They did this as they feared the spreading of communism. In 1945 a policy of containment was introduced by President Truman to restrict the spread of communism after World War2. They feared the rate at which communism was spreading and thought that it would eventually spread to the USA as well. This led to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan in 1947. Financial aid was offered to all the European countries to help their economies recover but also to ‘resist being enslaved by armed minorities or outside pressure’ which was basically helping countries to keep out communism. This was known as Dollar Diplomacy. This led to distrust between the Russian and American allies. The USSR was a communist country and the USA was a capitalist country. Both the countries started their own propaganda campaigns against each other and in the USA ‘Uncle Joe’ was being shown in a different light under President Truman. He, unlike President Roosevelt distrusted Stalin and the USSR. Russia thought that the USA was building itself a huge empire to exploit economically through the Marshall Plan. Russia was also distrustful and afraid of the USA because the USA had announced secret testing for the atomic bomb. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki USA was the top of the arms race and Russia felt threatened and bullied by America. America on the other hand, felt threatened by the Russian Red Army which was made up of millions of trained soldiers. They also thought that Russia was rigging elections in favor of communist parties to make the countries communist. This led to an ‘iron curtain’ between the communist and capitalist countries of the world. No new ideas were shared between the two and people were seldom allowed to move between them. This was the start of America’s hatred for communism which later led t to get involved in Vietnam against it. Another reason for America getting involved is China’s fall to communism in 1949. Chairman Mao was the new communist head of China which meant that two of the largest economies and countries in the word were now communist (Russia and China). The USA thought that if one country became communist, its neighboring countries would become communist too. This was known as the domino theory. President Eisenhower believed this theory that communism would spread though countries like falling dominoes. He feared that eventually the USA would fall as well, and wanted to prevent this. He started the Rolling Back of Communism movement wherein he tried to support countries against communism. He believed that this would help prop up the dominoes and help push some of them back. This also meant the USA now directly intervened in international politics to make sure countries would not fall to communism. Another thing that led to the Americans getting involved in Vietnam was the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. This was the civil war where the Communist North fought against the Capitalist South. The United Nations (mainly the USA) supported the South while China/Russia supported the North by sending money and soldiers. The country was partitioned in 1954 into North and South Korea. All these reasons led to the American involvement in Vietnam supporting the French. The main reason was to stop Communism from spreading into more countries. They thought if Vietnam...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document