US involvement in Vietnam

Background – Before and during WWII 

Before World War Two, Vietnam had been part of the French Empire. In World War Two it had been invaded by Japan. Ho Chi Minh was the leader of the Vietminh, and an army which fought for Vietnamese independence.

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French involvement and Dien Bien Phu 

The French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 witch signalled the end of French influence in Indochina. The battle fought around Dien Bien Phu was the last major campaign by a European state in the region; by the end of the decade the United States was to become the prominent foreign power in Vietnam and the influence of France dwindled to barely nothing – such was the impact of their defeat at the hands of General Giap's forces.

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Geneva Conference 

The Geneva Conference (April 26 – July 20, 1954[1]) was a conference among several nations that took place in Geneva and Switerland, in order to settle outstanding issues resulting from the Korean war and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina.

The Soviet union, US , France, UK, and the People's republic of China were participants throughout the conference, while other countries concerned were represented during the discussion of questions of interest to them.

The part of the conference on the Korean question ended without adopting any declarations or proposals. These agreements temporarily separated Vietnam into two zones, a northern zone to be governed by the Viet minh , and a southern zone to be governed by the State of Vietnam , then headed by former emperor Bao Dai. A Conference Final Declaration, issued by the British chairman of the conference, provided that a general election be held by July 1956 to create a unified Vietnamese state.

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Domino Theory

The domino theory was a theory intordudced in the 1950s all the way to the 1980s, that basically said that if one country in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. The domino theory was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War to justify the need for American intervention around the world. The US were very scared of communisum, this became something called the Red scare!

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Supporting and overthrowing Diem 

In Geneva, 1954, Indochina was divided into Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam and South Vietnam and even though it was decided to hold elections in 1956 to bring togther the two sides of Vietnam. Diem, the leader of South Vietnam,  refused to hold the elections. 

The death of Diem caused celebrations among many people in South Vietnam but also lead to political chaos in the Nation.

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Military advisers and Strategic Hamlets 

Military/combat advisors, are soldiers sent to foreign nations to aid that nation with its military training, organization, and other various military tasks. In the early 1960s, elements of the U.S. Army Special Forces and Echo 31 went to South Vietnam as military advisors to train and assist the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) for impending actions against the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). United States Marines also filled a significant role as advisors to Vietnamese forces.

The Strategic Hamlet Program,  was a plan by the governments of South Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War to combat the communist insurgency by pacifying the countryside and reducing the influence of the communists among the rural population. In late 1950s, the Communists began to increase their activities in the South Vietnam. In December 1960, the National Liberation Front (NLF) was formed and rapidly controlled large sections of South Vietnamese countryside. Realizing that he was losing South Vietnam to the Vietcong village by village, President Diem and his brother, Nhu implemented the Rural Community Development Program in 1959.

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Gulf of Tonkin and military involvement

The Gulf of Tonkin, also known as the USS Maddox incident, drew the US more directly into the Vietnam war.It involved two separate confrontations involving  North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread claims that either one or both incidents were false.

Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes

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