The Origins of the Conflict:
Before the second world war Vietnam was ruled by the French and with little resistance but when Hitler and his army took control of France, the Japanese (allies of Germany) took control of Vietnam's resources (coal, rice, rubber, railways and roads). The Vietnamese suffered greatly and as a result a group called the Viet Minh and their leader, Ho Chi Minh emerged. Ho inspired the people to fight for independence and though they were not a trained army, by the end of the war, the Viet Minh had control of the north of the country and wanted the rest.
However, the French returned from war in 1945, wanting back what was theirs but Ho had not fought the Japanese to give up to the French so in 1946, war between the French and Viet Minh broke out. Ho was clever, he kept quiet about wanting a communist Vietnam so he gained sympathy from the USA and the fight was seen against the colonial rule of France.
However, when China fell to communism in 1949, they began to help aid Ho Chi Minh allowing the US to believe that the Viet Minh were part of the plan to have a communist Asia. In order to keep up the policy of containment, the US poured $500 million a year into the French war effort and help set up a non-communist government in the south of the country.
By 1954, the French had control of the towns and the Viet Minh in the countryside as the Viet Minh's guerilla tactics mad them impossible to defeat.
- French lost 3000 in battle and 8000 in captivity
- Viet Minh had defeated French in open battle with the weapons supplied by China and the USSR
- A small Asian state had defeated a rich European state through the right tactics, strong leadership and sheer determination
- 1945 Geneva peace conference saw Vietnam split in two until elections could be help to decide its future
President Einsenhower was convinced that of Vietnam fell to communism, other surrounding countries would also fall. This was called the Domino Theory and was part of the policy of Containment.
In 1955, the US helped Diem to set up the Republic of South Vietnam as he was bitterly anti-communist and was prepared to imprison or exile any communist. However, Diem was corrupt and he treated the peasants of Vietnam horribly and showed little respect for the main religion of Vietnam, Buddhism. He often put members of his family or his friend in positions of great power and he refused to hold any type of elections at the fear of loosing.
Though the USA were concerned by Diem's actions, they continued to support him and gave him around $1.5 billion during the 1950s. In November 1963, Diem was overthrown by his own army leaders, yet the US still gave them support and they were as corrupt as Diem.
All this gave even more support for the…