Vietnam War- Why did USA fail in Vietnam

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  • Created by: Lauren
  • Created on: 15-01-13 13:41

American involvement in Vietnam under Presiden Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson

The origins of the Vietnam War

Before the second world war, Vietnam was ruled by France. In 1942, Japan invaded and occupied French Indo-China and mistreated the Vietnamese. A strong vietnamese resistance movement was set up by Ho Chi Minh.

In August 1945, Japan was defeated and the French returned to rule, by Ho Chi Minh and his communist supporters continued to fight for independance. Despite American assistance, the French Army was defeated by the Communists at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. A peace treaty was signed and France pulled out of Vietnam.

After the French withdrawal,Vietnam was divided in to two, Communist North and Non-Communist South.

Why did USA send troops to Vietnam

Under the terms of the 1954 peace treaty, the aims were to unite Vietnam and election to be held within 2 years. However, the Americans led by President Eisenhower were concerned that the Communists might win, so Ngo Dinh Diem set up the Republic of South Vietnam. 

Diem's government was corrupt. He put many of his relatives in positions of power and refused to hold elections. Vietnamese peasants were treated badly by Diem and many began supporting the Communist National Liberation Front for South Vietnam, known as the Vietcong. With support from th Communist North, the Vietcong began a guerilla war against the South Vietnamese government.

US involement in Vietnam increased, there were several reasons why:

  • Diem's government was weak and needed US support if it were to survive.
  • During the Cold War, US policy was based on the idea of containment. The US, therefore, supported the French in Vietnam in the 1950's in order to stop the spread of commnism and gained support from his allies.
  • US President Eisenhower and other believed in the Domino Theory. They believe that the USSR was trying to spread communism throughout the world. So if one country was allowed to fall to the Communists, others would follow.
  • Some historians believe that a combination of high ranking officers and large arms manufacturers actually wanted a war with the USSR. War meant that more money would be spent on arms and equipment.

From 1961 under the leadership of Kennedy, US military support for South Vitnam increased. In 1961, 16,000 US 'advisors' were sent to assist the South Vietnamese Army. 

President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, hiss successor, President Johnson, sent large numbers of combat troops to Vietnam. In August 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats fired on US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. In response, US Congress gave Johnson sweeping powers to retaliate. He sent 1000's more troops to fight in the jungles of South Vietnam. The Vietnam war as now underway. 

US tactics during the Vietnam War

a)Bombing: strategic 

Bombing Vietcong strongholds, supply lines and key cities in North Vietnam was a major part of the US strategy during the Vietnam War. Bombing Vietcong targets and North Vietnam achieved some objectives.

  • Vietcong supply lines were disrupted
  • N.Vietnam's industry and…


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