How The USA Lost The Vietnam War

analytical Essay
2806 words
2806 words

Robert S. McNamara, appointed by John F. Kennedy to the position of U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1961, said about the Vietnam War, “It is important to recognize it’s a South Vietnamese war. It will be won or lost depending upon what they do. We can advise and help, but they are responsible for the final results, and it remains to be seen how they will continue to conduct that war,'; (McNamara 72). Despite these guidelines for assisting in the war, the U.S. would end up doing much more than just advising. The Vietnam War was supposed to be a demonstration of how willing the U.S. was to battle communism, but ended up a personal vendetta against the North Vietnamese as the U.S. escalated its commitment in Vietnam infinitely greater than it had ever intended. After World War II, France returned to Vietnam to reclaim their Indochinese colonies after the Ho Chi Minh had declared Vietnamese independence in 1945 (Goldstein 3). The U.S. had just ended a war started by German conquest in Europe, and now was being asked to help France conquer the colonies it lost control of during the war. The Vietnam Nationalists, the same ones who had supported the U.S. in the war against the Japanese not more than a year previous, sought only to peacefully gain their independence from France (Chant 25). In January of 1950, the Viet Minh gained recognition by the governments of the USSR and China, who supplied weapons and places to train (Chant 25). Because the two Communist superpowers recognized the Viet Minh, the Vietnam war became to the U.S. a struggle between capitalism and communism, especially since the Viet Minh were openly communist themselves. By aiding the French, the U.S. thought they were helping their free-trade ally France fight communism, the Communist Party was very strong in France (Goldstein 3). The U.S. feared that Vietnam would fall to communism, and set-off the “domino effect'; for other communist satellites in Indochina (McNamara 76). With weapons and training from Russia and China, the Viet Minh forced France to request help from the U.S. Fearing the spread of communism under Ho Chi Minh’s regime, the U.S. was glad to offer France assistance, but even after the French humiliation at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the U.S. continued their involvement in Vietnam (Encarta “Vietnam War';). The Vietnam situation became a...

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... was willing to do everything in its power to stop any spread of communism, even in its least significant form? France was only looking to maintain its standing as a colonial power, and its goals and rewards were obvious. While France was still involved, the U.S. could share the same goals, but what could a country without colonial interests gain by fighting to put down a colonial independence movement? England had lost its American colonies because it was unfocused in exactly how to go about regaining control, and for the same reason, the France and the U.S. were unable to crush the nationalistic Vietnamese freedom fighters.

Works Cited
Chant, Christopher.
The Military History of the United States: The Vietnam War, the Early Days, Marshall Cavendish, New York, 1992: 9, 22, 25, 38.

Dougan, Clark.
A Nation Divided, Boston Publishing Company, Boston, 1984: 48.

Encarta Encyclopedia, Microsoft Corporation, 1998, “Vietnam War.';

Goldstein, Donald M.
The Vietnam War: The Story & Photographs, Brassey’s, Washington, 1997: 3.

McNamara, Robert S.
In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, Times Books, New York, 1995: 72, 76, 218, 219, 220, 240.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the u.s. acted as a personal vendetta against the north vietnamese during the vietnam war.
  • Explains that the u.s. feared that vietnam would fall to communism and set-off the 'domino effect' for other communist satellites in indochina.
  • Explains that vietnam was the colonial property of france until world war ii, when france refused to recognize its independence.
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