The Vietnam War and Events Leading up to the War

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The Vietnam War has roots from ancient Vietnam's rule by colonial and imperial powers. In 1407 China ruled ancient Vietnam, then in late 1800s France took control and established Indochina. In the late 1800s, Nationalist movements began. They wanted more self governance and less French rule. The main movements were held by the communist leader Ho Chi Minh, the founder of the militant nationalist organization the Viet Minh.

During WWII when France was occupied by Nazi Germany, it lost its hold in Vietnam, and Japan took control of Vietnam. The Viet Minh resisted the Japanese and extended its power throughout Vietnam. When the Japanese surrendered at the end of WWII, Ho Chi Minh took the capital of Hanoi and declared Vietnam an independent country. France refused the declaration and returned to Vietnam, driving Ho’s forces into North Vietnam. In 1954 a cease fire was declared and Vietnam was officially divided in two, with the North ruled by Ho and communist forces, and the South under a French backed Emperor. The dividing line was the Seventeenth Parallel.

Because of the domino theory, the theory that if Vietnam fell to communism it would spread to the rest of Southeast Asia, the USA began to support the anti-communist politician, Ngo Dinh Diem. With assistance from the USA, Diem took control of the South Vietnamese Government in 1955 and declared the republic of Vietnam.

Diem’s regime was extremely corrupt and unpopular. He was unwilling to be a “puppet leader.” He constantly refused to take advice from the USA and he made decisions that upset the South Vietnamese people. Resistance against Diem’s regime was organized by the Ho Chi Minh liberation front, which became more commonly known as the Viet Cong.

In 1962 JFK sent...

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...xchange, North Vietnam promised that elections would be held to determine the fate of the whole country.

As the Watergate scandal began to enclose around Nixon, the North Vietnamese Communist leader Le Duan assumed correctly that the United States would not likely interfere in Vietnam, even though Nixon promised to. As a result from that, North Vietnamese troops began to move into South Vietnam in 1974. Nixon resigned in shame in Aug. 1974 and was replaced by the Vice President, Gerald R. Ford.

Any hope to try to salvage the war was shattered when congress refused adequate funding for the South Vietnamese army in 1974. In the beginning of 1975 the Communist forces started a large offensive, forcing the South Vietnamese to retreat. On Apr. 30, 1975, Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese, all of Vietnam was unified under Communist rule, and the Vietnam War was over.
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