Vietnam Memorial Washington D.C.
The Start of the Vietnam War “No president really decided to go to war in Vietnam. Rather, the American involvement there emerged from years of gradually increasing commitments that slowly and imperceptibly expanded.”
French Rule • Imperialist Era (late 1800s) to beginning WW2 • Controlled Indochina – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos • Took peasants land, treated them poorly, jailed any dissenters
Nationalist Parties • Many political groups in Vietnam against foreign rule. • Indochinese Communist Party – organized most of the uprisings Ultimately known as VIETMINH • Headed by Ho Chi Minh • He was sentenced to death by French, fled to USSR and later China
France vs. Vietminh • French troops back in Vietnam after ’46 • French gain control of Vietnam’s southern half • 1950 – Truman enters US in Vietnam struggle to aid Ally • Next 4 yrs, sent $2.6 billion • Purpose: Growing fear of Communism despite former alliance w/ Ho Chi Minh to oust Japan
Vietminh drive out France • Eisenhower backs French aid by explaining the DOMINO THEORY • knock over the first one, what happens to the rest? • May 1954 – Vietminh overran French after fall of Dien Bien Phu • French surrender and pull out of Vietnam
Geneva Accords • France, GB, USSR, US, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietminh and South Vietnam’s anti-communist nationalists • Set up Peace Agreement - Vietnam divided by 17th parallel • Communist control North • Anti-Communist control South • An election in 1956 would unify the country again