Vietnam Vietnam is the easternmost country in Southeast Asia. The country is mostly hills and dense forests. It borders Laos, Cambodia, and China.
In the 1400s the Chinese tired to reassert the power over Vietnam but Vietnamese military leader Le Loi used guerrilla warfare to defeat the Chinese. Loi’s rebels worked as peasants during the day and took up arms to attack the Chinese by night.
1428 the rebels drove the Chinese out of the country and won independence for Vietnam.
Vietnam once again lost independence during a surge of European imperialism in the mid 1800s. The invaders this time were the French.
In 1883 the French gained complete control of the country and the combined Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia to form French Indochina.
Like with the Chinese the French had taking control of the land but not in control of the people’s hearts.
Ho Chi Minh was the country’s best known nationalist. A Nationalist is a person or group who works to advance the independence and interests of a cultural group in a particular location He lived in the China and the Soviet Union while working for Vietnamese independence. Because of his time spent in these countries he became committed to the ideals of communism.
In the 1940s during World War II the Japanese occupied Indochina. This was Ho’s chance.
Ho retuned to Vietnam in early 1941. He organized a resistance movement called League for Independence of Vietnam or Vietminh.
After the Japanese surrendered to allied forces in August of 1945, Vietnam declared its independence.
Ho spoke at the celebration for independence; he echoed the language of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in his speech.
Ho pleaded for assistance from the U.S. but President Truman ignored Ho and instead backed the French . Truman saw France as a powerful ally to stop the spread of communism. Truman was unwilling to back Ho’s Communist connections.
By the late 1940s communism was spreading through out Asia: China, North Korea, and Indonesia. President Eisenhower warned that if Vietnam fell to communism the rest of Southeast Asia would soon follow.
By 1954 the United States was paying for much of the cost of the French war effort. But the French suffered loss after loss.
Money and military equipment were of limited use against the Vietminh guerrilla tactics. The Vietminh would strike with out warning and then disappear back into the jungle
The French tried to lure the Vietminh into a conventional battle at Dien Bien Phu. The plan backfired; 13,000 French troops were outnumbered by 50,000 Vietminh troops.
French commanders told their troops to hold out; “The Americans will not let use down; the free world will not let us down.”
Eisenhower was willing to send money but was reluctant to become directly involved in another Asian war so soon after the Korean War.
1) What was the Geneva Conference 2) Who was involved 3) What did the U.S. and China want 4) What was the outcome
International conference to settle Indochina conflict and map out Indochina’s future • Cambodia, Great Britain, Laos, China, Soviet Union, United States • U.S. Did not want to see Vietnam handed over completely to the communist • China Limit U.S. influence and also wanted to prevent a strong unified Vietnam • a) Cease-fire • Divide Vietnam at 17th parallel • Vietminh forces in the north and France regained control of south • General elections set to unify country • e) U.S. refused to support agreement
The U.S. hoped that South Vietnam would remain non-communist; their hopes rested on a former French government official Ngo Dinh Diem.
Diem was strongly anticommunist, He spent in the United States were he attracted powerful backers.
Diem became president of South Vietnam in 1955. This election was rigged. For example in Saigon Diem received 605,000 from just 450,000 registered voters.
General elections to unify the country were suppose to take place in 1956, but Diem knew he could not win a nation wide election against Ho Chi Minh, so when the time came for a country wide election Diem refused to call an election in the south.
Diem was unpopular from the start due in large part to his religious background.
By the late 1950s armed revolution had started in the south. Much of the resistance was from Vietminh who had stayed in the south. They formed the National Liberation Front or NLF.
The NLF’s main goal was to overthrow Diem’s government. This rebel force was called the Vietcong.
President Kennedy agreed fully with the Eisenhower's domino theory. He also wanted to improve the U.S. image after the Bay of Pigs and the building of the image of the U.S.
In December of 1960 there were 900 U.S. military advisors training ARVN. With in two years Kennedy had increased the number of U.S. military advisors to over 16,000.
South Vietnam’s Buddhist started to openly oppose Diem’s rule. Diem waged a brutal campaign to control the Buddhist.
U.S. ambassador Lodge meet with Diem. Diem refused to discuss any topics that President Kennedy had raised.
U.S. leaders began to encourage a group of South Vietnamese army officers plotting Diem’s overthrow. In November of 1963 Diem was murdered.
Diem’s death did not ease growing concerns about the communist expansion in Vietnam.