In march 12, 1947 with the truman doctrine and the newly introduced policy of containment usa decided to award itself with status of policeman of the world giving themselves a permission to intervene anywhere in the world when they consider it is neccessary. This was the policy that allowed them to interpose in vietnam. Vietnamese people under the leadership of ho chi mihn, founder of viet minh defeated french at diem bien phu who had controll over whole indochina (thailand, vietnam, combodia, laos).
Although usa was sending aid to french they didn’t help much because president eisenhower has just been elected to end the korean war therefore he didn’t want to involve usa in another conflict. However after french defeat and the devision of vietnam into north which was communist and south usa started to realize the danger of communism spreading into asia and saw vietnam as a puppet in hands of ussr and china. in convinction that responsibility for the ‘domino effect’ will be theirs if they won’t do anything.
In 1954 usa prevented the re-uniting free elections from taking place, foreboding uniting vietnam under communist goverment. this time they showed their resilient attitude, considering their disapproval with ussr, not holding free elections in their sattelites. nevertheless there were no elections and usa picked up anti-communist diem to become a president of south vietnam. This decision led to many protest especially from buddhist monks since diem was ignorat to their religion and culture, he himself being christian.
During his reign he forbade any elections and set members of his family into important positions. his corruption and way of controling south vietnam was the reason for more and more people joining the national front for the liberation of south vietnam, the viet cong. although usa didn’t agree with his governance after his murder they continued to support his equally corrupt successor. Meantime, in usa after kennedy’s assasination new president was elected with completely different attitude.
l b johnson seemed more considered about vietnam and sent more and more military personel, the so called ‘advisors’ to vietnam. During his leadership he achieved the tonkin gulf resolution under suspicious coincidences of the tonkin gulf incident, giving him ultimate power to launch immediate attack or start war without the need of consulting the idea with senate or advisors. lbj was the most involved president in vietnam war and he started the open war with vietnam.
When advisors were not enough and the infiltration of north vietnamese in south vietnam became with increasing number of attacs intorelable problem, in march 1965 lbj decided to launch the operation rolling thunder, bombing of the North Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh’s trail which was the major mean of supplying south vietnam by Viet Cong. within a short time usa realized that this tactics is not appropriate but they were in convinction that easing would signal their weakness.
In addition this operation lasted for eight years where high explosives, herbicides to destroy the jungle and defoliant agent orange were used and more bombs were dropped on vietnam than on germany by all the allies during the second world war. despite the growing objections johnson launched full-scale war with the first conventional warfare in ia drang valley which both sides considered as victory. Although americans inflicted greater losses than they have suffered (a:300 v:2000), vietnamese held their positions.
This way the war continued for number of years marked with unsuccessful negotiations with main problem of diplomacy frequently undermined by military activity at a critical moment. In 1967 in south Vietnam were held the ‘free’ elections but without any communist party. Thieu was elected with a low vote but finally usa could say they are defending democratically elected goverment. in following years after the failure of previous operations, operations search and destroy was introduced which main aims were defending us bases, launching search and destroy missions.
Another operation, an attempt to win the hearts and minds of the peasant was also complete failure, highlighting the main American problem – misapprehension of the culture of Vietnamese people. The Vietnam war being the first televised war hugely influenced it and seeing the happenings in vietnam many student protests took place in usa, especially after the Mai Lay massacre which shocked people being the evidence that something in this war has gone wrong.
In 1967 increase of bombing by more than 50%, generals still requsting more men and viet cong still holding their positions even advancing (the tet offesnive 1968) and more than 3 000 000 casualities made johnson slowly realize that this war he will not win. In 1968 johnson after many absurd years of fighting informed public that usa will halt bombing, awaiting peace talks. the president has given up ending this terrible mistake and resignated, Vietnam finally became free, united and communist.