Following the exit of Japan from Vietnam, the latter was left in a pervasive war between the French Capitalists and the communist-led resistance armies (Hunt 23). In earlier years, the USA had refrained from any direct involvement in the war. However, after the evacuation of Japan, the USA recognized the increasing possibility of Vietnam takeover by the communist bloc. The Soviet Union was offering technical support and advice to the resistance forces in a bid to increase its influence in South-East Asia. However, the USA had previously embarked on a mission to free the world states from depression and the dictatorial rule of the communists. Therefore, an increased involvement of the USA in the Vietnam War was seen from 1945 to 1954. However, the U.S were clear on their aspirations to halt communist usurpation while at the same time advocating for self- independence, where the Vietnamese people were involved in their country’s administration.
Between 1943 and 1954, the USA underwent several administrations led by Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. In these three administrations, the USA’s view towards French colonialism and decolonization in Vietnam drastically changed from its earlier perceptions. In his speech at the Tehran Conference on 28th of November 1943, President Roosevelt mentioned about the intention of the USA to rescue the Vietnamese people from the colonial rule (Hunt 22). The French had returned to Vietnam in late 1945 trying to return the state back to its colonial rule. President Roosevelt recognized France’s desire to regain its global influence with its interests in other colonies. However, the USA were determined to ensure that the Vietnam War did not end only in order to return the people back to the colonial age it had endured under Japanese and French control. Hence, the U.S elucidated that its intention was to prepare Vietnam for having self-Government (Neu 145).
The USA greatly opposed to the activities of Vietnam communist resistance forces led by Ho Chi Minh. He was a commander of the resistance army that was in great opposition to the Capitalists’ entry into Vietnam. Ho argued that the U.S.A was only interested in the oil, steel, rubber, and natural resources of Indochina and that it did not intend to establish peace on the territory (Hunt 26). The USA recognized that Ho gained some support from the Soviet Union in the form of weapons and financial aid. The USA also recognized the threat that the Soviet Union posed to the world if its campaign in Vietnam was successful. Regarding this, the National Security Report of 1950 warned the French of the possibility of the communist resistance and the interests of the communist powers in conquering Southeast Asia. Hence, the U.S administrators vowed to support France with the technical and financial aid needed to stop the communist influence in the region (Neu 150).
Since 1950, the USA promised to support France in its campaign to reclaim Vietnam from communist power, the country was more determined than ever to prevent Vietnam from falling under Communist power. In 1953, President Eisenhower announced his support of the French in Vietnam. Eisenhower took the presidency from Truman, whose administration had also the involved support of the French against communist influence in Indochina. In one of his speeches, in April 1954, Eisenhower expressed his concerns about France’s collapsing position in Indochina (Hunt 27). He mentioned that the USA would protect Vietnam from a Ho government because Ho was not after a genuine independence but rather a dictatorial and exploitative power. The activities that the U.S conducted in response to the war included sending advisors to French troops. These actions marked the start of direct involvement of the USA in the war. Later, the USA sent troops to the country to help in stopping the rapidly growing communist influence. However, in the early 1950s, the US still maintained a great distance from the war.
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The US involvement in the Vietnam War was mainly due to the promotion of nationalism and independence to the world states. Following the previous World War II, the US was devoted to freeing the world from the dictatorial and colonial rule. Its support of the French was provided under the condition when the French would let the state have self-government where its people could choose their policies. However, this campaign of the USA was hindered by the support of the communist powers to the resistance army. The resistance used intimidation and brainwashing tactics to garner support from local people, at the same time not giving the majority of them a choice to vote. While observing the administration method of the Communists in Vietnam and other states, the USA was convinced that they posed a direct threat to world peace and stability. According to the USA administrators, the French were better organized to win the war than the USA due to the past involvement in the country’s administration. Moreover, the U.S administrators hoped that the French would gain the support of the locals, most of who were in opposition to the communists (Hunt 27).
Another reason why the USA offered support to the French in Vietnam was the fear of a communist’s takeover of Southeast Asia. The USA were in great opposition to Ho Chi Minh and were ready to offer whatever resources that France needed to collapse the spread of communist ideology in Southeast Asia (Hunt 24). Hence, the USA offered verbal and material support to France powers in Vietnam anticipating a strengthened French domination in the country. In the USA, policymakers tried to persuade the world to disregard communist ideologies. In a letter to British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, Eisenhower expressed the concerns of the threat that France’s loss posed to the bordering countries. Eisenhower mentioned that if the communists took control over Vietnam, it was likely that Burma, Thailand, and Indonesia would follow suit. Japan’s market would also greatly starve, and this would force the country to join the Communist forces. Therefore, Eisenhower portrayed the fear of the Americans and people throughout the world of the possibility of France losing the war in Vietnam (Hunt 27).
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The Vietnam War in 1943-1954 was marked by a start of USA’s support of the French interests in the war-torn country. Following the earlier departure of the Japanese from Vietnam, the communist resistance performed a brave fight against the French getting support from the Soviet Union and China. On the other hand, the USA were determined to stop the spread of communist ideology across Southeast Asia. That was the main reason for American involvement in the war. Their support of the French was both verbal and material during these years. However, the USA intended to promote nationalism and self-government in Vietnam. Therefore, over these years, the USA offered support to the French but championed for Vietnam’s freedom from the French colonial rule.