General William Westmoreland During the late nineteenth century the French concouquered Vietnam and made it a protectorate and in 1941 the league for the independence of Vietnam (Viet Minh) was formed to fight for independence from the French and on Sept. 2nd .1945. Ho chi Minh proclaimed it independent from France. The French opposed this and wanted to re-establish their rule but where defeated on the battlefield by the Viet Min and where forced to surrender this ended a war and French rule. After the war there was a conference in Geneva where Vietnam was divided into two parts along the seventeenth parallel there where now a north and a south Vietnam similar to Korea the north being lead by Ho Chi Minh was mainly communist.
North Vietnam at the time was a very poor area being cut off from the agricultural benefits of south Vietnam Ho Chi Minh was forced to ask for help from communist allies like the soviet union and china whom gave needed supported both before and during the war. The south lead by an anti-Communist ruler named ngo Dinh Diem was headed towards a democracy. The south being supported by the French and the united states of America clearly shows how closely this conflict was tide to the cold war going on between the eastern and western superpowers who supported the war efforts on either side. North Vietnams goal was to unify both north and south Vietnam leaving one communist state even if it meant using military force, at this time the cold war was still going on an since the u.s.a. Feared the spread of communist in Asia, John F.
Kennedy gave economic and military aid to south Vietnam in order to prevent the takeover of the south by the north although all though the conflict was still a civil war and the united states where not officially involved they where the force behind the south. The North Vietnamese resented the United States getting involved and on august 2nd 1964 three Vietnamese torpedo boats opened fire on an u.s. destroyer stationed 30 miles off the coast of Vietnam in International waters. The next day Johnson gave the order to “attack with the objective of destroying any hostile forces.” Retaliation air attacks began that very same day with the goal of destroying Vietnams gunboat capability. As two more United States boats where supposedly sunk more American air and sea forces where sent into the region but held back from direct combat.
This is when the United States officially entered the Vietnam War. They did this for a few different reasons the first was that they wanted to keep the independence of south Vietnam, the second had a lot to do with the cold war against communism. America believed that if north Vietnam would be able to turn the south communist as well then Vietnam could become very powerful, after all the U.S. had just witnessed the French be defeated by Vietnam. If Vietnam was to become a more powerful country then they would be able to persuade other Asian countries to become communist as well.
I think that the U.S.A. felt it had to prove to it’s allied nations that it was willing to fulfil its vow of stopping the spread of communist. As the u.s. decided whether or not to move the combat to North Vietnam or not. The North Vietnamese made a surprise attack and moved the combat to the south when it attacked one of the U.S.A.’s major airbases in Bein Hoa. Johnson immediately ordered a retaliation bombing on the north called rolling thunder which was supposed to scare them and convince them that they had no chance of winning. Bombing of this sort continued for some time. While u.s.
troops where being brought in from other places in the world in order to launch a ground attack. By the end of 1965 over 180,000 American soldiers where stationed in South Vietnam under General William S. Westmoreland. The United States with superior firepower helicopters, planes, and many other advantages over the North Vietnamese where very confident about the outcome of the war. They where to be surprised by the Viet cong’s surprise attacks and concealment as well as knowledge of the land and unity in the people.
As the war pressed on it came more and more obvious that the Americans where not going to win this one simply because they where the richer larger more influential superpower. Soldiers where having a hard time in the field fighting the surprise attacks of the guerilla warfare which the Vietnamese used. United States soldiers where growing war weary. The war effort no longer received the support from the American public that it had at the beginning of the conflict. All of America was posed with the question of “what are we fighting for?” protests against the u.s. governments involvement in Vietnam broke out in all parts of the u.s.
demonstrating the American publics mistrust and disappointment in the united states government. After reports of horrific massacres such as may lia were hundreds of innocent Vietnamese civilians Women and children lost their lives for no apparent reason murdered by American soldiers. Hundreds of American casualties were being reported each day. The dragging on of a seemingly pointless war, and the amazing amounts of money being spent to cause this suffering, things add up. Soon almost the whole of America was against the war.
By the end of 1968 the number of u.s. soldiers in Vietnam reached its peak with over 542,000. These stationed U.S. soldiers began to realize that the way things where going the war would last for many more years to come and they were skeptical to whether or not the u.s. war effort could succeed. This was when the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese made the most important decision of the war and planned to strike with everything they had.
The two forces simultaneously launched a massive siege against several different United States military bases. They called it the Tet offensive, which lasted from January 30th to February 25th, 1968. One of the largest ground battles of the war was fought when the Vietnamese led a surprise attack against the khe Sanh U.S. firebase. The effects of the Tet offensive where devastating to the U.S. forces and moral not only in the soldiers on the battlefield but to all of America.
The Tet offensive ultimately encouraged the decisions, which followed and brought and end of the war for America. Although it was not only the bad results in combat which decided whether the U.S.A. would continue It’s war efforts. Without the impact, which the American public made on the government the war, effort may have easily gone on even longer. At this point in time most people didn’t even know what the war was about in the first place In my opinion just as much respect is due to those people which stood up for what they believed in and protested against what they did not.”The war.” The people that stood up for what they believed no matter the circumstances and made their voice’s be heard, while knowing what was wrong as well as what needed to make something right.
There is no doubt about the large roll in the peace process which all the students, activist groups, hippies, and all those others that like peace played. By 1969 combat on the field had decreased very quickly as American troops where evacuated and returned home to a country which would never be the same to them again.