The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communistgovernment of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. This was also called the Second Indochina War. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War. This war started in 1950's according to most historians, though the conflict in Southeast Asia had its roots from french colonial period of the 1800's.
Vietnam War Background
France imposes a colonial system over Vietnam, calling it French Indochina. The system includes Tonkin, Annam, Cochin China and Cambodia. Laos is added in 1893.
Ho Chi Minh founds the Indochinese Communist Party at a meeting in Hong Kong.
Nazis takes control of France. Japanese troops invade French Indochina and occupy
Vietnam with little French resistance.
Japanese troops occupying Indochina carry out a takeover against French authorities. They announce an end to the colonial era, declaring Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia independent.
Japan is defeated in WW2 leaving power in Indochina, eventually France begins to take authority over Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh declares North Vietnam Independent. Models his declaration on the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 in an (unsuccessful) effort to win the support of the United States.
Ho Chi Minh rejects a French proposal granting Vietnam limited self-government and the Viet Minh begins a war against the French.
Beggining of the Vietnam War
The Vietnam War and active U.S. involvement in the war began in 1954, though ongoing conflict in the region goes back to several decades.
After Ho’s communist forces took power in the north, armed conflict between northern and southern armies continued until a decisive battle at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. This ended in victory for northern Viet Minh forces. The French loss at the battle ended French colonial rule in Indochina.
The subsequent treaty signed in July 1954 at a Geneva conference split Vietnam along the latitude known as the 17th Parallel (17 degrees north latitude), with Ho in control in the North and Bao in the South. The treaty also called for nationwide elections for reunification to be held in 1956. The agreement also stated that elections had to be held within two years to unify Vietnam under a single democratic government. These elections never happen.
President John F. Kennedy believe in the domino theory, this theory stated that many other countries would follow communists.
A team sent by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to report on conditions in South Vietnam advised a build-up of American military, economic and technical aid in order to help Diem confront the Viet Cong threat.
Working under the “domino theory,” which held that if one Southeast Asian country fell to communism, many other countries would follow, By 1962, the U.S. military presence in South Vietnam had reached some 9,000 troops, compared with fewer than 800 during the 1950s.
In January 1973, the United States and North Vietnam concluded a final peace agreement, ending open hostilities between the two nations. War between North and South Vietnam continued, however, until April 30, 1975.
After years of warfare, an estimated 2 million Vietnamese were killed, while 3 million were wounded and another 12 million became refugees. This war demolished the country’s infrastructure and economy, and reconstruction proceeded slowly. Including, about 58,148 Americans were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.7 million who served.
In the United States, the effects of the Vietnam War would last long after the last troops returned home in 1973. The nation spent more than $120 billion on the conflict in Vietnam from 1965-73. This massive spending, led to widespread inflation, and problems worldwide. Including oil crisis in 1973 and skyrocketing fuel prices.