Causes and Effects of Vietnam War

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Vietnam, a Southeast Asian country along the side of the China Sea, has a long and tragic history that can be dated all the way back into 1887, in which the French took over it. To shake the French off their land, many Vietnamese started to fight back in the First Indochina War. In 1954, the French finally gave up and granted Vietnam its independence. Independence, however, led to conflict between communists and non-communists, thus dividing the country into North and South Vietnam, with North belonging to the communists. Such news showed potential threat to American who feared the spread of communist activities, and would soon start a bloody and brutal war between the countries.

In America, the domino theory was developed, which suggested that if Vietnam fell as communists all along, then the rest of Southeast Asia will follow its example. In 1960, Americans called war on Vietnam, seeking to end communist domination. In the beginning, only 900 U.S. military personnel were sent, but the number dramatically increased as the war grew more intense. America didn’t settle for total war though, for it was predicted by President Johnson that the war would only last for six months. Johnson’s prediction will soon be proven wrong as a guerilla force called the Viet Cong grew stronger and more unpredictable.

During the war, North Vietnamese soldiers and the Viet Cong used booby traps and ambushes to wipe out American troops. America, on the other hand relied a lot on helicopters to seek enemy forces and carry away casualties. 50,000 American helicopters landed in Vietnam, but 5,000 of them were destroyed during operations. Strategies such as “Search and Destroy”, in which soldiers would search jungles and kill any seen enemy, were unsuccessfully used to seek out and kill guerrilla forces. Village after village was wiped out or burned down, and many villager were suffocated to death. War ranged on while US governors strategize on what to do next, until 1968, which was considered the turning point of the war.

On January 30th, the first day of Vietnam’s lunar new year, the Viet Cong set up a series of surprise attacks that lasted for also eight months, killing over 30,000 Americans. This attacked greatly weakened American forces and gave North Vietnam many advantages. Also, the North Vietnamese created the Ho Chi Minh trail, a supply trail that passed through Cambodia. This trail was crucial to the North, but the Americans couldn’t strike at once because half of the trail was in Cambodia. More and more soldiers were being sent but less and less were guaranteed to come back. This upset many Americans and sent waves of complaint back at homeland.

Back in America, many people viewed the war as an expensive and unnecessary cause of blood shed, this led to numerous protests and disprovals. Cases such as the Kent and Jackson State shooting infuriated citizens, increasing pressure on the government. Under the negative reputation, Johnson announced he would not seek reelection. Finally, when President Johnson, a supporter of the Vietnam War, stepped down, a new leader, President Nixon, stepped up and promised that the nation will make peace and cease all fighting. In 1973, the final American troops were taken out of Vietnam and the war and in 1975 the war officially ended.

In total, about 55 thousand American soldiers died and $168 billion were spend on aiding the warfare. In fact, only one week after the Americans ceased fighting, North Vietnam took over the South, plunging the country into communism. It’s interesting how even with all of the warning signs that were emitted during the war, American generals didn’t cease fire.

“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now,” said President Nixon, reflecting on the disastrous war later on. As a whole, the war brought a sense of failure and a taste of disgust among America, but it reminds us to heed our failures, find the mistakes, and make an intelligent move forward.

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Causes and Effects of Vietnam War. (2021, Mar 10). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/causes-and-effects-of-vietnam-war/

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