Key Question: Why did the USA go to war in Vietnam?

What you need to know about….

Why did America fight the War?

Basically to hold the line against the spread of world Communism. America paid for the war the French fought against Communist Vietnam as a part of the Truman Doctrine(1947) “to protect free peoples…” and then by the 1950’s became involved when the war flared up again.

By the late 1950’s the Americans developed the “Domino Theory” as a justification for the involvement. This theory stated, “If South Vietnam falls to the Communist, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, India and Pakistan would also fall like dominos. The Pacific Islands and even Australia could be at risk”.

After the French were defeated in 1954, Vietnam was split in two – the north was Communist, led by Ho Chi Minh, and the south was Capitalist under Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem’s regime received billions of dollars from the US but remained deeply unpopular with most Vietnamese people.

The US prevented the elections that were promised under the Geneva conference because it knew that the Communists would win. Vietnamese Buddhist monks protested against American involvement by self-immolation.

Operation Phoenix was organised by the CIA. This led to the arrest and murder of thousands of Communists in the south. First the US sent in military advisers, then President Johnson sent in troops in huge numbers.

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