Vietnam War- How It Started? Facts Capsule

Vietnam was a French Colony from the 19th Century. It was known as French Indo-China

In WW2, Japan took control of Vietnam from 1940-1945

Ho-Chi-Minh formed League for Independence of Vietnam or Vietminh in 1941.

Hours after Japan’s Surrender in 1945, Vietminh declared Independence from France. That led to Guerilla warfare.

Finally in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Vietminh under the leadership of Vo Nguyen Giap defeated the French and acquired control over Vietnam, ending decades long French rule in 1954. But the big powers were all eyeing to the events of Vietnam and that led to the Geneva Accord in 1954.According to this, Vietnam was divided in North and South across the 17th Parallel and the North Vietnam will be ruled by the Communists led by Ho Chi Minh and backed by USSR and China. The Sothern Vietnam was led by Bao Dai and backed by USA. It was declared by the Accord that election will be held within two years to unify the two parts of Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the tension of Cold War was mounting. USA apprehended that if election was held in Vietnam, they would lose control over it. President Harry Truman had already proclaimed Truman Doctrine pledging support. His successor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, put forth the Domino Theory that a communist victory in Vietnam would create a domino effect in Southeast Asia meaning all neighbouring countries will fall under Communism therefore must be prevented at all costs. USA was therefore getting ready to wage war against Communist rule in Vietnam.

After Bao Dai, Ngo Dinh Diem became the ruler of Vietnam. But he was utterly unpopular and his intolerant attitude to the minorities especially Buddhists made him a bad choice for the Americans. Even though majority of the Vietnamese were Buddhists, Diem was a Roman Catholic and he took measures to persecute the Buddhist monks. Meanwhile, many Buddhist monks had burnt themselves in protest to his oppressive rule. In 1963, USA organized a coup in South Vietnam that led to the killing of Diem and his brother. It is worth mentioning that within three weeks of the deaths of the brothers, Kennedy was assassinated.

For the next two years, there was immense political instability in South Vietnam and that led to as many as 12 Governments ruling in that period. In 1964, Soviet built North Vietnamese torpedo boats damaged US submarined Maddox and Turner Joy which led to ultimate embarrassment for the USA. On August 7, 1964, the House of Senate in the USA passed the ‘Gulf of Tonkin Resolution’ which gave the US President Lyndon B. Johnson to attack Vietnam. Finally, the US-Vietnam war started. USA sent more than half a million troops to combat the Vietcong backed by USSR and China. The South Vietnam army was supported by South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Philippines .This lasted for almost a decade and more than one and half million Vietnamese soldiers ,58,000 US soldiers and more than two million civilians perished in the war. This turned out to be the most embarrassing victory of all-time for USA.

News Reporter

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