This thesis paper is an analysis on the . The Vietnam War divided the American people down the middle. Never has there been as much controversy in the United States since the Civil War that happened a hundred years earlier.
Despite all the money and man power spent the Vietnam War it was not a victory. The American people paid $150 billion in taxes for the war effort. Also the United States sent three million soldiers to Vietnam, but lost nearly 60,000 of them. This was the longest war in United States history, and its first defeat.
The determination of the Vietnamese amazed the American leaders. Without military supplies such as helicopter gun ships and jet bombers the Vietnamese were successful in fighting the most powerful world nation.
By the 1940's the Vietnamese were ready to make a full scale revolution against their French oppressors. The leader of the Vietnamese independence movement was Ho Chi Minh. (1) Ho Chi Minh became a communist in 1920, and he wanted to bring communism to Vietnam after they won their independence. Ho Chi Minh formed the league for the independence of Vietnam that was called the Vietminh.
During World War II the Japanese took over the French rule of Vietnam. Since America was fighting the Japanese as well they shared information with Vietnam to defeat Japan. After World War II had ended Vietnam, for a short time, became independent. However, President Trueman decided to support the French to regain Vietnam because of concern over the spread of communism. As a result the Vietnimh went back to prepare for another war against their oppressors. After their defeat at Dienbienphu in 1954 the French withdrew from Vietnam.
Instead of Ho Chi Minh taking over all of Vietnam after his victory, he accepted a temporary division of Vietnam with him being the leader of the north and anticommunist Ngo Dinh Diem (2) as the leader of the south. This arrangement was only supposed to last two years. An election was to be held to rejoin Vietnam under one government in 1956. If the election had taken place Ho Chi Minh would have won and Vietnam would have become a communist nation.
The United States worked to create a permanent noncommunist South Vietnam under Ngo Dinh Diem. However, his government proved to be unpopular, corrupt, and dictatorial, and the United States criticized his government.
A revolutionary group formed in South Vietnam called the National Liberation Front and renamed the Vietcong. The Vietcong killed hundreds of Ngo Dinh Diem officials and attacked government bases. To help the President Eisenhower gave Ngo Dinh Diem over a billion dollars of aid and hundreds of military advisors and CIA agents.
In 1961 as John F. Kennedy took office the Vietcong grew in strength. President Kennedy gradually increased the American military in South Vietnam from 1,500 to 16,000. By 1963 over 100 had died.
After seeing pictures of Buddhist monks committing suicide publicly because of the harsh treatment by Ngo Dinh Diem's government, President Kennedy assigned an ambassador to South Vietnam to try to make progress with Ngo Dinh Diem. However, the ambassador joined a group of generals who were planning to overthrow the South Vietnamese government. He convinced President Kennedy to attack the palace and order Ngo Dinh Diem and his guards to give up on November 1, 1963. Ngo Dinh Diem was killed. A few weeks after his death President Kennedy was killed in Dallas, and President Lyndon Johnson took over.
President Johnson ordered a bomb strike on North Vietnamese naval bases to raise his popularity in the polls for the up coming election. President Johnson was also allowed to send American forces into combat without getting a declaration of war against North Vietnam due to The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (3).
North Vietnam sent combat units down the Ho Chi Minh Trail (4) to South Vietnam in late 1964. Over the next few years the North Vietnamese Army or the NVA walked through the trail to fight in South Vietnam. President Johnson's foreign policy advisors called for an increase of American military in South Vietnam due to the unsteady government.
President Johnson ordered bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos that started in December of 1964. However, it did not stop the soldiers and supplies coming down the trail. At that time the United States had about 20,000 troops in South Vietnam. By the end of 1965 there were almost 200,000, and there were 540,000 American soldiers in South Vietnam by 1968.
The Americans had better fire power, however, the Vietcong and the NVA had a better knowledge of the terrain. The communist effectively used well-hidden land mines and booby-traps. Although the Americans won most of the battles the Vietcong were determined and they wouldn't give up. William Westmoreland, Commander of American Forces in South Vietnam, strategy was to kill so many of the enemies that they no longer had the ability or the will to fight.
The innocent villagers and peasants were warned of up coming bomb attacks with leaflets dropped from planes. Some were taken to refugee camps for safety. Although, American troops had very little support from the South Vietnamese population.
Many Americans back home were convinced by the government and the media of the success of the American troops in Vietnam. The communist forces declined, they were told, to 270,000 to 220,000. However, those numbers were later disputed.
On January 31, 1968 the Vietcong invaded the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. The Vietcong held ...