History Of Vietnam Essay, Research Paper
History of Vietnam
Most humans will always have a tendency to protect his own. When the more fortunate notice a victim in any situation, they’ll help out those they deem worthy of support, be it morally, financially, or physically. As long as there is free blood flowing in America’s veins, she will always step in to keep tyranny on a downfall. The whole Vietnam war is a prime example of human nature not only at it’s best, but sadly, also at it’s worst.
Oppression is perhaps the worst crime that man will ever inflict upon himself. Despite a tyrant’s will, the fighting spirit of his followers never dies out. Oppression has the power to turn an average commoner into a force to be reckoned with. If you take a man’s freedom from him he has nothing to lose, making him extremely dangerous.
Since 248 A.D., this oppression plagued China by the French and mainly the Chinese. Trieu Au, a nationalistic leader and hero of Vietnam, led a revolt against China. After being severely defeated, this hero committed suicide. Another case of pride brought on by the Vietnamese was when the Trung sisters led a revolt against China and also committed suicide. In our society, then and now, suicide is considered insane, an unforgivable sin causing eternal damnation. The Vietnamese, however, see suicide as a less painful death than to be tortured by their oppressor. Most importantly, it shows how they value their country more so than their life.
The Vietnamese also hold close to their hearts the belief of an afterlife. They only value their pride in their country while being mortal. To do this means a pleasant afterlife so they would undoubtingly fight to the end to have a heavenly reward. Americans take for granted their rights of being the home of the free. That is the major factor that led to our defeat in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh, also known to the Vietnamese as Uncle Ho, became president of Vietnam in 1954. He studied Marxism and Communism after traveling for thirty years, living in France, The United States, and The Soviet Union. He became highly interested in a Democratic government and even attempted to establish this in Vietnam. His pleas went unheard after he sent a letter to Woodrow Wilson at the Treaty of Versailles asking for Democratic freedoms and a constitution. French Socialists, however, heard his pleas and convinced him to turn communistic. He then dreamed of one day springing a communistic revolution and has him, one day, standing on top of the world. It is my conviction that Vietnam would have stayed Democratic and the civil war would never have broken out if Woodrow Wilson would have paid more attention to other foreign affairs instead of keeping his head burrowed into a hole after World War II.
The first President that really got involved in Vietnam was Dwight Eisenhower. He sent U.S. money to aid the French at the battle of Dien Bien Phu because he believed that if Vietnam was to fall to Communism, then under “The Domino Effect”, other countries would also fall, thus creating a Communist Asia. By sending money, Eisenhower wanted to hopefully stop the spread of communism without causing the loss of human casualties. It is said that we could have stopped the war before it started if Eisenhower had sent troops along with the French so that they may not have been defeated (www.swcp.com). But instead, the French took a heavy loss on May 7, 1954, which marked the beginning of military assistance by the United States. The loss in Dien Bien Phu, April 26, 1954 marked the beginning of the Geneva Conference. This conference would last nearly 2 months to try and stabilize the conflict in Indochina. Delegates from France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, Communist China, and representatives of Ho Chi Minh came to terms on a settlement to try and keep peace called the Accords. They go as follows:
(1) A provisional military demarcation line was to be established at the 17th parallel, but this demarcation line was not to be constructed as creating a permanent boundary.
(2) The Vietminh (supporters of Ho Chi Minh) were to regroup their forces north of the 17th parallel, while the French regrouped to the south of that line. Regrouping was to be completed within 300 days from the signing of the Accords.
(3) Both sides were to pledge not to due any harm against civilians residing in their homes inside their own zones, and citizens had the right to cross the 17th parallel.
(4) No foreign military bases were to be established anywhere in Vietnam, and the nation was not to align itself with any foreign powers.
(5) By the summer of 1956, free elections were to be held by means of a secret ballot to select a government, which would unify the north and south into one Vietnamese State.
(6) Any Vietnamese government established in the south that was ruled over by the French, was to be bound by the Geneva records.
(7) An International Control Commission consisting of Canada, Poland, and India was created to supervise the armistice of the elections.
The United States refused to sign the Accords, however, because Eisenhower felt that the free elections would be useless since Northern Vietnam was plagued by Communism, which made up over half the voters. The President’s Secretary of State, Dulles, however, created S.E.A.T.O., which stands for Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. This was an attempt to stop communistic aggression in the free states of Southern Asia.
In accordance to the provisioned Accords, Minh withdrew 100,000 of his soldiers. He only abided by these guidelines because was so sure that he could win the upcoming election and he didn’t want the western countries to cancel the agreements if rules were broken. Ngo Dinh Diem, a premier of South Vietnam who was to join the race for President of South Vietnam, was avidly supported by the United States because of his Democratic beliefs, would only grow sour and corrupt because of his disbelief of winning the upcoming election. Instead of abiding by the Accords, Diem felt he had nothing to lose so he abused what power he had and imprisoned his own people to strike fear in them so that he might rise as dictator. The United States then realized that they had created a monster so they withdrew funds towards his campaign. But little to their surprise, Diem won the election with 94 % of South Vietnam’s votes. Diem also had his ties broken with S.E.A.T.O. because he broke the regulations of the Accords. If Diem was as Democratic as he and the United States believed, then why did he alienate himself from his own supporters with concentration camps; and why did he try to break ties with his democratic supporters? It makes me nautious that we, as Americans, could lose 44,475 of our own people for this so-called democrat who wanted nothing to do with usto begin with. Americans should be ashamed that we defended a ruler who was hated by the free democratic nations who sided with the communists on attempts to overthrow that corrupt regime. The NLF (National Liberation Front) was these such people who despised Diem and tried to use whatever political power they had to overthrow this soon to be tyrant.
President Kennedy, like many Presidents who followed him, believed that in order to protect democracy, communism would have to be put to a definitive end. Even though Kennedy took a firm stand against Communism, he highly opposed the war in Vietnam. After 1,500 CIA trained Cubans lost their life after a failed raid on Cuba (known as the Bay of Pigs) to stop Fidel Castro and his reign of Communism, Kennedy completely opposed losing American lives for the purpose of ending Communism. Kennedy was assassinated before he could even begin peace talks in 1963. His successor was Lyndon Johnson, who was a firm believer in Kennedy’s foreign policy. He aimed at getting our boys out of Vietnam but still give financial aid to the South Vietnamese. Johnson, however, was in a constant mind set that if he lightened up too much in Vietnam, then it would look like the Americans had given up against the Communists. Thus, a certain loss of the next presidential election would be inevitable. Then it was August 4, 1964, that Johnson would pass the Gulf Tonkin Resolution, ordering the military to use whatever U.S. resources to end the war. This was passed because two U.S. destroyers were allegedly put under attack by Vietnamese torpedoes. There is speculation that these torpedoes were never actually confirmed and that there was possible sonar error in the reading of these torpedoes. This means that our government continued a meaningless war due to possible pentagon error (Gerald Kurland, p.24). Senseless bombing was then underway on North Vietnam, which only destroyed America’s Budget because, the Vietnamese learned to avoid the bombs. Johnson realized that our help was useless and decided not to run in the upcoming election.
Richard Nixon, who preceded Johnson in 1969, had his own ideas toward the problem in Vietnam. He had the idea of “Vietnamization” which was basically a plan to get our troops out while we still funded South Vietnam with money so that they could carry on the military burden that we had done for so long. The U.S troop levels would soon decrease from half a million to 50,000 and would then rise again and then sharply decrease once again. Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was the person who finally admitted defeat and pulled our troops out in 1973. Nearly 20 years of intervention and what did we have to show for? The embarrassment of being defeated by untrained North Vietnamese soldiers? Or was it the fact that so many soldiers had to die for an unjust cause and were even abandoned by their own people by the lack of applauding and echoing “booing” at the parades that were supposed to show our gratitude towards what they had accomplished.
After what was all said and done, the U.S. gained nothing from this war except a little over 50,000 dead servicemen, internal turmoil in the U.S., our first military defeat, distrust of the military and government. This leaves the question, should this war have involved the United States? The answer America should have said to themselves nearly fifty years ago is, no!