The Guiding Questions-
How did America affect the events that occurred in Vietnam during the Cold War?
How did Soviets affect the events that occurred in Vietnam during the Cold War?
How did Chinese affect the events that occurred in Vietnam during the Cold War?
Was the war in Vietnam justified?
America had a huge role in the events that occurred in Vietnam.
After the Vietnamese fought the French, Vietnam was split into two: North Vietnam, a Communist state led by Ho Chi Minh, and South Vietnam, an authoritarian state led by Ngo Dinh Diem.
North Vietnam was originally backed by China and the U.S.S.R. South Vietnam was backed by the United States and France.
The original plan was to reunite the two states of Vietnam with elections in a few years. However, the Americans didn't like this because they were afraid that Ho Chi Minh would win and make Vietnam communist. Therefore, they prevented the elections and kept Vietnam separate.
The United States also wanted to keep Vietnam separate because of something called the Domino Effect. This was an idea that if Vietnam became communist, then the rest of Southeast Asia would follow and become communist.
Over time, opposition to Ngo in South Vietnam grew, and communist rebels called the Vietcong, formed with the backing of North Vietnam.
So, what do you think the Americans did about the opposition to a leader that they supported?
They sanctioned a coup against him.
Americans vs. Vietnamese Forests.
Americans initiated a massive bombing campaign against the Vietnamese to try and destroy Vietcong strongholds and hideouts. The mission was called Operation Rolling Thunder.
Americans used Agent Orange, an herbicide, to clear Vietnamese forests and crops in order to locate North Vietnamese soldiers, strongholds, and hideouts. The Agent Orange bombings were called Operation Ranch Hand, and occurred between January 12, 1962 to 1972.
Agent Orange was toxic. Exposure to Agent Orange could cause rashes, miscarriages, psychological symptoms, Type-2 diabetes, birth defects in children, and cancers such as prostate cancer and Leukemia.
The United States sprayed over 19 million gallons of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese. A group of Vietnamese even sued chemical companies in 2004 over the use of Agent Orange. These companies helped supply Agent Orange, and the Vietnamese claimed that Agent Orange caused a generation of health issues.
We also used napalm in Vietnam. Napalm is a highly flammable sticky jelly that is used in incendiary bombs and flamethrowers. Napalm consists of petrol thickened with special soaps.
In Vietnam, over 388,000 pounds of Napalm were dropped in between 1963-1973.
Why America lost the Vietnam war-
The United States lost for several reasons. Reason one, we were fighting an unfamiliar enemy in an unfamiliar terrain. The Vietnamese knew the jungles and it was impossible to fight the Vietcong head on.
America also underestimated the Vietcong.
The USSR originally had very little involvement in Vietnam. Under Stalin, the USSR focused on Europe. After his death, the Soviet Union began to focus on Southeast Asia.
The Soviet Union provided military, logistics, and moral support to North Vietnam.
The Soviets also argued for two Vietnamese states. They claimed two Vietnams would allow Ho Chi Minh to gain strength and consolidate his power. It would also allow for a period of stabilization in North Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh gave into Soviet pressure and agreed to split Vietnam into two.
Also, Soviets gave everything as aid. They didn't charge the North Vietnamese for the supplies. This was unlike the Chinese who wanted money for their supplies.
Eventually, Ho Chi Minh had to make a choice between the Soviet Union or the Chinese.
Ho Chi Minh chose the Soviet Union.
"Ho Chi Minh was able to exploit Chinese and Soviet jealousies of one another to gain maximum support for his goals in South Vietnam. From 1965 until early 1968, the rivalry between Beijing and Moscow also served to scuttle multiple Soviet-inspired proposals for peace talks between the Vietnamese communists and the United States.” -Thomas Christensen, historian
The Chinese were originally North Vietnam's main backer.
The Chinese had often fought with the North Vietnamese against the Japanese. This ended up creating a close bond between both nations.
Also, Ho Chi Minh originally looked for Soviet support to fight for Vietnam, but since the Soviets refused, Ho Chi Minh turned to China.
The Chinese provided loans to the North Vietnamese, and . they gave weapons.
Quote said by Hoang Van Hoan to Chinese delegates-
“Because of the geographic, historic, economic and cultural connections between Vietnam and China, the Chinese revolution has had tremendous impact upon the Vietnamese revolution. Our revolution shall follow, as we have already seen, the course of the Chinese revolution. By relying on the Chinese revolutionary lessons, and relying on ‘Mao Zedong Thought’, we have further understood the thoughts of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, so that we have won great victories in the last year. This we shall never forget.”
In 1965, Beijing sent thousands of engineering troops to help assist in building and repairing infrastructure and critical defense structures. At its peak, there was 170,000 Chinese in Vietnam.
The war officially ended with the Paris Peace Accords that were signed on January 27, 1973.
The Accords said that the North Vietnamese would return all American POW's. In return, the Americans would evacuate all American troops and dismantle all American bases within 60 days.
The Accords goal was to reunite Vietnam peacefully. This didn't last long.
In late 1973, the Vietcong renewed their offensives against South Vietnam. Without American military support and limited American aid, South Vietnam fell quickly.
On April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese troops rolled into the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon and the South Vietnamese surrendered. Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh city.
After the war, the Vietnamese tried to establish collectivism. Collectivism is caring more about a group than each individual. They encouraged people to move out of the cities and to become farmers. However these policies had disastrous effects on the Vietnamese economy and led to the Vietnamese establishing a more market based economy in the 1980's. Their government remains communist to this day.
The events in Vietnam can be directly related to the chemical weapon attacks in Syria.
For those that don't know, Bashar al-Assad, the leader of Syria, has been accused of using chemical weapons. In the past, it has been discovered that Syria had chemical weapons.
On April 4, 2017, bombs containing sarin gas were dropped on the city of Illdib. When this was written, 69 people had died in the attack.
In 2013, a chemical weapons attack was carried out in Ghouta, 1400 people died in that attack. Assad was responsible.
This is connected to Vietnam because in both wars, chemical weapons were used.
In Vietnam, chemical weapons like Agent Orange and napalm were used on the Vietnamese with devastating effects.
The Iraq war is also similar to the Vietnam war. In Iraq, chemical weapons were also used. Truck bombs, containing chlorine gas, were used on several occasions. In Iraq, Mustard Gas and Sarin gas were also used.
Another similarity between the Iraq and Vietnam war is that in both situations, the United States knew very little when they entered Iraq and Vietnam. For Iraq, we thought that they had weapons of mass destruction, but they didn't have weapons of mass destruction. In Vietnam, we entered a war under false pretexts. The Gulf of Tonkin Incidents show this.