The Longest War Fought in America’s History

The Vietnam War was iniated in November 1st 1955 and was finished on April 30 1975 because communism was starting to grow in Vietnam and the U.S wanted to keep it contained. At the time President Nixon was really worried that if Vietnam was to become communist other nations would soon follow and switch to communism. Ultimately at the end of the war there were a million plus casualties on both sides.

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The war officially ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon. Between the years of 1969 and 1971 the number of American troops fell from 543 thousand to 157 thousand pretty much a loss of 400 thousand men. It was the longest war fought in America’s history. This war ended up tarnishing America’s self image by becoming the first time in history that the U.S failed to accomplish its stated war aims, to preserve a separate, independent, non-communist government. The war also had great effects on the American people. It was the first war to ever broadcast on television.

The public was able to see what happened on the battlefield. One of the main chief effects of this war was the division it caused among the general public. America during this time was so divided. This war would have lasting affects on the U.S. The South Vietnamese army would later become more active in the war and their casualty rate had started to increase. During this time the U.S believed in the “Domino effect” that if one country was communist, then soon other countries would follow. Congress at the time ended up passing a resolution to give the President(Nixon) the power to declare war. Once that was done the U.S started bombing entire cities full of innocent people. The Viet Cong soldiers traveled light and they knew their way around the land they also had to distinguish enemy troops from regular villagers. The Vietnam conflict began long before the U.S became directly involved. Indochina, which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, was under French colonial rule. The Vietnam communist-nationalist also known as the Vietminh fought for their freedom from the French. The French were being slaughtered , and were doing little to keep the communist North Vietnamese out of South Vietnam. The U.S sent financial aid to France to help them eliminate the communist threat. At the Geneva conference in 1954, the major powers tried to come to an agreement on Indochina. There would be a temporary division on the 17th parallel in Vietnam. The Vietminh would control North Vietnam and South Vietnam would be ruled under the emperor Bao Dai.

There was to be an election held in two years to set up the permanent government. The United States did not agree to these terms. After the conference, the U.S moved to create the southeast Asia treaty Organization to protect Indochina from communist aggression. The United States supported the new leader Ngo Dinh Diem when he took power in South Vietnam. The National liberation front also known as Vietcong was a guerilla group who supported the communist North Vietnamese and opposed to the Diem rule. At first the U.S attention was diverted from Vietnam to other foreign affairs but with the threat of communism taking over all of Indochina the United States gradually was pulled into the conflict. By 1960 the National Liberation Front or Viet Cong which was the revolutionary political arm of North Vietnam, began to infiltrate into the south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was a series of elaborate trails running from the North Vietnam to South Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia created in 1959. The goal of the Viet Cong was to recruit support for the war in South Vietnam. It is imporant to understand that the Viet Cong fought in the southern reaches of South Vietnam, while the North Vietnamese battled closer to the 17th parallel.

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