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I would agree that the main reason was that we wanted to protect a country from communism. I often wonder though if the Vietnam conflict was not more of a conflict between USSR and the United States than it was a conflict between North and South Vietnam.
Books can be, and have been, written on this subject. There are many particular reasons why the United States chose to involve itself in the region. The most primary reason would be the fear of Communism. When the French were thrown out of Vietnam following World War II, the region ended up becoming two nations. The Communist North Vietnam was set against the South. North Vietnam, in an attempt to gain its own freedom, set their lot with the Russians because the French forces that sought to control the region were supported by the British and Americans, as per World War II alliances. The perception of the North was fed by the "domino theory," which asserted that in the fight for world supremacy, if one region of the world fell to the Communists, the entire region would go Communist. With this belief underscoring US policy in the region, America saw Vietnam as a conflict between freedom and democracy versus repression and Communism. We now understand that this was not entirely the case. When Ho Chi Minh stands in front of half a million Vietnamese and paraphrases Jefferson's "Declaration of Independence," we grasp the fact that the Vietnamese simply wanted freedom from being controlled. Their history of being run by other nations (French, Japanese, Chinese, Mongols) warranted them to be hesitant and fearful of outside nations, applying to both the Americans and the Russians. Yet, this was not what was fully embraced at the time. The fear of Communism, and the belief that the Russians were truly "out to get" the United States helped to feed the idea that infiltration of the North Vietnamese and defeating them was the only way to protect the interests of the United Sates. When South Vietnamese President Diem is praised by Vice President Johnson as "our boy out there," it is a statement that Americans truly believed the North Vietnamese were a threat to be defeated in the nation's Cold War ideological beliefs against Communism.
One thing that the first answer should have mentioned is that we got involved originally because the French wanted to keep Vietnam as a colony and we agreed.
We were worried that
- France would become poorer and weaker without Vietnam as a colony and that would make them less valuable as an ally against the USSR.
- France would be angry if we did not let them keep Vietnam -- they might then not side with us against the Russians.
We got involved in Vietnam to help the French and things went downhill from there.
One reason the U.S. got involved in the Vietnam War was that it was a conflict between communism and a freer system. The communist system cannot produce as much wealth as it consumes because its producers are forced to react to political motives instead of economic motives. Thus the communist system had to be an imperial system so that it could keep acquiring the wealth of others for its own consumption. All communist governments to the extent that they were communistic, were to that extent totalitarian. Totalitarian governments control every aspect of their subjects' lives: political, economic, social, and thought. Children are encouraged by the government to inform upon their parents if their parents have ideas that are anti-government and anti-communist. In both Russia and China, tens of millions of people had been intentionally starved to death because they opposed the communist system. Many others had been sent to labor camps, or executed out-right. The evils of the communist system dwarf any other evils that have ever appeared on the earth.
America is dominated by big business corporations and if the communists continued to expand their sphere of control over the earth, that would reduce the sphere that the capitalists could exploit. Capitalistic exploitation is far less evil than communistic exploitation, but it nevertheless looks out for itself first and foremost. (We all do that.)
Amazing that no one as suggested the oil (very assessable at shallow depth) in the South China Sea as a key reason for our envolment
Amazing that no one as suggested the oil (very assessable at shallow depth) in the South China Sea as a key reason for our involvement in the Viet Nam War
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