From the standpoint of Vietnamese history, I'm afraid they were right. Not that we intended to remain there permanently, or to run their government and country like the Chinese and French had. But we were in the way of their civil war, as the French had been before us. The...
From the standpoint of Vietnamese history, I'm afraid they were right. Not that we intended to remain there permanently, or to run their government and country like the Chinese and French had. But we were in the way of their civil war, as the French had been before us. The war between South and North Vietnam was simply a continuation of a war which had been going on for two centuries.
The state of Dai Viet was set up by a renegade Chinese general in 213 BC, establishing his base in what became Hanoi. Just after 200 BC the Chinese invaded, beginning an occupation which lasted until the mid-10th century. In that thousand-plus year war neither the lowland Vietnamese (of Chinese origin) nor the other ethnic groups ever accepted China's rule. The war continued from generation to generation until they drove out the Chinese.
The northern (ethnic Chinese) Vietnamese people kept up their own war of conquest against the mountain peoples and the kingdoms to the South, expanding their control into the Central Highlands and to the southern tip of what became known as Indochina. They also fought wars with the Khmer, Thai and Lao kingdoms. Eventually Vietnam was in area much the same as today, and a unified country. Unfortunately, soon (1776) a civil war began between the Trinh family in the north and the Nguyens in the south. The Nguyen established their dynasty and built the imperial capital of Hue, but the civil war never really ended until 1975.
The French arrived and took over, but never established the degree of control they had in other colonies. The civil war between the north and south bubbled along under the surface. The Japanese came, and then the US Army sent a military training mission from the Office of Strategic Services in 1945. They trained and led the Viet Minh, a new army raised by a history professor named Giap. When the war ended later in 1945, Lord Mountbatten (Allied commander in the CBI theatre) decided to use the Japanese troops as police instead of disarming them, and to back the French in their re-seizure of the country. The OSS team at first led the Viet Minh against the French, but were withdrawn and the US allowed our allies to reestablish their colonial control.
Giap, of course, became the head of the People's Army of Viet Nam (PAVN) under the political leadership of Ho Chi Minh, who asked the American government for recognition and support of a national government. The emperor, Bao Dai, abdicated in favor of Ho, but the French brought him back as a puppet. The fact that we allowed this to happen was ultimately disastrous. Ho's real name was Nguyen That Thanh, and he was a relative of Bao Dai, who was a Nguyen.