The Vietnam War

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What were the main factors that caused the Vietnam War?

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Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Since the other educator has already outlined the main causes for the Vietnam War, I will provide further details to support his arguments.

In relation to the American side, it is true that the United States feared communist expansion in South East Asia. Basically, the Vietnam War represented a power struggle between Russia and the United States for global dominion. While the United States favored capitalist open market economies, Russia's Communist government supported closed-state economies. China, which had just fallen to Communist control on October 1, 1949, became Russia's natural ally. 

Long before American soldiers set foot on Vietnamese soil, the Russians and Chinese were already working to prop up Ho Chih Minh's insurgency in North Vietnam. For his part, Ho Chih Minh yearned for a united Vietnam that was governed by Communist ideology.

The Russians fought the United States indirectly during the Vietnam War by funneling financial support through China to Vietnam. With Russia's financial backing, the Chinese were able to provide logistics and weapons support to North Vietnam. After WWII, the USA and the USSR emerged as the most powerful nations on the world stage, and both nations became engaged in a Cold War between 1945-1991. The USSR had no intentions of openly revealing its support for Communist China or its plans for global dominance. Instead, it quietly supported Ho Chih Minh's communist revolution through the Chinese. During the Vietnam War, Russia sent no Russian soldiers to the war front; instead, it equipped the North Vietnamese with SAMs (Surface-to- Air-Missiles) capable of bringing down American planes from altitudes of more than 60,000 feet. Additionally, North Vietnamese MiG fighter pilots were trained by Russian veterans of WWII.

The United States suspected Russian involvement in Vietnam's civil war almost immediately, and this proved to be the main factor for its own foray into the Vietnam War. The Americans feared that Communist dominance in South East Asia...

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