Why did the U.S. enter the Vietnam War?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are several different reasons for the gradual and initially reluctant entry of the United States into the Vietnam War. The first reason was the Cold War, which involved an ideological opposition to communism and a more pragmatic geopolitical opposition to the growth of Soviet and Chinese spheres of influence...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

There are several different reasons for the gradual and initially reluctant entry of the United States into the Vietnam War. The first reason was the Cold War, which involved an ideological opposition to communism and a more pragmatic geopolitical opposition to the growth of Soviet and Chinese spheres of influence in Asia. The second reason had to do with a belief in the "domino effect" where if one country fell to communism others would follow in its wake.

The more complex reason had to do with a desire to help the French, who remained involved in Vietnam as a relic of their colonial adventures in Indochina but were struggling to rebuild after World War II and experiencing domestic instability. To help the French Fourth Republic, Congress passed the Mutual Defense Assistance Act, which included support for France in Vietnam, and then in the early 1950s began offering help in the form of money, logistical assistance, and even covert military aid. Gradually, the United States became more deeply entangled in the war as the French, due to political issues at home, gradually withdrew from the conflict.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The United States entered the Vietnam War because it was concerned about the spread of communism.  The Vietnamese insurgents were led by communists and therefore the US did not want them to come to power.  It feared that a communist Vietnam would lead to a "domino effect" in which other countries of East Asia would become communist.  

The US believed that this would be a danger to US allies in the area such as Japan, the Philippines, and Australia.  It also believed that more communism anywhere in the world would be bad for the security of the United States.  For this reason, it entered the war when the French left Vietnam and got more and more involved as it became clear the South Vietnamese army could not win on its own.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team