The Vietnam War

Start Free Trial

How did French colonialism contribute to Vietnam's struggle for independence?

Expert Answers

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

French colonialism provided the rationale for the Vietnamese to fight in the manner they did against France and later on against America.  The French enlisted the help of the Americans in order to maintain control over Vietnam, called Indochina at the time.  For the Vietnamese, this was critical as they perceived the French to be in collusion with the Americans in a struggle for the overthrow of colonial identity.  For the Vietnamese, the conflict was a fight for independence.  This was confirmed by their willingness to incur major casualties in the name for independence.  As seen in critical battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Vietnamese were able to match the French even when they were losing souls at a 5 to 1 ratio.  This demonstrated to the French that their participation in the region was no longer tenable.  In this light, the American involvement in the region was perceived to be a continuation of colonialist desires from the West.  It is here where one of the fundamental miscommunications about the war was evident.  The Americans saw it as a fight for Communist control, believing that the threat of Soviet style Communism would overrun the region.  The Vietnamese saw this as nothing of the sort, indicating that they saw it as a fight for freedom from colonialism that was first started with the French and then later perceived to be continued on with the Americans.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial