Why Did the US Enter the Vietnam War

Containment — a policy pursued by the US:

The United States joined the Vietnam War to contain Communism in Southeast Asia. Americans were afraid that if Communists happened to occupy Vietnam, a great number of the nations of the world were destined to fall prey to Communism. Communism is, basically, a system of governance that the US government would strongly oppose.


In 1956 the United States came forward with an open stance in the Cold War. The US Secretary of State, J. F. Dulles threatened that the Soviet Union would have to face a nuclear war in case it did not desist from spreading Communism among US satellites. The alliance turned into a covenant, NATO later in Europe. A similar pact was pursued by United States in Southeast Asia.

US Enters the Vietnam War Why Did the US Enter the Vietnam War


SEATO (Southeast Asian Treaty Organization) was a pact signed by the US, Britain and numerous Southeast Asian countries. One of the signatories of the treaty was Vietnam. This agreement was one of the causes of the Vietnam War as it was policed in the convention that an attack on one would be considered the attack on all.

Vietnam had been ceded into two parts in 1954, after having fought a war against France for independence. After the withdrawal of the French, Vietnamese Communists gained control of North Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh was the guiding force of the North Vietnamese Communists. South Vietnam ran a non-Communist regime. It was a weak government. The United States, however, supported it to ward off Communists from the control of whole of Vietnam.

How did the US manage to intervene at length?

In the beginning the United States government provided assistance to South Vietnam in terms of financial resource and strategic counsel. The total number of so-called advisers in Vietnam skyrocketed from less than a thousand to about 20,000 by 1960s while J. F. Kennedy was in chair. US president, L. B. Johnson reported in 1964 that North Vietnam had assaulted U.S. Navy ships near Vietnamese costal area.

By the end of 1965, about 80,000 US marine troops had intruded South Vietnam. The United States carried out a brutal airstrike over North Vietnam. Just in one single year, the US air force sent about 150,000 missions for airstrike. By 1969, when the war was at the peak, the number of US forces in Vietnam had soared to 543,000.


President Nixon who had earlier ruled out to increase the bombing at North Vietnam, later passed instructions for immediate withdrawal of US troops. In the absence of the US support, the government in South Vietnam dissolved. Resultantly, in 1975, North Vietnam won the war. Shortly afterward, Vietnam witnessed a reunion as a Communist nation once again.

Millions of people lost their lives in the Vietnam War. A large number of casualties largely included were civilians, not regular armed forces. The war resulted in 10 million homeless refugees in Vietnam. The legacy of war also included millions of orphans.

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