USA’s reasons to get involved in (and start) Vietnam war

Vietnam US marines capture Vietnamese soldiersis a small country to the south of China (‘Vietnamese’ means “non-Chinese people of the south”). There were a lot of reasons for the US to enter into this war, of course all of them were considered ‘moral’ and ‘correct’. One long term reason was America’s fear of Communism. The USA is a primarily Christian population, they as well as people of some other religions felt that Communism was “godless” because they were atheists. America was also a democracy where everyone had the right to vote. Communists had a dictator, the Americans were opposed to it. A second reason was the cold war, the Soviets were taking many countries in Europe and South America and turning them into communist states or satellite nations. Despite having worked as allies in WW2 the US was opposed to this and started the cold war with Russia. Remember it was the French who first colonised Vietnam, Laos and Combodia in 1868. It was part of French empire, as it was the age of colonialism and British had India as part of their empire by that time (1857 – 1947). Economic reasons for invading and conquering the region were simple. Vietnam became profitable for the French. Vietnam had good supplies of coal, tin, zinc and rubber. Much of this was sent to France. Vietnam also provided a good market for French manufactured goods. In 1902 Ho Chi Minh was a student in the university built by the French and resented the foreign occupation of his land and their forced conversion to Catholic christianity. He was inspired by the Russian Revolution. And in 1924 he visited the Soviet Union. While in Moscow, Ho wrote to a friend that it was the duty of all communists to return to their own country to: “make contact with the masses to awaken, organise, unite and train them, and lead them to fight for freedom and independence.” In those days it was not in vogue to call the freedom fighters as terrorists otherwise Ho would have been easily been labeled as Ben Laden or member of Jihad.
After the world war II In September, 1945, Ho Chi Minh announced the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Unknown to the Vietminh Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin had already decided what would happen to post-war Vietnam at a summit-meeting at Potsdam. They had agreed that the country would be divided into two, the northern half under the control of the Chinese and the southern half under the British. After the WW II ended, and French were defeated in 1954, Vietnam was split in two – the north was Communist, led by Ho Chi Minh, and the south was Capitalist under Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem’s regime received billions of dollars from the US but remained deeply unpopular with most Vietnamese people.
By the late 1950’s the Americans developed the “Domino Theory” as a justification for the involvement. This theory stated, “If South Vietnam falls to the Communist, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, India and Pakistan would also fall like dominos. The Pacific Islands and even Australia could be at risk”. We must remember that basically the American involvement was to hold the line against the spread of world Communism. America paid for the war the French fought against Communist Vietnam as a part of the Truman Doctrine (1947) “to protect free peoples…” and then by the 1950’s became involved when the war flared up again. This hypothesis to police the world against ‘enemies’ of freedom was born and tax payers money and American lives were spent to prove the hypothesis. Although Americans preached democracy it is interesting to note that The US prevented the elections that were promised under the Geneva conference because it knew that the Communists would win. Vietnamese Buddhist monks protested against American involvement by self-immolation (It was the rarest example of self immolation be peaceful Buddhist monks but there was as yet no concept of ‘self bombers of jihad’ so they were fortunate that they were not labeled as Hamas or Palestenian or Iraqi jihadees. Then came the famous ruthless, brutal, cleansing of people who opposed USA through “Operation Phoenix” which was organised by the CIA. This led to the arrest and murder of thousands of Communists in the south. First the US sent in military advisers, then President Johnson sent in troops in huge numbers. Among the religious causes we must remember that The main religion in Vietnam was Buddhism. Surveys carried out in the 1960s suggest that around 70% of the population were followers of Buddha. The French, aware of the potential threat of Buddhism to their authority, passed laws to discourage its growth and these laws were later adopted by the Americans and their puppet regime in South Vietnam. With L. B. Johnson as the president, Three months after being elected president, he launched Operation Rolling Thunder. Unlike the single bombing raid in August 1964, this time the raids were to take place on a regular basis. The plan was to destroy the North Vietnam economy and to force her to stop helping the guerrilla fighters in the south. Bombing was also directed against territory controlled by the NLF in South Vietnam. The plan was for Operation Rolling Thunder to last for eight weeks but it lasted for the next three years killing innocent citizens in millions. In that time, the US dropped 1 million tons of bombs on Vietnam. Later, In 1965, General William Westmoreland developed the aggressive strategy of ‘search and destroy’. Innocent civilians were often killed by mistake. As one Marine officer admitted they “were usually counted as enemy dead, under the unwritten rule ‘If he’s dead and Vietnamese, he’s VC.” In economic terms, the bombing hurt the economy of the United States more than North Vietnam. By the beginning of 1968, it was estimated that $300 million of damage had been done to North Vietnam. However, in the process, 700 US aircraft, valued at $900 million had been shot down. When all factors were taken into consideration it was argued that it cost the United States “ten dollars for every dollar’s worth of damage inflicted.”
How it helped the united states – it didn’t help because Vietnam went on to win the war and Ho Chi Minh became its first president and North and South Vietnam were again a united country. Of course it helped the Vietnamese to honor their freedom.

Published by Dr. Afaq Ahmad Qureshi

Physician, writer, broadcaster, journalist, translator, free lance writer, poet, political and social analyst and critic. Writes plays and features for electronic media, interested in numerous things from sociology to medicine to history and art. interest in books and internet, writes for also; editor for an internet journal; at

28 thoughts on “USA’s reasons to get involved in (and start) Vietnam war

  1. From the article, “Diem’s regime received billions of dollars from the US but remained deeply unpopular with most Vietnamese people”. As a South Vietnamese originally from the North, I say that this comment is not true. It is…150% wrong. First, who is the Vietnamese people that the writer was mentioning? He should understand that there are two kinds – the North Vietnamese (people live in the North) and the South Vietnamese (people live in the South). So using one term, the Vietnamese for that time frame, for whatever is wrong. I can’t say much about the feeling of the people living in the North regarding the billions of dollars because I left the area in 1954. However, under a brutal dictatorship with false information of the Communist, I doubt that the North Vietnamese would know much and accurately about that billions dollars. On the other hand, the South Vietnamese under Diem’s regime enjoyed the assistance of the US and her allies to fight the spread of the Communism to the South and receiving a better economic life. Of course, the South had its own problems too and not every single person was that happy with government just like every where in the world. So, the above comment, “…deeply unpopular with most Vietnamese people” is very wrong – not most, just very some. Please stop “sending” out wrong information. Doing that is reviving the Communism which is dying in this world.


  2. Now now, the U.S. did not start this war. Vietnam was war torn for 100’s of years. The war did not end with U.S. departure either but raged for on with among others Canada to enforce the paris accords. The U.S. returned two years later to evacuate Saigon. and strangely China took up the mantle and Vietnam continued to war with Laos, Cambodia, Thailand etc. into the early 1990s it could be argued that the war continues today with Hmong insurgents. Your study is true but it omits much. Economically the U.S. spent more but was not in ruin, Vietnam was in ruin. Some strange things have happened since like Vietnam tying its economy so close in with the United States it would almost seem like a U.S. win and the U.S. spending trillions to clean up the Agent Oragne (you would think they would just leave it). I think too much is laid on the U.S. and every other natuion always seems to just get free passed out of the equation. Australia also fought the Vietnam war, France and England were there. In the 40’s you had Japan and Germany. After the U.S., Canada appeared and after the “end” China jumped in after that Vietnam turned aggressor on its nieghbors and like I said Hmong continue to fight today. Its almost like 45 years were segmented out of a 300 year long struggle simply to point a finger at the United States. On the other hand your study was very well written and presented. Its good but could be slightly more objective (thats not a critisism)


      1. Perhaps you should do a study on Ho Chi Minh. He lived and worked in the US from 1912-1918 working some menial jobs and as a line manager for GM. At the end of WWII he wrote and presented to Truman a “Proclamation of Independence for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam” which was strongly influenced by our own Declaration of Independence. It was firmly rejected because we supported a resumption of the status quo allowing the French to retain control over Indochina. But the French being crippled by WWII could not resume control and, if my memory serves me correctly, the Japanese were allowed to act as a peace keeping force in Vietnam until 1946 when the French could resume control. The rest is history, a history that could have been very different had we sided with nation building as opposed to colonialism.


    1. Because other countries did wrong by occupying and invading vietnam, that somehow diminishes the responsibility and effect of American involvement? We as Americans caused thousands of unnecessary deaths and injuries to a helpless population of very decent people. We should on an international platform finally fess up to our wrongdoing.
      The lesson that should have been learned here is for countries to mind there own business by keeping their military on there own soil.


  3. This was such a valuable read to me. I had never understood any of it. I heard so many protesters in the US and then soldiers coming home from the Vietnam war with no honour, shunned and with PTSD. I just did not understand any of it.

    Thank you so so much for this.


      1. Thankyou for this information. I needed a quick overview on the Vietnam War before my lecture on Monday and your post has been most helpful.



  4. i love history too. i agree with jay the government blows big ones. like bigg bigg ones. the biggest they can get and they are deep throating… yummmm =)


  5. Blame it on Government- We could have won this piece of Crap War if it did not include the ill-informed White House. Picking targets and not paying attention to DETAIL, we would have won this, The BULLSHIT reasons we ended up with so many deaths is LBJ. He killed so many Americans that it is STUPID! Count on the General’s who DID NOT pay attention. The Pentagon Staff who planned this Fiasco is responsible in this mans opinion. I AM A VET. I Know. I really do.

    Glass these butt-heads, no comparisons on targets or giving a rats butt on the Neanderthal Russians at the time- We would have wiped the Vermin off the face the Earth- a REAL Vietnam. Not the Puppet Bullshit Country we have now. My opinion only.

    We wasted so many lives- due to what everyone thinks. Maybe think to WWII- LEARN.


  6. Dear Josh,

    You will find a lot of information about your topics once you google them. Tet offensive and Reasons why they wanted to stay in Vietnam are described in great details on various websites related to this war. You can search for history/ vietnam war/ causes/ tet offensive/ reasons why usa wanted to stay etc. Good luck.



  7. Heyy im learning about Vietnam in history =]
    i think its great, well not great because of the death toll.
    =] tell me what ya know about it, i need help with…

    1. tet offensive
    2. reasons why the americans wanted to stay in vietnam.

    adios x

    Joshhhh. =]


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