Eli5: Why did the Vietnam war happen?

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I generally have a very hard time understanding war motives, and I’m always afraid answers might be biased.

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7 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

After the French military withdrawal from Indochina in 1954 – following their defeat in the First Indochina War – the Viet Minh took control of North Vietnam, and the U.S. assumed financial and military support for the South Vietnamese state. The Viet Cong (VC), a South Vietnamese common front under the direction of the north, initiated a guerrilla war in the south.

This would have been just another civil conflict, except that the USSR and US funded their respective sides (the USSR funded the North, the US funded the South) and used it as one of several proxy wars between the two great powers. At the time, domino theory was prevalent – that as developing nations developed, they would either choose to be capitalist or communist and whichever camp had the most nations would gain intertia and eventually topple the regimes in all the others. As a result, the USSR and US funded multiple civil wars in an effort to tip the scales to their side.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The vietnam war was one of many proxy wars fought between the americans and the russians AND TO AN EXTENT CHINA. during the cold-war. The USA invaded to stop Vietnam and the surrounding regions (Cambodia, Laos from becoming communist states and attempt to make these countries allies so that they would be able to station their military to contain China. One of these proxy wars was In Korea where the communist North supported by China/Russia fought against the South who were supported by the USA/UN.

So yeah, just a war against the spread of communism in the world of which Vietnam was one of the major occurrences.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Vietnam was a French colony. But after WWII France did not have enough resources to commit in Vietnam to keep their power. Even if just a few people started to riot there would not be enough French forces in place to defend the governor. So instead the French started working with locals to start forming a friendly democratic government. This would allow them to keep some of their relationship with Vietnam and allow French companies to continue operating in Vietnam while avoiding the Vietnamese people revolting as they would be revolting against their own democratically elected government.

But this did not sit well with the Vietnamese labor movement. They would prefer that ownership of the plantations and factories would be transferred to the Vietnamese laborers as repayment for the suffering caused under colonialism. There were attempts to do this through the democratic systems left in place by the French but they were unable to do this. So helped by some Japanese soldiers and equipment still in the country after WWII they formed an armed militia to take up the fight against France. They eventually got help from the USSR and the French got help from the USA. Things escalated from there.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Vietnam was a French colony prior to World War II, and was occupied by Japanese forces during the war. After the Japanese surrendered to the Allies in 1945, the Viet Minh, a nationalist and communist organization led by Ho Chi Minh, declared Vietnam independent and began a guerrilla war against the returning French colonial forces. The conflict resulted in the French defeat and withdrawal from Vietnam in 1954.

The 1954 Geneva Accords, which were agreed to by the French, British, Chinese, Soviet Union and Viet Minh, created the division of Vietnam into North and South, with the goal of reunifying the country through elections. However, the division of Vietnam was never accepted by the communist forces in the North (Viet Minh), who wanted to unite the country under a communist government. The disagreement over the nature of the division and the attempt to reunify the country through the imposition of different governments on North and South Vietnam were the seed of the ongoing conflict.

In the early 1960s, the United States became increasingly involved in the conflict in an effort to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. This involvement was part of the larger US policy known as the “Domino Theory”, which held that if one country in a region fell to communism, it would lead to the fall of other countries in the region. The US viewed the communist forces in Vietnam as a threat to the security of the entire region and felt that it was necessary to intervene in order to protect its interests.

John F. Kennedy increased the number of advisors sent to South Vietnam, but it was Lyndon B. Johnson, who escalated the US military involvement. In 1964, he used the alleged Gulf of Tonkin incident as a justification to Congress for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the President to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the US forces and to prevent further aggression.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident refers to a series of events that took place in August 1964 in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of North Vietnam. On August 2nd, the US destroyer Maddox was conducting a naval intelligence gathering mission in the area, and was allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese naval vessels. The US government claimed that this was an unprovoked attack on US forces and responded by ordering airstrikes against North Vietnamese naval bases.

However, it later emerged that the Maddox had been involved in a covert operation in support of the South Vietnamese government and that the attack might have been provoked by the US. The incident led to significant debate about whether the attack had occurred, and if so, whether it was unprovoked or not.

On August 4th, another alleged attack occurred, this time on the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy, both of which were on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin. The U.S. claimed that the two destroyers had been attacked by North Vietnamese naval vessels, which resulted in immediate retaliation from the U.S. and the Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was a resolution passed by the US Congress on August 7, 1964, which authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to take “all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression”. It was presented to Congress by the Johnson administration in the aftermath of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and it was passed with only two dissenting votes in the Senate and none in the House of Representatives.

It effectively served as a blank check for President Johnson to take whatever military actions he saw fit in Vietnam without a formal declaration of war by Congress.This resolution led to the full-scale deployment of US troops to Vietnam and marked a major escalation of the conflict.

Those are pretty much the events leading up to the war. I’ll just add for closure:

In the next years, the war escalated and U.S. led a heavy bombing campaign on North Vietnam but the results were not as expected as well as the lack of progress in the ground war. This and the increasing numbers of American Casualties led to growing opposition to the war in the U.S. The United States continued to fight in the war until 1973, when a peace agreement was signed between the US, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam. However, the peace agreement did not bring a lasting end to the conflict, and fighting resumed between North and South Vietnam until 1975, when communist forces captured Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, effectively unifying the country under communist rule.

In summary, Cold War tensions and fear of the spread of communism were major drivers for the US involvement, but it was not a monolithic cause. The war was also an extension of the pre-existing struggle for control of Vietnam, which had its roots in the country’s history and the desire of many Vietnamese to end foreign control and unite under a single government

Anonymous 0 Comments

Before the start of WWII there was already an Independence movement in Indochina. It was not communist in nature, it was simply independence minded. The French didn’t keep their WWII era promises to decolonize like the other allied powers. As a result communist powers backed the independence seekers and they kicked the French’s asses. Then because Vietnam was going to become communist the US got involved so that another nation didn’t join the communist sphere of influence.

TLDR – Because the Fucking French didn’t keep their promise

Anonymous 0 Comments

LBJ didn’t want to preside over the fall of an allied SEATO member and be accused of being “soft on communism”.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You already got rly good answers… Additionally i can recommend this documentary
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vietnam_War_(TV_series)
I think it might be available at Netflix. Stunning Images, interviews and what i like the most… Its a neutral view in the conflict asking both US and Vietcong soldiers.