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Vietnam War

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In this report I'm going to give a summary of the Vietnam war. Why it happened and what happened during the war. Sort of like a timeline, only a bit more in depth.

IÐ'Ò'll start of by giving a brief description of Vietnam and its history, and then go on to the French settlers, who really are the reason why the war started. Most of my report however will be about America's part in the war, and mainly the years from 1964-73.


Vietnam has, for the most part, been a chaotic country. During the over 2000 years the country has existed, it has been under foreign rule for the largest part. In 111 BC Vietnam became a part of the Chinese Empire, and it wasnÐ'Ò't until 938 AD that Vietnam finally got their independence back. Some 800 years later French missionaries arrived in Vietnam. They converted some Vietnamese from Buddhists to Catholics, and taught them the French way of living. A lot of the Vietnamese people were not happy with the French missionaries, and during the end of the 17th century and start of the 18th century a lot of French missionaries were killed by Vietnamese Buddhists. In 1847 the French government sent troops to Vietnam to protect the missionaries. After a few years, the French government, lead by Napoleon III, decided that Vietnam would make a great addition to the French Empire, so in 1858 14 ships and some 2500 soldiers were sent to Vietnam. The soldiers arrived at Da Nang, and after 10 years of fighting the Vietnamese finally surrendered in 1868, and turned the country over to the French. However the Chinese were not happy with the French presence, so they invaded

Vietnam that same year. The war lasted for 17 years, and in 1885 the Chinese surrendered, after realising they could not defeat the French army. France kept control over Vietnam, and in 1893 Laos and Cambodia was under French rule as well. The three countries would now be known as Indochina.

During the years Vietnam(and Laos and Cambodia as well) were under French rules, the people who opposed the French government would be punished hard and swiftly. The Vietnamese were taxed by the French government so they could build new roads and railways to transport the goods back to France.

In September 1940 Japan invaded Indochina, and The French put up no resistance as France was already under German control at this point. Ho Chi Minh and his Democratic Republic of Vietnam(Vietminh), saw this opportunity to gain some influence and fight for VietnamÐ'Ò's freedom. They started fighting the Japanese army. Vietminh got weapons from the Soviet Union, and when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, they also got support and weapons from the U.S. the Japanese surrendered after the U.S dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After the second world war, the Vietminh though they had won and started to celebrate their new found freedom. However The leaders of The U.S (Franklin D. Roosevelt), the Soviet Union(Joseph Stalin) and Great Britain(Winston Churchill) decided at a meeting in Potsdam that Vietnam was to be divided in to two separate countries. The northern part should fall under Chinese control, and the southern part under British. France however tried to regain control over Vietnam, and in January 1946 Britain agreed to remove all of their troops from South Vietnam. Later that year China left North Vietnam in exchange for a promise from France that they would give up their right to territory in China.

France wanted to keep control of Vietnam and therefore they did not acknowledge the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. And thatÐ'Ò's when the Vietnam war began, although it wasnÐ'Ò't until America entered the war that it would be known as such. The Vietminh had difficulties in the early stages of the war, as they were up against better equipped and better trained French soldiers. But by 1949, the Vietminh controlled large portions of North Vietnam, and they now had a place to train and treat soldiers.

In 1953 France tried to negotiate with the Vietminh. They promised they would eventually grant Vietnam its independence, but the Vietminh didnÐ'Ò't trust them and the war continued. France did not want to be a part of another long war, as they were trying to recover financially after WWII and they had already lost 90000 soldiers between 1946 and 52. Plus there was a growing public resistance towards the war back in France, as they believed they had no reason to be there.

The French general Navarre tried to end the war quickly. He pulled all of his troops into the city of Dien Bien Phu, knowing that the Vietminh troops had to make an attack in order to get from Laos to Vietnam. Navarre thought that if he could get the Vietminh general Giap to make a full-on attack on Dien Bien Phu, the French were bound to win the battle and thereby the war. Giap did attack, but not the way Navarre had planned it. Instead of attacking the French forces head-on, the Vietminh instead dug trenches. The Vietminh dug new trenches from the outer trenches, and soon they were with in striking distance of Dien Bien Phu, and they were pushing the French back. During this battle, Giap would recruit new forces to the Vietminh, and soon they would far outnumber the French forces. Navarre was trapped and he was begging for help. The U.S wanted to enter the war, but waited for Britain to join them. Britain however wanted to wait until the peace negotiations in Geneva, but by that time it was too late. Giap launched his offensive, and the battle raged on for 55 days, until the French finally surrendered on May 7th. On May 8th the French government announced it was withdrawing all of its troops from Vietnam. A month after the French surrender, Leaders of America, Britain, The Soviet Union and France met in Geneva to discuss Vietnam's future. After much negotiation the following was agreed: (1) Vietnam would be divided at the 17th parallel; (2) North Vietnam would be ruled by Ho Chi Minh; (3) South Vietnam would be ruled by Ngo Dinh Diem, a strong opponent of communism; (4) French troops would withdraw from Vietnam; (5) the Vietminh would withdraw from South Vietnam; (6) the Vietnamese could freely choose to live in the North or the South; and (7) a General Election for the whole of Vietnam would be held before July, 1956, under the supervision of an international commission.Diem became the president of South Vietnam because of his views on Communism, which was one of AmericaÐ'Ò's reasons for using him. However Diem did now want to be a puppet for the U.S, and he quickly made decisions against the South Vietnamese people, especially the Buddhists. This was a big reason as



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