The Vietnam War had a big effect on the Cold War, being a very deadly war with, at times, no end in sight. After China became a communistic country, communism began to spread throughout Indochina. In 1954 Vietnam had gained its independence from France.
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But Vietnam was split into two parts at the time, Communistic North Vietnam under the rule of Ho Chi Minh and South Vietnam under the rule of dictator Ngo Dinh Diem. Both leaders wanted to unify all of Vietnam under one ruler but they disagreed about who that should be. This conflict led to them going into war. The United States began assisting South Vietnam in hopes of preventing Northern Vietnam from taking over. The Soviet union and China also intervened in the war by providing aid to the Vietcong (Vietnamese Communists).
At first, under President John F. Kennedy, the United States only provided weapons, economic aid, and a few thousand soldiers. But slowly Kennedy began providing more and more soldiers. In 1964 Kennedy was assassinated and his vice president Lyndon B. Johnson took on his role as president. Kennedy was reluctant to send more soldiers, he felt that the way the victory was not as simple as just sending a lot of soldiers. However, Johnson was much more willing to send American soldiers to fight in Vietnam, especially after chaos erupted in South Vietnam with assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. The amount of soldiers stationed in Vietnam went from a few thousand to almost five hundred thousand in a few years.
All of a sudden, the United States was caught up in a violent war. The war was not going well for the United States. The soldiers were not unaccustomed to the environment they were fighting in which left them at a disadvantage. It was also difficult for them to tell the difference between their allies and their enemies. On top of that, the Vietcong used guerilla war tactics that would catch the American soldiers by surprise. They would ambush the American soldiers and set traps for them. American soldiers were not trained for this type of warfare. Casualties began to rack up, which led to anti-war protests across the nation. Many Americans considered the war to be unjust and they did not like the fact that young teens were being forced to fight through the military draft. As time went on the Vietnam situation only got worse. It got to the point where South Vietnamese citizens no longer wanted American presence in the war. T
he war became extremely unpopular. The was was pretty much hopeless, the United States was clearly losing it. U.S. President Richard Nixon decided that it was time to pull out in 1973. After twenty years of fighting the U.S. failed to stop the communists from invading South Vietnam. In April of 1975 the Vietcong took over all of Vietnam. It was a total embarrassment for the United States.
The Vietnam War made the United States look extremely weak. Americans began to question their government because they wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives trying to assist a dictator. They also found out that the government was doing things behind their backs like killing innocent civilians. This war caused America to lose confidence in their own power, and they were no longer arrogant about it. In the end, the United States had felt defeated, and because of this war they had re evaluated their approach in the Cold War.
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