Why Vietnam Was Desirable And How The War Began

4593 words - 19 pages

Vietnam in South East Asia had always been a desirable country. Since 
the 19th century, it was ruled by France and called Indo China. Apart 
form one rebellion in 1930, France had total control of the country 
until they surrendered to Germany in the Second World War in 1940. 
Japan, Germany's ally, took control of Vietnam and the resources in 
it, such as coal, rice, rubber, railways and roads. An anti-Japanese 
resistance organization, which was called the Viet Minh and led by Ho 
Chi Minh, a communist, was formed. At the end of the war, the Viet 
Minh controlled the North Vietnam and had ambitions to control the 
rest. Japan had gone when they entered Hanoi in 1945 and declared  ...view middle of the document...

Therefore, they 
provided Ngo Dinh Diem, who was helped to set up the anti-communist 
Republic of South Vietnam, with $1.6 billion in the 1950's. The other 
policy that the USA had was containment, which was to prevent 
communism spreading any further than it already had done in Eastern 
Europe. The USA stopped the proposed elections taking place in Vietnam 
for fear that the communists would win, so Vietnam was divided into 
North and South Vietnam in 1954. This communist victory over the 
French led the Americans to believe that communists were taking over 
the world and must be stopped. 

Sources A to C show two people's views towards America going into war 
against North Vietnam and the Viet Cong. Source A is a speech made by 
US President Johnson in April 1965, one month after the start of 
Operation Rolling Thunder. He is justifying the reasons for going into 
war against Vietnam, which are to keep the peace and freedom of the 
people in South Vietnam. Its content can be trusted because, being the 
President, he was directly involved in Vietnam so he knew what was 
happening and understood what he was talking about. However, it is 
untrustworthy because he is speaking after Operation Rolling Thunder 
so he has a need to justify the reasons for the bombing and attacks on 
Vietnam, and he could just be identifying reasons that will help 
receive most support from the public for the war. He is speaking after 
the Gulf of Tonkin incident where two American ships were attacked so 
he is speaking in the 'heat of the moment' and perhaps at a time where 
he feels that he can convince most of the public that they are going 
into war to keep the peace and security. 

After the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the US Congress passed the Tonkin 
Gulf Resolution. This gave Johnson the power to 'take all necessary 
measures to prevent further aggression and achieve peace and 
security.' The Congress meant that they would support a war if its 
purpose were to bring peace and security, so this is maybe why Johnson 
is saying these are the reasons why America should go into war. It 
does not give his true opinion of why or whether America should go 
into war. It gives the official reasons and the ones he wants the 
public to hear. This suggests that the source is not completely 
trustworthy and is therefore not useful for providing the feelings 
that President Johnson really had for going into war. Also, the 
ascription states that he was 'speaking' but it there is no 
information as to where he was speaking and in front of which groups 
of people. This affects the source's usefulness because historians 
will not be able to tell which people Johnson wants to hear these 

Source A is very useful for showing what President Johnson wanted the 
American public to think the reasons were for going into war against 
Vietnam. He explains, 'we fight because we have a promise to keep,' 
which implies that previous...

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