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America's Involvement in the Vietnam War

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Carson Evans

Coach Laird


September 11, 2016

To what extent was US involvement in the Vietnam War justifiable?

Despite a few distinguished lapses, for the most part, the U.S involvement in the Vietnam war was justifiable by combating the spread of communism and preventing the loss of more U.S.’s and allied lives.

One of the reasons the U.S. fought alongside South Vietnam was to stop communist North Vietnam because the U.S. believed in the Domino Theory.

Wen-Qing, Ngoei. "The Domino Logic Of The Darkest Moment." Journal Of American-East Asian Relations 21.3 (2014): 215-245. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

The author argues that the memories of the Anglo-Americans of Japan’s victory in Singapore would later support the domino theory. While arguing his point, Wen-Qing explains that the Domino Theory states: when one country falls to communism, the neighboring countries will soon become communist; and gives an example of the theory. Wen-Qing uses reports from Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson to support his argument. One of the reports stated the Chinese Communists would leverage “anti-white Asiatic xenophobia [sic]” Southeast Asia and marshal millions of agents in the region- the Chinese diaspora- to corrupt Western colonialism from within. The author failed address opposing evidence to his claims and was, therefore, biased.

North Vietnam was a communist state and was trying to take over South Vietnam; and, if they succeeded then, according to the Domino Theory, the rest of Southeast Asia would fall to communism. The North was supported by China and the Soviet Union, and the U.S. was already fighting them; so, they viewed it as killing two birds with one stone. They would stop the spread of communism to Southeast Asia and fight against two opposing major powers.

However since the U.S. was supporting South Vietnam, they were also supporting Ngo Dinh Diem, the repressive, elitist regime, as a bulwark against communism. Ngo Dinh Diem was born January 3, 1901, into a noble Vietnamese Catholic family in Quang Binh. He went to the school of administration in Hue. His first job was a chief minister under Emperor Bao Dai in the 1930s. After World War II, Dinh opposed the Communist-led Vietminh. In 1945 he returned to Vietnam as prime minister of Bao Dai’s government in South Vietnam. But in 1946, Dinh deposed Bao Dai and declared South Vietnam a republic with himself as president. With the U.S. supporting him, he refused to hold the elections he agreed to in Geneva, which would have united the country. However, the U.S. then supported Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) because of the autocratic and nepotistic family rule of Dinh. Then in November of 1963, the ARVN, led by General Dương Văn Minh, arrested and assassinated Ngo Dinh Diem, which marked the culmination of a successful CIA-backed coup d'état. To make sure that wouldn’t happen the U.S. again sent “advisors” to help direct the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The actions of the advisors sent to help changed from advising to fighting the North, which eventually led to their deaths.

Another reason why the United States is because of several incidents where American lives were killed such as the death of the “advisors” and the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was actually 2 incidents. The Maddox, a destroyer, was stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin. While stationed there, it was unsuccessfully attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats from Ho Men. This attack was confirmed however the second incident wasn’t. After the first incident, the U.S. sent a second destroyer named the Turner Joy. On the night of August 4, the destroyers were within eight miles of the shore of North Vietnam. On that night, there were low clouds, bad weather, and darkness. The destroyers claimed they picked up high-speed attack vessels on their radars and were under a torpedo attack and sent an initial report they were under fire. A few hours after the initial report, FLASH messages from the Maddox arrived in Washington D.C., indicating that the combined effect of bad weather and overeager sonar operators led to a false report. Later on, the commander of the Maddox stated there were no visual sightings of the enemy vessels. But President Lyndon Johnson, held captive by election-year politics and his domestic reform program, saw this as an opportunity to increase America’s military commitment in Vietnam and to hush the Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s criticism of Johnson’s foreign policy plan. So Johnson went to Congress and asked for permission to take “all necessary measures to repel armed attack” in Vietnam. Although he benefited from his actions from a political standpoint, in the end, it did help the lives of more civilians and allied powers to be saved. Congress responded to Johnson’s request with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

"Tonkin Gulf Resolution." Tonkin Gulf Resolution (NARA) (2011): 1. History Reference Center. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

The purpose of this article was to allow the president the authority to send more troops and equipment, such as planes, bombs, napalm, chemical defoliants, guns, etc., to Vietnam. With this grant of authority, the president can support the South Vietnamese until he is satisfied that peace is restored. Because of this resolution, the president is limited to only sending more troops and supplies to Southeast Asia. America would have benefited more if Congress granted the president the power to send support to anti-communist causes in all of Asia and Europe, so the U.S. could be more efficient in cutting off the supply from the



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