Explain Why the United States Became Increasingly Involved in the War in Vietnam

694 Words Nov 5th, 2008 3 Pages
At the start of the 20th century Vietnam was of very little concern to the USA but by 1968 the Vietnam War was at its peak with about 500 000 American troops there. This drastic change came about for many reasons.

From the mid-19th century Vietnam had been a French colony (known as Indochina) but in 1940, during WWII this changed as Japan invaded the country. The USA helped Indochina fight the Japanese as they were the enemy. They secretly joined forces with communist Ho Chi Minh and this resulted in the formation of the Vietminh who defeated the Japanese in 1945.

Since Japan had been conquered, the French wanted their colony back to strengthen a dying empire. Ho Chi Minh and the rest of the nationalists wanted to unify the country
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Kennedy was overtaken by Johnson who declared that he ‘will not lose Vietnam’ and by 1963 there were over 16 000 special advisors in Vietnam. In 1964 there were apparent attacks on two American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. This made Johnson decide to retaliate and resulted in the bombing of North Vietnam by American fighter planes. The incident in Tonkin brought about the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which meant that Johnson was able "to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force" to prevent further attacks against US forces.

In 1965 after a series of bombings over North Vietnam, the first troops arrived in Vietnam; 3 500 Marines. More and more bombings occurred and many more troops were sent to Vietnam. By the end of the year, there were over 180 000 troops in Vietnam. It seemed that President Johnson was willing to do whatever it took to win the war in Vietnam. He thought that by sending many troops he would win the war but this did not work as the Vietcong were fighting a different type of battle.

From 1965 to 1968 the USA dropped a million tons of bombs on North Vietnam and by this time there were over 500 000 troops in Vietnam. President Johnson was amazed that the USA (the world’s superpower) could not defeat a tiny third world country. He had wasted lives and resources in the pursuit of victory which had not been achieved. The escalation of the war had been pointless.

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