Vietnam War A Background to the War
Brief History of Vietnam • France assumed control over the whole of Vietnam after the Franco-Chinese War (1884-1885). French Indochina was formed in October 1887 from Vietnam, and Cambodia, with Laos added in 1893. • In the early 20th century, Vietnamese patriots realised that they could not defeat France without modernisation. • In 1940, during World War II, Japan invaded Indochina • The Vietnam Revolutionary League (Vietminh) was established by Ho Chi Minh while living in China on the Vietnam border • With Paris already occupied by Germany, the French troops decided it was not worth putting up a fight and they surrendered to the Japanese. Ho Chi Minh and his fellow nationalists saw this as an opportunity to free their country from foreign domination. Under the military leadership of General Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietminh began a guerrilla campaign against the Japanese
The Vietminh received weapons and ammunition from the Soviet Union, and after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, they also obtained supplies from the United States. During this period the Vietminh leant a considerable amount about military tactics which was to prove invaluable in the years that were to follow. • When the Japanese surrendered to the Allies after the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945, the Vietminh was in a good position to take over the control of the country • In 1944-1945, millions of Vietnamese people starved to death in the Japanese occupation of Vietnam
Who should control Vietnam? • In August 1945, the Japanese surrendered to the Allies, creating a power vacuum in Vietnam. • The Việt Minh launched the "August Revolution" across the country to seize government offices. Emperor Bảo Ðại abdicated on August 25, 1945, ending the Nguyễn Dynasty • On September 2, 1945 Hồ Chí Minh declared Vietnam independent under the new name of Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and held the position of Chairman.
End of French Rule? • In 1947, full scale war broke out between Viet Minh and France. Realizing that colonialism was coming to an end worldwide, France fashioned a semi-independent State of Vietnam, within the French Union, with Bảo Đại as Head of State • As the Communists under Mao Zedong took over China, Viet Minh began to receive military aid from China • The United States became strongly opposed to Hồ Chí Minh. In the 1950s the government of Bảo Ðại gained recognition by the United States and the United Kingdom. • The Việt Minh force grew significantly with China's assistance
Dien Bien Phu • As the Civil war dragged on into the 1950s, it became clear that victory was impossible against a guerrilla force that was often difficult to locate. • By 1953 the French Government was unwilling to continue the war. French public was tired of a war that swallowed up vast sums of money and soldiers.
The French wanted to withdraw with honour and therefore force the Vietminh to the negotiation table • The Battle of Dien Bien Phu marked the end of French involvement in Indochina. The Viet Minh and their mercurial commander Vo Nguyen Giap handed the French a stunning military defeat.
End of France in Asia • The Western fear of a Communist extension in Southeast Asia, named the Domino Theory by Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Dien Bien Phu siege and the departure of the French from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, was a factor leading to the direct American intervention in South Vietnam.
Geneva Agreements 1954 • Arranged a settlement which brought an end to the French war in Indochina. • A ceasefire was signed and French forces agreed to withdraw from the region. • Vietnam was to be temporarily divided along the 17th Parallel until elections could be held to unite the country. • These elections were never held • Vietminh established a Communist state in the North. • The South was ruled by a right-wing government with US support.