There was many reasons for the USA to get involved in Vietnam between the 1950’s and 60’s however they were all in stages, not just in one go. They called America and USA’S ‘clash’ the “Cold War” which began mainly due to America and the USSR’S political differences. The USSR was a communist state and the USA and the other countries who were their partners were capalist states or countries.
Many people believed that capalists and communists could not live alongside each other for long and that one system would take over another, however both sides were determined not to be taken over. This is how it all started as the governments were trying to take over large parts of East Europe and Asia. When the buffer zones were added there was a greater risk of war as the zones were dominated by the USSR who were causing a government domino effect through to the west so the USA and their partners were determined to stop it which caused the Truman Doctrine.
The main reasons for the USA to get involved with Vietnam were because of their fear of communism and that communism could take over the Western world and Asia. Another reason why the USA didn’t like communism was because in 1945 the USA built and tested the first nuclear bomb on Japan but kept it secret from the Russians even though they were supposed to be allies. This made the Russians very suspicious of America. America also didn’t like communism because of their very different political beliefs as the communists were a totalitarian state whilst the USA believed in democracy and were afraid the Russians would try to spread their beliefs around the world.
The first way of the USA to get involved was to supply France with money as during World War 2 they had lost control of North Vietnam however managed to keep control of South Vietnam. The USA paid the French armies to regain control of North Vietnam so to keep it capitalist and was thought to be a stand against world wide spread of communism. However in 1949 Americans were worried because China had turned communist and supplied money and weapons to North Vietnam making the war harder to win.
The French assumed that they were invincible as they were surrounded by mountains and an airbase but the French miscalculation led to a humiliating defeat and ended French plans to regain control of Vietnam. This meant the USA had to get more involved as well as take more action as communism continued to get stronger. The USA’s next involvement plan was to send military advisors to South Vietnam. In 1954 Eisenhower gave 17 officers sealed orders sending them to Saigon and by January 1961 the number of advisors had grown to 685. However the advisors were not there to fight but to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) to combat an expected invasion from the North.
These advisors didn’t work as the communist Vietcong’s seemed to be getting stronger and even though the numbers of advisors were secretly raised it didn’t greatly help. The USA soon had to get even more involved as their strategic hamlet programme officials selected villages in South Vietnam which they thought could be easily defended by the Vietcong but didn’t work as very few hamlets were secure and the policy was very unpopular with the Vietnamese. Religion was also a problem because Diem favoured Roman Catholics but this led to street protests like a Buddhist monk who set himself alight. Diem soon became increasingly unpopular and was assassinated by ARVN officers who ere worried that the USA would withdraw there support if Diem continued in power. However the assassination made things worse as Diem’s successors were no better at governing the country.
This all led to the USA needing to involve themselves more by using the military. This first happened with the Gulf of Tongking incident which was an excuse for Johnson to get the Gulf of Tongking resolution which allowed him to take all the necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression. Then in February 1965 Johnson got the opportunity to justify bombing North Vietnam when the Vietcong attack the USA’s base at Pleiku.
Ten aircraft were destroyed eight US advisors were killed with over a hundred others wounded. Johnson could then call up troops and bomb the North. The operation was called rolling thunder. The planes bombed the key military and industrial targets of North Vietnam but were not allowed to bomb until he felt he could explain his actions to the American people. After that, 3,500 US marines were sent to the airbase of Danang and from then on the Americans took control of South Vietnamese war effort.
This all generally happened due to the Americans obsession with communism and their belief of the domino theory, that once one country turned communist, so would the next and next which made the Americans more involved with Vietnam as time went by with the Americans trying to stop the spread of communism across South East Asia.