Vietnam War: All You Need To Know

Vietnam War वियतनाम युद्ध – विश्व इतिहास जानिये World History – UPSC/IAS/PCS

The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians. Opposition to the war in the United States bitterly divided Americans, even after President Richard Nixon ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973.

Communist forces ended the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975, and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year.

Roots of the Vietnam War

Vietnam, a nation in Southeast Asia on the eastern edge of the Indochinese peninsula, had been under French colonial rule since the 19th century.

During World War II, Japanese forces invaded Vietnam. To fight off both Japanese occupiers and the French colonial administration, political leader Ho Chi Minh—inspired by Chinese and Soviet communism—formed the Viet Minh, or the League for the Independence of Vietnam.

Following its 1945 defeat in World War II, Japan withdrew its forces from Vietnam, leaving the French-educated Emperor Bao Dai in control.

Seeing an opportunity to seize control, Ho’s Viet Minh forces immediately rose up, taking over the northern city of Hanoi and declaring a Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) with Ho as president.

Seeking to regain control of the region, France backed Emperor Bao and set up the state of Vietnam in July 1949, with the city of Saigon as its capital.

Both sides wanted the same thing: a unified Vietnam. But while Ho and his supporters wanted a nation modeled after other communist countries, Bao and many others wanted a Vietnam with close economic and cultural ties to the West.

When Did the Vietnam War Start?

The Vietnam War and active U.S. involvement in the war began in 1954, though ongoing conflict in the region had stretched back several decades.

After Ho’s communist forces took power in the north, armed conflict between northern and southern armies continued until a decisive battle at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954 ended in victory for northern Viet Minh forces. The French loss at the battle ended almost a century of French colonial rule in Indochina.

The subsequent treaty signed in July 1954 at a Geneva conference split Vietnam along the latitude known as the 17th Parallel (17 degrees north latitude), with Ho in control in the North and Bao in the South. The treaty also called for nationwide elections for reunification to be held in 1956.

In 1955, however, the strongly anti-communist politician Ngo Dinh Diempushed Emperor Bao aside to become president of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (GVN), often referred to during that era as South Vietnam.

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