An Overview of the Vietnam War

Vietnam is a small nation located in the southeast part of the Asian continent. The Vietnam War (1955 to 1975) was believed to be a war against communism. However, the objectives of the war were not clearly defined. This terrible war resulted in the loss of millions of precious lives.

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The Vietnam War was a result of the cold war between the then super powers: the US and the USSR. The cold war was in full swing and both the superpowers wanted to exert political and ideological control over the region. In the year 1954, Vietnam was divided into North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

The communist government came to power in North Vietnam. The government was backed by the USSR. The US was committed to prevent the spread of communism in the region. The US backed the government in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. Unfortunately for the US, this government was weak, corrupt and oppressive.

Ngo Dinh Diem

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The North Vietnam was governed by a group of nationalists under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh. They were patriotic and were willing to lay their lives for a united Vietnam. They fiercely opposed US intervention in the region. The resistance against the Diem's government was organized by the Ho Chi Minh backed National Liberation Front (also known as Viet Cong).

Ho Chi Minh

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The hatred for the US increased when it sent its troops in the 1960s. By the end of 1966 there were around 400,000 US soldiers in the region. The US used seven million tons of bomb during the war, causing large scale destruction (851,000 North Vietnamese soldiers, 220,357 South Vietnamese soldiers, 58,202 Americans and millions of civilians were killed in the war).

The Truth About Vietnam War Narrated by People Who Fought the War

Viet Cong's guerrilla warfare frustrated the American soldiers. In the year 1968, the Viet Cong attacked many US targets simultaneously. The operation was named "Tet Offensive". The US won a tactical victory by pushing back the offensive. Unfortunately, the American media portrayed it as a defeat. This resulted in public outcry against the war in the US.

Could the Vietnam War have been avoided?

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Vietnam War was the first war to be covered on television. Many people opposed the war in the US, after seeing meaningless destruction in the name of democracy. Protests turned violent in the state of Ohio, resulting in loss of lives of four students.

At this juncture, President Richard Nixon authorized bombing of defenseless and neutral Cambodia without the consent of the US congress. This resulted in a major scandal. Later, a ceasefire was signed in January 1973. The last American soldier stepped out of the Vietnam soil in the month of March.

Richard Nixon

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The North Vietnamese forces captured the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon on April 30, 1975, ending the Vietnam War. The nation was reunited under the communist rule. The unified Vietnamese state was called Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Many books and movies were inspired by the Vietnam War. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. was created to honor the members of the US armed forces.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Summary

  • Millions died in Vietnam War.
  • Resistance against the Diem's government was organized by the Ho Chi Minh backed Viet Cong.
  • The USA used seven million tons of bomb during the Vietnam War.
  • 851,000 North Vietnamese soldiers, 220,357 South Vietnamese soldiers, 58,202 Americans and millions of civilians were killed in the Vietnam War.
  • Vietnam War was the first war to be covered on the TV.
  • The Vietnam War ended with the capture of Siagon, the capital of South Vietnam, by North Vietnamese forces.

5 Bloodiest Wars

Sl No
War
Deaths
1
Second World War
70 million
2
Mongol Conquests
60 million
3
The Manchu Conquest of China
25 million
4
First World War
17 million
5
Nepoleonic Wars
6.5 million
 
 
 

I thought the Vietnam War was an utter, unmitigated disaster, so it was very hard for me to say anything goodabout it.

— George McGovern

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