Vietnam War is part of the Cold War mini-wiki.
Pre-World War II
From the late 1800s up until the Second World War, Vietnam, and the entire peninsula it is situated on, was under French control; this peninsula was called French Indochina. In the Second World War, Japan invaded French Indochina, like they did most all of the Pacific, in an attempt to capture it. The United States, acting as the protector of the Asian countries, support a man called Hồ Chí Minh in Vietnam as a resitance fighter to the Japanese.
The Việt Minh
The Việt Minh, led by Hồ Chí Minh, started a campaign against the Japanese, and the French; since they opposed the Japanese, the Việt Minh recieved funding from the United States and China. As the Japanese left Vietnam, they handed over control of Hanoi (a city in Northern Vietnam) to the Việt Minh, and on September 2, Hồ Chí Minh read the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam.
Post-World War II
The Chinese Kuomintang Army then moved into Vietnam to supervise the release of Japanese prisoners, proving that Vietnam wasn't truly yet a nantion. Through talks in March of 1946, the Chinese agree to leave, and France agrees to allow Vietnam to become an independant nation. Talks between France and the Việt Minh soon died, as Hồ Chí Minh was appearing to become communist. This was not supposed to happen, so the French began fighting the Việt Minh to gain control over Vietnam; the French are supported by the United States, as the US wants an anti-communist government set up in Vietnam.
Though better equipped, the French are defeated at a place called Dien Bien Phu. This causes France to pull out of Viet Nam. Vietnam is then divided; the North, communist, is controlled by Hồ Chí Minh, whilst the South, anti-communist, is controlled by Chiang Kai-shek, and is semi-democratic. The North, of course, wants control of the South, which leads to conflict.
The Vietnam War
From 1954 up until 1965, the United States is not actually involved in the fighting between the two sides; the limit of US involvment is to money, resources, and advisors to South Vietnam. The United States also provided some military training to the South.
In 1964, there was an event called the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; which was a hoax created by the United States as an excuse to enter the war. The US claimed that two gunboats from North Vietnam came up to an American battleship and fired at it, then sped back to the mainland. This is what the US used as reasoning to enter the conflict on the side of the South.
The main reason the United States could not win this war was because the communists from the North were sending guerrillas South through the mountains of Laos and Cambodia along the Hồ Chí Minh Trail; these guerrillas were called the Viet Cong. The US couldn't even rely on the Southern citizens for help in identifyning the Viet Cong, for two reasons: the government og Chiang Kai-shek was corrupt and incompotent, making the people sympathetic to the ideas of communism; and the US forces ended up killing a large number of civilians, either by accident, or in response to Viet Cong activities.
This war was also not supported by the American people back in the United States for a number of reasons: conscription; television, this war was being broadcast entirely on live TV, bringing the horrors of war into the living rooms of the American people; but the major dislike issue was on the Tet offensive.
Every day in the news, American citizens would be told how many Viet Cong were killed, giving an idea of how well the US was doing. During the Tet offensive, though, 50,000 Viet Cong poured out of the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to attack US positions; the years of fighting and daily body counts had proved nothing.
All this led to the United States eventually pulling out of Vietnam in 1973. They decided to let the Vietnamese work it out for themselves.
After the US left, the Southern Vietnamese had to fight by themselves, but the US training did not help, and they eventually fell to the Viet Cong. Saigon (the capital of South Vietnam) fell in 1975, and communists controlled the entire country. Saigon was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City.
In 1991, US President Bill Clinton opened diplomatic ties with Vietnam, and the trade restrictions were lifted. US businesses are now the sixth largest investors in Communist Vietnam.
This event increased the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.
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