The Vietnam War is known to the Vietnamese people as the “Resistance War Against America”. It is also referred to as the Second Indochina War and the American War. It is a war that occurred in Vietnam and some parts of Cambodia from November 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975. The war was also fought in Laos, even though it retained the name “Vietnam War”. The major opponents in the war were the South Vietnam Government and the North Vietnam Government. These governments did not fight the war alone, but received help from different governments who fought each other by proxy.
The North Vietnam Government received support from its communist sister states like the Soviet Union, China and other states where communism was practiced. On the other hand, the South Vietnam Government received support from the United States, South Korea, Australia and a host of other countries who were opposed to communism and wanted to see a stop to its spread in Europe and Asia. This was similar to the Korean War in that it was a war fought by proxy between the two major world powers, the USSR (that is the Soviet Union) and the United States, who tried to dominate one another. This war was fought during the Cold War period, which eventually culminated in the breaking down of the Soviet Union.
From the beginning of the war, the Vietnam War was not a fair one. The nations who formed an unofficial coalition in support of the South Vietnam Government had to fight the war on two fronts. They had to fight the Viet Cong, which was a guerilla style militia within Southern Vietnam, who were funded and propelled along by the Northern government. The South also had to fight the conventional North’s army, which grew with time in their involvement in the war.
In spite of this overwhelming odds, the South had the military advantage of air superiority, which was majorly provided by the United States and other support states. Fighter jets and bombers prowled the skies, conducting extensive search and destroy missions so as to decimate the ground forces of the North. Several bombardments also occurred within the territories of North Korea.
Even though America’s reason for intervening in the Vietnam War was to stamp out communism and prevent its spread, the people who fought against them—the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong—saw themselves as fighting the righteous cause of restoring unity to their land. For the Vietnamese, they were fighting a colonial war—to them it was a continuation of the Indochina wars.
The United States’ involvement in the war began in the sixties with a massive transportation of field troops to the war area. This deployment was provoked by the Gulf of Tonkin, which led the then President to issue the order for the deployment of troops. Once the US became involved, heavy aerial bombardment by the United States Air Force began, which ultimately affected the areas around.
At this time, the North Vietnamese government launched the Tet Offensive, which was targeted at overthrowing the South Vietnamese government. This offensive failed to meet its goals, nevertheless it had an unintended consequence that was equally as good for the North Vietnamese government. The failed Tet Offensive program awakened the American people to the fact that their government had been lying to them when it said they were winning the war in Vietnam. The American people realized that in spite of the atrociously long period of time they had been fighting and dying in Vietnam, America was no close to victory. Protests erupted all over the United Sates, so much so that the President had to mobilize the Nation Guards in some states to keep the peace.
The result of this was the programe termed Vietnamization, which helped the United States to remove itself from the war. It was the gradual withdrawal of US troops from the war, allowing the South Vietnamese army to fight its war for itself. Nevertheless, the official date when the US left the Vietnam War was August 15, 1975. Once this happened, the South’s capital, Sagion, was captured by the North ending the war almost immediately.
The Vietnam War lasted several decades and led to four million deaths. It ended in the reunification of South and North Korea.
Vietnamization, which was a Nixon Doctrine, started in 1969 and was finished in 1972. It followed the antiwar movement that escalated in the United States following the revelation brought by results of the North’s Tet Offensive. The movement also intensified when some of the actions being committed by American soldiers in Vietnam were revealed, which included the My Lai Massacre where a platoon raped and murdered civilians in a Vietnam village and the Green Beret Affair where Special Forces soldiers murdered a person suspected to be a double agent. These actions got the international community involved in the antiwar protest.
Cambodia’s involvement in the war was as a result of pressures from the United State to change its neutral policy to war to a more decisive stance against the North Vietnamese people. This occurred in 1969, where the government of Cambodia stated that it no longer wanted the North Vietnamese military to have and maintain a base on Cambodian soil. This immediately led the North Vietnam army to invade Cambodia. The US repelled this invasion by invading Cambodia itself and destroyed their base in Cambodia. This particular act of impunity by the American government led a group of students to protest. Some of these students were killed by the Ohio National Guardsmen, which added more fire to the antiwar movement.
In 1971, a pentagon document was released to the New York Times which detailed all the lies the US government had been selling the American people about its involvement in the war. The Supreme Court declared that the publication of the paper by the New York Times was not illegal because the people deserved to know what their elected leadership was doing.