Talk:Background to the Vietnam War
|WikiProject Vietnam||(Rated C-class, Mid-importance)|
Move to "Background of the Vietnam War"?
Should this page be moved to Background of the Vietnam War? The bolded part of the intro refers to it that way, and it seems to make more sense—I don't believe that I've ever heard "background to" used like this, and "background of" seems more appropriate. —LrdChaos 17:19, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't think this whole article is a copyvio, and I'm not sure about the chronology. Working it out... Melchoir 21:01, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
- Whew! The copyvio material was pasted into Vietnam War by 126.96.36.199 in this diff. It has survived until now. I will restore the rest of the article, leaving the copyvio tag in place of the section. Melchoir 21:08, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
- It's what I was going to do first but then I thought the ending of the article was quite fishy (no conclusion!) and that it was all put up by the same person. You're probably right though. └ VodkaJazz/talk┐ 17:12, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
There was a lot wrong with this page and I've tried to correct that today. This is a controversial subject and contributors should keep in mind that the page should try for a neutral description of the facts. There was all kinds of chronolgical problems with the page (like talking about the domino theory years before it existed), as with other Vietnam pages the facts of the return of the French to Vietnam were all wrong (if you want a source start with Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A history). There was also way too much unsupportable stuff about American politics and political opinion.
In contradiction to the statement that the presence of Vietminh cadres in the South was a "violation" of the Geneva Accords, I draw upon "The Pentagon Papers", p. 51, which states the provisions. Article 8 gave all Vietnamese the right to choose which zone they wished to live in.
("The Pentagon Papers", Quadrangle Books, Chicago, Illinois, 1972)
Pp. 73-74 make clear the 5,000 man communist cadre which stayed behind was largely peaceful, focusing on political organizing in favor of reunification with the North.
The cadres turned to violence in response to mass arrests and imprisonment, followed by President Diem's cancellation of the reunification plebiscite in 1956, a violation of the Geneva Accords. The United States stood by Diem's decision.
Hanoi, after a period of indecision, decided to support the insurrection in 1959.
In further disagreement with the original contributor, I disagree with the statement that North and South Vietnam did not sign the elections clause. I find this questionable. First, there was no South Vietnam in existence at the time the Geneva Accords were signed. The Accords were very clear that the division of the country was based on military considerations, in other words, a device by which the French and Vietminh armies could disengage and pull back to their respective zones. Article 6 in the Accords was binding on the French and Vietminh to allow elections in July of 1956 to determine issues on unity, independence and territorial integrity. I presume the last item refers to reunification with the North.
In 1955, Bao Dai, the provisional French ruler of the South, was replaced by Ngo Diem through the electoral process. However, it is generally agreed among historians that elections in the South were rigged, highlighted by the fact that Diem's brother was in control of them. Diem was a protege of Colonel Edward Lansdale, a CIA operative who worked under military cover.
With Diem in control of the Southern government, the French were gradually forced out and replaced by a U.S. presence.
The Eisenhower administration approved his cancellation of the reunification plebiscite, openly conceding that had elections been held, Ho Chi Minh would have won decisively.
From this point on, the seeds of war were sown.
Another Disputed Contention
I also doubts regarding this statement:
After the end of the Korean War, Vietnam ceased to have any strategic value for the U.S.
It seems to contradict the author's earlier remarks, that as a result of the Soviet Union creating the "Iron Curtain", the fall of China to communism, and the Korean War, the U.S. adopted a strong anti-communist stance.
I'll venture that following the Korean War's end, it was likely felt France, with U.S. financial backing, would defeat the Vietminh.
Following French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and the ensuing peace conference at Geneva, the U.S. sent representatives, proving it had interest in the results. From the American perspective, French withdrawal from Vietnam created a power vaccum which opened the field to further communist expansion.
Despite a pledge not to use force, in 1954, the Eisenhower administration sent clandestine operatives to South Vietnam where they secretly organized and armed militia groups, and conducted sabotage operations in the North. Which sustains my belief that interest in the status of Vietnam was very much on the minds of U.S. leadership after Korea.
Again, this is all within "The Pentagon Papers". Despite its pledge to stand by the Geneva Accords "in spirit", the United States violated them from the beginning.
The Suggested Spirit of a Rewrite
I've come a long way from my elementary school days in 1965 when we were taught that U.S. forces in Vietnam were "defending democracy in SE Asia". That turned out to be a pile of government crap.
It's clear from "The Pentagon Papers" and Fletcher Prouty's "The Secret Team" that America became entangled in Vietnam entirely as the result of CIA meddling and covert actions. A cloud of secrecy was maintained, the purpose of which was to keep the U.S. public either in the dark or deliberately misinformed. For example, with regard to the 1954 Geneva Accords, the administration proclaimed the peace process should go forward without resort to violence. This was followed by the arrival into Vietnam of Colonel Ed Lansdale, a CIA operative working under military cover and a specialist in irregular warfare. He immediately began a campaign of sabotage and propaganda against the north. The CIA, by way of Lansdale, became Ngo Diem's chief benefactor. Diem would become a vicious dictator over his own people. The CIA proceded to upgrade his military bodyguard and the police as foundations of support.
The Pentagon Papers concede that Diem took office on the basis of fraudulent elections in which his brother exercised control over the machinery. Diem was oppressive in the extreme, outlawing political opposition or criticism by the press. He filled key positions with family members and Catholic Vietnamese. As a Catholic, he was in stark contrast to the rest of the population which was 92% Bhuddist. But it made him trustworthy to the West.
This was the so-called "democracy" which the U.S. government claimed had to be defended.
In South Vietnam and following the end of hostilities with the French, there were approximately 5,000 communist "stay-behinds" who were engaged in peaceful political activity, something conceded by analysts at the Rand Corporation. The stay-behinds had the right to be in South Vietnam based on the provisions of the 1954 Geneva Accords. When Diem became president, he immediately ordered the arrest of the communists who were placed in detention camps. Apparently, this was not enough to ensure the people of South Vietnam would not vote for reunification with the North. So Diem cancelled the plebiscite, which along with imprisonment of the communists, was a brazen violation of the Geneva Accords. The Eisenhower administration stood by this outrage.
What finally set off rebellion in the South was Diem's agricultural resettlement programs. These displaced many people in the rural areas off their ancestral lands and into what could be described as an agro-prisons. The idea was to separate the farmers from the communists. Enraged, a huge following of peasants merged with the remnants of the stay-behind cadres from the North.
This was the situation inherited by President John Kennedy. Diem's oppression and continued alienation of his own people rendered his own government so unstable that by November, 1963, the U.S. administration had him removed from power. President Kennedy was murdered soon thereafter and succeeded by Lyndon Johnson.
President Johnson was an enthusiastic supporter of expanded U.S. military presence in Vietnam and took drastic steps to justify a shooting war under false pretenses. The plan drawn up by the CIA with Johnson's approval was known as "Operation 34A" or "OPlan 34". It consisted of commando raids by sea and air attacks on North Vietnam using unmarked ships and aircraft. The idea was to provoke a response from the North and then claim they had initiated hostilities.
The 34A plans were successful in creating the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which led to passage of The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave Johnson carte blanche authority to do whatever he considered necessary. By April 1, 1965, Johnson approved introduction of regular U.S. ground forces into Vietnam and the build-up began.
In summary, the chief catalyst for the war in Vietnam was CIA meddling, with considerable support from the Johnson administration in the final phase. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 03:24, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
The current piece contains inaccuracies which tend to sanitize the U.S. presence in South Vietnam, leaving out fundamental facts which demonstrate CIA meddling. This meddling did not stop short of misleading the American public into a war it would never have approved had it known the truth. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:CFB4:8B20:C8AE:FD3C:40A1:6D01 (talk) 19:31, 15 May 2015 (UTC)