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Other Southeast Asian nations also transitioned from colonial to independent status in the years after World War II, and tensions and conflicts between communist and non-communist movements existed not just in Vietnam but also in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.Regional non-communist governments supported the Republic of Vietnam, the southern half of the divided country, believing its existence was a crucial bulwark against the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.
S., along with Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand, established the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in September 1954. involvement in Vietnam because SEATO members pledged to act to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Just as regional concerns about communism influenced support for South Vietnam, the Vietnam conflict also played into Cold War superpower rivalries, which, in turn, shaped superpower decision making. S., the Soviet Union, and China vied for alliances with newly independent countries, Vietnam became one of the proving grounds on which all three countries tried to make their mark. Hanoi leaders understood that they walked a tightrope between their two contentious benefactors, as North Vietnam received significant support from both countries.
SEATO’s purpose was to prevent communism from gaining ground in the region, and although South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos couldn’t join because the Geneva Accords prevented them from joining international military alliances, they were included as SEATO protectorates. North Vietnam also benefitted from trade with Eastern Europe through its inclusion in the Soviet sphere.
An APACL youth conference featured attendees from the U.
S., including Tom Charles Huston and David Keene representing Young Americans for Freedom. Southeast Asia was so important in the minds of America policymakers and their allies that the U. gave economic and military aid to South Vietnam, while the Soviet Union and China offered similar assistance to North Vietnam.
President Eisenhower had considered authorizing a U. military action, including a possible nuclear strike, to help the French at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954, but Congress refused to approve the use of military force unless it was part of an international coalition. After the Geneva Accords created South Vietnam, Eisenhower offered U. His model was the Philippines, where Colonel Edward Lansdale had groomed Ramon Magsaysay to be president.  Denise Bostdorff and Steven Goldzwig, “Idealism and Pragmatism in American Foreign Policy Rhetoric: The Case of John F.
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles failed to convince any major U. In 1956, Kennedy announced: “Vietnam represents the cornerstone of the Free World in Southeast Asia.” This ideology informed his foreign policy worldview as president, beginning with his inaugural address, in which he declared: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Kennedy employed the rhetoric of idealism to try to convince the American public that the U. had a moral responsibility to help governments and political movements that were trying to resist communist insurgencies.
A colony of France since the mid-nineteenth century, Vietnam fell under Japanese control in 1940 after France surrendered to Germany during World War II.
In September 1945, Ho Chi Minh, a nationalist who was also an internationally connected communist who helped establish the French Communist Party and spent time in China and Russia in the 1920s, declared the country’s independence in the wake of Japan’s defeat and the war’s end.
It mattered whether the new countries established communist or non-communist governments.
Vietnam’s history offers a case study of decolonization in action.