The American involvement in Vietnam
Thousands of books have been written on the issue of the American involvement in the Vietnam War. It's an issue that still evokes emotion and difference of opinion today.
America's official military involvement in the Vietnam War lasted from 1965 to 1975, 10 long years. Prior to American involvement in the region Vietnam was a French colonial territory.
The Vietnamese people were generally oppressed under French rule both prior to WWII and after. In 1930 Ho Chi Minh drew up a charter for the Indochinese Communist Party. The objectives of the party were the overthrow of the French; establishment of Vietnamese independence; establishment of a workers', peasants', and soldiers' government; organization of a workers' militia; cancellation of public debts; confiscation of means of production and their transfer to the government; distribution of French-owned lands to the peasants; suppression of taxes; establishment of an eight-hour work day; development of crafts and agriculture; institution of freedom of organization; and establishment of education for all citizens.
Ho Chi Minh
Prior to this, however, Ho Chi Minh had spent his entire life perusing Vietnamese independence from France. Ho traveled all over the world seeking help in gaining Vietnamese independence, but most importantly, he tried for 30 years to work through establishment processes to secure Vietnamese independence. He traveled to France, he put himself through school in France, he wrote letters to the French government, he tried to get a job in the French government to work from within the system, and he even tried to contact President Woodrow Wilson after World War I, but he was always rejected, always turned away. Ho's letters asked for, "equal rights for Vietnamese and French in Indochina, freedom of press and opinion, freedom of association and assembly, freedom to travel at home and abroad, and substitute rule of law for government by degree." Ho's goal was clear, he wanted to put an end to the French oppression in Vietnam and wanted Vietnam to gain independence. Ho claimed that his greatest hero was American leader and President, George Washington.
Ho Chi Minh in France (1920)
When the Versailles Peace Conference started work, Ho drew up an eight-point program for their country's emancipation and forwarded is to the conference secretariat in January 1919. Today, this plan, inspired by President Wilson's 14 Points, sounds extremely moderate. It asked for permanent representation in the French parliament; freedom of the press; freedom to hold meetings and form associations; amnesty decree; equality of legal rights between French and Annamese. When Ho tried to argue their case with Wilson himself at Versailles he was unceremoniously shown the door
- Jean Lacouture
During World War II Ho Chi Minh helped to rescue downed American pilots and gathered intelligence on the Japanese for the American OSS. Ho worked closely with the American intelligence community during WWII and his views were well known to them. They knew that his primary concern was Vietnamese independence.
During and after World War II the issue of Indochina, the region which contained Vietnam, was a matter of question.FDR sided with Chiang Kai-Shek and Stalin in stating that the region of Indochina should be turned over to a trusteeship and set on the road to independence rather than be returned to its position as a colonial territory of the French. Churchill rejected this idea because it was an issue that could set president on the matter of colonialism, which the British certainly hoped to maintain.
Eventually, even under FDR, American support was given to the French and Indochina was returned to a state of French colonial rule much to the chagrin of the Vietnamese people. When this happened the French instituted even more repressive control in Vietnam, and millions died of starvation while Vietnamese rice was exported to France.
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