Vietnam War was a cold war era military conflict which had started in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1st November 1954 to 30th April 1975. North Vietnam had teamed up with the southern communist allies against the South which enjoyed a lot of support from United States as its principal ally together with other anti-communist nations. The war was triggered by struggle between different government forces which wanted a united Vietnam government under communism. The U.S. was trying to prevent spread of communism.
Before Vietnam War began, Vietnamese had waged an anti-colonial war against France, with financial support from United States. Vietnam had been under colonial rule of France for six decades. In the year 1940, another colonial power, Japan came in and occupied parts of Vietnam. In 941, Vietnam was under two colonial powers when a Vietnamese revolutionary leader in the name of Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh had been out of Vietnam for 30 years.
In Northern Vietnam Ho built central offices in a cave and established Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) whose mission was to liberate Vietnam from the two colonial powers. France, who were the colonialists were defeated at Dien Bien Phu and this was followed by signing a peace deal in a conference held in Geneva. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia became independent but Vietnam was divided between a communist Northern and an anti-communist Southern.
Vietnam was to hold democratic elections to form a united government but the U.S. was opposed to this arrangement, fearing that the communists would win. The South held elections separately with support from U.S. and Diem emerged the president. He died in 1963 in a coup supported by U.S. and because he had alienated the Southern Vietnamese, a group of people who sympathized with Northern Vietnam from South Vietnam formed National Liberation Front (NLF) to wage guerilla war against Southern Vietnam.
On 2nd August 1964 Northern Vietnam attacked two U.S. ships in international waters that saw U.S. president, Johnson, deploy ground troops in South Vietnam to bolster its defense. The deployment of U.S. troops was goalless as it had no intention of winning the battle and this presented a difficult time for the troops. In 1965, U.S. war in Vietnam peaked against a Tet offensive by North Vietnamese.
From 1965 to 1969 U.S. troops were inactive with only some aerial bombing to the North Vietnam. U.S. ground forces were later withdrawn following a policy called Vietnamization. The Northern Vietnamese Army together with the Viet Cong considered the conflict as a colonial conflict and regarded South Vietnam as a U.S. puppet state. Both NLF and VPA were proving difficult forces to deal with for the United States. NLF used guerilla tactics while the latter used conventional wars but South Vietnam forces depended on air superiority.
The U.S. forces sought support from communists like Australia who agreed to deploy their troops in Vietnam. Opposition in U.S. for the Vietnam War was growing and divisions had started among Americans. When a new president, Richard Nixon, came to power, he ordered withdrawal of U.S. troops in 1973 after a Church-Case Amendment by the U.S. congress.
Australian forces remained on the ground till they were withdrawn in 11th January 1973 when governor general issued a proclamation. The only Australian forces left were guarding Australian embassy till June 1973 when they were withdrawn too.
Communist forces captured Saigon in 1975 which marked the end of Vietnam War. The country unified and formed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976. Many people died in this war with more than 3 million people losing their lives. Among those who died were 58,000 Americans and unidentified number of Vietnamese civilians.
Vietnam War was therefore a cold war which had been triggered by Vietnam’s decision of resisting colonial powers. The nation was stayed firm against colonial manipulations, something which made United States to harden its policies on communism against the Soviet Union allies with intentions of stopping further spread of communism.
Kulka, Schlenger. Trauma and the Vietnam war generation: Report of findings from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study.Oxoford:Oxford university press,199. Print.