The Vietnam War, 1954–1975, flourished out of the lengthy conflict between France and Vietnam, the result of one century of French early american rule. In July 1954, after years of bloody fighting, Communist forces under the direction of basic Vo Nguyen Giap beat the allied French troops in ~ Dien Bien Phu, a remote hill outpost in the northwest edge of Vietnam. This decisive fight convinced the French that they could no longer maintain your Southeast asian colonies, and also Paris conveniently sued because that peace. Together the 2 sides came together to talk about the terms of the tranquility in Geneva, Switzerland, international occasions were already shaping the future of Vietnam.

You are watching: Which vietnam policy came first in the johnson administration

The Geneva tranquility Accords

The Geneva peace Accords, signed through France and also the Communist management of Vietnam in the summer the 1954, reflect the strains the the worldwide Cold War. Drawn up in the shadow of the korean War, i m sorry had finished just the year before, the Geneva covenant was one awkward peace for all sides. Due to the fact that of exterior pressures carried to bear by the Soviet Union and also the People"s Republic that China, Vietnam"s delegates come the Geneva conference agreed come temporarily partition their country at the seventeenth parallel. According to the terms of the Geneva Accords, Vietnam would organize national elections in 1956 come reunify the country.

The Communist superpowers favored this agreement due to the fact that they feared the a provocative tranquility that inquiry communist manage of every one of Vietnam would certainly anger France and also its an effective ally, the unified States, and also they go not want to risk one more confrontation with the West so soon after Korea. Furthermore, the Communists thought they were well arranged to take southerly Vietnam through political activity alone, a prediction the did not come to pass.

The United states did not assistance the accords. Secretary that State man Foster Dulles thought the the political protocols that the accords offered too lot power come Vietnamese Communists, and he was no going to enable the Communists to take southerly Vietnam there is no a fight. To the end, Dulles and President Dwight D. Eisenhower supported a collection of multilateral agreements that created the Southeast Asia Treaty company (SEATO) and the production of a counterrevolutionary force south that the ten parallel that would oppose Ho Chi Minh and his pendant in the democratic Republic that Vietnam (DRV), or phibìc Vietnam.

South Vietnam Under Ngo Dinh Diem

The SEATO treaty noted for the shared defense of all signatories, including the recently created and US-supported state southern of the seventeenth parallel, the government of the Republic of Vietnam (GVN), or southern Vietnam. The scheduled nationwide elections never took place. Instead, south Vietnam hosted its own elections that carried Ngo Dinh Diem, a staunchly anti-Communist figure, to power in 1956. From his first days in office, Diem confronted stiff opposition native his opponents. He urged the United says to assistance his government, claiming that the Communists want to take south Vietnam through force. In late 1957, through American aid, Diem began a pre-emptive strike versus the forces aligning versus him. The central Intelligence firm helped him recognize those who sought to carry his government down, and he had thousands arrested. In 1959, Diem passed a collection of acts, collectively known as Law 10/59, that made the legal to hold suspected Communists in jail there is no bringing formal charges.

From the minute he take it power, Diem confronted enormous difficulties. Students, intellectuals, Buddhists, and others joined the Communists in opposition come Diem"s rule. The more these forces attacked Diem"s troops and an enig police, the much more he make the efforts to control their protests. The president maintained that south Vietnam to be a peace-loving democracy and also that the Communists were the end to destroy his new country.

The Kennedy administration was break-up on how peaceful and democratic the Diem program really was. Part Kennedy advisers believed Diem had actually not instituted enough social and economic revolutionary to continue to be a viable leader in southern Vietnam. Others said that Diem to be the finest of a poor lot. As the White residence met to decide the future the its Vietnam policy, a adjust in strategy took ar at the greatest levels that the Communist Party.


From 1956 to 1960, the Communist Party of Vietnam preferred to reunify the nation through political way alone. Adopting the Soviet Union"s design of politics struggle, the Communist Party make the efforts unsuccessfully to cause Diem"s fallen by exerting tremendous internal political pressure. After Diem"s success versus Communist cell in the South, however, southern Communists encouraged the party come adopt an ext violent strategies to insurance Diem"s downfall. At the Fifteenth Party Plenum in January 1959, the Communist Party ultimately approved the use of revolutionary violence to fall Ngo Dinh Diem"s government. In might 1959, and again in September 1960, the party evidenced its approval the revolutionary violence and the merged use of political and armed struggles. The an outcome was the production of a broad-based unified front to assist mobilize southerners in opposition come the Saigon government.

The nationwide Liberation Front

The joined front had long and also historic roots in Vietnam. Used earlier in the century through the Communists to mobilize anti-French forces, the joined front brought together Communists and non-Communists in an umbrella company that had restricted but essential goals. Top top December 20, 1960, the party’s new united front, the National Liberation former (NLF), to be born. Anyone might join this former as long as they opposed Ngo Dinh Diem. Countless non-Communists who joined the NFL might not have realized that the party had always planned come dissolve the front and also limit non-Communist representation in a unified government.

The personality of the NLF and its partnership to the Communists in Hanoi has caused substantial debate among scholars, antiwar activists, and also policy makers. Native the birth of the NLF in 1960, government officials in Washington claimed that Hanoi command the NLF’s violent attacks versus the Saigon government. In a collection of federal government white papers, Washington insiders denounced the NLF, claiming that it was just a puppet of Hanoi. The NLF, in contrast, argued that it to be autonomous and also independent the the Communists and also that it was made up mostly that non-Communists. Numerous antiwar activists in the US supported these claims. Washington continued to discredit the NLF, however, calling it the “Viet Cong,” a derogatory and slang term an interpretation “Vietnamese Communist.”

December 1961 White Paper

In 1961, chairman Kennedy sent out a team to south Vietnam come report on conditions there and also to evaluate future need for American aid. The report, now known as the “December 1961 White Paper,” suggested for an increase in military, technical, and also economic help and a sharp rise in American advisers to help stabilize Diem"s government and crush the NLF. Together Kennedy weighed the merits of these recommendations, some of his other advisers urged the president to withdraw from Vietnam altogether, claiming that it to be a “dead-end alley.”

In typical Kennedy fashion, the president made decision a middle route. Rather of a large military buildup, together the white file called for, or an prompt withdrawal, Kennedy search a restricted partnership with Diem in which the United says would increase its armed forces involvement in south Vietnam through much more machinery and also advisers however would not send troops. This arrangement was problematic from the start, and also soon reports from southern Vietnam shown that the NLF was boosting its regulate in the countryside. To against the NLF’s success, Washington and also Saigon released an ambitious plan in the landscape areas. Referred to as the strategy Hamlet Program, the brand-new counterinsurgency measures rounded up villagers and placed them in hamlets created by south Vietnamese peasants. The idea was to isolate the NLF native villagers, its basic of support. This plan was based upon the British suffer in Malaya, yet conditions in south Vietnam to be distinct, and it produced minimal results. In fact, follow to interviews performed by us advisers in the field, the strategy Hamlet Program had actually a an adverse impact on relations in between peasants and also the Saigon government. In the past, plenty of rural Vietnamese had viewed Diem together a far-off annoyance, but the program lugged government plans to the countryside, and many villagers resented being compelled off the their ancestral farmland. They further resented having actually to construct the hamlets themselves and at their own cost. Some have said that the arrangement actually aided recruit civilization to the NLF.

See more: Leaf Man Book - Leaf Man By Lois Ehlert, Hardcover

Military Coup

By the summer of 1963, due to the fact that of NLF successes and also its own failures, it was clear the Diem"s federal government was ~ above the verge of politics collapse. Diem"s brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, had actually raided the buddhist pagodas of south Vietnam, claiming that they harbored the Communists that were creating political instability. The an outcome was a enormous demonstration ~ above the roadways of Saigon that led one buddhism monk come protest with self-immolation. The photo of the monk engulfed in flames made world headlines and caused substantial consternation in Washington. By late September, the buddhist protest had created such dislocation in the south that several of Diem’s very own generals in the army of the Republic the Vietnam (ARVN) approached the American embassy in Saigon v plans to overthrow Diem. With Washington’s tacit approval, top top November 1, 1963, Diem and his brothers were captured and also later assassinated. 3 weeks later, chairman Kennedy was murdered top top the highways of Dallas.