This was a proxy war in the Cold War-era, which took place in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos between 1956 and 1975. It came after the First Indochina War and was a battle between North Vietnam that was backed by the China, Soviet Union, as well as other communist allies and the South Vietnam government that had the U.S. backup together with other anti-communist nations.
The Viet Cong, common front from South Vietnamese communist that was directed by the North, battled a guerrilla war against forces of anti-communism in the area. The North Vietnamese Army was involved in a more conventional battle, sometimes committing big units into war. During the war, the U.S. carried out a large-scale tactical bombing campaign against North Vietnam, and with time the airspace of North Vietnam turned into the airspace that is most heavily defended worldwide.
The U.S. regarded its participation in the war as a way to avoid a South Vietnam takeover by Communists. This was part of a broader containment strategy whose aim was to stop the communism spread. Based on the domino theory of U.S., when a state went Communist, other region’s states would follow, and U.S. policy, therefore, confined that accommodation to the spread of the rule of Communist all over Vietnam was not acceptable. The government of North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were struggling to reunite Vietnam under the rule of communist. They regarded the battle as a colonial war, fought at first against French and then American forces since France had U.S. support, and afterward against South Vietnam that was considered as a puppet state of U.S.
Starting 1950, advisors of American military arrived in the then French Indochina. Participation by U.S. intensified in the early 1960s, with tripling of troop levels in 1961 and in 1962. The U.S. participation intensified further after the 1964 incident of Gulf of Tonkin, in which a U.S. destroyer collided with North Vietnamese quick assault craft that was succeeded by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that granted the U.S. president mandate to raise the presence of the U.S. military. Regular combat units of U.S. were deployed early 1965. Military operation traversed outside borders. Areas surrounding Cambodia and Laos’s areas experienced heavy bombing by U.S. forces as participation of America peaked in 1968, the year when the Communist established the Despite the Paris Peace Accords, which was signed by all parties in January 1973, the fighting continued.
In the Western world and the U.S., a huge movement for anti-Vietnam War developed. Direct military involvement of the U.S. stopped on 15 August 1973 as an outcome of the Case–Church Amendment that was enacted by the U.S. Congress (Kolko). The Saigon capture at the North Vietnamese Army hands in April 1975 was the end of the war. This left North and South Vietnam reunited the year that followed.
A number of people participated in the Vietnam War including McGeorge Bundy, Bao Dai, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon (Watergate), Ho Chi Minh, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy among others (HistoryLearningSite). The Vietnam War prompted extensive public distrust of the American government and left the military less popular. The war also contributed towards the American popular culture, particularly in film. Famous films dealt with matters that ranged from the war’s brutality to the trouble of the efforts of Vietnam veterans to readapt to American society, as well as cope with the trauma of the war when they went back to the U.S.
HistoryLearningSite. John F Kennedy and Vietnam. 2013. 9 February 2014. <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/kennedy_vietnam.htm>.
Kolko, Gabriel. Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the United States, and the Modern Historical Experience. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985.
Watergate. Nixon’s ‘Peace With Honor’ Broadcast On Vietnam. 2013. 8 February 2014. <http://watergate.info/1973/01/23/nixon-peace-with-honor-broadcast.html>.