History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2009: Q.7 (b)
Q.7 (b) Why did Vietnam go through thirty years of war after the Second World War?
Indo-China consisting of three areas (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) was part of the French Empire in the South East Asia.
Vietnam went through three decades of war between 1946 to 1975 which can be divided in two phases:
First phase of war (1946-54)
During the Second World War, the region was occupied by Japanese forces. Resistance to both Japan and France was organised by the League for Vietnamese Independence (Vietminh) led by the Communist Ho Chi Minh. At the end of the Second World War, Ho Chi Minh had declared the whole Vietnam independent. But since French had no intention of leaving Vietnam, the first phase of war started in 1946. Hence during this period, the Vietnamese were fighting for independence from France.
The USA became worried about probability of communist coming to power in Vietnam and considered it as a struggle as a part of the Cold War against communism. Hence she gave help to the French but French were badly defeated because:
(a) Guerrilla tactics used by Vietnamese
(b) Huge public support to Vietminh
(c) French were weak due to world war effect and were unable to send troops.
(d) The communist governments of China and Russia helped Vietnamese.
Geneva Agreement (1954)
By the Geneva Agreement (1954), Vietnam was temporarily divided into two states. Ho Chi Minh government was recognised in the North Vietnam. South Vietnam was to have separate government for a time being but elections were to be held by 1956 for the whole country which would then become united. Ho Chi Minh was confident that communists would win the election. But the election was never held and a civil war developed in south Vietnam which later involved the north and the USA.
Second phase of war (1961-1975)
The USA backed South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem refused the election preparation as the USA was fearful of communist coming to the power. The USA was worried due to obsession with the “domino theory” that means if one country jn the region fell to communism, it would quickly spread to all its neighbours.
Diem lost popularity as peasants demanded land reform of the type carried out in North Vietnam. He was also lebelled as corrupt and USA agent by the nationalists. In 1960, various opposition groups including communists formed National Liberation Front (NLF) demanding reform and Vietnamese unification. A guerrilla compaign against Diem government started.
The USA decided to increase its military presence to stop communism, which was earlier limited to military advisors. During US President Johnson, the number of the USA army reached half a million. Next USA President Nixon had to withdraw US Forces by 1975 as public opinion turned against war due to heavy bombing, civilian deaths, heavy casuality of American Forces and still the Vietcong (guerrillas) and NLF captured huge part of South Vietnam due to public support. Finally Vietnam was united under Communists after the USA withdrawal.