Anti communism was the centrepiece of us foreign policy from 1941 but by the 1970s it was less important, and indochina was also. By 1954 the us was paying 80% of the costs of the french war against the vite communsits. it saw communism as a global monolith, the vietnamese not as nationalists but as tools of the sino-soviet bloc. Vietnam was not important in itself but a place to ‘draw the line’, after china had been lost, otherwise like dominoes all seasia would go communist, and japan would turn to china as an ally. o said the us president, the us could not see that nationalism and cluss struggle brought communism to power in poor nations in 1954, the west succeeded in making laos and cambodia non0communist state at geneva, and following british suggestion “temporaily” divided VN. Even this was not acceptable to the us. They put into the south Diem, a fervant anti-communist, who refused the mandated 1956 unification re-election. By 1959 with us funding and weapons diem had arrested or killed 90% of communist cadre in SVN. At this time the nvn leadership sanctioned a resoultion in SVN.
The use depicted this as NVN’s “aggression” by communists As the new NLF (set up dec 1960) won significant success, succesive presidents especialy JFK and LBJ escalated, arguing that defeat in VN would envourage “communist aggresion” world-wide. After 1964, the soviet-us cold war intensified as kruschev (who sought “peaveul coexistance”) was replaced by Brezhnev as soviet leader. In the 1960’s also china became more militant. As the VN war escalated, the USSR and China gave NVN and the NLF more aid and arms, so that the VN war became a proxy war b/w the USA and the communist powers.
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This might have been averted. In 1963 JFK decided that he would reduce US advisors in SVN from 12,000 to under 1000 as the SVN army was unwilling to fight, because it was not americas war to fight; but he also sanctioned the overthrow of diem who was not an effective anti-communist leader, and who appeared to be negotiating indirectly with Ho Chi Minh for a neutralist solution in SVN (with the us out) infear of US ground troops being landed (which the nationalist diem could not accept. [Source: howard Jones: Death of a generation, based on primary US sources] In the 1960s no US government would give up its ideal of an “independant, non communist” SVN. This changed in 1972, hence the Jan 1973 paris peace agreement that left 145,000 NVN troops in SVN at the end of the war, an end to us bombing of laos; congress stopped the bombing of cambodia in august 1973. The VN war itself brought a reappraisal of extreme anti-communism by showing its huge cost in lives and dollars, and isolating the US from its NATO allies.
After all, europe not SEasia was the main strategic arena and west europe the main area for US trade and investment. By the 1970s the US could see that china – The ussr were enemies, that communists were not monolthic and loss of VN would not produce falling dominoes. Us society was also changing, violent war was less acceptable and many academics believed that internal factors not external aggresion determied whether a country would turn communsit, and oustide indochina, no other asian countries had turned since 1954, despite communist sucess there.
Kissinger was a ‘realist’ not an anti-communist “idealist. ” He beleived the us interest was a stable balance of power in asia. So he visted china , and nixon went to china and the USSR in 1972 seeking concessions from NVN. This they did not get, and pragmatically they signed the 1973 paris peace agreement (above). In 1975 the US congress refused further aid and the NVN army swept to saigon. Us anti-communism therefor only paid the role of the US refusing aid to NVN (prmised at paris) and locking NVN out of trade.