The Vietnam War: The War In Vietnam

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The Vietnam War
The war in Vietnam was the United States ' longest war and certainly one of the most contentious. The fighting between the United States and the government of South Vietnam on one side and North Vietnam and the Viet Cong (VC) on the other lasted from the mid-1950s until the mid-1970s and spread into Laos and Cambodia, the two other countries of Southeast Asia.

The United States first became significantly involved in Vietnam in 1950, when it began supporting France monetarily in the latter 's effort to defend its colonial presence in Vietnam. Within the context of the Cold War, this assistance to France was extended as part of the effort to contain communism. Despite American aid, which had totaled $2.5 billion by 1954, the
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By late 1967, U.S. forces had dealt serious blows to the communists, but the fighting continued unabated. President Lyndon Johnson launched a public relations campaign emphasizing that progress was being made in order to bolster public support. In the midst of this campaign, the communists launched the massive Tet Offensive on the Tet (New Year) holiday in 1968. Although American and South Vietnamese forces prevailed, the shock and scope of the attacks stunned the American public and convinced a demoralized Johnson not to run for reelection.

Richard Nixon was elected in 1968 largely because he promised to end the war and achieve "peace with honor." To do this, he announced that he would "Vietnamize" the war. This meant that the responsibility for the fighting would be shifted to the South Vietnamese so that U.S. forces could be disengaged. While this was being done, the fighting raged unabated. Neither massive bombing of both South Vietnam and North Vietnam nor the expansion of the war into Cambodia and Laos brought the war any closer to an
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Dissatisfied with the bloody stalemate, North Vietnam launched a massive invasion of the south in the spring of 1972. Although initially successful, North Vietnamese forces were turned back by a massive application of American airpower. Nixon proclaimed Vietnamization a success. Meanwhile, Henry Kissinger had been conducting secret peace negotiations with communist representatives in Paris. By October 1972, they had forged a tentative peace agreement. However, President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam voiced violent opposition to the terms and the North Vietnamese angrily walked out of the negotiations. Nixon ordered a massive bombing campaign against Hanoi and Haiphong. After 18 days, the North Vietnamese agreed to return to the negotiating tables, but the agreement that was worked out was not substantially different from the one that had been agreed upon before the
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