Importance Of Anti Communism On Us Policy

1489 words - 6 pages

Assess the importance of anti-communism in shaping the policies of the United States towards Indochina between 1954 and 1979.

The importance of anti-communism in shaping American policy in Indochina between 1954 and 1979 can be viewed as crucial. President Eisenhower had outlined his “domino theory doctrine” in the first Indochina war. This theory was based on the assumption that if Vietnam fell to Communism, its surrounding countries in Asia would also fall, akin to a line of dominoes. It was this theory that dictated United States policy for the duration of the Second Indochina war. The second Indochina war can be viewed as commencing after the failure to hold free elections in Vietnam ...view middle of the document...

However Ngo Denh Diem rigged a referendum to install himself as leader of the South. The US supporting Diem in his move to install himself as leader and refuse to hold elections with Ho Chi Minh can be evidenced as being influenced by the underlying “Domino Theory” doctrine. For instance, in 1956 feelings of anti-imperialist nationalism were widespread throughout both the North and South. Diem, like the United States feared that a general election would result in the election of Ho Chi Minh. Therefore the actions of the US as the world’s super power in not carrying out the actions of the 1954 Geneva Peace Conference was justified by their ‘domino theory’ doctrine that communism must be contained.

JFK maintained to the American republic, that it was America’s responsibility as a world superpower to control communism in the Asian region. Hence, this was the justification used for both the United States congress to approve funds for the war and for the American public. Diem exploited the trust that United States placed in him, in simply demanding more military supplies and aid. Initially Kennedy responded by gradually increasing the presence of the ‘Green Berets’ in the South. This was in line with the United States’ firm belief that a policy of attrition; wearing down the opposition over time would prevail due to their military supremacy. Despite strict orders from Kennedy not to partake in direct military involvement; historical evidence from Vietnam historian: J. Harpur suggests that the Green Berets did in fact become involved in widespread corruption and direct action from as early as 1961.

Diem’s government was soon realised to be a self-motivated, totalitarian regime. Diem, being a catholic had embarked on a policy of purging the Buddhist majority and ruled by nepotism; allowing his sister in law: Madam Nhu and brother to take up prominent governing positions. The first international opposition to the United States supporting Diem came when the self- immolation of a Buddhist monk was televised globally, as a means of protest against Diem’s regime. Buddhist uprisings had caused insurgency against Diem’s regime. It was the event of early 1963, when a monk sat in the middle of the road, covered himself with petrol and set himself alight that caused widespread controversy. The notorious Madam Nhu had applauded the event. She was quoted at the time saying “Let them burn and we shall clap our hands”. The controversy caused by this incident and the realisation for America that Diem was not proving effective in their quest to contain communism; that shifted a policy move against him. Therefore a scheme was devised by the United States government, in accordance with the CIA for an uprising against Diem. This resulted in the assassination of Diem in 1963. Three weeks later in mysterious circumstances, JFK himself was also assassinated, placing America in a precarious position by both national and global opinion.

Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) was...

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