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Revolutions Essay

2525 words - 11 pages

The Impact of Revolutions on the Cold War

Revolution was an important theme throughout the Cold War. Revolutions begat, molded and then finally brought an end to the Cold War. In 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution forced Vladimir Lenin, the new communist leader, to withdraw from World War I on the side of the Western Allies and to sign a separate peace agreement with Germany. The suspicions that this aroused among the Allies were the seeds of the Cold War. In 1949, the New Democratic Revolution of China ended the Kuomintang (KMT) rule and established a communist government, thus guaranteeing the existence of the Cold War. Throughout its existence, the Cold War appeared to be something that ...view middle of the document...

They feared that if Vietnam fell to communism, then a domino effect would occur in which, other Asian countries would in turn fall to communism.

In order to combat communism in Vietnam, the United States sent troops to fight the Viet Minh, the Northern Vietnamese forces, as well as tried to create a democratic alternative to communism. Their primary objective from 1954 to 1956 was to create a stable government rooted in popular support. They chose Ngo Dinh Diem to lead the artificially created South Vietnam. The United States believed that Ngo was the best choice because he was adamantly anti-communist. He was to, with American support, unify South Vietnam and then later North Vietnam as well. The United States, however, failed to realize that Ngo was also adamantly nationalist; meaning, he was willing to listen American advice, but he was also very willing to disregard it. America's error is most clearly exemplified by the passage of Ngo¡¯s oppressive and undemocratic Law 10/59. In 1956, cancels the elections and tears up the Geneva Accords. It is important to note that the United States supported all of Ngo's actions up to this point. Through their ¡°cold war goggles¡±, they are unable to see Ngo for what he is. They accept his resolutions as anti-communist actions. They dedicate themselves to the protection of South Vietnam. It did not become clear to them until 1961 that Ngo had failed in his mission of creating a government rooted in popular support.

However, while Ngo was popular among the American bureaucrats, Frances FritsGerald shows in part two of her Fire in the Lake that Ngo was very unpopular among the people he ruled over. Ngo faced opposition primarily from the NLF, which was an organization (which at first included communists and anti-communists) dedicated to the liberation of Vietnam from the domination of foreign government and the general amelioration of the conditions of the Vietnamese. The United States, however, condemned the NLF as a communist organization. Ngo came to be unaccepted by all after the Buddhist Crisis of 1963 as depicted in chapter eight of Fire in the Lake. When the people found out about the self-immolation of Buddhist monks in protest against the Ngo regime, they realized that the ¡°will of heaven ¡± had shifted and that it was a time for revolution.

1961 was a turning point in American policy towards Vietnam. Because of America¡¯s misconceptions about the war, they were unable to defeat their Vietnamese enemies. Domestic opposition to the war also erupted within the United States. This is best exemplified by the Students for a Democratic Society, the May Second Movement and Martin Luther King Jr. who recognized America¡¯s errors and demanded changes in policy. As a result, America pulled out of the Vietnam Conflict and the Vietnamese revolutionaries persevered. Vietnam and Cambodia thus fell to communism and Laos soon followed.

The Chinese Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 was another...

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