Why did the Soviets support North Vietnam?

Following Emperor Bao Dai’s abdication, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed independence of Vietnam under the name of “Democratic Republic of Vietnam” on September 2, 1945. However, it was not recognized by any countries. In early 1946, Ho petitioned U.S. President Harry S. Truman for support for independence of Vietnam, citing the Atlantic Charter. However, the President turned down this offer since the U.S. was a close ally of France who colonized Vietnam at the time.

In order to expel the French from Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh and his government needed financial and military support.  He then naturally went to the world’s second superpower, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and they agreed. In fact, the USSR and China were the first two countries who recognized the legitimacy of North Vietnam in early 1950s.

Interestingly, the USSR supported Vietnam because not only were they both communists but also because they wanted to use Vietnamese people to fight against the United States, who had supported the French war effort in Vietnam since 1948. In other words, it is a proxy war.

Another fascinating question is why the U.S. was not more aggressive against North Vietnam during the conflict? They could have even used nuclear weapons, for instance, against North Vietnam but they did not. A legitimate answer would be the U.S. only wanted to stop the spread of Communism by supporting South Vietnam but did not want to be more aggressive against North Vietnam, which if happened, would have caused a regional war or even a World War III between communist countries led by the USSR and the U.S. and its capitalist allies. Indeed, the U.S. confined the war to only Vietnam with some “secret” bombings of Laos and Cambodia.

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  • disqus_kj6aUPS5vZ

    Actually, US was involved deeply and directly to Vietnam War, in other words, stucked in Vietnam War. US’s involvement’s not only supports and aids to South Vietnam but also many bomb-striker operations to North Vietnam during 1964-1972. Example: in Operation Linebacker II, Nixon annouced to the world that he will “bring North Vietnam back to pre-historic time” and he almost did it with thousands tons of bombs dropped into North Vietnam, is that just “support to South Vietnam?”

    According to some revealed document recently, Nixon had intended to use nuclear weapons in VN to “quickly finish the war”,as US did in 1945. But he didn’t, because in 1949 and 1964, USSR and China also had their nuclear weapons and if one country decided to use, it certainly caused World War III – a nuclear war which can destruct the whole human’s civilization. And this had almost happened in Cuba in 1962: the famous Cuba Missile Crisis. Luckily, it didn’t happen.:D

    • The Vietnam War

      Hi there,

      Thanks for raising such an interesting point.

      Apparently, the US involved deeply in war. Our word usage might cause misunderstanding. What we wanted to say is on paper the U.S entered the war as a South Vietnam’s ally and played a “supporting role” during the war as they didn’t declare war on North Vietnam at all.

      Also, the US didn’t wanna to be more aggressive with North Vietnam because if they did (use some nuclear weapons for example), as you said , would have caused a regional or even another world war.

      As for the Operation Linebacker II, its main purpose was basically to force Hanoi who believed the advantages was at their side at the time back to the negotiating table. At the same time, it was also to show the South Vietnam that the US wouldn’t abandon them if the North violated the agreement.

      If you have any other questions & suggestions, feel free to let us know. Thanks for your comment again 🙂