Why did the Vietnam War start?

Similar questions:
  1. what caused the Vietnam war?

  2. what started the Vietnam war?

  3. causes of  the Vietnam war

  4. why was the Vietnam war fought?

In short, the Vietnam War started as a result of the U.S.’s strategy of containment during the Cold War, which aimed to prevent the spread of communism throughout the world.

After the Second World War, the Soviet Union (USSR) with its major role in the war emerged as a superpower with strong influence over Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria and East Germany, and parts of Asia, including China and Korea. The U.S. and its Western allies considered communism in the form of the USSR as the greatest rival and post-war threat to their democracy and capitalism.

The turning point in Asia came in 1949 when China became a communist country after Chinese communist rebels, led by Mao Zedong, won the civil war and took control of the mainland China. From 1950, the U.S. started to support South Korea in the war against the communist North backed by China and the USSR. Meanwhile, the U.S. also sent the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to assist the French in the First Indochina War with the goal of containing the spread of communism.

Vietnam was a French colony from mid-19th century until 1954 when they signed a treaty at Geneva Conference, which temporarily separated the North communists from the South anti-communists at the 17th parallel, after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu.

The French lost control of Vietnam approximately when the Korean War ended, which had left the country partitioned into North and South Korea with China and the USSR actively supporting the North communist government. Then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower regarded Vietnam as Korea all over again and feared the whole Southeast Asia including Laos, Cambodia and Thailand would fall to communism in a domino effect similar to what had happened in Eastern Europe (Domino theory). The loss of that essential regional trading area would encourage Taiwan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand to compromise politically with communism. Therefore, the U.S. intervened in Vietnam trying to keep the South Vietnamese “domino” from falling.

Please also refer to this infographic on why the Vietnam War started.

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