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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  • thanks, nice post.

  • Cora Roche

    im doing a research paper and this was SO HELPFUL!!!!!!! thnx 🙂

    • The Vietnam War

      We’re revamping the website soon to serve you guys better. A lot more interesting things are on their way too. Hope to continue to receive your support. Thanks!

    • missy1234emily


  • Cora Roche

    all 3 of my dads uncles were in the war and they wont talk about it. this war changed many many people and the fact that people in the US actively protested against the troops was definitely a red stain in our countries history

    • The Vietnam War

      Hi Cora, We’ve been through. We empathize that!

    • James Knox

      the protesting was a stain? the entire war happening was a stain. and people didn’t protest against the troops alone, they were protesting against the entire effort, the reason it happened and all. war is a disgusting and terrible thing that should be avoided, and vietnam was just one of several awful and unnecessary wars that america didn’t need to have. i empathize with troops for being put in the situation, but am against the event itself.

      • DenZel29

        I think that Cora didn’t mean to say that the protesting was the “red stain” The fact that there were protests against the actual troops themselves was only further proof that the Vietnam War was a red stain on our countries history. I think Cora tried to sum it up with bad grammar and his/her response was not well thought out or written. I base this on the fact that Cora mentioned his/her Father’s Uncles wouldn’t even talk about it due to the fact that it was unjust and wrong or whatever. IDK. What Cora wrote KIND OF made sense to me but when read in word for word the way it was written it would be very easy to interpret it the way you had.

        • Dan

          She meant that the protests of our citizens against our military was a red stain. Research shows that doing things like this directly contributes to issues like PTSD. It’s sad that this many years later people like yourself who don’t understand this and really have no understanding of our military and the need and uses for it even post your foolish theory.

    • vnce

      My dad did two tours in vet nam it dosent mean i had to support it. It was
      An unnecessary war inwich over 70.000
      Young American lives were lost. Wy is
      It a red stain to protest when something
      is wrong?

      • Rajiv Arora

        How much Vietnam lost in this war? In terms of people killed or amputated its many times more than American loss.

  • missy1234emily

    i am donig a school report about the vietnam war this was so help fully thx 🙂 XD

  • Pingback: Who won the Vietnam War? - The Vietnam War()

  • Melodi Beckford

    Hello, I don’t mean to be rude at all. But I’m doing a research paper on this war & the effects it had on the soldiers. I really want to use this site, but how do I know you guys are reliable, or a worthy site? Again I’m sorry if I’m coming of as rude, but is just don’t want to have any beef with my professor (college student)

    • The Vietnam War

      Hello Melodi. Thanks for your comment.
      It’s a good question! Actually we don’t really know how your “reliable & worthy” site is like. It’s better to leave it up to our readers to evaluate, isn’t it? 😉

      As far as we know, many of our articles are linked and cited by some prestigious sites and of course academic reports too.

      For us, we always strive to deliver the best articles that we possibly could.
      Almost all info and references are taken from highly reliable & selected sources around the web, books, etc. from both sides of the war.

      We also understand nothing’s perfect. That’s why we constantly review, update & correct our articles if necessary.

      In short, we hope every single part of our website from its design, organization to content will make it a “reliable & worthy” site for you guys.

      Thanks & hope to continue to receive your support! 🙂

  • Devin O’Brien

    reading Cracker, by Cynthia Kadohata. very good book and its about the vietnam war and i didnt know how it started and thats helpful.

  • bob

    thanks for the info really helped

  • djd201

    Its 2 years old but people will still pull this up in research so how about expanding on the real excuses the government used through disinformation in the American press and through media hype? No, not the conspiracy theorist’s versions but the actual occurrences that led us into a truly legalized version of war with North Vietnam. True the communist aggression was considered a threat, and several different people were involved as the Vietnam conflict began, but the singular action that was the straw which broke the camel’s back” was and has mostly been considered the Gulf of Tonkin Incident….

    Refer to “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, August 7, 1964”

  • dylan dwyer

    doing a research papper and this helped

  • braden

    it was hepful