Vietnam War 1945-1975

Vietnam War 1945-1975


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The Vietnam War began in 1945 after President Harry Truman aided France with military weapons so as to go to war with the Viet Minh who were rebelling at the time (CNN, 2016). Vietnam had declared independence from France and neither France nor America recognized that claim (CNN, 2016). As the war continued, the country was divided into two: North and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was a communist nation while South Vietnam was not and this intensified the war. However, South Vietnam had communists who together with the North Vietnamese Communists made up a group of rebels; Viet Cong, wh0 were looking forward to overthrowing the South Vietnamese Government and making the nation one again (CNN, 2016). During the war, certain groups of people were targeted and they were killed in large numbers. The essay seeks to find out whether the Vietnam War was genocide, ethnic cleansing, or a crime against humanity, and to achieve this, they are going to analyze the war and its happenings.

Vietnam War

The war in Vietnam can be classified as genocide as it saw the massive death of both communists and the non-communists. At the time of the war, if any country in Asia became a communist nation, it would influence the rest of the continent’s nations to become communists. The United States feared such a scenario and they moved in to help South Vietnamese troops to defeat the Viet Cong communist rebels (CNN, 2016). The purpose of the war was to either eliminate the communists or the non-communists, a situation which could be described as genocide. According to OSAPG Analysis Framework (n.d.), genocide is an act of killing, physically abusing, emotionally, and mentally torturing a people of a given ethnic, religious, racial group, or nation, with the intention of partly or wholly destroying the victims. The latter happened in Vietnam during the war and the situation can therefore qualify as genocide. The intention of the Americans in helping the South Vietnamese troops was to help wipe out the rebels who were communists as they were forcing South Vietnam to become communists.

Background information on the Vietnam War

The colonized people such as those of Vietnam had always wanted to be free from their colonials, way before the Vietnam War. The result of the latter was rebellions that spread throughout Southeast Asia from 1939-1945 (University of California, 2013). Fast forward to 1940 when France was attacked by Germany and was forced to surrender control of Indochina to Germany’s ally Japan. As a result of the disruption caused, the anti-colonial movements gained momentum, with the formation of Viet Minh which was a nationalist movement in 1941 (University of California, 2013). The French were removed from Vietnam by Japan in March 1945 and the same year, around August, the U.S. bombed Japan as a way of supporting France (University of California, 2013). The anti-colonial movements were becoming more aggressive due to the tension between the superpowers. By August 19, the largest nationalist movement, Viet Minh had seized power in the area known as Hanoi in a movement called August Revolution (University of California, 2013). This movement saw the turning over of the control of South Vietnam to the Viet Minh by the emperor. In the same year, Ho Chi Minh declared the coming into power of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DVR) in North Vietnam (University of California, 2013). Despite the occurrence of the events mentioned above, France came back to Vietnam and re-colonized it in 1946, intensifying the Vietnam War (University of California, 2013). It was during this period that the U.S. came in again to help France and South Vietnamese troops to help fight the communists.

Causes of the Vietnam War

Ho Chi Minh was determined to liberate Vietnam from French colonial rule and he even approached the U.S. for help but they turned the offer down. Ho Chi designed the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence on 2nd September 1945 but America refused to help owing to the fact that Ho was a communist (University of California, 2013). Remember earlier on in this article, the writer had stated that America feared that if any nation were to become a communist in Asia, it would influence the rest of the continent to fall into communism. Therefore, the U.S. had no agenda in helping Ho Chi; instead, it opted to help France fight the communists, an act of genocide. However, Ho Chi Min was able to receive aid from the Soviet Union and China’s People’s Republican as the two acknowledged the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (University of California, 2013).

The United States used a lot of money in the fight against communism in Vietnam. It is estimated that between 1950 and 1952, America used about 50 million dollars in the form of aid and military support to those fighting the communists (University of California, 2013). The U.S. had also sent so many troops to South Vietnam, with the number totaling 2,594,000 military personnel (CNN, 2016).

The war for independence continued from 1946-1954 and it was known as the First Indochina War (University of California, 2013). Ho Chi Minh together with his forces won over France in the battle known as Dien Bien Phu, which was on 7th May 1954 (University of California, 2013). The peace treaty known as the Geneva Accords required the French to retaliate and allow Cambodia and Laos to have their independence (University of California, 2013). The latter say the division of Vietnam into two; that is North and South Vietnam. One part was communist while the other was non-communist. North Vietnam which was communist was led by Ho Chi while much happened in South Vietnam. Eight countries including; the United States, New Zealand, Thailand, Great Britain, France, Pakistan, Philippines, and Australia came together to form the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in September 1954 (University of California, 2013). South Vietnam went on to become one of the formal members, a move that was meant to keep the spread of communism in that part of the Asia continent at bay. Ngo Dinh Diem was installed as the leader of South Vietnam by the U.S. and he was pro-western; a move to ensure communism did not spread in the country (McCannon, n.d.). The latter happened in 1955 and during the same year, an army by the name Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was formed by South Vietnam with America’s assistance (University of California, 2013). The war continues and large groups of communists as well as non-communists are killed and many others are physically and emotionally tortured.

After the split of the two parts of Vietnam, the war continued with regard to who would rule the whole of Vietnam. South Vietnam was supported by America, while North Vietnam got support from China and Russia (McCannon, nd). The two sides formed their armies and got into war, an act of genocide as each was trying to eliminate the other from existence (University of California, 2013). The French can be held accountable for making the Vietnam War be classified as genocide. According to the University of California (2013), the French imperialists had violated Vietnam and oppressed citizens for close to 80 years. They had abused the standards of liberty and fraternity. The French had also deprived the people of Vietnam of democratic liberty when it came to political matters.

France was also accused of enforcing inhuman laws and setting up political regimes that saw Vietnam fall to pieces. The disunity among the Vietnamese led to the Vietnam War which saw the death of citizens, enslavement, and torture of those that remained alive. The French built more prisons as compared to schools and they mercilessly killed patriots while drowning the uprisings in seas and rivers (University of California, 2013).

There were communist guerrillas that were operating in South Vietnam known as the Viet Cong and in 1963, they defeated ARVN and overthrew Diem (BBC News, 1998). As a result of this defeat, the U.S. came in as they were supporting ARVN. In return, North Vietnamese patrol boats destroyed the U.S. destroyer and this led to the bombing of North Vietnam by the U.S. (BBC News, 1998). People perished in these bomb attacks. More American troops came to Vietnam in 1965 and the number doubled in 1966, rising to 400,000 from the initial 200,000; the number rose to 500,000 in 1967 (BBC News, 1998). Due to the increase in the number of troops, the communist rebel groups had to devise a plan of overcoming the South Vietnamese troops and the U.S. army. The Viet Cong joined forces with the North Vietnamese Army and caused an assault known as the Tet Offensive (BBC News, 1998). The latter gave rise to the My Lai massacre that left 500 civilians dead; a genocide act (BBC News, 1998).


The Vietnam War lasted from 1945 to 1975. Many people including civilians, rebels, and soldiers perished during the war. The main reason for the war was to prevent North Vietnam from influencing South Vietnam to become a communist nation. The U.S. came in to help the South Vietnamese Army for they feared that if the whole of Vietnam became a communist nation, it would influence the rest of the continent. North Vietnam was a communist nation and they had rebels who fought the South Vietnamese Army. Genocide as seen earlier is the massive killing of a big group of people who are from the same ethnic, religious, or racial group. It also involves physically, mentally, or emotionally torturing the groups of people mentioned above, with the aim of partially or totally destroying them. The Vietnam War saw the killing of both communists and non-communists and the aim was to completely destroy either of the groups. By the end of the war, so many people had been displaced, thus being left homeless while some children were orphaned.




BBC News., 1998. Vietnam 1945 to 1975: timeline. BBC News. [Online]

CNN., 2016. Vietnam War Fast Facts. CNN. [Online]

McCannon J. nd. Barron’s AP World History, 7th edition. Barron’s Educational Series.

OSAPG Analysis Framework. nd. Legal definition of genocide. [Online]

University of California., 2013. Cold War America Lesson 4: The Vietnam War (1945-1975). [Online]

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