During World War II, Vietnam was occupied by Japan, but France was allowed to exert influence on Vietnam and its people. The French established a colonial government that controlled all of Vietnam and although several resistant movements were carried out by the Vietnamese, but failed. The seeds of revolution were founded by the Communist Party formed in 1930 that encouraged Vietnamese to rise against the French as well as the Japanese and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945.
However, Vietnam still confronted aggressive interventions from France and the United States. This led to a thirty-year war of resistance for Vietnam. When the French attacked Vietnam, the resistance war lasted nine years and ended with the victory of Vietnam and the 1954 Geneva Agreement on Vietnam. This agreement stated that the country would be divided into North and South Vietnam by the 17th parallel. The agreement also stated that within two years after the general elections in Vietnam, the country would be reunited. The northern part was under the control of the Vietnam Workers’ Party while the south was under the control of a pro-French and later a pro-American administrator. The south had its capital at Sai Gon. The Sai Gon government undertook different measures from preventing general elections that led to a nationwide outcry for resistance and fighting for the unification of Vietnam. The Sai Gon government was not able to suppress this uprising and The National Front for Liberation of South Vietnam was formed in 1960.
The United States, on the other hand, to maintain the Sai Gon regime extended military help to the Sai Gon government and started bombarding North Vietnam. However, the people of Vietnam firmly resisted the attacks in both South as well as North Vietnam and this led to the 1973 Paris Agreement to restore peace in Vietnam and the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.
The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War and the active participation of the United States in it began in 1954. With the Cold War intensifying, the United States hardened its policies against the allies of the Soviet Union and the United States pledged support to Diem and South Vietnam. Diem’s security forces cracked down on Viet Cong or the Vietnamese Communists, arresting almost 10,000 people who were brutally tortured. By 1957, Viet Cong started to fight back and by 1960, all against Diem formed the National Liberation Front.
In 1961, a team was sent to South Vietnam by President Kennedy to report on the conditions so that the required aid could be provided to Diem. This increased the presence of the United States Army in South Vietnam. A coup in 1963 led to the killing of Diem and the eventual assassination of Kennedy. This led to political instability in South Vietnam and 1965, U.S. combat forces were sent to Vietnam. However, as opposed to bombings in North America, the war in the south was mainly on the ground. Between 1966 and 1973, many U.S. army personnel had deserted the war in Vietnam and the horrific images of the war led to widespread protests in Vietnam as well as the United States.
In 1973, North Vietnam and the United States concluded a peace agreement; however, the war between North Vietnam and South Vietnam continued the war until 1975 when the northern forces captured Sai Gon and renamed it Ho Chi Minh City.