By Marilyn Young
A heritage of the warfare the USA fought in Indochina.
summary: A background of the conflict the USA fought in Indochina
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Extra resources for The Vietnam wars, 1945-1990
But was Ho Chi Minh controlled from the Kremlin? If he was, opposition to Ho could reasonably be presented as an aspect of a larger policy directed against Soviet expansionism, rather than as an opportunistic betrayal of American ideals for the sake of a European ally. From January 1946 until Dean Acheson resolved the issue some three years later, American consuls in Saigon and Hanoi, as well as traveling State Department officials, were repeatedly asked by the Department to measure “how Communist” Ho Chi Minh really was.
Thousands of peasants poured into the cities from the countryside, demonstrating their support for the Viet Minh in huge rallies. On August 30, Emperor Bao Dai, who had served the French and then the Japanese and would live to serve the French once more, presented the imperial seal and sword, symbols of Vietnamese sovereignty, to representatives of the Viet Minh and voluntarily abdicated the throne, perhaps his first and last act of genuine nationalism. And on September 2, 1945, in the square in Hanoi where his body now rests, Ho faced a crowd of half a million people and, having checked his translation with an American OSS officer, proclaimed Vietnam’s independence in the words of the American declaration of national sovereignty.
Official justifications for the war changed with the political season, although the climate was always that of the Cold War. As I was finishing this history of the Vietnam–American war, the Cold War was, astonishingly, ending. There is no way to know what this will mean for the next era of world history. But events in the summer of 1990 suggest that peace with the Soviet Union has not necessarily lessened the American propensity to wage war elsewhere. The Iraq crisis is the post–Cold War era’s first approach to war.