Essay Preview: Vietnam War
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The Vietnam War or Second Indochina War 1 was a conflict between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRVN, or North Vietnam), allied with the National Liberation Front (NLF, or “Viet Cong”) against the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, or South Vietnam), and its allies–notably the United States military in support of the South, with American combat troops committed from 1965 to 1973.
After Frances attempted recolonization of Indochina was defeated in 1954 by the Viet Minh at the battle of Dien Bien Phu, the country was partitioned in two by a Demilitarized Zone or DMZ after the Geneva Conference. Each part of the modern day Vietnam became controlled by separate governments with distinctly different ideologies and political bases. The scheduled elections for the unification of the country never took place. Instead, the Vietnam War began as a civil war–fought to determine the status of Vietnam as either a unified nation or as one partitioned indefinitely into two independent states, each supported by rival Superpowers (as after the Korean War). Fighting began in 1957, and with U.S. and Soviet-Chinese involvement and support, it would steadily escalate and spill over into the neighboring Indochinese countries of Cambodia and Laos.
South Vietnam–and allies such as the U.S.–portrayed the conflict as one based in a principled and strategic opposition to communism, to deter its expansion throughout Southeast Asia and elsewhere. North Vietnam and its Viet Cong allies claimed the war as a struggle to reunite the country and to repel a foreign aggressor– a continuation of the earlier war for independence against the French.
After fifteen years of protracted fighting and massive civilian and military casualties, major, direct U.S. involvement ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. Fighting between Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces against the dominant combined Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and Viet Cong forces would soon bring an end to the RVN and the war. With the Northern victory, the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) with a communist-controlled government based in Hanoi.