ENGL 583 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Ngo Dinh Diem, Army Of The Republic Of Vietnam, Domino Theory
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French forces are better equipped. Still the Viet Minh have a lot of power and popularity.
The Korean War was the first time the US got involved in Vietnam. Usually they don’t get directly
involved/they don’t send troops but they bill the french to send troops.
The Americans fears about communism becoming important was overwhelming. The chinese were
offering troops and supplies : Ho Chi Minh takes the supplies but doesn’t want the troops.
Historically the Chinese and Vietnam didn’t really get along. Ho chi Minh didn’t want chinese troops in
Final defeat for the french : Dien Bien Phu march 13 - may 7 1954
French give up after that
Conference in Geneva to discuss the situation in Korea, vietnam war was also on the agenda. Powers
there decide to give Laos and Cambodia independence and decide to “temporarily” divide Vietnam along
the 49th parallel to decide how to administer vietnam in the next years. An election would happen
several years after. Ho Chi Minh wanted the election to happen the day after because he would win. The
Americans are hoping to construct an anti-communist force in the next few years.
The southern part is led by Ngo Dinh Diem who declares a republic and becomes the leader through a
corrupted election. He was anti-french. he was too corrupt, too brutal to build a correct power.
He does not undertake any significant land reform. 54% of the cultivated land was in the hands of 2% of
the population and Diem is not doing anything while in the north they took the land from the rich and
redistributed it to the poor.
The divisions was supposed to be temporary, the elections would happen in 1946. But it was clear that
Diem would not win these elections so he backs up.
An opposition movement starts to form in the south. It is not formed by Ho Chi Minh, he even opposes
this movement, he wants Vietnam to reunite. This movement wants to overthrow Diem, it is led by the
ones who led the Viet Minh.
NLF : national liberation front. Referred as the Viet Cong. Diem’s response to this is brutal. He
tries to get as many suspects as he can. This sparks more opposition in the countryside →
people more violent → government more violent = vicious circle.
Few of the people in the uprising in the south were members of the army in the north.
The americans are led by the idea of credibility : they want to take the lessons from WWII.
Domino theory : if Vietnam falls to communism, then Cambodia and Laos, then Thailand and east India
would follow. Fear also that Indonesia would fall to communism.
1963 : Diem assassinated. Then Americans discover a new problem : they got rid of the bad leader but
they have no one to replace him.
1965 : The Americans decide that they need to be more directly involved in the south.
Graph about american troops in Vietnam
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