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Lecture 16

History 1810E The Vietnam War - Lecture 16.docx

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History 1810E
Margaret Mc Glynn

History 1810E The Vietnam War Wednesday March 5 Lecture 16 Outline: I. Enter the Cold War a. Two Modernities II. The Bao Dai Solution III. Dien Bien Phu IV. The Geneva Conference, 1954 Enter the Cold War • This was the first Indochina war • It was a localized war between the French, Vietminh, and Vietnamese who supported the French • The Vietminh were attempting to drive the French out of Indochina • A Civil War: Many of the French allies were Vietnamese soldiers (they were fighting for the French) • The war didn’t go well for the Vietminh at the beginning o They were driven out of the major cities and had to go back to the liberated zones in the mountains and north of Vietnam to avoid the French o As a result, they didn’t have much control over the countryside (the gains they made at the end of WWII were negated due to the French presence) • The French also weren’t able to capitalize on the gains they had made o They were technologically more advanced, but they didn’t have enough troops to crush the Vietnamese o Many of the French troops were back in Europe dealing with the post-war situation (occupying defeated Germany) • The French had to look elsewhere for support, and they looked to the United States o In order to attract the U.S. and gain support (they were wary about the colonial aspect of France in Vietnam), they played the Communist card (especially Ho Chi Minh) • After the First World War, there were competing modernities: 1. Marxist-Leninism • Advocated international communism • He thought the Russian revolution would be the first in a world revolution • Lenin’s ideas came from Karl Marx (he said the workers of the world should rise up and overthrow the managerial class) o If this went on all over the world, there would be a universal class of workers o If there was one universal class, there would be no need for nations (everyone would have the same interests), there would be no competing national interests, there would be no need for war • This was a utopian vision, but to reach this they needed to destroy the liberal capitalist order (a problem for a nation like the United States) 2. Liberal Internationalism (Woodrow Wilson) • Promoted liberal nationalism • Based on 14 points he articulated to American congress (but were directed at the Russian revolution) • The points were based on American ideals: o National self-determination (the people who live in a nation should choose the form of government they want to live under) o Political liberty (liberal democracy – one man, one vote) o Constitutional government (a state apparatus with rules and laws in place to protect people’s liberty so they are not arbitrarily arrested) o Social mobility (ability to improve your social standing through hard work) • This would be based on capitalism (the enemy of communism) o Free markets o Free trade o Competition would be relegated to the marketplace (you don’t have to go to war) o A mechanism for collective security which would maintain the peace (resolve disputes between nations) • Wilson believed that if everyone bought into these principles, they would maintain the peace o This was Wilson’s utopian society • The problem was that these two ideas (competing modernities) couldn’t exist in the same place • The United States and Soviet Union were the two most powerful nations and each wanted to impose their system on the world • American policymakers didn’t think they could allow any other nation to choose the communist vision of the future (it wouldn’t do well for them), so they saw themselves in competition with people around the world to promote their ideas for a post-war world • While the Indochina war was going on, Americans felt that Communists were making advancements around the world and they were losing their vision o In China, Mao achieved victory and it became communist (this concerned Americans) o A Sino (China)-Soviet Treaty of Friendship was signed in 1950 (the two communist powers were allies) o The communist North-Koreans invaded the non-communist South- Koreans • When the French started to play up the fact that the Vietminh were communists, it was a concern for the Americans o It challenged the post-war order the Americans wanted to create • The United States started to send military aid to the French in Indochina • Though the Americans were sympathetic to the French, they were still critical of the way the French were going about their imperial project o They argued that while the Vietnamese were part of the French empire, they didn’t have anything to rival what the Vietminh were fighting for (independence) o The French realize they need to do something more to give the Vietnamese something worth fighting for (an alternative to what the communists are
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