In this chapter Zinn discusses the Vietnam War. Specifically, the history behind Vietnam and the positions that the US decided to take. I never learned about the French involvement in Vietnam. The French occupied Vietnam for a considerably amount of time leading up to the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese people however, were not fans on the French occupation. The Vietnamese felt, “They enforced inhuman laws…built more prisons than schools…mercilessly slain our patriots…they have drowned uprising in rivers of blood. They have fettered pubic opinion…robbed us of our rices fields, our mines, our forests….invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people … to a state of extreme poverty.” (470) The Vietnamese rallied behind Ho Chi Minh, a communist revolutionary leader. This scared the American people. This was in the late 40’s early 50’s a time when the red scare was eminent in the US. The United States feared a domino effect would take over Southeast Asia and leave US interests in Asia compromised. The domino effect being one country falling to communist rule and many others following. The US was so scared of this that we provided substantial military aid to the French to help them maintain control in Vietnam. Americans knew that , “If the French…decided to withdraw the U.S. would have to condor most seriously wether to take over in this area.” (472) So when in 1954 the French withdrew from Vietnam due to profuse pubic support of Ho Chi Minh the United States had to decide wether or not to get involved in Vietnam. Due to intense fear of Communism 10 years later in 1964, “President Johnson used a turkey set of events in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of North Vietnam, to launch a full scale war” (475). This chapter surprised me. I never learned about any sort of French connection with Vietnam. Is that because the US didn’t get involved until 10 years after French withdrawal? Would the United States have gotten so involved in Vietnam if the French had maintain their occupation there? Was the red scare a valid fear for the Americans to have at the time?
Blog Post for 10/28/20