The Vietnam War showed the USA that it would have to learn to live with communism. To what extent is this statement true?

Essay by rachel-england January 2006

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It is true that, to some extent, the course and the outcome of the Vietnam War forced the USA to respect communism and accept the communist sphere of influence. In the Vietnam War, the USA was not capable of defeating a colonial power which enjoyed being supplied by communist China and the USSR. Despite this, the USA likes to cover up the victory of communism with Stalinists subsequent inability to solve all the problems that the Vietnamese People had to face. The USA is not a world power which likes to confess defeat and the intervention in the Gulf also served to demonstrate the power of the US to the world and "remove the legacy" of Vietnam. Americans like to think that they have won the war and that they have stopped communism from expanding in Asia.

There are two major aspects which suggest that the United States miscalculated the strength of communism and had reason to accept and learn how to live with it.

Firstly, when the USA agreed to send American troops to Vietnam, they underestimated the strength of the North Vietnamese, who received communist supply. But as the French defeat in Dien Bien Phu occurred and American troops struggled against the North Vietnamese in the subsequent years, the miscalculations were hit upon.

The USA was following a policy of containment. Communism was defined as the enemy and any sign of communist aggression should be met rapidly. The target of containment was Ho Chi Minh, who had connections with the Soviet Union. When the French aimed to regain its colonial mastery over Indochina, the USA decided to support the French because to them it represented an anticommunist movement. But the French and the American underestimated the North Vietnamese and on 7 May 1954 the French experienced a humiliating...