An APACL youth conference featured attendees from the U.
An APACL youth conference featured attendees from the U.S., including Tom Charles Huston and David Keene representing Young Americans for Freedom. Southeast Asia was so important in the minds of America policymakers and their allies that the U. gave economic and military aid to South Vietnam, while the Soviet Union and China offered similar assistance to North Vietnam.“To defend Southeast Asia,” Mc Namara argued, “we must meet the challenge in South Vietnam.” The region mattered to the U. because “(i)n communist hands, this area would pose a most serious threat to the security of the United States and to the family of free-world nations.” Vietnam was America’s test case to prove that it could meet the global challenge of communist wars of liberation. Johnson’s anxieties about U. credibility, combined with political instability in Saigon, China’s resistance to negotiations, and Hanoi’s refusal to remove troops from South Vietnam and stop aiding the National Liberation Front led him to escalate the U. military presence in Vietnam from 1964 through 1967.
Rather than identifying one starting point, it is more accurate to understand U. All of the key moments in the process emerged from different contexts and the thinking of various players, but there were three threads that unified them: communism, the Cold War, and credibility.
It involved economic aid, political and military advisors, and boots on the ground.
In 1954, Chiang Kai-shek of Taiwan and South Korea’s Syngman Rhee founded the Asian People’s Anticommunist League (APACL) as part of their efforts to resist communist insurgencies.
Beginning in 1964, the central subject of the organization’s annual meetings was South Vietnam and how members of the APACL could offer political and military assistance.
S., along with Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand, established the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in September 1954. involvement in Vietnam because SEATO members pledged to act to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Just as regional concerns about communism influenced support for South Vietnam, the Vietnam conflict also played into Cold War superpower rivalries, which, in turn, shaped superpower decision making. S., the Soviet Union, and China vied for alliances with newly independent countries, Vietnam became one of the proving grounds on which all three countries tried to make their mark. Hanoi leaders understood that they walked a tightrope between their two contentious benefactors, as North Vietnam received significant support from both countries.
SEATO’s purpose was to prevent communism from gaining ground in the region, and although South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos couldn’t join because the Geneva Accords prevented them from joining international military alliances, they were included as SEATO protectorates. North Vietnam also benefitted from trade with Eastern Europe through its inclusion in the Soviet sphere. Should we trace it back to the 1940s when President Harry Truman authorized U. Eisenhower’s “domino theory,” the idea that if one country in Southeast Asia fell to the communists, the entire region would fall, and the ripple effects would be felt throughout the Asia-Pacific world, informed not only his thinking about U. relations with the region but the policymaking of his successors, John F. The global context is also important because Cold War tensions between the U. Did it begin in the 1950s when the Geneva Accords divided Vietnam in two and President Dwight Eisenhower offered U. aid to help establish a non-communist nation in the southern half to counter the communist north? Kennedy asserted that Americans would “pay any price, bear any burden” to support democratic nation building as a way to counter communist advances in Asia. S.-Vietnam relations and the Vietnam War did not occur in a vacuum.His successor, Richard Nixon, entered the presidency in a world that looked much different than it had in 1964. should cast aside ideological differences in order to build alliances—as long as they were in America’s best interests. intervention was a gradual process that included economic aid, diplomacy, politics, presidential personalities, and military force. Americans across the political spectrum opposed the Vietnam War, the U. and the Soviet Union entered a period of détente, and Nixon’s visit to China opened a new era in Sino-American relations. Additionally, Nixon was more pragmatic than idealistic in his foreign policy worldview. America’s decision to go to war in Vietnam did not involve a Pearl Harbor or Franz Ferdinand moment. Regional alliances in Southeast Asia and superpower tensions between the U. It mattered whether the new countries established communist or non-communist governments.Vietnam’s history offers a case study of decolonization in action.At the 1964 annual meeting in Taipei, delegates decided to open a special APACL office in Saigon to demonstrate support for the Saigon government.Newspapers in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila published editorials supporting South Vietnam.Other Southeast Asian nations also transitioned from colonial to independent status in the years after World War II, and tensions and conflicts between communist and non-communist movements existed not just in Vietnam but also in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.Regional non-communist governments supported the Republic of Vietnam, the southern half of the divided country, believing its existence was a crucial bulwark against the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.