Importance of Anti-Communism on Us Policy

Assess the importance of anti-communism in shaping the policies of the United States towards Indochina between 1954 and 1979.

The importance of anti-communism in shaping American policy in Indochina between 1954 and 1979 can be viewed as crucial. President Eisenhower had outlined his “domino theory doctrine” in the first Indochina war. This theory was based on the assumption that if Vietnam fell to Communism, its surrounding countries in Asia would also fall, akin to a line of dominoes. It was this theory that dictated United States policy for the duration of the Second Indochina war. The second Indochina war can be viewed as commencing after the failure to hold free elections in Vietnam in 1956, as was outlined in the 1956 Geneva Peace Conference. Hence, the importance of anti-communism in shaping American policy in Indochina up to 1979 can be evidenced by examining the failure of the Geneva Peace Agreement of 1954 and the policies of John F Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

When John F. Kennedy (JFK) came to power in 1961, Vietnam was already in an unstable climate that confirmed the beginnings of the Second Indochina War. The South was ruled by Ngo Denh Diem, whom America believed they had in control as their ‘puppet government’. JFK and his presidential advisors thought in line with the domino theory doctrine, believing America’s involvement was crucial in preventing the fall of Vietnam as a whole to Communism. However Kennedy was firm in maintaining a motto of ‘indirect involvement’. This involved the sending over of 11,000 troops known as the ‘Green Berets’ to work in co-operation with Diem’s government in the South.

The United States had previously supported Diem in his refusal to hold free general elections in 1956. These elections were outlined as part of the Geneva Peace Agreement. At the Geneva Conference, Vietnam was split along its 17th parallel with the North being given to Ho Chi Minh and the South under Emperor under Bao Dai....