Soon after the World War II ended, another psychological war emerged. Between the democratic countries led by United States and the communist nations led by Soviet Union. Continued for several decades, named as Cold War, this psychological conflict directly or indirectly generated many wars during last century. Vietnam War was one of the bloodiest.
Vietnam, a Southeast Asian sea-side country was once ruled by colonial power France for many decades. From 1945 to 1954, a resistance against the colonial rule took place, called as First Indochina War. France lost the battle and a peace conference was held in Geneva. The former French colony ‘Indochina’ became divided into Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Vietnam also split by ’17th parallel’ into north (communist) and south (anti-communist). Later an election to unify the two parts were arranged, but the US-backed south refused to participate. In result, communist-led northern guerrillas (also known as Viet Cong) started to clash with them. US sent a team of 2,000 military advisors to support their southern ally. The number grew geometrically within few years.
In 1964, the U.S. Congress powered President Lyndon Johnson to take military actions in the region, after they alleged that two US naval ships had been attacked. Soon air strikes were started along with the ground and naval offensives. But after battling 3/4 years, intolerance started to grow inside US, as the government couldn’t show any visible progress against the North Vietnamese troops in the war field.
On 21 January 1968, northern forces set a trap against the US and South Vietnam. They bombed at Khe Sanh in full-scale which was a stronghold of US marine. To protect it, a massive replacement of troops was conducted by US to Khe Sanh from other parts of the region, which makes the US position weaker in those areas. North Vietnamese guerillas were waiting for this opportunity. In the morning of 30 January, a thorough attack was staged by northern forces on US and southern soldiers throughout South Vietnam. More than 100 towns, including 36 provincial capitals, 72 district towns, 5 autonomous cities were targeted. As it was the first day of Tet (Lunar New Year), the strike was named as ‘Tet Offense’.
In 1970, the then US president Nixon sent troops to Cambodia to cut the supply chains of North Vietnamese army. Cambodia, who was so far neutral in the conflict, changed it’s position in reaction and decided to support North Vietnam in the war. US made another opponent with their own mistake. Casualties during the ‘Tet Offense’, Attacking on Cambodia and some other facts sparked more anger among US citizens. Nixon realized that the Indochina war was too much tough to win.
He ordered to find the solution on the table. After months of negotiation, in January 1973 the Paris Peace Accord was signed. According to the agreement, US forces withdrew themselves from Vietnam and prisoners of war were released. On 30 April 1975, South Vietnamese capital Saigon fall and South Vietnam surrendered to the North. Two Vietnams were reunited as a communist country. The United States of America tasted the worst war defeat in a century.