After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Viet Minh National Congress which was communist held a meeting in Tan Trao to back the Central Committees recommendation of starting an uprising to overthrow the Japanese command. During the meeting, they elected Ho Chi Minh as the leader of the National Liberation Committee and who was to act also as the leader of the provisional government. When Japanese surrendered in World War II the Japanese command in Vietnam turned over power to the locals, thereafter Viet Minh declared independence and established a transitional government of the Republic of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh became the first president.
The first president Ho tried to gain the support of the United States. Before the surrender of Japan, Ho has helped America, he helped with safeguarding and the return of American pilots who were downed over Vietnam land. In the US supplied Hos men with weapons and other equipment by the USs Office of Strategic Services. The US did not want to support Ho as they considered him unreliable and a pretender.
Ho constantly chanted the slogans of nationalists but the US viewed him as a communist. He worked with the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Party. The Viet Minh National Congress party to which Ho belonged to was also full of communists and the US could not trust them. The main motivation that led to the US to support the French and later participates in the war was not that they feared the spread of communism in Vietnam but they viewed it as a potential example of the Domino theory.
The Domino Theory embraces the notion that if a country falls to communism, the countries surrounding the nation will also fall if they are not strong (Sheehan, 2003). The US viewed Vietnam under Ho as such a nation. Another contributing factor was the pressure from anti-communists Joseph McCarthy among others in Washington D.C. This led to President Truman creating the Truman doctrine which stepped up Americas involvement and supported Frenchs recolonization of Indochina.
Ho was forced to assent to the occupation of the French though he also viewed the French as easy to oust compared to the Chinese. The first war in Indochina started when Viet Minh soldiers ignored a French demand to leave Haiphong and this resulted in the death of 1000 soldiers. After seven years of war by the French against the Viet Minh, the French occupation of Vietnam ended in 1954 (Waite, 2012). At the end of the war, French had lost 75,867 soldiers and $3 billion investment in the war. The USs new president Eisenhower had continued to support Trumans policy. The US receded their support when it became clear that they could not have a full-scale occupation of Indochina over the Viet Minh.
Sheehan, S. (2003). The Cold War. North Mankato, Minn: Smart Apple Media.
Waite, J. (2012). The End of the First Indochina War: A Global History. London: Routledge.
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