In the beginning, the United States joined the war in Vietnam to stop the spread of Communism. The government believed that if Vietnam was able to become Communist, then the whole of Asia would fall to Communism, especially with the help of China and Russia. This is known as the domino affect.
The North Vietnamese, known as the DRV(Democratic Republic of Vietnam) although they had a Communist government, had easily anticipated the political support of the Americans and were very successful in fighting back against South Vietnam. As the military situation in South Vietnam began to steadily lose ground, the American public blamed President Diem and hoped that his government would change the situation in Vietnam. They also urged Diem to remove his corrupt brother, Nhu. When the situation did not improve, General Duong Van Minh asked approval from the CIA and the U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge to overthrow Diem. President Kennedy eventually agreed with the coup détat. The event lead to the death of both Diem and his brother, Nhu. Continued corruption after the death of Diem and his brother lead into 10 successive governments in South Vietnam throughout the course of 18 months.
Meanwhile, following the death of President John F. Kennedy, the American government had been establishing secret attacks against the Communist North Vietnam. President Lyndon B. Johnson also ordered the U.S. Navy to conduct surveillance missions along the coast of North Vietnam. The government also supplied and trained South Vietnam for war.
When two American destroyers penetrated the territorial boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin and were allegedly fired upon, President Johnson ordered the first air raid on North Vietnam territory. He addressed the public after the attacks. Congress, with the U. S. public's support, passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave President Johnson all authority to continue war in Vietnam. In 1965, America began to send ground troops to Vietnam under the command of President Johnson, and after more air raids by North Vietnam on American bases, President Johnson and his advisors declared full scale war against North Vietnam.
In 1967, North Vietnam and the Viet Cong planned an all out offensive plan against the Americans and South Vietnam, known as the Tet Offensive, which was triggered to affect the feelings of the American public in the United States. In one battle, the U.S. Embassy in Saigon was captured by the NLF troops and was occupied for eight hours until the Americans were able to regain control of the complex. The Tet Offensive was the turning point of the war through American eyes, especially when the first real photographs and stories of war were on television. The North Vietnamese and the Viet Congs plan had worked.
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