Join Date: May 2011
After reviewing these documents, it is clear that one of the main causes of conflict in Vietnam against the French and then later against the United States was primarily due to different forms of government-- Vietnam being a communist regime, and France and the United States being democratic. This split of beliefs of government became prominent during the Cold War- when the United States and the Soviet Union had a standoff about their differing veiws of the world (communism vs. democracy)- and Vietnam clearly sided with communism. There was also still some colonial moments, especially from France, and the Vietnamese were very much anti-colonial. To better understand the differences and source of conflict between Vietnam, the United States, and France, one must first look at the differing beliefs of non-communists as well as communists, and then move on to the source of conflict between France and Vietnam as well as between the United States and Vietnam.
During this time, there was a lot of disagreement and conflict between how one should run one's government. Many European countries as well as the United States were united against communism and its revolutionary and nationalistic stance (document 5). People who followed Marxist's policies were communist and believed that everyone should have the same status, pay, way of living, etc. There would be one person in charge to dictate it, as well as pulling up a large peasant class. This side was Vietnam, as well as China, the Soviet Union, and others. The United States, France, and Great Britian, just to name a few, were democratic, meaning that the government represents the people, and that people can rise through society.
There was a lot of tension and conflict between France and Vietnam. The French believed that democracy was best and tried to promote it, claiming that the hate for them was because of the illiterate population in Vietnam (document 6). There was tension especially at Geneva, but the Vietnamese won and said that they could now enjoy their rights and freedoms. It is important to remember, however, that much of this conflict was in North Vietnam. Much of South Vietnam was tied with the United States and regarded by the North as a "puppet state." The South, therefore, was less communist, and less opposed to the France and the United States (document 4).
The relationship with Vietnam and the United States was less icy. The United States did not try to push for a democracy as much as the French. During this time, the United States and Great Britain tried not to get involved in the affairs of Vietnam. They stated that they did not want their land, to make land changes, and respected the right of the people to chose their own government (document 1). Vietnam in response, however, tried to get the United States involved, and asked for the United States to interefere with negotiations to prevent France from responding to Vietnam's succession of Cochinichina with military aggression (document 2). This relationship between Vietnam and the United States was important because they did not fight or have as much military agression as did France and Vietnam.
After reviewing these documents, there are a few author points of view that should be addressed. The first is from document 1, written by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. This article states that they do not want to subjective. They may have taken this point of view, because it was just after World War II, so their governments were still recovering. The U.S. was also focusing on the Soviet Union, so that would have been their main focus. It is also important to remember, that they supported democracies, and the U.S. was playing a large role in South Vietnam at the time. The second document worth looking at is document 4. This was writen by Ngo Dinh Diem, a non-communist leader of South Vietnam. Diem would have been greatly influenced by the United States and their democratic views, leading him to be non-communist. He is, therefore, not agressive in his article towards European countries and the U.S.
Some additional documents would have been useful to aid this writing assignment. I would have liked at least one more from France to show their point of view in more depth. Another point of veiw from a country that was not in the conflict would have been useful to see what was going on from a subjective point of view. An article from a regular citizen would have been helpful as well, to show the point of view from the life of a normal person, instead of a government leader or historian. In addition, a picture of an ad campaign to fight against the different sides could have helped to portray the feelings.
In conclusion, though South Vietnam was supported by the U.S. and tended to be more democratic, North Vietnam seemed to have much conflict with France, and some with the United States. A key player in this conflict was the difference in views about their government: communism versus democracy. This led to small wars and cold fronts between the nations.