The U.S.A. had many reasons to intervene S.E. Asia between 1950-64, both economic and ideological. During this period there were four different Presidents who both had different policies concerning military intervention. It is clear that America’s priorities changed in this period, from trying to avoid military involvement in the area during the early 1950’s, to the gulf of Tonkin resolution being passed in 1964. I will look at the various factors that contributed to the military intervention in an attempt to come to a conclusion.
In 1950 the US National Security Council produced a report- NSC-68. It blamed the expansion policies of the Soviet Union for the continuation of the cold war. The report recommended that US foreign policy be directed at ensuring that all non-communist regimes were viable as non-communist regimes. It also recommended that the US take military steps to quell the threat that it felt World Communism posed. NSC-68 seems to be evidence in favour of the view that America didn’t get involved in South-East Asia for Economic reasons, but for mainly ideological motives. The report wants countries to have a regime that appeals to the people more than a Communist movement would. However this argument can be countered when under the Geneva Agreements of 1954 put the dictator, Ngo Dinh Diem in control of South Korea. America gave its support to this corrupt and repressive figure just because he was none Communist. They did not follow the advice of NSC-68 in ensure that the regime was a ‘viable alternate’ to Communism. From their actions it is plausible to argue that the US was blinded by their fear of the economic effects of the Communism. If the US were acting for the good of the Korean people, they would have never supported Diem in South Korea.
The Geneva Agreements also stated that the division of Korea should only be temporary and that national elections to unite the country should be held within two years. With America being a Democratic country and highly proud of the fact, it would be expected that they would be more than willing to the let the Korean people have their own say in their fate. This was not the case though as the US didn’t allow the elections to happen- they feared that Ho Chi Minh’s Vietminh movement would win. They saw the group as Communist, but if they had understood the situation clearer, they would have seen that the Vietminh was not exclusively communist- but nationalist. This is another example of America’s fears overriding their usual ideological reasoning. When Buddhist monks started their suicide protests against Diem’s regime that the US public realised who they were supporting. President Kennedy himself claimed to be shocked and appalled that Diem was so repressive. If this was true then the President was guilty was being horribly naï¿½ve about the situation. It also would show how the US was in too much a rush to support Diem for the simple reason that he was anti-communist.
For many Americans, it was important to support the South Vietnam government at any costs, in order to uphold those freedoms that those in the free world enjoyed and that Communism denied. The US ideology was based the points of; Equality, Freedom of Speech, Democracy ; Capitalism. Communism was almost the polar to these ideas. That is was Communism went against what many Americans themselves really believed in. As the major power in the world the US could have seen it as their duty to ensure that they supported Countries unable to stop themselves being taken over by an ideology that repulsed America.