In my readings recently, I’ve seen portrayed very clearly why the U.S. was so concerned about maintaining hegemony over Vietnam, and Indo-China in general.
There were clear cues. A good ten years before the U.S. intervention in Vietnam escalated to a fevered pitch, it was made quite clear that the U.S. would be willing to go to war if it meant preserving its hegemony over Indo-China.
Looking at these following quotes, I wonder whether ‘the large gamble” and “the cheapest way to prevent the occurrence of something terrible” mentioned in the following was a not-so-veiled foreshadowing of the Vietnam War?
- In February 12, 1950, the New York Times said: “Indo-China is a prize worth a large gamble…Even before World War II Indo-China yielded dividends estimated at 300 million dollars per year.”
- In 1951, the State Department said: “We have only partially exploited South-East Asia’s resources.”
- In 1953, President Eisenhower said: “If Indo-China goes, the tin and tungsten we so greatly value would cease coming. We are after the cheapest way to prevent the occurrence of something terrible–the loss of our ability to get what we want from the riches of the Indo-Chinese territory and from South-East Asia.”
One way or another, Vietnam was neither cheap (whether measured in lives, suffering, chaos, or dollars) and nor was it a war in which the U.S. got what it wanted.