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The Vietnam War remains one of the most controversial military engagements of the United States. This entry reviews the historical context of the conflict, its evolution during the 1950s and 1960s, the role of U.S. foreign policy in the conduct of the war, and the conclusion of the conflict in 1972. The entry then looks at historical perspectives on the Vietnam War and its implications for American foreign policy in the 21st century.

Origins of the Conflict

As part of its Cold War policy of containing the spread of communism, from roughly 1950 to 1975 the United States became involved in a failed attempt to prevent the unification of Vietnam under a communist system. The United States committed 3.4 million soldiers to the conflict (2.7 million ...

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