THE VIETNAM WAR WAS a protracted struggle between communist North Vietnam and noncommunist South Vietnam and an important aspect of the global struggle between the communist world and the free world, known as the Cold War. Direct involvement of the naval and military forces of the United States of America failed to stem the communist onslaught.

Before World War II, Vietnam had been a French colony. In 1945, the French attempted to regain control of their former colony of Vietnam. French efforts were opposed by a broad range of interests; particularly effective were the communists in the country, led by nationalist and communist leader Ho Chi Minh. Viet Minh and French forces fought a long war that resulted in French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in ...

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