Department/School of the Primary Author

History and Government


Vietnam, United States Foreign Policy, Containment, Post-War Policy, Southeast Asia, Truman Administration




The Vietnam War, widely considered the worst foreign policy debacle in American history, remains the most controversial event of the twentieth century. Much criticism for Vietnam involvement stems from two sources: 1) disapproval with how American leadership conducted the war, and 2) disagreement over the reason for the conflict in the first place. Few historians, if any, dispute the first criticism. The historical community remains divided, however, in terms of a definitive position on the basis or origin for the conflict. For a holistic approach to the origin of the Vietnam War, one must first elucidate the conception of American intervention in the region, including “why” and “how” it arose. Any analysis of American involvement in Vietnam must begin with President Truman and his administration following the conclusion of the Second World War. This can only be accurately accomplished viewed in the context of US foreign policy during the Cold War. The initial American involvement in Southeast Asia in the context of the developing Cold War must be thoroughly examined to more fully understand the origins of the Vietnam War. Considering the increasingly complex situation in Southeast Asia following the Second World War, Truman and his administration acted consistently, bearing in mind the vested interests of the United States, their Allies, and the people of Southeast Asia, in light of the threat of Communist expansion in the region and across the world.

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© 2018 Jacob T. Mach. All rights reserved



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