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The Cold War

 
WARNING SIGN: One of the U.S. checkpoints in Cold War Berlin. A carryover from the post-war occupation of Germany, the signs were in the languages of the occupying forces (English, Russian, French) and German.

This theme will explore the reasons for U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War from a global perspective. Following World War II, the U.S. found itself facing off against its former ally, the Soviet Union, in Europe. This provoked an arms and technology race between the two superpowers.

Additionally, the communists under Mao Tse-tung overthrew the Nationalist government in China. In this atmosphere of tension, French Indochina and the rest of Southeast Asia appeared to be falling under the spell of local communist nationalists like Ho Chi Minh.

The U.S. feared a "domino effect," suspecting that if one country in Southeast Asia fell to communism the others would surely follow. With the Soviet Union supporting the Vietnamese Communists, the Vietnam War served as a proxy war between the superpowers - a means to test weapons, readiness, and resolve - without risking nuclear war.

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