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Inventing Vietnam: The United States and statemaking in Southeast Asia

Posted on:2005-10-25Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:University of HoustonCandidate:Carter, James MFull Text:PDF
In 1954, the United States began a nation building effort in the southern half of Vietnam in Southeast Asia. Taking over where French colonizers had been militarily defeated, the Americans came to this part of Southeast Asia in the context of the Cold War to prevent the reunification of all of Vietnam under Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh and his Communist Party. Imbued with an unshakable faith that American power could remake this troubled land, nation building experts began trying to turn what was only half of an underdeveloped former colony into a modern, democratic, sovereign nation state.; Over the next 14 years, until 1968, that mission changed course numerous times. From an early emphasis on economic development programs, the U.S. mission responded to continued failure to bring about success with greater and greater emphasis on security and military programs. The problem was that the state of "South Vietnam" did not exist. The regime put in place in the southern city of Saigon and nurtured along by an enormous American military and economic aid program grew increasingly dependent upon that aid.; By the mid- to late-1960s, the United States chose major troop deployments and large-scale warfare to bring about a military victory and to maintain its client in southern Vietnam. Because southern Vietnam was still not a nation and remained critically underdeveloped, a vast physical infrastructure had to be created to make the area military defensible. A consortium of private construction firms quickly began to convert southern Vietnam into a modern, integrated military complex. This epic military construction program made war possible. Those involved considered this latest transformation of southern Vietnam "the construction miracle of the decade."; In the process, officials ignored the fact that "South Vietnam" did not exist. Despite all the effort, after 1968 the United States had still not achieved success in Southeast Asia, and officials began looking for a way to end America's failed involvement in southern Vietnam. United States withdrawal in 1973 was followed by the complete collapse of the Saigon regime and the reunification of Vietnam by the Communists in 1975.
Keywords/Search Tags:Vietnam, United states, Southeast asia, Southern, Nation
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