Andy Rotter (Professor of History and Peace and Conflict Studies, Colgate University)
September 12, 2017
The United States first engaged with Vietnam in the immediate aftermath of World War II, as it struggled with the dilemmas of postwar reconstruction, the course of decolonization in Asia, and perceived Soviet aggression across the globe. Though largely unremarked at the time, during the late 1940s the administration of Harry S. Truman chose sides in Vietnam—or, more broadly, Indochina—underwriting the French-sponsored government of the former emperor Bao Dai in the south, while distancing itself from the nationalist movement led by Ho Chi Minh and tainted, in its view, by its communist rhetoric and associations. Even before the outbreak of war in Korea in June 1950, the die was cast: the United States sided with the French in their effort to restore their empire in Indochina. Why did the United States make this choice? Were there alternatives to it? This webinar explores these and other questions.