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Cold War Connections: Vietnam

Leslie Gelb’s statement: “He [Diem] became our ally, or rather our master… the tail wags the dog.” Why did it become the role of the United States to engage in postcolonial countries that were transitioning from colonial status to independence? Using world systems theory, explain was the United States drawn into supporting the French and then Diem.

Donald Gregg’s statement: “We should have seen it as the end of the colonial era in Southeast Asia, which it really was. But instead we saw it in Cold War terms, and we saw it as a defeat for the free world that was related to the rise of China.” The wars in Vietnam (French and then American) highlighted the tensions between imperial geopolitics and then principles of international (Wilsonian) liberalism and again, later, the tension between international liberalism and the ideological geopolitics of the Cold War. What contradictions did this produce and what explains why, from a world systems perspective, did the United States choose the path that it did?
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