What Agreement Divided Vietnam Into Two Countries

Until 1960, the United States had supported the Saigon regime and its army only with military equipment, financial assistance and, as permitted by the Geneva Conventions, 700 advisers for the training of the army. The number of advisers had grown to 17,000 by the end of 1963, and they were joined by a growing number of American helicopter pilots. However, all this assistance proved insufficient to stop the viet Cong`s advance, and in February 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the bombing of North Vietnam, hoping to prevent further infiltration of weapons and troops into the South. Four weeks after the bombing began, the United States began sending troops south. By July, the number of U.S. troops had reached 75,000; it continued to rise until it reached more than 500,000 in early 1968. On the American side fought about 600,000 regular South Vietnamese soldiers and regional and self-defense forces, as well as smaller contingents from South Korea, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. Thus, on 15 July (one day after the Franco-American agreements), after being informed of the situation in Geneva, the National Security Council decided that the probable settlement would go against the Seven Points. The NSC was told that the Communists: (1) would seek the partition of Vietnam somewhere between the 14th and 18th parallels; (2) demand control of part of Laos, neutralization of the rest and agreement on the formation of a coalition government; (3) demand the neutralization of Cambodia and a form of recognition of the Khmer Free Movement. If the Communists accepted the Dong Hoi Line for Vietnam, they would then demand an enclave in South Vietnam plus part of Laos, or simply extend the Dong Hoi Line through Laos. The British and Chinese Communist delegations agreed on the sidelines of the conference to strengthen their diplomatic relations.

[24] The Eisenhower administration had considered airstrikes in support of the French at Dien Bien Phu, but was unable to secure a commitment to joint action from key allies such as the United Kingdom. Eisenhower feared being dragged into “another Korea” that would be deeply unpopular with the American public. U.S. domestic policy considerations have strongly influenced the country`s position in Geneva. [5]:551-3 Columnist Walter Lippmann wrote on the 29th. April that “the American position in Geneva is impossible as long as the leading Republican senators have no other conditions for peace than the unconditional surrender of the enemy and no conditions for going to war, except as a collective action in which no one now wants to participate.” [5]:554 At the time of the conference, the United States did not recognize the People`s Republic of China. Foreign Minister John Foster Dulles, an anti-communist, banned all contact with the Chinese delegation and refused to shake hands with Zhou Enlai, China`s top negotiator. [5]:555 Under Secretary of State Smith was also very cautious in his remarks two days later […]

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