Since the beginning of the Cold War up until the very end, the United States has expended a great amount resources, energy, and time in attempt to halt the spread of communism. From the late 1940s to the early 1990s, the United States implemented many programs, had several wars, and carried out a plethora of secret operations. This all came to be because of the US’s belief in the domino theory, which was if countries bordering the Soviet Union and communism converts to communism it will spread over all of Asia. To combat this, two major measures taken to contain communism were the Vietnam War and the Bay of Pigs invasion. Both of these attempts were risky and unsuccessful, and impacted the United States in mostly negative ways, making the US understand that even though they are the world’s most powerful superpower, they cannot win every battle.
The Vietnam War was a measure taken by the United States government to help contain communism. There were 2 major sides in this conflict, the communist North Vietnamese, supported by the Soviet Union and Communist China, and the democratic South Vietnamese, whom were supported by the United States. The North Vietnamese under the communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, wanted all of Vietnam to united under communism and he would do so by taking over South Vietnam.
The United States was already controlling the politics of South Vietnam preceding the war, such as controlling their elections and placing Ngo Diem in power. This medding may have intensified the war as Ngo Diem was a strict, intolerant catholic, contrary to the Buddhist majority, and was turning into a dictator, not allowing ny opposition towards his rule. After this failed, the United States government sent thousands of soldiers, who were called advisors, to Vietnam to help aid the South Vietnamese against the North Vietnamese.
The first real encounter in Vietnam by the United States, was after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. This incident, which occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin near Vietnam, was an unconfirmed attack by a Vietnamese boat on an American Destroyer. There was a similar skirmish during a storm between another American Destroyer and Vietnamese boats during a storm.
This allowed President Lyndon Johnson to send more troops to aid the South Vietnamese and by the end of 1965, there were almost 200,000 troops sent to Vietnam. Another reason for the addition of troops to Vietnam was the belief in the domino theory, where if the United States lost Vietnam to communism, its surrounding countries would also become communist and the Soviets could have power over all of Asia. The United States began bombing campaigns on North Vietnam, but to no avail.
The war, though, took a turns for the worse during the Tet offensive. The American intervention in Vietnam and illegal bombings in Cambodia ended under President Richard Nixon. He wanted to pull American troops out of Vietnam but support the South Vietnamese. This, too, failed, and Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese shortly after the Americans withdrew. The war was a major failure. The American government was publicized in a bad light afterwards, and communism was spread. The United States faced tremendous opposition to the war both at home and abroad and would be far less likely to fight another war for containment. A decade later, Congress opposed President Reagan’s efforts to fight communism in Nicaragua by banning military aid to the Contras who were anti-communist.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was in 1961 and it was an invasion ran by the United States were Cuban exiles stormed the Bay of Pigs in Cuba to help overthrow the new communist Cuban government controlled by Fidel Castro. Not only did this plan use Cuban exiles, but it also relied of the people of Cuba, who disliked the new government, to rise up during the invasion, and overthrow Castro’s government. The exiles who were invading were considered the catalyst to start a new revolution by the people of Cuba. The planning for this invasion began in March 1960.
Prior to the invasion, the United States had supported the corrupt government of F. Batista for many years. When Fidel Castro started a revolt against Batista, the United States believed that Batista would win. However, Fidel Castro overthrew Batista’s Cuban government in early 1959.
Castro was determined to end the economic exploitation of Cuba by foreigners. Many Americans were hopeful that the Cubans were going to choose democracy instead of communism. Once in power, Castro made anti-US speeches and began to seize and redistribute foreign owned land in Cuba, showing that he had picked the side of the Soviets and entered the Cold War. Soon Cuba began opening their sugar trade with the Soviet Union, and the United States halted their imports of Cuban sugar. Then Castro’s government seized American-owned sugar mills and the United States government responded by denying Cuba any aid or loans.
Vice President Nixon suggested an invasion to overthrow Castro and the planning began under Eisenhower’s administration. The exiles were trained by the CIA in Latin American countries that were enemies with Castro’s Cuba. Meanwhile power in the United States was transferred from Eisenhower to Kennedy. In April 1961, the military began bombing Cuban air bases from Nicaragua to aid with the invasion, but they were unsuccessful. Several days later, the actual invasion of the Bay of Pigs occurred. Castro and his officials were already suspicious and had heard about the invasion. The invading exiles were met with heavy resistance and were not successful in fueling a revolution.
Even if they were not met with resistance, Castro ordered the arrest of hundreds of suspected dissidents, so the revolution that the United States counted on never occurred. The last thing that went horribly wrong was the fact that the United States was behind the invasion became known to Castro and the Soviets. The Bay of Pigs invasion was highly unsuccessful in containing communism.
It created an increase in tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Cuba also remained communist, meaning that the effort made by the United States was much more detrimental to them than helpful. Castro gained stature while the United States was embarrassed and humiliated.Out of the many measures taken by the United States government to stop the spread of communism during the Cold War, the Bay of Pigs invasion and Vietnam War were, arguably, the two most unsuccessful. Not only did the Americans fail at their primary objectives, but communism was spread to the areas where they were trying to stop the spread.
Although these two measures were failures, not all of the things done by the U.S. failed. Some, in fact, were highly successful including the Marshall Plan, Korean War, and Nixon’s visit to China.