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For much of Vietnam's history it has been under foreign rule, primarily by the Chinese. In 1860, France began its domination of the area and had, by the late 19th century, implemented its colonization in a number of regions around the Gulf of Tonkin. During WWII, the Japanese government took control of much of the area and set up a puppet regime that was eventually forced out by the Vietnamese at the end of that war in 1945.

After WWII and until 1955, France fought hard to regain their former territories in the region, but with a poorly organized army and little determination among the troops, their efforts soon collapsed. The French were finally defeated at Dien Bien Phu on the 8th of May 1954 by the communist general Vo Nguyen Giap. The French troops withdrew, leaving a buffer zone separating the North and South and set up elections in order to form a government in the South. The communist regime set up its headquarters in Hanoi under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh. Many North Vietnamese left the country and fled south where the self-proclaimed president, Ngo Dinh Diem had formed the Republic of Vietnam.

Between 1955 and 1960, the North Vietnamese with the assistance of the southern communist Vietcong, tried to take over the government in South Vietnam, and in November 1963 President Diem was overthrown and executed. The following year, the North Vietnamese began a massive drive to conquer the whole country aided by China and Russia.

Fearing a communist takeover of the entire region, the United States grew more and more wary of the progress of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietcong. Communism had become the evil menace in the United States and with expansion of Soviet rule into Eastern Europe, Korea and Cuba, the Americans were bent on stopping communism from spreading any further.

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