As in the case of Malaya, understanding the U.S. involvement in Vietnam must begin with some understanding of traditional Vietnam. The picture is more complicated than that of Malaya, with influences that include colonialism, Chinese politics and culture, a series of Vietnamese dynasties, traditional Vietnamese political-psychological and socioeconomic systems, Japanese occupation, and the post-World War II struggle between the French and Ho Chi Minh's forces. It was in this maze that the United States found itself in the 1960s while trying to prosecute a war according to what it presumed was a clear political and military objective.
The emergence of an independent South Vietnam was the critical event for both the United States and North Vietnam. Ultimately, it was survival of South Vietnam and an attempt to limit the expansion of Asian-style communism that underpinned U.S. involvement in the area. The Second Indo- China War, with roots in the post-World War II period, was precipitated by the rise of an independent South Vietnam, the disregard of federal elections in 1956, the apparent ability of Diem to rule reasonably well during the initial period, and South Vietnam's campaign against anti-Diem groups within South Vietnam.
In many respects, development of the Second Indo-China War closely followed the premiership and later the presidency of Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem's government established the basic policies that structured the conflict until