Causes and Early Years
In part, the war was a legacy of France's colonial rule, which ended in 1954 with the French army's catastrophic defeat at Dienbienphu and the acceptance of the Geneva Conference agreements (see Vietnam). Elections scheduled for 1956 in South Vietnam for the reunification of Vietnam were canceled by President Ngo Dinh Diem. His action was denounced by Ho Chi Minh, since the Communists had expected to benefit from them. After 1956, Diem's government faced increasingly serious opposition from the Viet Cong, insurgents aided by North Vietnam. The Viet Cong became masters of the guerrilla tactics of North Vietnam's Vo Nguyen Giap. Diem's army received U.S. advice and aid, but was unable to suppress the guerrillas, who established a political organization, the National Liberation Front (NLF) in 1960.
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