i was just in the bath tub for an hour, reading more of the history of the vietnam war. really facinating stuff. new info: the timelines - WWII end '45, French fight the vietnamese for the next 9 years in order to own vietnam as a french colony (up to '54), the US assist the french as an overall policy of the containment of communism. the Korean war '51-53. Geneva conference in 54 reestablished No/So vietnam. The start of the second vietnam war, this time with the US directly fighting north vietnam instead of through the french. The gulf of tonkin attacks in 1964 as the reason to start a huge ground war with us troops. the paris peace accord in 73. the fall of saigon (south vietnam capitol) to north vietnam in '75 and the reunification of the country.
the comparison with the korean war - a communist north korea invades south korea in an attempt to unify the county. the US assists south korea to again contain communism. There is an interesting bit about Eisenhower bringing an end to a bloody stalemate for years at the north/south korea border. the north was being fed by china and that was the key to the end of the war. it was the threat of nuclear attack by the US on chinese soil that pressured china into pressuring north korea to end the fighting(*). then also about how vietnam was nothing like korea in that there was an enormous amount of governmental infighting and communist support in south vietnam.
the idea that the US was fighting a war against communism in full view of communist china and communist russia. we could fight, but there were limits. crossing those limits meant the engagement of chinese forces and possibly the start of world war three.
- note all these are short summaries and based on my recollection from the book so are prone to over-simplification and leaving out important bits.