During the time of the Second Paris Debate, a civil war in Vietnam was beginning and already reached global status. The Communist North Vietnamese battled against the pro-democracy South Vietnamese. After preparing for a invasion of the Soviet Union, US President Dwight Eisenhower made many calls to NATO and SEATO leaders reminding them of the scare of the Communist Dominio effect. He persuaded them to call of the attacks and begin a NATO-led invasion of North Vietnam.
The Vietnam Invasion would begin on the same day planned for the invasion of the USSR, May 28, 1955. The invasion had such a tricky back story it was chronicled in a TIME magazine article in 1965 titled "The Day the Earth Stood Still", a reference to the famous Sci-fi movie and to all the decisions regarding this incident.
President Eisenhower and NATO generals viewed involvement in Vietnam as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam as part of their wider strategy of containment and limiting the Soviet Union to trading allies. The North Vietnamese government and National Liberation Front viewed South Vietnam as a U.S. puppet state.
NATO also faced a difficult opponent in the Viet Cong, a lightly armed South Vietnamese communist army, who used guerrilla warfare and tactics against anti-communist forces in the region. The Far East Union engaged in a more conventional war bringing large units into battle. The United States, NATO and the South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery and airstrikes.
After Eisenhower's Change
When the Vietnam broke out in the later hours of May 28, 1955, Eisenhower quickly decided to change his mind. He felt that Asia was one of the many areas in the world that needed protection from communism. Eisenhower who showed great fear in the communist domino theory, went back and forth between the two invasion plans. A day later, the CIA brought intelligence to Eisenhower and informed him that the south was a republic and the north was communist. In this timeline, the entire focus on the Cold War was more focused on spreading and funding the ideologies of each respected superpower, rather than a massive weapons build up.
After extensive calls to NATO and SEATO members, Eisenhower persuaded the leaders to begin an invasion of North Vietnam from the Gulf of Tonkin and on the North Vietnamese city of Vinh. Originally, Eisenhower wanted to invade from South Vietnam where the two countries meet at the DMZ. NATO commanders and British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden, warned Eisenhower of the dangers of invading through mainland and joked with him, "I thought (Eisenhower) would of been the one wanting to invade from the Gulf of Tonkin." Eden adds, "The South Vietnamese will be the ones invading from the south."
On April 3, 1955 at 10:12 pm (Indochina time), NATO and SEATO began routine bombing strikes on Vinh. A day later, NATO and SEATO began the invasion of Vinh.
November 6, 1955: China Returns
In the first 6 months of the conflict, the success of the NATO armies in both Korea and Vietnam prompted western media and many of the soldiers to begin to say that war should be over in the next year or so and praised President Eisenhower for his strategic invasion. At the time, the war did seem to appear to be on it's way out. With the Far East Union already placing 100,000 troops in the warring region, it was time for China to step up. Rebounding from the Korean War's defeat, China sensed an opportunity in the over-confident NATO armies. Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong in a public address stated that China will "increase the number of F.E.C.C.U. by two times." At the end of his speech, Mao gave a chilling remark, "The Western Alliance will be crushed." After Chairman Mao's speech, the western media began to slam President Eisenhower, stating that the United States and NATO should of invaded the Soviet Union instead of a meaningless country like Vietnam.
On November 6, 1955, Chinese forces began bombing raids on the NATO armies in preparation for invasion. After days of Chinese bombardment, NATO began to retreat toward South Vietnam. On November 21, 1955, China stepped up the military force from 100,000 to 200,000 soldiers.
Although retreating, NATO generals felt that they were still going to win the war. They felt that despite China's increase of soldiers, that NATO will "adapt", said by appointed United States general William Westmoreland.