The American conception of Vietnam as a cold war battleground largely ignored the struggle for social justice and national sovereignty occurring within the country. After China became a communist state in 1949, the stability of Japan became of great importance to Washington, and Japanese development required access to the markets and raw materials of Southeast Asia. This apprehension, an overestimation of American power, and an underestimation of Vietnamese communist strength locked all administrations from 1950 through the 1960
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January 1973, the United States and North Vietnam signed the Paris Peace Agreement, which provided for the withdrawal of all remaining U.S. forces from Vietnam, the return of U.S. prisoners of war, and a cease-fire.
During the decade of direct U.S. military participation in Vietnam beginning in 1964, the goal was to preserve a separate, independent, noncommunist government in South Vietnam, but after April 1975, the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam ruled the entire nation.