Date of Award


Document Type



Political Science

First Reader



Few chapters in American history have been filled with more importance and had more impact upon this nation politically, socially and morally than has the era of active involvement in the land war in Vietnam, during the mid 1960's. The war has taken almost 50,000 American lives, has contributed directly to the political end of one American President and had plunged the United States into an ordeal of examination and internal turmoil rarely seen in U.S. history.

As great as the impact of this war has been, it is remarkable that little is recalled by American citizens or acknowledged by the government, of its roots in the mid 1950's. Little is remembered of the great conferences of 1954-55, which sought to bring some peace and political order to Southeast Asia. Rarely has the United Stated government presented a factual comparison of our massive involvement in South Vietnam and the two legal documents which have done most to shape Southeast Asia in the last twenty years.

This paper will examine these two documents, The 1954 Geneva Accords and the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, commonly referred to as the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty, as they relate to American policy in Vietnam. Although this paper will center on these two documents, it will deal in a less extensive manner with other events, documents and "commitments", which necessarily are intertwined with the two documents already mentioned.

This paper is concerned with the legality not the morality of the involvement of the United State in Vietnam and it is concerned with those events which have a bearing on its legality as it is related to the two documents.



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