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The Vietnam War - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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VIETNAM , 1946-75 (the 10 000 Day War ). Scott Masters Crestwood College. PHASE 1 - A WAR OF COLONIAL INDEPENDENCE AGAINST THE FRENCH Vietnam had been a French colony under the name of French Indochina (along with Cambodia and Laos)

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VIETNAM, 1946-75 (the 10 000 Day War)

Scott Masters

Crestwood College

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  • PHASE 1 - A WAR OF



  • Vietnam had been a French

    colony under the name of

    French Indochina (along with

    Cambodia and


  • Vietnam began to fight for its independence from France during WW II ( when France was preoccupied with European conflict)

  • the Vietnamese revolutionary leader was Ho Chi Minh, a Communist

  • wanted to be the leader of

    an independent, communist Vietnam; Ho received support

    from both the USSR and “Red” China

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  • this colonial war raged from 1946-54, culminating in the French defeat at Dienbienphu

  • Fr. decided it wanted out and called a peace conference in Geneva, Switzerland (attended by France, Vietnam, the US, and the USSR)

  • the decision of the conference was to partition Vietnam into a communist North led by Ho and a “democratic” South Vietnam led by Ngo Dinh Diem

  • the settlement was an outgrowth of basic Cold War tensions between the Americans and Soviets and clearly reflected the US policy of containment with respect to Soviet communist expansionism

  • the US had come to see South Vietnam as a “domino” that they couldn’t afford to lose

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  • this phase originated with

    “Ike” and JFK but was

    intensified under Lyndon

    Baines Johnson (LBJ), who

    assumed the presidency

    afterJFK’s assassination

  • The U.S. never formally

    issued a declaration of war, but

    after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident,

    where 2 American

    destroyers were apparently

    fired upon by the North

    Vietnamese, Congress

    passed the Gulf of Tonkin

    Resolutions (August 1964)

    - hereCongress gave LBJ

    their support in sending

    American personnel and materiel

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  • in spite of ongoing escalation French defeat at

    throughout the 1960s, the US

    experienced a lack of success

    against the Vietnamese

    guerrilla forces in S.

    Vietnam (the Vietcong) as the

    US Army was unprepared for

    their tactics and mentality

  • The US was also never entirely

    successful in shutting

    down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a

    supply line that ran between

    North and South Vietnam via

    difficult jungle terrain,

    often underground and

    through neighbouring nations

    like Cambodia

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  • the war definitely turned against the US in 1968, when the NVA’s General Giap began the Tet

    Offensive, a surprise offensive on a major Vietnamese holiday that saw attacks all over the country, including in Saigon itself

  • ongoing US casualties and losses saw an increase in antiwar sentiment on the American Home Front,

    in large part because Vietnam was a TV War where American audiences saw the brutality of war firsthand

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  • this included American atrocities at NVA’s General Giap began the My Lai (Lieutenant Calley)

  • they also witnessed the usage of weapons like napalm and Agent Orange, which devastated the environment

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  • as the Counterculture gathered momentum (Hippies, Flower Children, etc.), protests became widespread and began to polarize the nation

  • this was intensified after the Kent State Massacre

    • National Guardsmen opened fire on student protestors in Ohio, killing four, and by Senator William Fulbright’s (Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee) admission that the war was a “mess”

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  • increasingly the American people came to perceive the “ Children, etc.), protests became widespread and began to polarize the nationCredibility Gap”, i.e. they no longer

    believed that LBJ was telling them the truth about events in the war

  • in 1968, LBJ chose not to run for president, and Republican Richard M. Nixon was elected on a platform of “Peace with Honour”

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  • Nixon wanted the South Vietnamese to play a greater role in the war, a policy he labeled Vietnamization

  • in spite of that, he continues carpet bombing Hanoi and orders a secret invasion of Cambodia

  • He relied on the diplomacy of Henry Kissinger to achieve peace and/or an American withdrawal

  • the US does manage to extricate itself by Jan. 27, 1973

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PHASE 3 – VIETNAMESE CIVIL WAR, 1973-75 the war, a policy he labeled

  • the NVA easily defeated the South by 1975; the South had appealed to Nixon for aid, which had been promised, but by 1975 Nixon was embroiled in the domestic Watergate Crisis, and he was in essence a “lame duck”

  • 1975 – the US abandoned its embassy in Saigon, which was renamed

    Ho Chi Minh City in the newly unified and communist Vietnam