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America and Vietnam. The Early Years. Background. Long history of foreign powers ruling Vietnam : Chinese, Japanese, French French Indochina= Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Background. Vietnamese Nationalism Attempts to fight for independence against colonial governments Ho Chi Minh

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america and vietnam

America and Vietnam

The Early Years

  • Long history of foreign powers ruling

Vietnam: Chinese, Japanese, French

    • French Indochina= Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam
  • Vietnamese Nationalism
    • Attempts to fight for independence against colonial governments
    • Ho Chi Minh
      • Presented petition for independence to Versailles Peace Conference in 1919- denied
      • Visited USSR, became communist
      • Set up Indochinese Communist Party in Southeast Asia
      • Vietminh (1941)- nationalist group to expel Japanese
      • US sent aid to Vietminh
supporting the french
Supporting the French
  • Japanese surrender in 1945
  • Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnam independent
  • French troops return to reclaim colony- fight the Vietminh
  • Fighting escalates French ask US for help
    • US opposes colonialism + communism= difficult position
  • China falls to Communism + Korean War= Truman sends aid to French in Vietnam
    • Containment
    • Domino Theory- if Vietnam falls to Communism, the rest of Southeast Asia will fall
dien bien phu
Dien Bien Phu
  • French troops frustrated by guerrillas
    • Guerrilla warfare- hit-and-run and ambush tactics by troop who blend in to the civilian population
  • French attempt to take-over mountain town of Dien Bien Phu
    • Cut off Vietminh supply lines
    • Vietminh forces surround Dien Bien Phu
    • May 7, 1954, French are defeated, withdraw from Indochina
geneva accords
Geneva Accords
  • Peace negotiations
  • Vietnam divided along 17th Parallel
    • Ho Chi Minh and Vietminh control North Vietnam (Communist)
    • US as protector of new government, led by Ngo Dinh Diem (anti-Communist)
  • Plans for 1956 election to reunite Vietnam
  • Cambodia and Laos independent
geneva accords1
Geneva Accords
  • French troops leave Indochina
  • Diem becomes president of Republic of South Vietnam
    • Refused to permit 1956 election due to fear of Ho Chi Minh winning
    • Eisenhower approves, increases aid to South Vietnam (SEATO)

Ngo Dinh Diem refuses to hold elections and cracks down on communist groups in South Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh + nationalists begin armed struggle to reunify Vietnam

Vietcong- guerrilla army of South Vietnamese Communists

  • Fighting between Vietcong and South Vietnamese troops
    • Eisenhower sends “military advisers” to train South Vietnam’s army
  • Vietcong grows  many Vietnamese oppose Diem
  • Vietcong Terrorism
    • Assassinate thousands of government


    • Control countryside
  • Diem needed more help from US
kennedy and vietnam
Kennedy and Vietnam
  • During his presidency,

Kennedy increased troops in Vietnam

    • 2,000 15,000
  • Diem failed to take US suggestions to create democracy
    • Diem unpopular and corrupt
    • Introduced some reforms
      • Strategic Hamlets- villages protected by machine guns, bunkers, trenches, and barbed wire
      • Extremely unpopular
opposition to diem
Opposition to Diem
  • Diem (Catholic) discriminated against Buddhists
    • Banned traditional religious flags
    • Protests  9 protestors killed, 14 injured
    • Buddhist monks poured gasoline on himself and lit themselves on fire
      • Horrified Americans
      • Demonstrated extreme opposition to Diem
opposition to diem1
Opposition to Diem
  • Military coup to overthrow Diem (November 1, 1963)
    • Executed him
      • Made South Vietnam’s government weak and unstable
      • America has to take heavier role in order to maintain stability
      • Three weeks later Kennedy is assassinated