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The Vietnam War. US History. The Root of the Problem. Ho Chi Minh Declares indep. from Japan – 1941 Communism would be the path By 1945 – 5,000 soldiers anchor North Vietnam French given control of Indochina (1946) Truman backs the French Containment policy = $2.6 billion.

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The vietnam war

The Vietnam War

US History


The root of the problem
The Root of the Problem

  • Ho Chi Minh

    • Declares indep. from Japan – 1941

    • Communism would be the path

    • By 1945 – 5,000 soldiers anchor North Vietnam

  • French given control of Indochina (1946)

    • Truman backs the French

    • Containment policy = $2.6 billion


The root of the problem1
The Root of the Problem

  • Geneva Accords (May 1954)

    • Vietnam divided along 17th Parallel

    • French agree to leave abandon South Vietnam

      • Ho & Vietminh – victorious at Dien Bien Phu

    • National Elections to reunify (1956)

    • US refuses to sign

      • Eisenhower announces Domino Theory as justification


The root of the problem2
The Root of the Problem

  • US backs Diem (1954)

    • Send another $1 billion during Eisenhower’s Admin.

    • Diem cancels promised Geneva elections

  • Vietcong rise up against Diem, demand

    • Reunification with North Vietnam

    • Economic reform

  • JFK expands the US’s role in Vietnam

    • Advisors, weapons & technology sent

    • Increased civil unrest

    • Agrees to assassination of Diem (Aug. 1963)


Hey hey lbj how many kids you kill today
“Hey, hey LBJ – How many kids you kill today?”

  • LBJ – “I’m not going to be the president who saw SE Asia go the way China went.”

  • Gulf of Tonkin Resolutions (Aug. 1964)

    • Fearful Congress gives LBJ unlimited control

  • Operation Rolling Thunder (Feb. 1965)

    • Vietcong attack US military based

    • Offensive strategy into North Vietnam

      • Air raids: military bases, Ho Chi Minh Trail, villages

    • Three continuous years


Hey hey lbj how many kids you kill today1
“Hey, hey LBJ – How many kids you kill today?”

  • Gen. W. Westmoreland & US Marines

    • Ordered to Vietnam (March 1965)

    • LBJ: “Peace on the Horizon”

  • Optimism results in Overconfidence

    • Success different in Vietnam

      • # of Vietcong killed misconception

      • Territory gained insignificant

    • Ho’s Philosophy

      • “You can kill 10 of my men for every 1 I kill of yours, but even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.”


Hey hey lbj how many kids you kill today2
“Hey, hey LBJ – How many kids you kill today?”

  • A different type of war

    • Operation Rolling Thunder

      • Why – less causalties

      • Results: 108,000 air raids in 1967 alone

      • More bombs in 3 years than in all of WW II

    • Ground Offensive

      • Search & Destroy Missions

      • Guerilla Tactics

      • Pacification Program - backfires


Hey hey lbj how many kids you kill today3
“Hey, hey LBJ – How many kids you kill today?”

  • 1968 – Things Getting Worse

    • Contrary to Gen. Westmoreland’s Speech

    • Ho, Vietminh & Vietcong launch Tet Offensive

      • Tet = Jan. 20, 1968 – Vietnamese New Year

      • Communists strike military & civilian targets

      • 100 South Vietnam cities & 12 US bases attacked

    • US uses brute force to counter

      • Huge casualties

        • 33,000 – VC

        • 16,000 – US & Allies

      • “We had to destroy the village to save it.”


Criticism begins to mount
Criticism Begins to Mount

  • Media

    • First war in which the media was on the front lines

    • Evolution

      • 1962-3: Diem great leader, We’re stopping communism

      • Walter Cronkite (CBS) – 1968

        • “What the hell is going on? I thought we were winning the war! It seems no more than ever that Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.”

        • LBJ: “If we’ve lost Walter, we’ve lost Mr. Average Citizen.”

    • My Lai Massacre (March 1968 – November 1969)

      • Reporters uncover senseless execution of 350 Vietnamese

    • Editorials call for settlement & withdrawal


Criticism begins to mount1
Criticism Begins to Mount

  • Students Protest

    • SDS – Students for a Democratic Society

      • “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed in universities, looking uncomfortably on the nation we now inherit.”

      • April 1965 – March on Washington – 20,000 students

    • Deferment, Consciences Objectors & Draft Dodgers


Criticism begins to mount2
Criticism Begins to Mount

  • LBJ’s approval rating – 26%

    • Euguen McCarthy & Robert Kennedy challenge LBJ for President

    • March 31: “I’ve decided that I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as our President.”

    • Same Speech

      • Will limit bombing

      • Seek Negotiations

      • Westmoreland has asked for 200,000 more troops

      • Other Generals counter – “No amount of troops will help.”


Johnson s war becomes nixon s war
Johnson’s War Becomes Nixon’s War

  • Nixon narrowly defeats H.H. Humphrey (VP)

  • New Philosophy: Vietnamization

    • Train & equip S. Vietnamese to replace US Soldiers

    • Nixon Doctrine: no more troops, just $ and weapons

  • Withdrawal Begins (Nov. 1969)

    • 60,000 troops return home

    • Plan – 400,000 to evacuate in next 3 years

  • Escalation

    • Madman Theory: secretly orders more bombings

    • Carrot & Stick Policy: sending troops to Cambodia & Laos


Johnson s war becomes nixon s war1
Johnson’s War Becomes Nixon’s War

  • Students Rise-up Again (May 1970)

    • Kent State

      • Students protest at ROTC – not so civil

      • Governor calls in National Guard to disperse students

      • National Guard fires into the student protesters

        • 4 killed, 9 wounded

    • Jackson State

      • All black school in Mississippi

      • 1 week after Kent State

      • National Guard called in b/c of vandalism in the city

      • Confrontation results in 2 killed & 12 wounded


Johnson s war becomes nixon s war2
Johnson’s War Becomes Nixon’s War

  • Nixon continues “Diplomacy through Terror”

    • Christmas Bombings (Dec. 1972)

  • January 1973 – Peace Talks

    • South Vietnamese President Thieu signs

      cease-fire with the Vietcong

    • US to provide $1 Billion in military aid and will respond will full force if cease-fire violated

    • March 1973 – last US troops exit Vietnam

  • March 1975 – Vietcong launch offensive

    • Saigon falls by April

    • US does nothing, dealing with aftermath of Watergate (Ford)


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