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The Vietnam War Years

The Vietnam War Years

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The Vietnam War Years

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  1. The Vietnam War Years Big Idea: Who Should Be Exempt From the Draft?

  2. America Supports France in Vietnam • Americas involvement in Vietnam began in 1950. • France attempted to rule in Vietnam after WWII. • Stop the Spread of Communism. • France needs the help of the U.S. • 1800- France ruled Indochina. • 1924- Ho Chi Minh • Leader of Vietnam • Created the Ho Chi Minh Communist Party. • 1940- Japanese takes over Vietnam. • Formed the Vietminh • Win Vietnam’s independence. • France Battles the Vietminh • 1945 French regained the country’s southern half. • 1950- The U.S entered the Vietnam struggle. • U.S did supply Ho Chi Minh against the Japanese in WWII. • By 1950- Viewed as a communist aggressor. • Vietminh Drive out the French. • Eisenhower declared Domino Theory. • Despite U.S aide, the French would retake Vietnam. • Geneva Accords: • Divided Vietnam into north and south. 17th Parallel. • North- Communists • South- Nationalists. • Called for elections in 1956.

  3. The United States Steps In • The French are out, U.S took a more active role. • Eisenhower and Kennedy provided economic and military aide. • Diem Cancels Elections. • Years of fighting the French made him a hero. • U.S trusted him. • U.S. provided aide in exchange for a stable government. • Diem Failed to hold up his end of the bargain. • 1957- Communists opposition group popped up. Vietcong. • Vietcong had begun attacks on the Diem government. • Assassinated thousands of government officials. • Ho Chi Minh supported the group. • 1959- began supplying Vietcong along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. • Used gorilla type warfare. • Made South Vietnam more unstable. • Eisenhower administration took little action.

  4. Kennedy vs. Johnson • Kennedy • Administration swam with Diem. • Increased financial aide to Diem’s regime. • Diem’s popularity sank. • Vietnamese people were moved to protected areas. • Many resisted. • Diem tired of Buddhism • Killed several monks and nuns. • Most of who burned themselves in public. • Diem refused to stop persecutions. • To remain stable, Diem would have to go. • November 1, 1963- Diem’s regime was toppled. • Few weeks later Kennedy was assassinated. • Johnson • Diem’s death brought more instability in South Vietnam. • August 2, 1964 • North Vietnam fired a torpedo. • The torpedo missed. • Maddox returned fire- put damage on a patrol boat. • President Johnson • Launched bombing strikes on North Vietnam • August 7 • Tonkin Gulf Resolution- Congress granted Johnson broad military powers in North Vietnam. • Johnson • Did not tell Congress or American people about secret raids. • The Maddox was there for a reason. • Feb 1965- Vietcong attack that killed 8 Americans. • June- 50,000 U.S soldiers were battling the Vietcong. • Vietnam War became Americanized.

  5. Johnson Increases U.S Involvement • Most of the nation supported Johnson to contain communism in Vietnam. • 1965- Began sending large amounts of troops. • Strong Support for Containment • Johnson opposed sending ground troops. • Johnson will speak more about containing communism. • March 1965 • McNamara and Rusk • Johnson started to send U.S. soldiers to fight. • Differences of opinion. • 1965- Johnson was supported strongly by the American Public. • End of 1965- more than 180,000 Americans were in Vietnam. • Westmoreland- Continued to send troops. • West Point Graduate • By 1967- Johnson will have 500,000 troops.

  6. Fighting in the Jungle • U.S and Superior weapons would win them a victory. • Ran into problems • Use of hit and run tactics. • Knew the land • Difficult to tell if people were friend or foe. • Had elaborate tunnels. • Land had traps and land mines. • Soldiers dealt with heat and leeches • Westmoreland • Plans were to destroy the morale • Gradual wearing down by continuous harassment. • The Vietcong saw it as a battle for their very existence, and they were ready to pay any price for victory. • The Battle for Hearts and Minds • To expose the tunnels- U.S planes dropped Napalm- would set fire to the jungles. • Sprayed Agent Orange- leaf killing toxic chemical. • Years later they would be blamed for cancers. • Used search and destroy missions. • Created refuge camps for more than 3 million people. • Sinking Morale • Guerrilla Warfare • Brutal Jungle Conditions • Took their toll • War continued- American morale dropped steadily. • Many soldiers turned to alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. • Most American soldiers • Firmly believed in their cause. • Wanted to halt the spread of communism. • Took pride in fulfilling their duty like their fathers. • The Early War at Home • War grew costly • Johnson’s domestic programs began to suffer. • Television images of American body bags. • “Living Room War” • Credibility gap • Reporting what the administration was saying and what was really happening.

  7. A Nation Divided • The Working Class Goes to War. • Most Soldiers were drafted. • Qualifications: • Age 18-26 • All registrants were screened • May have been excluded for medical reasons. • Many thought they could find ways around the draft. • Some joined the National Guard or the Coast Guard. • Many who attended universities did not need to go. • Majority of the soldiers were lower-class whites and minorities. • African Americans • Accounted for 20% combat deaths. • Representing 10 % of the U.S population. • Corrected the imbalance- Started a draft lottery system. • Race tensions rose in many platoons. • Women join the ranks. • 10,000 women served in the Vietnam War. • Most were nurses. • Delivered hospitality and entertainment to the troops. • Many of the nations youth began to voice their opposition to the war.

  8. Roots of Opposition/ Protest Movement Emerges • 1965- • Students were becoming more active socially and politically. • The New Left • Growing Youth Movement. • Students for a Democratic Society- • Voiced the demands of this new left organizations. • Free Speech Movement- • Clash with students and professors over free speech on campus’. • Campus Activism • Addressed campus issues • Dress code, curfews, dorm regulations. • 1960’s end many youth believed the nations to be in need of fundamental change. • Movement Grows • SDS marched on Washington. • Reasons for their protests: • U.S had no business being in Vietnam. • U.S can not police the whole world. • Others saw the war as morally unjust. • Antiwar movements grew beyond college campuses. • Protest to Resistance • New York Central Park • Shouting: • “Burn Cards, not people”! • “Hell, no, We won’t Go!” • War Divides the Nation • Johnson’s Administration falls apart as well. • McNamara- Secretary of Defense resigned. • 1968- Johnson’s presidency would take a dramatic turn.

  9. 1968: A Tumultuous Year • 1- The Tet Offensive Turns the War. • Lunar New Year- Tet • South Vietnam spread into the streets to celebrate. • Many held funerals. • In the Caskets were guns. • Many of the villagers were Vietcong agents. • They attacked 100 towns and 12 U.S. embassy's • This offensive lasted for a month, before U.S and S. Vietnamese forces regained control. • Vietcong lost 32,000 victims. • U.S forces lost 3,000 victims. • Tet Offensive affected the American People. • Tet Offensive was almost successful. • Credibility Gap. • Will change public opinion about the war. • 2- Days of Loss and Rage • The Vietnam War will “kill the lady I really loved-the Great Society”. • Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. • Two months later Robert Kennedy was Assassinated. • Year of 1968: • “There was a sense everywhere… that things were giving way. That People had not only lost control of their history, but might never regain it.”

  10. A Turbulent Race for President • Presidential Primary Race • Humphreys vs. McCarthy- Democrats • Nixon- Republicans • Nixon- • 1962- Lost when he ran for Governor of California. • Political career was over. • 1966- he campaigned for Republican candidates and they won back the House and Senate. • 1968- Nixon announced his candidacy for president and won the party’s nomination. • Nixon- promised to restore law and order. • He inherits Vietnam!

  11. President Nixon and Vietnamization • Nixon • Announced troop withdrawal from Vietnam. • Over the next three years Vietnam dropped from more than 500,000 to less than 25,000. • Establishing “Peace With Honor”. • Nixon bombed North Vietnam in the process. • He also bombed Laos and Cambodia • Wanted the enemy to believe he was capable of anything.

  12. Trouble Continues on the Home front • Nixon appealed to the silent majority. • Moderate, Mainstream Americans who quietly supported the U.S efforts in Vietnam. • My Lai Massacre • March 16, 1968 • U.S platoon under the command of William Calley Jr. had massacred innocent civilians in the small village. • Calley was searching for Vietcong members. • Rounded up the villagers and shot more than 200 people. • Troops were following orders. • “Fire at anything that Breathes” • Calley was convicted and imprisoned. • 1970- Mood was less explosive. • Kent State University • Massive student protest • May 4, 1970 • The Guards fired live ammunition into a crowd of campus protesters. • Gunfire wounded nine and killed four. • The Pentagon Papers • 7,000 page document • Revealed among other things. • Johnson had drawn up plans for entering the war even when President promised that he would not send troops. • The papers confirmed that the government had not been honest.

  13. America’s Longest War Ends • Peace at Hand • October 6, 1972- before the election Kissinger announced Peace is at Hand. (Vietnam War) • The Final Push • Nixon won re-election • Agreement- North Vietnam troops would stay in South Vietnam. • Nixon would respond with full force if there was any violation of the peace agreement. • U.S left March 29, 1973. • The Fall of Saigon • Cease fire with the north and south fell apart. • U.S will send aide. • North Vietnam will enter Saigon, and captured the city. • Soon after, South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam.

  14. The War Leaves a Painful Legacy • American Veterans come home • They were extended a cold hand when they came home. • 3.3 million soldiers who served had post traumatic stress syndrome. • Others began using drugs and alcohol • Built the memorial as a healing experience. • Legacy of Vietnam • Still a subject of great controversy. • War contributed to an overall cynicism among Americans. • American grew suspicious of the government and political leaders. • Watergate scandal in the mid 1970’s • Americans were looking for Kennedy’s and Eisenhower's presidency years. • Years were they felt optimism and faith.