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VIETNAM WAR EVIDENCE. CWA Prompt: What factors contributed most to the American Defeat in Vietnam. Students will categorize these pieces of evidence around the room Reasons for going to the war Reasons why we lost Details and background of the war. The Domino Theory.

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vietnam war evidence


CWA Prompt: What factors contributed most to the American Defeat in Vietnam


Students will categorize these pieces of evidence around the room

  • Reasons for going to the war
  • Reasons why we lost
  • Details and background of the war
the domino theory
The Domino Theory
  • American policymakers developed the “Domino Theory” as a justification for the involvement. This theory stated, “If South Vietnam falls to the Communist, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, India and Pakistan would also fall like dominos. The Pacific Islands and even Australia could be at risk”.  
longest and most unpopular war
Longest and Most Unpopular War
  • The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular war in American history. During the war:
    • 58,000 Americans lost their lives.
      • The oldest man killed was 62 years old; the youngest, 16.
      • 61% of the men killed were 21 or younger.
    • 304,000 were wounded.
    • 75,000 were severely disabled.
    • The United States spent over $200 billion dollars on the war.

The Vietnam War cost the United States 58,000 lives and 350,000 casualties. It also resulted in between one and two million Vietnamese deaths.

buddhist self immolations
Buddhist Self-Immolations
  • Diem's brother, Ngo DinhNhu, had raided the Buddhist pagodas of South Vietnam, claiming that they had harbored the Communists that were creating the political instability.
  • The result was massive protests on the streets of Saigon that led Buddhist monks to self-immolation.
  • The pictures of the monks engulfed in flames made world headlines and causedconsternin Washington about supporting Diem
phosphorous napalm bombs
Phosphorous & Napalm Bombs
  • “Operation Rolling Thunder” was backed up by phosphorous and napalm bombs – the latter causing dreadful burns to thousand of innocent civilians.
operation ranch hand
Operation Ranch Hand
  • When this failed to break down the jungle cover the USAF started “Operation Ranch Hand” – the defoliation program, using Agent Orange.
    • This deadly chemical cocktail, containing dioxin, killed off millions of acres of jungle to try to weaken the Vietcong – but left a horrendous legacy in Vietnam.
    • The dioxin got into the food chain causing chromosome damage to humans. There were hundreds of cases of children born with deformities.
north vietnamese tactics
North Vietnamese Tactics
  • In areas held by the NLF, the Communists distributed the land to the peasants. (By 1973, the NLF held about half of South Vietnam.)
  • Their weapons were cheap and reliable.
  • The AK47 assault rifle out-performed the American M16
  • The portable rocket launcher took out many US vehicles & aircraft.
  • They recycleddud bombs dropped by the Americans. Deadly booby-traps could inflict huge damage on young American conscripts!
search destroy tactics
Search & Destroy Tactics
  • The United States countered with “Search and Destroy” tactics. In areas where the NLF were thought to be operating, troops went in and checked for weapons. If they found them,
  • they rounded up the villagers and burned the villages down.
  • This often alienated the peasants from the American/South Vietnamese cause.
    • As one marine said – “If they weren’t Vietcong before we got there, they sure as hell were by the time we left”.
    • The NFL often helped the villager’s re-build their homes and bury their dead.
december 1961 white paper
December 1961 White Paper
  • In 1961, President Kennedy sent a team to Vietnam to report on conditions in the South and to assess future American aid requirements.
  • The report, known as the "December 1961 White Paper," argued for:
  • An increase in military, technical, and economic aid
  • The introduction of large-scale American "advisers" to help stabilize the Diem regime and crush the Viet Cong.
the war in america
The War in America
  • The Vietnam War had a major impact on everyday life in America, and the Johnson administration was forced to consider domestic consequences of its decisions daily.
  • Since there were not enough volunteers to continue to fight a protracted war, the government instituted a draft.
anti war sentiments
Anti-War Sentiments
  • As the deaths mounted and Americans continued to leave for Southeast Asia, the Johnson administration was met with the full weight of American anti-war sentiments.
the my lai massacre
The My Lai Massacre
  • A serious blow to U.S. credibility came with the exposure of the My Lai massacre (March 1968).
  • Hushed up at the time and only discovered by a tenacious journalist, this involved the killing of 400 men, women and children by US troops. 
the tet offensive
The Tet Offensive
  • By 1968, things had gone from bad to worse for the Johnson administration. In late January, North Vietnam and the NLF launched coordinated attacks against major southern cities.
  • These attacks, known as the Tet Offensive, were designed to force the Johnson administration to the bargaining table.
kent state
Kent State
  • At Kent State in Ohio, four students were killed by National Guardsmen who were called out to preserve order on campus after days of anti-Nixon, Anti-War protest.
jackson state
Jackson State
  • Shock waves crossed the nation as students at Jackson State in Mississippi were also shot and killed for political reasons, prompting one mother to cry, "They are killing our babies in Vietnam and in our own backyard."
1. The Vietnam War cost the United States 58,000 lives and 350,000 casualties. It also resulted in between one and two million Vietnamese deaths.
  • 2. Congress enacted the War Powers Act in 1973, requiring the president to receive explicit Congressional approval before committing American forces overseas.
nixon s vietnamization speech
Nixon’s Vietnamization Speech
  • Why and how did the United States become involved in Vietnam in the first place?
  • Fifteen years ago North Vietnam, with the logistical support of Communist China and the Soviet Union, launched a campaign to impose a Communist government on South Vietnam by instigating and supporting a revolution.
  • In response to the request of the Government of South Vietnam, President Eisenhower sent economic aid and military equipment to assist the people of South Vietnam in their efforts to prevent a Communist takeover. Seven years ago, President Kennedy sent 16,000 military personnel to Vietnam as combat advisers. Four years ago, President Johnson sent American combat forces to South Vietnam.
  • Now, many believe that President Johnson's decision to send American combat forces to South Vietnam was wrong. Any many others I among them have been strongly critical of the way the war has been conducted.