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Modern U.S. History . The End of the Vietnam War. President Nixon & the Vietnam War. Election of 1968 Richard Nixon had promised to end the war in Vietnam if he became president Henry Kissinger National Security Advisor to President Nixon

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president nixon the vietnam war
President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Election of 1968
    • Richard Nixon had promised to end the war in Vietnam if he became president
    • Henry Kissinger
      • National Security Advisor to President Nixon
      • Begins secret negotiations in 1969 with the North Vietnamese
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President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Vietnamization
    • Nixon wanted “peace with honor”
      • Wanted to remove American troops from Vietnam without embarrassing the country and avoid the appearance of defeat
    • Nixon wins the election
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President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Vietnamization
    • Nixon’s plan to gradually turn more of the fighting over to the South Vietnamese troops
    • Wanted to give South Vietnam time to create a stable (anti-communist) government
  • Troop withdrawal
    • 540,000 troops in Vietnam in 1969, only 24,000 by 1972
  • Mixed public opinion
    • Many disliked Vietnamization because it took longer to completely end America’s involvement
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Expanding the war (secretly)

While Nixon was withdrawing troops, he was also secretly expanding the war into Laos and Cambodia

Bombed Cambodia in 1969 to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh Trail

Sent American and ARVN troops into Cambodia in 1970 and into Laos in 1971 to attack North Vietnamese military bases

Renewed the bombing of North Vietnam

President Nixon & the Vietnam War
president nixon the vietnam war4
President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Nixon wanted to show the North Vietnamese that he was willing to expand the war into territories other than Vietnam
    • Also wanted them to think he was a “madman” that would do anything to stop the war
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President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Atrocities and cover-ups
    • My Lai massacre (March 1968)
      • American troops on a search-and-destroy mission entered the village of My Lai to find Vietcong troops under the command of Lieutenant William Calley
      • No Vietcong were found, but the American troops shot and killed 450 women, children, and elderly men
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President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Calley was accused of murder in September 1969 and sentenced to life in prison; he got parole in 1974
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President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Pentagon Papers
    • Secret government documents that told the history of America’s involvement in Vietnam going back to President Truman
    • Published by the New York Times in 1971
president nixon the vietnam war8
President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Pentagon Papers cont.
    • Leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, a journalist
    • Showed that the U.S. government had been misleading the public about the war
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President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • Peace talks
    • Henry Kissinger announces in 1972 (just before the election, what a coincidence) that peace is at hand
      • In reality, peace talks stalled
      • “Christmas bombing”- in December 1972, Nixon has cities in North Vietnam bombed constantly in order to get the North Vietnamese to give in to demands, doesn’t work
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President Nixon & the Vietnam War
  • January 1973
    • North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the United States reach a settlement
    • U.S. agrees to withdraw troops and help rebuild South Vietnam
    • Both sides release prisoners of war (POWs)
    • Agreement does not settle the issue of the political future of South Vietnam
vietnam post american involvement
Vietnam post-American Involvement
  • North Vietnam invades South Vietnam and takes Saigon by April 1975
    • Americans working at the embassy are airlifted out of the country
    • Some Vietnamese who were afraid of retribution (130,000) were also evacuated
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Vietnam post-American Involvement
  • April 30, 1975
    • South Vietnam surrenders to North Vietnam
    • Vietnam, after over 20 years of division, is reunited under Communism
  • Casualties
    • 185,000 South Vietnamese soldiers and 450,000 South Vietnamese civilians killed
    • About 1 million Vietcong and NVA killed
impact of the vietnam war on southeast asia
Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • Domino theory
    • U.S. fear that if Vietnam becomes communist, other Southeast countries will follow, comes true
      • Cambodia and Laos both become Communist after 1975
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Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • In Cambodia, a communist group called the Khmer Rouge takes power in 1975
    • Formerly supported by the North Vietnamese, had allowed the NVA to set up camps along Cambodia’s border
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Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge
    • Capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is evacuated and people are sent to work camps known as the “killing fields”
    • Leader of the Khmer Rouge is Pol Pot (known as Brother No. 1)
      • Brother No. 1 wanted to create a society free of all social institutions and become a totally agrarian society
impact of the vietnam war on southeast asia3
Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • "What is rotten must be removed”
    • Pol Pot began an extermination program that eliminated anyone who didn’t fit in with his new society, intellectuals, businessmen, Buddhists and foreigners were all killed
  • 1-2 million people were killed before Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1979 and defeated the Khmer Rouge
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Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • The Khmer Rouge was led by Pol Pot as an insurgent group until he died in 1998; he never faced any charges
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Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • Hmong involvement in the Vietnam War
    • Laos was supposed to be neutral in the Vietnam War, but it was also divided between Communism and anti-Communism
      • Royal Lao Army- trained and supported by the U.S.
      • The Pathet Lao- backed by the Soviet Union
    • Ho Chi Minh Trail
      • The trail went through the Laotian mountains, home of the Hmong
      • U.S. couldn’t use ground troops in Laos because Laos was neutral
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Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • CIA secretly begins “Operation Momentum”
    • CIA convinced the Hmong people that they would be invaded and conquered by the Vietnamese
    • CIA promises to help the Hmong people if they help the American troops fight the Vietnamese in Laos
    • 30,000 Hmong troops begin fighting a ground war for the U.S.
impact of the vietnam war on southeast asia7
Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • Mission of the “secret army” under General Vang Pao (1960s)
    • Cut off supply lines on the Ho Chi Minh Trail
    • Guide U.S. bombing missions
    • Rescue U.S. pilots who had been shot down
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Impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia
  • After the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam
    • Laos becomes of communist country in 1975
    • Hmong people who had supported the U.S. were killed
    • Laotian government newspaper in 1975 says "We must eradicate the Hmong minority completely."
    • Thousands of Hmong people fled to Thailand and other sympathetic countries
impact of the vietnam war in the united states
Impact of the Vietnam War in the United States
  • Veterans
    • Casualties
      • 58,000 Americans killed in Vietnam, 300,000 wounded
      • 600 POWs, many were held in North Vietnamese prisons and tortured for years before they were released
      • Agent Orange- exposure to chemical weapons caused cancer and other diseases in many soldiers
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder
      • Caused nightmares, violent behavior, flashbacks
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Impact of the Vietnam War in the United States
  • Political impact
    • U.S. spent $150 billion in its failed attempt to prevent the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia
    • War Powers Act 1973
      • Reaffirmed Congress’ constitutional right to declare war
      • Presidents can’t commit U.S. troops to foreign conflict for more than 60 days without authorization from Congress or a declaration of war