UNITED STATES HISTORY AND THE CONSTITUTION. South Carolina Standard USHC-8.3 Mr. Hoover Abbeville High School. Questions to Answer. Why did the development of the war in Vietnam impact American government and politics? What was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution?
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UNITED STATES HISTORY AND THE CONSTITUTION South Carolina Standard USHC-8.3 Mr. Hoover Abbeville High School
Questions to Answer • Why did the development of the war in Vietnam impact American government and politics? • What was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? • How did the policies of the Johnson administration, protests and opposition to the war, the role of the media led to a new culture? • What were the policies of the Nixon administration, and how did the growing credibility gap led to the Watergate scandal?
Containment Policy • The Vietnam War provided another issue that split conservatives and liberals in the post-World War II era. • The war in Vietnam developed as a result of Cold War fears and was a manifestation of the containment policy.
French lose to Ho Chi Minh • After World War II, the French attempted to restore their control of Southeast Asia. • However, they met with resistance from the nationalist forces, the Viet Minh, under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh. • Despite American aid from both the Truman and the Eisenhower administrations, including arms and money, the French were defeated.
The Geneva Accords • The Geneva Accords provided that Vietnam be divided at the 17th parallel until elections could be held. • Claiming that the followers of Ho Chi Minh were communists directed from Moscow and Beijing and citing the domino theory, the United States backed an unpopular and corrupt government in South Vietnam.
Beginnings of the Viet Cong • The South Vietnamese government refused to hold the elections called for in the Geneva Accords because Ho Chi Minh would have won and the Eisenhower administration supported the South Vietnamese government in this decision. • The Viet Cong were formed as a resistance movement to the South Vietnamese government.
Military aid, Military advisers • The United States supplied military aid and military advisers to the government of South Vietnam. • North Vietnam supplied support to the Viet Cong. • Determined to contain communism in the wake of the failed attempt to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro [Bay of Pigs], Kennedy steadily increased the number of military advisers sent to South Vietnam.
CIA • The South Vietnamese support in the government continued to erode. • A CIA-supported coup overthrew the corrupt president of South Vietnam, who was assassinated, shortly before President Kennedy was assassinated.
Gulf of Tonkin • President Johnson took office in November 1963 and continued the policies of previous administrations in Vietnam. • In 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident led Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which authorized the buildup of American troops to help the South Vietnam without the specific authorization by Congress.
U.S. Troop Build Up • Congress never officially declared war. • Later, the Tonkin Gulf incident was shown to have been exaggerated. • Not wanting to lose the war for fear of being called “soft on communism” by his conservative opponents, Johnson initiated a bombing campaign against North Vietnam and continued to send more ground troops to the region. • By 1967, there were 500,000 American troops in Vietnam.
Poor Man’s Fight • Opposition to the war also grew. • The Vietnam War was seen as a “poor man’s fight.” • The draft was seen as unfair because some young men were granted medical exemptions and college deferments or enlisted in the National Guard to avoid going to Vietnam. • African Americans served in large numbers as ground troops.
Burning of Draft Cards • Organizations which had formed in response to McCarthyism and the Civil Rights Movement turned their attention to the war. • Some returning soldiers joined the protest. • As protests became more provocative, including the burning of draft cards, protesters lost public support. • Extensive television coverage of the war and the protests divided the nation into hawks and doves.
Tet Offensive • In January of 1968, media coverage of the Tet Offensive showed that the Viet Cong forces could attack anywhere and anytime, thus leading to a shift in public opinion against the war.
LBJ Withdraws From Reelection • Public opposition and a split within the Democratic Party over the war led Lyndon Johnson to withdraw his name from consideration for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 and begin negotiations to end the conflict.
President Richard M. Nixon • Republican Richard Nixon was elected president in November of 1968 and voters understood that he would end the war. • However, Richard Nixon was unable to admit that the war in Vietnam could not be won.
Laos and Cambodia • Although Nixon began a policy of Vietnamization, at the same time, despite public expectations, he escalated the war effort by extending a secret, massive bombing campaign to Laos and Cambodia.
Peace March • Protests continued with a massive peace march in Washington. • When the Nixon administration ended the draft and initiated a lottery system, the protest movement was somewhat calmed but intensified again when American forces invaded Cambodia to close the Ho Chi Minh trail. • Resulting protests led to the Kent State Massacre.
China and USSR • Nixon opened a dialogue with China in hopes of undermining Chinese support for the North Vietnamese. • He also followed a policy of detente with the Soviet Union in hopes of splitting these two powerful communist countries.
Prisoners of War, POWs • On the eve of the 1972 elections, the Nixon administration announced that they had reached an agreement with North Vietnam. • American forces were withdrawn and American prisoners of war (POW) returned home in 1973. • In 1975, Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese and the war was over. • The containment policy had failed in Southeast Asia.
Agent Orange • It is important for students to understand that Vietnam is bigger than the failed war effort and the loss of 58,000 American soldiers. • It was a cultural phenomenon that called into question American values in the My Lai Massacre, the use of Agent Orange and napalm, ‘fragging’ and heavy use of drugs among the troops, and the mistreatment of returning veterans.
The Pentagon Papers • It led to distrust between generations and between the people and their government. • Evidence of false information was confirmed by the release of The Pentagon Papers and increased the ‘credibility gap.’ • Ultimately, it was the controversy over Vietnam that led the Nixon administration to employ the ‘plumbers’ and authorize the break-in into the Watergate offices of the Democratic Party.
Watergate • The break-in led to the Watergate scandal, impeachment hearings, and Nixon’s resignation and further mistrust of government. • Vietnam affected government power and foreign policy. • The Congress took action to curb the President’s war-making powers with the passage of the War Powers Act.
Vietnam syndrome • The ‘Vietnam syndrome,’ or the fear of becoming mired in a prolonged unpopular war, affected United States’ foreign policy for the next several decades.