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America and Vietnam. The Early Years. Background. Long history of foreign powers ruling Vietnam : Chinese, Japanese, French French Indochina= Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Background. Vietnamese Nationalism Attempts to fight for independence against colonial governments Ho Chi Minh

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America and vietnam

America and Vietnam

The Early Years


  • Long history of foreign powers ruling

    Vietnam: Chinese, Japanese, French

    • French Indochina= Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam


  • Vietnamese Nationalism

    • Attempts to fight for independence against colonial governments

    • Ho Chi Minh

      • Presented petition for independence to Versailles Peace Conference in 1919- denied

      • Visited USSR, became communist

      • Set up Indochinese Communist Party in Southeast Asia

      • Vietminh (1941)- nationalist group to expel Japanese

      • US sent aid to Vietminh

Supporting the french
Supporting the French

  • Japanese surrender in 1945

  • Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnam independent

  • French troops return to reclaim colony- fight the Vietminh

  • Fighting escalates French ask US for help

    • US opposes colonialism + communism= difficult position

  • China falls to Communism + Korean War= Truman sends aid to French in Vietnam

    • Containment

    • Domino Theory- if Vietnam falls to Communism, the rest of Southeast Asia will fall

Dien bien phu
Dien Bien Phu

  • French troops frustrated by guerrillas

    • Guerrilla warfare- hit-and-run and ambush tactics by troop who blend in to the civilian population

  • French attempt to take-over mountain town of Dien Bien Phu

    • Cut off Vietminh supply lines

    • Vietminh forces surround Dien Bien Phu

    • May 7, 1954, French are defeated, withdraw from Indochina

Geneva accords
Geneva Accords

  • Peace negotiations

  • Vietnam divided along 17th Parallel

    • Ho Chi Minh and Vietminh control North Vietnam (Communist)

    • US as protector of new government, led by Ngo Dinh Diem (anti-Communist)

  • Plans for 1956 election to reunite Vietnam

  • Cambodia and Laos independent

Geneva accords1
Geneva Accords

  • French troops leave Indochina

  • Diem becomes president of Republic of South Vietnam

    • Refused to permit 1956 election due to fear of Ho Chi Minh winning

    • Eisenhower approves, increases aid to South Vietnam (SEATO)


Ngo Dinh Diem refuses to hold elections and cracks down on communist groups in South Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh + nationalists begin armed struggle to reunify Vietnam

Vietcong- guerrilla army of South Vietnamese Communists


  • Fighting between Vietcong and South Vietnamese troops

    • Eisenhower sends “military advisers” to train South Vietnam’s army

  • Vietcong grows  many Vietnamese oppose Diem

  • Vietcong Terrorism

    • Assassinate thousands of government


    • Control countryside

  • Diem needed more help from US

Kennedy and vietnam
Kennedy and Vietnam

  • During his presidency,

    Kennedy increased troops in Vietnam

    • 2,000 15,000

  • Diem failed to take US suggestions to create democracy

    • Diem unpopular and corrupt

    • Introduced some reforms

      • Strategic Hamlets- villages protected by machine guns, bunkers, trenches, and barbed wire

      • Extremely unpopular

Opposition to diem
Opposition to Diem

  • Diem (Catholic) discriminated against Buddhists

    • Banned traditional religious flags

    • Protests  9 protestors killed, 14 injured

    • Buddhist monks poured gasoline on himself and lit themselves on fire

      • Horrified Americans

      • Demonstrated extreme opposition to Diem

Opposition to diem1
Opposition to Diem

  • Military coup to overthrow Diem (November 1, 1963)

    • Executed him

      • Made South Vietnam’s government weak and unstable

      • America has to take heavier role in order to maintain stability

      • Three weeks later Kennedy is assassinated