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Vietnam War – Part I. French Reoccupation to JFK. French Indo-China. French Indo-China (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) had been part of the French Empire since the late 19 th century

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Vietnam war part i

Vietnam War – Part I

French Reoccupation to JFK

French indo china
French Indo-China

  • French Indo-China (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) had been part of the French Empire since the late 19th century

  • During the mid-1930s, serious disturbances took place under the leadership of Communists because of the World War and Depression

  • During WWII, Japan occupied the country

French indo china1
French Indo-China

  • The League for the Independence of Vietnam, known as the Viet Minh, was organized in 1941 in order to resist occupation

  • It was led by Ho Chi Minh and the Communists

  • They were armed by the Americans to fight the Japanese

  • Ho Chi Minh,1945

French indo china2
French Indo-China

  • In the areas they controlled, the Viet Minh:

    • Relieved a famine by commandeering the supplies hoarded by wealthy profiteers to put the price of food up

    • Ending high rents and high interest rates on loans

    • Redistributed land

    • Gained popularity among peasants

French indo china3
French Indo-China

  • On the surrender of the Japanese, Chinese troops occupied the north and British the south

  • On 2 September 1945, after Emperor Bao Dai's abdication, Ho Chí Minh read the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam

French indo china4
French Indo-China

  • The British handed over Indo-China to the French

  • In November 1946, the French ordered Ho Chi Minh’s government to leave Hanoi

  • When they refused, the French bombarded Hanoi and Haiphong, killing 6,000

  • Ho and the Viet Minh were forced into a war for independence

  • The French, wishing to keep control of the rice and rubber of the south, set up Bo Dai as leader of a puppet government

French indo china5
French Indo-China

  • The Viet Minh fought a guerilla war against the French

  • The Communist Chinese supported the Viet Minh with arms and equipment

  • The Eisenhower Administration began to help the French with money, equipment, and “advisers”

  • By 1954, the U.S. had supplied 300,000 small arms and spent $1 billion in support of the French military effort and was shouldering 80 percent of the cost of the war.

  • The Vietminh received crucial support from the Soviet Union and China. Chinese support in the Border Campaign of 1950 allowed supplies to come from China into Vietnam.

French indo china6
French Indo-China

  • By 1954, the French had lost control of the countryside

  • The French were decisively defeated in 1954 when a French army was surrounded and forced to surrender in a 50-day siege in Dien Bien Phu

  • Wounded French Legionnaire during the siege at Dien Bien Phu

Reasons for the french defeat
Reasons for the French Defeat

  • Ho and the Viet Minh had the support of the people

  • The Viet Minh were masters of guerilla warfare

  • From 1950, the Viet Minh were supplied by China

  • The French were war-weary and failed to run the war effectively

  • The French were experiencing problems in other parts of the world

Significance of the indo china war
Significance of the Indo-China War

  • The war was seen by the Americans as a proxy war:

    • Ho Chi Minh was the Soviets

    • French were the Americans

Geneva peace conference
Geneva Peace Conference

  • 1954 a peace conference was convened in Geneva Switzerland. USSR, UK, France, USA, China, and Indo-China

  • The terms of the Geneva Agreement of 1954 were:

    • Laos and Cambodia were to be independent

    • Vietnam was to be temporarily divided into two states at the 17th parallel

      • Ho Chin Minh’s government was recognized in the north

      • An American puppet regime under Ngo Dinh Diem was set up in the south

    • In 1956, elections were to be held throughout Vietnam, after which it was to be united

Problems in laos
Problems In Laos

  • Once Laos was freed from the French in 1954, the Eisenhower administration flooded money to the country to prevent communism from taking a foothold (can you say- Marshall Plan)

  • The U.S. feared that if communism was present in Laos, it would spread to neighboring countries (domino effect)

  • A Laotian civil war raged, and Kennedy considered sending in American troops

  • He decided that he had insufficient forces to send to Laos and keep a significant number in Europe

  • A 14-power Geneva conference ended the fighting in 1962

Flexible response
Flexible Response

  • Kennedy wanted an alternative policy to Eisenhower’s New Look and massive retaliation

  • Kennedy didn’t like that in a crisis, he had the options of humiliation or nuclear incineration (i.e. massive retaliation)

  • With Defense Secretary McNamara, he pushed the strategy of “flexible response,” developing an array of military options that depended on the gravity of the crisis at hand

Flexible response1
Flexible Response

  • Part of the strategy meant being able to fight multiple wars simultaneously; specifically, the US should have the peacetime capability to fight two large regional wars and a small brushfire war at the same time.

  • Kennedy increased spending on conventional military forces and bolstered the Special Forces (Green Berets) – an elite anti-guerrilla group trained to survive on anything and kill efficiently

  • Consequences of “Flexible Response”

    • Made it easier to engage militarily, lowered the level at which diplomacy would give way to shooting

    • Provided a mechanism for a progressive and endless increase of the use of force

    • Increase recruiting, investment, and research for the US force posture

Lack of support for diem
Lack of Support for Diem

  • Since Ngo Dinh Diem had begun ruling South Vietnam in 1954, he lacked support:

    • He imprisoned government critics

    • Nepotism, filled government positions with members of his own family

    • U.S. money that was supposed to go to economic reforms went to the military and corrupt officials

Lack of support for diem1
Lack of Support for Diem

  • Broke the Geneva agreement by not holding elections

  • The U.S. continued to supported him, since they expected that Ho would win any genuine elections

  • Diem was a Catholic in a largely Buddhist country

  • He was seen as an American puppet

  • He blocked demands for land reform, which was being carried out in the north under Ho

June 11, 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam, burned himself to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon to bring attention to the repressive policies of the Catholic Diem regime that controlled the South Vietnamese government at the time. Photograph by Malcolm Browne.

National liberation front nlf
National Liberation Front (NLF)

  • In 1960, groups formed the NLF in south Vietnam, known as the Viet Cong (VC) to the Americans

  • VC was composed of some former Vietminh and “regroupees” Communist from north that settled in south

  • Demanded a democratic coalition government which would negotiate a peaceful union of Vietnam

  • When this was refused, a guerilla war began in the south, waged by the Viet Cong (VC)

Attempting to gain support
Attempting to Gain Support

  • America tried to involve her allies in the effort to maintain the Republic of Vietnam. Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the Philippines sent troops

  • Local peasants were moved into “fortified villages” where they could be controlled by the ARVN (South Vietnamese Army). They were, in effect, concentration camps

  • By 1963, Kennedy had ordered 15,000 American men and equipment to Vietnam

  • Kennedy realized that Diem would never reform

  • The Kennedy administration told the South Vietnamese military that they wouldn’t object to a coup

Military government
Military Government

  • Diem was overthrown by the ARVN generals and murdered on 11/2/1963

  • The new military government in South Vietnam was in trouble

  • The ruling generals bickered among themselves and failed to direct the South Vietnamese army effectively

  • Nguyen Van Thieu survived the longest (1967-1975)

Viet cong gain territory and support
Viet Cong Gain Territory and Support

  • Meanwhile, the Viet Cong gained control of more territory and earned the loyalty of an increasing number of South Vietnamese

  • Ho Chi Minh and the North Vietnamese aided the Viet Cong throughout the struggle