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The Domino Theory. Vietnam guiding question - Did the war in Vietnam represent a triumph or failure of American foreign policy? . The United States tried to do all they could to contain the communist invasion.

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The Domino Theory

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the domino theory

The Domino Theory


guiding question - Did the war in Vietnam represent a triumph or failure of American foreign policy?


The United States tried to do all they could to contain the communist invasion.

President Eisenhower outlines the Domino Theory: "You have a row of dominoes set up. You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly."


Eisenhower 1953-1961 --Eisenhower was the first president to go head first into the Vietnam conflicts.

  • Kennedy 1961-1963 --he had a new team to investigate the conditions in South Vietnam.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969--This was the president in office when the Gulf of Tonkin attack occurred.
  • French leave Vietnam
  • The U.S. take over training of South Vietnamese officials
  • Communists also begin training in South Vietnam. (UH OH!)
  • Later in 1959, weapons begin moving along Ho Chi Minh Trail

The Vietnam War

  • At Geneva Peace Conference, Vietnam was divided at 17 N parallel.
  • North Vietnam run by Ho Chi Minh and Communists
  • South Vietnam run by President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon.
the gulf of tonkin incident august 1964
The Gulf of Tonkin incidentAugust 1964

President Johnson announced North Vietnamese attacked a U.S. ship in the Gulf of Tonkin.

american response
American response
  • President Johnson sent airplanes to North Vietnam and asked Congress for a resolution to support this
  • Read President Johnson’s message to Congress August 5, 1964 and the joint resolution of Congress.
  • Gulf of Tonkin picture
life in the jungle
Life in the Jungle
  • The Viet Cong would attack in ambushes, set up booby traps, and escape through a complex network of underground tunnels
  • For U.S. forces, even just finding their enemy proved difficult
  • U.S. forces would drop Agent Orange or napalm bombs which cleared an area by causing the leaves to drop off or to burn away
the tet offensive
The TET offensive
  • Surprise attack
  • Stalemate between U.S. and North Vietnam
  • January 1968 – Vietminh and VietCong attacked South Vietnamese towns on the TET holiday which is the Vietnamese lunar new year.
  • U.S. won BUT showed a power of the Communists that the U.S. underestimated.
the my lai massacre 1968
The My Lai Massacre1968
  • Troops were angry about casualties.
  • As the "search and destroy" mission unfolded, it soon degenerated into the massacre of over 300 apparently unarmed civilians including women, children, and the elderly. Calley ordered his men to enter the village firing, though there had been no report of opposing fire.
  • intro
my lai cover up
My Lai Cover Up
  • The 11th Brigade claimed to have killed 128 Viet Cong during the operation
  • Hugh Thompson, the helicopter pilot, claimed that civilians had been murdered
  • Col Oran K Henderson. He claimed that 20 civilians had been killed inadvertently
  • Charges were brought against only 13 men. In the end, only one soldier – Lt. William Calley - was convicted. Calley was charged with murdering 104 villagers in the My Lai massacre.
american public
American public
  • To bring a faster end to hostilities, President Nixon also expanded the war into other countries, such as Laos and Cambodia –
  • This created thousands of protests, especially on college campuses, back in America.
  • Public Opinion
kent state
Kent State

The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.[5]

peace with honor
"Peace With Honor"
  • President Nixon outlined a plan called Vietnamization, which was a process to remove U.S. troops from Vietnam while handing back the fighting to the South Vietnamese.
easter offensive
Easter Offensive
  • on March 30, 1972. North Vietnamese troops crossed over the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 17th parallel and invaded South Vietnam.
  • The remaining U.S. forces and the South Vietnamese army fought back.
the paris peace accords
The Paris Peace Accords
  • On January 27, 1973, the peace talks in Paris finally succeeded in producing a cease-fire agreement. The last U.S. troops left Vietnam on March 29, 1973, knowing they were leaving a weak South Vietnam who would not be able to withstand another major communist North Vietnam attack.
reunification of vietnam
Reunification of Vietnam
  • After the U.S. had withdrawn all its troops, the fighting continued in Vietnam. In early 1975, North Vietnam made another big push south which toppled the South Vietnamese government. South Vietnam officially surrendered to communist North Vietnam on April 30, 1975. On July 2, 1976, Vietnam was reunited as a communist country, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
lessons of vietnam
Lessons of Vietnam
  • Was it possible for the United States to preserve a non-communist South Vietnam?
  • Despite a commitment of over 500,000 ground troops and the release of over 8 million tons of bombs on suspected enemy targets, the United States failed to preserve a non-Communist South Vietnam.