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  1. The Cold War Conflict and Deadlock


  3. Dulles & Foreign Policy • SOS = John Foster Dulles • He “saw the world as an arena in which the forces of good and evil were continuously at war.” –British ambassador to US • A moralist and tactician, experienced, intelligent • Containment = defensive, contentment w/ status quo  shift • US should promote LIBERATION of nations from Soviet domination •  “New Look” military posture • Massive Retaliation = “more bang for the buck” • Nuclear weapons/air power in “limited-war” situations  reduce conventional forces  spend less $$ & put pressure on enemies

  4.  “balance of terror” replaces “balance of power” (Churchill • Policy of “brinkmanship” • ‘56- to be tough & confront Communist threat, had to “go to the brink” of war • Examples- • ’53, Korea: US sends atomic weapon threat • ‘54, Indochina: US carriers into South China Sea- “both to deter any Red Chinese attack against [French] Indochina and to provide weapons for instant retaliation.”

  5. Indochina: The Background to War

  6. Prelude • Nat’lism after WWII  weakening/collapse of colonial empires • Early 50s- GB, Dutch, French • US position? Support colonial nat’lists (Spirit of 1776) OR world powers that could aid in fight vs. communism • Truman aid to French/Dutch  regain land lost by Japan to locals • French Indochina • WWII- opposition to Japanese led by Viet Minh (Vietnamese League for Independence) • Nat’lists came under control of communist, rebel Ho Chi Minh • Aid from US during war • End of war = control of N. Vietnam by Viet Minh, Democratic Republic of Vietnam (Hanoi)

  7. ‘46- French recognition of DRV as “free state” w/in colonial union • End of year- French to crush Vietnamese nat’lism • Opposition to French effort to establish regime in southern province  First Indochina War • US involvement? • US disagree w/ restoration of French rule, but need France aid vs. communism • ‘48- support to French to further “aims in Europe” more important than “realization of our objectives in Indochina.” • Viet Minh movement dominated by Ho Chi Minh, Communists • Dependent on Soviet Union, China

  8. ‘50- Korea War  Vietnam another battleground? • Truman- aid to French • ‘53- truce in Korea  increased aid to French under Ike • 2/3 cost of French cost • ‘54- French loss to Viet Minh @ Dien Bien Phu • Draw out guerillas in open, crush w/ superior weapons • OOPS…surrounded, besieged • French request US air strike in March  US refused • April 7, ‘54- Ike’s DOMINO THEORY • Opposition to direct involvement alone

  9. May, ‘54- Viet Minh attacks overwhelm French, defeats con. • July 20, 1954- agreement on Geneva Accords  Final Declaration • Viet Minh control N @ 17th parallel, French control S • Elections in ‘56 to unite Vietnam • Neither US, nor South Vietnamese join in accord or sign FD • Laos, Cambodia neutral

  10. US response? “Pactomania” (43 by ‘60) • Dulles organize mutual defense agreements for SE Asia • September ‘54- US + 7 = Southeast Asia Treaty Org. (SEATO) • Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, GB, Fr, Australia, NZ, US • NOT another version of NATO • Response by nations in accord to their “constitutional practices” • In case of threat, subversion- would “consult immediately” • Special protocol included converage to Indochina

  11. Ike announcement on Vietnam, ’54 • US no part of decision @ Geneva, but Communist aggression “would be viewed by us as a matter of grave concern.” • US did agree NOT to use threat or force to disturb agreements put in place

  12. HCM & gov. consolidate control in North • Kangaroo courts to seize land • Leave N w/ US aid (900k refugees into South)  problems for weak SV gov. • SV power to Ngo Dinh Diem (Catholic nat’list opposed to French & Viet Minh) • Ike offers assistance “in developing and maintaining a strong, viable state, capable of resisting attempted subversion or aggression through military means.” • US expectation? Democratic reforms, land to peasants • US aid = CIA, military cadres to train

  13. Diem tightened control by suppressing opposition; no land distribution; widespread corruption • ‘56- refusal to participate in elections on reunification of Vietnam (US backed) • Communists use efforts to tighten control  recruit SV who are discontented with Diem, gov. • ‘57- SV guerrilla forces sympathetic to HCM, communism = Viet Cong • Attacks on Diem gov. • ’60- resistance moves to political faction: National Liberation Front

  14. Kennedy and Vietnam

  15. Growing Conflict • Policy? • Flexible response- NOT massive retaliation/nukes • Increase $$ to conventional arms, mobile military forces, special forces • Laos neutral/independent by ‘54 Geneva Accords • Power struggle b/t Communist Pathet Lao insurgents (Soviet backed) vs. Royal Laotian Army • Options? • “You might have to go in there and fight.” = direct intervention • Decision to back formation of neutral coalition gov. – May ‘61 • Would include reps from Pathet Lao • No military intervention + No Pathet Law victory = WIN

  16. Meanwhile, back in N. Vietnam. . . • HCM Trail open through E. Laos to supply Viet Cong • South Vietnam struggles • Ngo Dinh Diem repressive tactics to retain control , no democracy, no social/political reform, action vs. Buddhists, Communists • 1961- US sends emissaries to Saigon • Walt Rostow, Gen. Maxwell Taylor • Proposition? Increase in US military presence • JFK refused, sends more advisers • 1961- JFK into office, 2k US troops • 1963- 16-17k troops, none committed to battle

  17. Worst enemy? Diem regime by mid-’63 • Public discontent w/ regime visible- Buddhist monk demonstrations in streets vs. “iron-fisted rule” of Diem • Fall ‘63- Diem = “lost cause” • SV generals launch coup d’etat on Nov. 1 & seize gov., murder Diem •  successive coups by military leaders

  18. The Tragedy of Vietnam

  19. Escalating Issues • Not a major issue in ‘60 election- US involvement minimal • Under JFK • Adopted Domino Theory, aid to SV (also, advisers), training of troops, guarding of weapons/facilities, “strategic hamlets” (fortified villages) • ‘63 = 16-17k troops- role was SUPPORT, NOT COMBAT

  20. LBJ & the Tonkin Gulf Resolution • Reason for “escalation” • Aug. 7, ‘64- 2 US destroyers attacked by DRV on Aug. 2 & 4 in Gulf of Tonkin • Provoked? • Resolution  Pres. authorization “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” • Decision time- Feb. 5, 1965 = “Americanization” of the war • Viet Cong guerillas kill 8/wound 126 Americans, more attacks later in week •  Order of Operation Thunder to stop soldiers/supplies from getting to south • August- task force reports bombing unsuccessful, but attacks continue

  21. March, ‘65- Gen. William Westmoreland request/gets first group of combat troops to defend US airfields • End of ‘65- 184k troops, ‘66- 385k • Combat operations increase in SV  casualties increase • Announced on news (“body count”) • “Westy’s War” = helicopters, gunships, chemicals, napalm •  war of attrition • No declaration of war by Congress, but full-scale use of US forces • Congress gave Pres. Authority to use troops, never recalled • Support through ’68

  22. Policy • LBJ decision consistent w/ other US presidents since WWII • Containment- Truman Doctrine endorsed by Ike, Dulles, JFK • US pledged to oppose advance of communism anywhere in world • “Why are we in Vietnam? We are there because we have a promise to keep. . . To leave Vietnam to its fate would shake the confidence of all these people in the value of American commitment.” –LBJ • SOS Rusk promotes domino theory as reason to stay involved • Military intervention logical

  23. LBJ know not to let military involvement get to levels to provoke China or Soviets  LBJ control over bombing, restrictive policy of leadership • Sign that victory not possible • US goal not victory by capturing territory • Goal to prevent North Vietnamese/Viet Cong from winning, hope to force settlement • Problem? • US support faded faster than North Vietnamese toleration of casualties • US fighting limited war for limited objectives • N. Vietnamese fighting total war for survival

  24. Opposition • Opposition on college campuses in ’65 (year of escalation) • Investigation into US policy in Vietnam by Senate FR Committee • Led by Sen. J. William Fulbright (AR) • Kennan felt policy OK for Europe, NOT for SE Asia • Anti-war demonstrations in NY, @ Pentagon in ‘67 • Vietnam 1st war with extended TV coverage = “living room war” • “The picture of the world’s greatest superpower killing or injuring 1,000 noncombatants a week while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one. “ –Robert McNamara

  25. Misinformation • Misinformation from military/civilian leaders + LBJ avoiding true cost/scope of war  “credibility gap” • Also w/in gov., understanding of enemy or nature of war also slowed • Early ‘68- US forces on verge of gaining upper hand vs. Communists display of cunning/tenacity against US • Tet Offensive • LBJ’s hope? Increase military pressure  DRV would come to peace table

  26. Hawks vs. Doves • Hawks = war supporters • Soviets influence over NV Communists vs. SV, plan to take over SE Asia • Doves = anti-war • Civil War- no place for US • High cost of life, $$ • College students- draft issue

  27. The Turning Point • Jan. 31, ’68 = start of TET Offensive • Tet – 1st day of New Year • Holiday truce waved, wave of surprise attacks by NV & VC • Attacks in SV  occupation of US embassy in Saigon for several days • Counterattack by US/SV  massive casualties of NV/VC •  200k more troops • Effect? Psychological • Contradiction to upbeat claims by US commanders about ground war •  increase anti-war/withdrawal campaigns • LBJ popularity down to 35% • $322k/soldier, $53/person in poverty

  28. LBJ • ‘68- turns to isolation • Depression, paranoia • Reports that victory not viable prospect • Undermining Great Society programs • Dem. Party fragmenting • Bobby Kennedy for President? An option vs. LBJ • Sen. Eugene McCarthy (MN)- student vote, anti-war (42% in NH)

  29. March 31- limited halt to bombing, new attempt @ negotiations • END to quest for victory • Now? How to extricate with minimal damage to prestige • Paris- May, ’68: discussions w/ NV end when demand final end to US bombing • BUT- end to “escalation”- no more troops • PS. . . • “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

  30. NIXON

  31. Nixon and Vietnam • 50%+ of US troops in Vietnam • Nixon + Henry Kissinger (Nat’l Security Adv.) = new plan for “peace with honor” • 3 areas of focus: • Paris peace talks: • US demand NV withdrawal, recognition of US backed SV gov. deadlock  secret meetings b/t Kissinger & NV • Defuse domestic unrest • Via “Vietnamization”- turn combat missions over to SV units, reduce US ground forces, $/weapons/training to SV • (‘69- 560k, ‘73- 50k) • Expansion of air war effort • Pressure NV to come to terms • March 18, ‘69- Operation Menu- 14 months of bombing Cambodia • SECRET- not known by Congress until ‘70

  32. Division at Home • Slow withdrawal of military  low morale, reputation of troops • “No one wants to be the last grunt to die in this lousy war.” • “fragging” = troops vs. officers (fragmentation grenades) • Drug abuse- 4x more hospitalized for overdose than combat wounds (’71) • Leaked reports of atrocities • My Lai, Pentagon Papers

  33. Antiwar Opposition • By ‘70- Reaction to Nixon’s war effort  • My Lai massacre, ‘68 (Army Lt. William Calley, 200 Vietnamese civilians) • College wide protests , violence/shooting (Kent State- 4 dead, Jackson State- 2 dead) • Pressure from activists, escalation in reaction  repeal of Gulf of Tonkin Resolution • 1971- US learn about slaughter of women/children by US in Vietnam (‘68), antiwar sentiment from NYT, revelation of “Pentagon papers” with history of mistakes/deceptions of gov. in dealing w/ Vietnam (released by Daniel Ellsbert, DOD) • ‘64 on- plans for expansion of war effort, US entry (LBJ)

  34. From War to Peace. . . Talks • Tactical success in Cambodia • SV troops struggle to replace US forces (defeats ‘71-’72, disorganized, poorly led)  reliance on US air power • By ‘72- Kissinger (SOS, ‘73) + NV foreign minister on cease-fire • Agreement drops removal of ALL NV troops from SV • Summer ‘72- peace at hand. . . but SV won’t compromise •  B-52 bombing of NV for several weeks = “Christmas bombings & jugular diplomacy”

  35. Paris Accords- Jan. 27, ‘73 •  NV agreement to armistice • NV retain request for: 150k troops in S, idea of unified Vietnam • Fighting between NV/SV continues • By April 30, ‘75- Communist forces take Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) • Shift from ‘72 was SV acceptance of terms • Why? US promise to respond “with full force” if violation of agreement • US withdraw remaining troops, receive 500+ POWs, • Cease-fire, free elections

  36. Legacy • March 29, ‘73 = last US combat troops leave Vietnam • MIA in thousands • $150 b. spent on war, 58k US death • Democracy not easily transferred to third-world nations • No history of liberal values, no rep. gov. • Lack of respect for military service • Division among American society • Reaction?  noninterventionist foreign policy