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Vietnam

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  1. Vietnam

  2. Before the War • Oppressive French control 1800’s-1941 -Indochinese Communist Party formed • Formed Vietminh to fight for independence • Ho Chi Minh was leader • Japanese occupation 1941-1945 • French tried to regain control -US supported France (Domino Theory) -French lost all control by 1954

  3. Before the War • GENEVA ACCORDS divided Vietnam at 17th Parallel – communists in North, anti-communists in South North South -Led by Ho Chi Minh -Led by Ngo Dinh Diem -Capital: Hanoi -Capital: Saigon • Elections scheduled for 1956 to unify the country under one leader • 1956 elections cancelled • Ho Chi Minh’s popularity in the North was likely to lead to a communist victory • Ngo Dinh Diem refused to hold elections – decision supported by U.S. who feared communist victory • US would provide support in return for Diem setting up a stable reform government

  4. Diem’s Administration • Diem doesn’t keep up his side of the deal -Corrupt government – suppression of opposition and no land redistribution (which made Ho Chi Minh popular in North) -Devout Catholic, intolerant of the many Buddhists in Vietnam, angering them -Distrusted anyone outside his family -Had little understanding of communism or democracy

  5. Buddhist monk sets himself on fire to protest the Diem regime

  6. Before the War • Start of the Vietcong -Communist group in South Vietnam opposed to Diem and the US -Supported by North Vietnam with weapons traveling along Ho Chi Minh Trail (network of trails along border of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam) -Used surprise (guerilla) attacks to assassinate many of Diem’s government officials

  7. Before the War • Kennedy supported Diem (at first) -Tried to prove he was not “soft” on communism -Sent thousands of military advisors into Vietnam • Diem toppled -November 1, 1963 military coup overthrew Diem -It soon became clear Diem would have to go -Coup supported by U.S. -Diem assassinated against Kennedy’s wishes • Kennedy would also be dead within weeks • LBJ takes over -North growing stronger -sensitive of being “soft on communism”

  8. Gulf of Tonkin • Gulf of Tonkin – Johnson escalated the war -August 1964 – North Vietnamese boat fired at U.S. ship Maddox -U.S. ship not harmed, but incident became excuse for Johnson to escalate conflict with North Vietnam -LBJ asked Congress for military go-ahead in Vietnam; received the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which gave significant power to Johnson to fight war as he saw fit -Only 2 “no” votes in Congress

  9. Johnson Takes Office and Control of War • Operation Rolling Thunder began -February 1965 -Sustained bombing of North Vietnam -American troops began heading to Vietnam -50,000 by June 1965

  10. American Military Strategy • General in charge – William Westmoreland • Westmoreland’s strategy was war of attrition (gradually wear down the enemy, weaken morale) • Continually asked for more troops -U.S. leadership was unimpressed with ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam)

  11. Difficulties for U.S. troops • Not used to jungle terrain • Guerilla tactics of enemy unconventional • Enemy had detailed knowledge of land • Enemy hid among civilian population in South Vietnam • “Sneaky” war – hit and run attacks, booby traps, and land minds • Vietcong tunnels

  12. Difficulties for U.S. troops (cont.) • War of attrition did not work • South Vietnamese government still unable to find a credible leader • U.S. troop morale sinking, though most still believed in containing communism • Americans tried to win the “hearts and minds” of civilians, but tactics used to expose the enemy made it difficult to win support

  13. Agent Orange: herbicide/defoiliant -used to kill trees -found to cause death, cancer, birth defects -discovery didn’t effect US use

  14. Napalm- thickener added to gasoline to create a jelly substance -gasoline splashed and drained too easily - used in bombs and flame throwers

  15. Trouble with the War at Home • Living Room War – 1st war played out on TV • Credibility gap between LBJ’s version of war and what was really happening – 16,000 dead by 1967 • Government continued to tell Americans war would be won, fighting going well- -but TV and news media showed another side • Protest by the youth begin to grow by 1967 • Increased cost of prolonged war

  16. The Draft (Selective Service) • Many way to avoid serving if drafted -Medical deferments -Finding other services (ex. Coast Guard) -Moving to Canada -College deferments • Because most college students were white and upper-middle class, soldiers were increasingly lower class and minorities -Lower middle class accounted for 80% -Minorities accounted for 20% of deaths but only 10% of population

  17. Protest and Opposition • Many “New Left” groups created to protest various college campus issues – soon took up cause of protesting the war -believed the war was a civil war, and morally unjust • Tactics of protest included marches, gatherings, music, burning draft cards, etc. • Country divided into two camps • HAWKS – for war, often shocked at little support shown for country and troops • DOVES – against war • Johnson’s policies criticized by both sides, but he continued slow escalation

  18. 1968 Presidential Race -Johnson decided not to run again • Planned to slowly turn war over to South Vietnamese • Wanted to end the draft -Chaos within Democratic Party allowed Republican Richard Nixon to win election (only 43% of popular vote) • Promised to bring back law and order • Promised to end war in Vietnam

  19. Nixon’s Plan • “Peace with Honor” – wanted to pull U.S. out of war without conceding defeat or allowing South Vietnam to fall • Began process of Vietnamization (turning over the fighting to the South Vietnamese army) • Fewer soldiers, but increased attacks • Led to more protests, more problems • My Lai Massacre • Invasion of Cambodia • Kent State shootings • Pentagon Papers

  20. Legacy of Vietnam • Nixon and Kissinger finally settled on a withdraw plan. • Overall: • 58,000 Americans were killed • 365,000 wounded • N and S Vietnam deaths topped 1.5 million • Veterans not welcomed – suffered PTSD, substance abuse, suicide tendencies, etc • Communists imprisoned 400,000 and 1.5 million refugees left the country • Boat people – 50,000 perished trying to leave Vietnam through the South China Sea

  21. Major Policy Changes • U.S. ended the draft • November 1973 Congress passed the War Powers Act • Americans more cautious toward foreign affairs and more cynical toward government • makes us pause and consider risks before deciding to intervene

  22. Vietnam memorial unveiled in 1982