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War in Southeast Asia. Dates to Remember. WWI (1914-1919) France, Great Britain, USA v . Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire WWII (1939-1945) Great Britain, USA, USSR v . Germany, Italy, Japan Indochina Wars (1945-1954) France v . Vietnam Korean War (1950-1953)

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Dates to remember
Dates to Remember

  • WWI (1914-1919)

    • France, Great Britain, USA v. Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire

  • WWII (1939-1945)

    • Great Britain, USA, USSR v. Germany, Italy, Japan

  • Indochina Wars (1945-1954)

    • France v. Vietnam

  • Korean War (1950-1953)

    • USA, South Korea v. China, North Korea

  • Vietnam War (1956-1975)

    • USA, South Vietnam v. Viet Cong, North Vietnam

  • Cold War (1947-1991)

    • USA v. Soviet Union (USSR)

**Blue denotes victor







Prelude to conflict
Prelude to Conflict

  • WWI ends in 1919- Woodrow

  • Wilson wants treaty ensuring

  • all people self-determination

  • Ho Chi Minh travels to

  • Versailles

    • Leaves disappointed

Ho chi minh
Ho Chi Minh

  • Trained in USSR

  • Most popular man in Vietnam

    • Seen as responsible for releasing them

    • from Japanese and then French

    • colonial forces

  • 1946- U.S. see Ho as a tool of the USSR

  • Two goals: (1) communist movement & (2)

  • win independence

  • 1954- Defeats France

“You can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours, but even at those odds, you will lose and we will win.”


  • On the rise

  • Seen as solution for third world countries

  • Can be tied to social reform to deal with peasantry

  • Domino Theory: If one nation falls to communist forces, neighboring nations would also become communist

Command economy philosophy
Command Economy Philosophy

  • Produce needs, not wants

  • Make needs as close to free as possible

  • Treat workers better (safe, high wages, benefits)

  • No private property

  • Economic equality

  • Central planning of production

  • No entrepreneurs

Advantages of the planned economy
Advantages of the Planned Economy

  • Income & wealth more evenly distributed

  • Little unemployment

  • Experiences fewer booms and busts in economy

  • Profits used to expand production

  • Production of goods and services is planned to meet society’s needs

  • Consumers receive basic necessities

Disadvantages of the planned economy
Disadvantages of the Planned Economy

  • Lack of incentive

  • Lack of technological progress

  • Bureaucracies (planning creates inflexibility)

  • Black markets

  • Loss of individuality

  • Inefficient and widespread waste of resources

Prelude to conflict1
Prelude to Conflict

  • WWII ends, Soviet Union and United States immediately at odds

  • Strategic objectives:

    • Military might and global influence

    • Dominant control over resources

    • Self-righteousness

    • Global economic ties

  • 90 countries between 1943-1993 become independent

A divided nation
A Divided Nation

  • Geveva agreement temporarily divides Vietnam at the 17th parallel

  • Communist North, non-communist South

  • North- Ho Chi Minh, South- Ngo Dinh Diem

  • Within 2 years, elections would be held to reunite Vietnam

  • Southern communists form underground army Viet Cong

Viet cong
Viet Cong

  • Guerilla warfare

  • Series of extensive tunnels, traps, etc.

American involvement
American Involvement

  • Initially only sent military advisors to South Vietnam

  • Ho Chi Minh retaliates by sending North Vietnamese troops to assist Viet Cong in South Vietnam

  • Ho Chi Minh Trail  Supply routes of North Vietnamese in Laos and Cambodia

Gulf of tonkin incident
Gulf of Tonkin Incident

  • Sea battle between destroyer USS Maddox and North Vietnamese Torpedo Ships

    • 280 shells + bombs?

  • President Johnson used as an opportunity to escalate the conflict

  • “Take all necessary steps including

  • the use of force”

  • Unanimous vote in Congress


  • Johnson’s first major speech on Vietnam:

  • “Innocent American sailors suffered an unprovoked attack…”

  • …Didn’t mention conflicting reports, “Tonkin Ghosts,” or electronic spying

  • 2005= US admits false reports on second attack, US fired first (warning shots)

What is victory
What is “Victory?”

  • Goal of the U.S. was not to conquer North Vietnam, but rather to ensure the survival of the South Vietnamese government

    • Measuring progress was difficult.

  • U.S. Army used body counts, rather than conquered territory, to show it was winning the war.

  • “Attrition Warfare”

    • More bombs dropped in Operation Rolling Thunder than in all of WWII

Agent Orange

Estimated Death Toll:

North Vietnam: 1 million

U.S.A.: 58,000

South Vietnam: 171, 331

Attrition (n): process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure

Turning point
Turning Point

  • Tet Offensive (1968)

    • Tet: Vietnamese New Year

    • Viet Cong simultaneously attacked tons of places

    • Surprise attack during cease fire

    • Devastating military failure for the Communist forces

      • Yet, shatters confidence in America’s ability to end the war

      • American thought Communists were incapable of such a large scale attack

      • Causes moderates to turn against war

Press impact on the war
Press Impact on the War

  • Only 2% of American’s had a TV during the Korean War (1950-1053)

  • Now TV is universal, big newscasts that lasted 30 minutes (CBS, NBC, ABC)

  • Televised dramatic battles of Tet Offensive

  • TIME featured graphic pictures of piles of Americans dead

  • Shows US not winning, but rather, a stalemate

    • Walter Cronkite declares war unwinnable

Public opinion
Public Opinion

  • General population wanted to send more bombs, more troops, etc in 1964-66, but public opinion shifted towards end of 1960s

  • College campuses

    • Stage for demonstrations

    • Believed in, at times, glorified violence

    • UIUC

  • Average person not focused on the immorality of war, but rather practicality or war

    • Is it worth it?

Anti-War Public Opinion

Anti-War Activitists

A slow return to peace
A Slow Return to Peace

  • 1969—Nixon begins to withdraw troops

    • Sought “Peace with Honor”

  • 1975—Fall of Saigon

    • Communists surround capital of South Vietnam, and South Vietnam surrenders

  • Vietnam reunites under communism

  • Economy crumbles

  • Pg. 279