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Vietnam Part One
Transcript of Vietnam Part One
The American policy of containment represented a global effort.
During World War II many of the resistance movements that fought against Germany and Japan had communist elements.
Ho Chi Minh was in control of the North. The North would never accept a divided nation.
Vietnam was divided into North (communist) and South (democratic… sort of)
The government in South Vietnam was generally ineffective and led by Diem, an unpopular president who was Catholic. Most Vietnamese were Buddhist.
The U.S. was convinced that should Vietnam fall to communism the ‘domino theory’ would claim all of Asia and continue communism’s spread.
Though the government in South Vietnam was generally unpopular, the U.S. supported it with financial and military aid.
The Viet Cong (communist guerrillas) were increasingly successful.
An attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 gave the American President the authority to expand the war.
The U.S. began sending troops in large numbers of troops in 1965. By 1968 there were over 500,000 American troops.
The American advisers and South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) were now supported by the Navy and newly built airbases
The airbases needed to be protected, and then more troops were needed to patrol beyond the airbases, and they needed more artillery, support troops and bases. The result is what military people call 'mission creep'
The Vietnamese War saw the introduction or expansion of new weapons and systems
M60 Grenade Launcher
This was the first war with TV news reporters showing war to people in America every night.
The richest and most powerful industrial nation on earth against some guys in black pyjamas hiding in the jungle? There's no way we can lose this thing!
In Indochina the most active movement against the Japanese was the Vietnamese resistance,
led by Ho Chi Minh.
The American OSS recommended that he be supported after the war ended.
The French, who had colonized Indochina, weren't about to grant independence. They hoped for a return of the glory days of Empire, with white Europeans as overlords.
The Japanese had seized most of European colonies in WWII, including the French possession of Indochina
If the Viet Minh (the communist movement) wanted political independence, they would have to fight for it.
As the struggle began, the French had a tremendous advantage in firepower. But they were unable to control the countryside, and ultimately they were seen as the oppressor.
The French were often harsh in their reaction to the insurgency, and a brutal and bloody war continued into the 1950s.
As they lost support, the French made a last gamble to defeat the insurgency. In the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 they suffered a defeat that resulted in the end of their presence in Indochina.
In the Geneva Agreement of 1954, Indochina was divided into Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
From the beginning guerrilla forces supported by the North (and with supplies from the Soviet Union and Red China) attacked the regime in the South.
*psst... a basic rule of human nature: People would rather be ruled poorly by one of their own than well by an outsider.
The US was sending an increasing number of military advisers. By 1961 3200 advisers were in Vietnam.
As Diem's government grew more repressive and less popular, the US encouraged a coup. In early November 1963 (a few weeks before Kennedy's assassination) President Diem was arrested by the military and murdered.
Stay classy, Vietnam!
The War Escalates
The American effort would continue until the war's conclusion in 1975. It would divide the nation, cost billions, and damage American prestige.