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Vietnam War


Rachel Snyder

on 20 April 2015

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Transcript of Vietnam War

Why Did the US Fight a War in Vietnam?
Late 1800s, France colonized what is today
Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia
naming it French Indochina.

France surrendered to the Japanese in 1941 but then went back after WWII to try and regain control.

In 1946, communist rebels called the

Việt Minh

and their leader,

Ho Chi Minh
rose up in revolution against the French starting the 1st Indochina War.

So why did the U.S. get involved???
Basically to hold the line against the spread of
. America paid for the war the French fought against Communist Vietnam as a part of the Truman Doctrine (1947). In the 1950’s, America became involved again.
A New Nation in the South
The US ignored the
In 1955, the U.S. helped
Ngo Dinh Diem
become president, creating South Vietnam Republic of Vietnam
South Vietnam
He passed Law 10/59 which made it legal to hold suspected
in jail without bringing formal charges.

He also
persecuted the

claiming they were helping the Communists.
Resulted in massive protests in Saigon which lead to infamous the
(setting oneself on fire) protests by Buddhist monks and nuns.
Domino Theory
The U.S. supported the Vietminh during WWII because they were fighting the

After the war, the U.S. suddenly stopped supporting them and sided with the French. Eisenhower's reasoning?


Based on the picture below, what is the concept of the domino theory?
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
1964: President Johnson claimed the North Vietnamese Navy

had attacked two U.S. Navy ships

in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam for 2nd time.
Two days later, the LBJ administration used the attack to obtain a Congressional resolution, now known as the
Gulf of

Tonkin Resolution
, which gave the president "
all necessary measures

to support US troops and South Vietnam.

(Repealed in 1970 and in 2005, declassified documents revealed that the 2nd attack was a deception by the Johnson administration.)
Leadership in North Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh
was educated and lived in US, England, Soviet Union, and China

before returning to Vietnam to lead the resistance against the French and Japanese during WWII.
Sought peaceful means to end problems in Vietnam but knew they could survive a conflict.
Most likely would have won the 1956 elections if they hadn't been rigged and war could have possibly been
Enemies on All Sides
From the North, the U.S. fought the
North Vietnamese Army

). They were the official army of North Vietnam.
In the South, the U.S. fought the

, also known as the NLF,

an army recruited from South Vietnamese villagers.

They mostly used

guerrilla) warfare
which means they

did not wear a uniform and attacked in

hit-and-run type attacks
The Draft and the Working Class War
LBJ needed more troops but men were not volunteering. A
was put into place to gain more soldiers.

Of the 27 million draft-age men between 1964 and 1973,
were drafted into military service and only
% were actually sent to Vietnam.
This group was made up almost entirely of either

or rural youth. (Average age was 19)
College students who did not avoid the draft were generally sent to non-combat and service roles or made officers, while high school drop-outs and the working class were sent into combat roles.

Racial Imbalance
Blacks were also disproportionately drafted and put into combat roles.
Quotable Quotes
"We have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them in the same schools."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)
What does MLK mean by this? Do you agree?
What do you think is meant by Vietnam being a "living room war"?
Expanding the Vote
May 4, 1970:
students were killed by National Guardsmen who were called out to preserve peace on campus after days of anti-Nixon protest.

Shock waves crossed the nation as

students at Jackson State in
were also shot and killed for political
reasons, prompting one mother to cry,

"They are killing our babies in
Vietnam and in our own

Led to an even bigger increase in student protests and shifted public
opinion more strongly against the war
Need for Peace Becomes Deadly
Many college protestors of the Vietnam War were too young to vote and argued that it was unfair that people
were old enough for
the draft but not to vote.

In 1971, Congress passed the
26th Amendment

lowered the voting age to 18 in all elections.
The Tet Offensive (Jan.-Feb. 1968)
Widespread, surprise attack by the

and the


across Vietnam
Took place during the Vietnamese holiday of

(generally agreed no fighting.)
Seemed like a

big loss for North Vietnam.

(Of 100,000 fighters, at least 45,000 were killed.)
However, in the U.S., the American people were
by the offensive and felt like the U.S. must be
the war.
LBJ administration tried to convince the American people that the U.S. was still
but they were not believed.
turning point
in the war on both sides but for different reasons.
The Credibility Gap
As the war dragged on, Americans came to distrust President Johnson and (later) President Nixon. They didn't believe that the war was going as well as the Presidents said.

Difference between what the Presidents


and what the public

was the

"Credibility Gap."
Getting Out
President Nixon vowed to end the
Vietnam War with"
peace with honor
Nixon's secret plan involved a process
called “Vietnamization.” This strategy
brought American troops
increasing the
war over North Vietnam and relying more on the South Vietnamese army for ground attacks.

End of the Longest and Most Unpopular War
By the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. had spent
$120 billion
on the war (that's about
$680 billion
in today's dollars). Over
Americans were killed,
injured and with another
permanently disabled.

Vietnamese Aftermath: An estimated 2 million Vietnamese died, while 3 million were wounded (more than half injured or dead were civilians) and another 12 million became refugees. War had decimated the country’s infrastructure and economy, and reconstruction proceeded slowly. In 1976, Vietnam was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Did the US accomplish it's orginal goal?
The War Powers Act (Resolution)
Requires the President to notify Congress within
hours of sending the military into action and requires them to begin leaving within
days unless authorized by Congress. It was passed by Congress in 1973 over President Nixon's
The End of the War

From March 1973 until the fall of Saigon on

April 30, 1975
, the South Vietnamese army
tried desperately to save the South from political and military collapse to the NVA.
On the morning of April 30, Communist forces captured the presidential palace in Saigon,
the Vietnam War and quickly Vietnam unified under a single Communist government and is still
" today.
Where in the world is Vietnam????
President Kennedy's Part

At first, more concerned with
with Europe and Cuba but after
the Bay of Pigs failure, building
of the Berlin Wall, and the fall
of Laos to communism, JFK
turned his sights on


Kennedy’s advisors were split…some wanted to stay out, some of his other advisors urged the president to send more help to Vietnam in the form of military personnel in an advisory,
Sent the

Green Berets
to train South Vietnamese troops

By Nov. 1963, there were
U.S. military personnel stationed in South Vietnam, up from the 900 from Eisenhower's time in office

France had the financial support of the United States
however, in 1954, the Việt Minh succeeded in
getting the French to retreat and give up their claims
to French Indochina.
France and the Việt Minh signed a peace
treaty called the
Geneva Accords,


Vietnam into two zones at the
17th Parallel: a northern zone to be governed by the
Việt Minh and a southern zone to be governed by the
Republic of Vietnam with a 1956 election to

both zones.
1st Indochina War and the Geneva Accords
President Johnson And Escalation

Coups and Assassinations

By late September, the Buddhist protests had created such disorder in the south that the
military advisors supported a coup.
In 1963, some of Diem's own generals approached the American Embassy in Saigon with plans to overthrow
With Washington's unspoken approval (but not JFK’s), Diem was captured and later
on Nov. 2, 1963.

3 weeks
later, President Kennedy was assassinated on the streets of Dallas.

Just four days after the Kennedy assassination, newly sworn-in president,
Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ)
, passed measures to increase the number of military personnel,
the US entrance in to actual combat.

My Lai Massacre
A serious blow to U.S.
came with the exposure of the My Lai massacre (March 1968).
Began as a
search and destroy mission
but after nothing was found, US troops killed villagers and burned the village anyways.
Hushed up at the time and only discovered by a tenacious journalist in November
1969, US troops had
killed up to
mostly women, children
and old men.
A Secret Plan to End the War
In late March 1968, a disgraced Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not seek the Democratic Party's
for president and hinted that he would go to the bargaining table with the
to end the war.

Peace negotiations began in the spring of 1968, but the Democratic Party could not rescue the presidency from Republican challenger
Richard Nixon

who claimed he had a
plan to end the war.

By 1973,
all U.S. troops had left Vietnam (except for the Marines guarding the U.S. embassy in Saigon).
"Operation Ranch Hand"
Defoliation program using
Agent Orange
This deadly chemical cocktail, containing dioxin,
killed off millions of acres of

jungle to try to weaken
– but left a horrendous legacy in
The dioxin got into the food chain causing chromosome damage to humans. There were hundreds of cases of children born with

1961-1971: Approved by JFK
Bombs, Bombs and More Bombs
"Operation Rolling Thunder" 1965-1968

In early 1965, the NLF attacked two U.S.
installations in South Vietnam, and as a result, Johnson ordered the first
bombing missions over North Vietnam.
Used phosphorus and napalm bombs, the second one causing horrible burns to thousands of
innocent civilians

Led into the
ground combat troops later
in 1965.

(Nixon resumed bombing in
Campus Protests
The intense bombing campaigns and intervention in
in late April 1970 sparked intense campus
protests all across America.

Protests erupted on college campuses and in major cities at first, but by
every corner of the country seemed to have felt the war's impact.

Reaction to the Draft
Search and Destroy Tactics
The United States countered with “Search and Destroy” tactics.
In areas where the NLF were thought to be operating, troops went in and checked for weapons. If they found them, they rounded up the villagers and
the villages down.
This often alienated the
from the American/South Vietnamese cause.
As one marine said – “If they weren’t
before we got there, they sure as hell were by the time we left”.
often helped the villager’s re-build their homes and bury their dead.

In early January 1973, the Nixon administration convinced Saigon that they would not abandon the South Vietnamese army if they signed the
peace accord

On January 23, therefore, the final draft was
initialed, ending open hostilities between the
United States and

The Paris Peace Agreement did not end the conflict
in Vietnam, however, just America's part, as Saigon continued to battle

Paris Peace Agreements
By 1965, there would be
combat troops and by 1968:
586,000 !!!!!!
The draft triggered growing
anti-war sentiment
and distrust in a government who was sending their boys to war without a
In 1956, he held
rigged elections.
Wrapping up......
From 1964 to 1972, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world made a maximum military effort, with everything short of atomic bombs, to defeat a nationalist revolutionary movement in a tiny, peasant country-and failed. When the United States fought in Vietnam, it was organized modern technology versus organized human beings, and the human beings won.
-Howard Zinn, History is a Weapon: People’s History of the United States

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