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War in Vietnam

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Luke Bailey

on 4 May 2018

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Transcript of War in Vietnam

War in Vietnam
So in WWII, Japan took French Indochina.

After the war, the French got it back, but the communist Vietnamese were not happy about it. The Communist Ho Chi Minh declared independence and defeated the French by 1954.

At a meeting in Geneva, the UN decided that Vietnam would be split between a communist north and a non-communist south. However, the South would have to hold elections.
Breaking the Rules
So the leader of South Vietnam was a guy named Ngo Dinh Diem.

He acted as a dictator and refused to hold elections.

In response, the North Vietnamese (or Vietcong) under Ho Chi Minh declared war on the south in 1959.
American Role
Eisenhower was worried. He said that if Vietnam fell to communism, the other Asian countries would fall too- like dominoes.

Under Eisenhower, we sent billions of dollars and a few hundred soldiers to be advisers.

Kennedy sent the Green Berets and pressured Diem to make reforms.

South Vietnam
Ngo Dinh Diem, the South Vietnamese leader, was making things worse.

He took away rights from Buddhists and favored Catholics like himself- this caused the Buddhist majority to side with the communists. Monks set themselves on fire to protest.

In 1963, the Vietnamese army had had enough. They killed Diem and took over the government. Later that month, Kennedy was shot as well.
When Kennedy died, we had 16,000 troops in Vietnam.

Johnson was convinced he needed more men, but he needed to convince Congress.

In 1964, N.V. patrol boats attacked some American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam. This caused Congress to give Johnson permission to go all out.

Johnson upped the troop number to 500,000 by 1968.
Operation Rolling Thunder
Since the Vietcong had no air force, America committed itself to massive bombing campaigns.

In 1965 to 1968, we underwent Operation Rolling Thunder, in which we dropped more bombs on the Vietnamese than we dropped during all of WWII.

Agent Orange was a chemical used to kill vegetation. Later we found out it was poisonous and caused deformities in US soldiers and Vietnamese civilians.
Guerrilla Warfare
While the US was vastly superior to the Vietcong, the Vietcong fought guerrilla warfare in their jungles.

Vietcong would pretend to be civilians then attack at night. This caused US soldiers to burn down villages, which only made the civilians more opposed.

While US soldiers killed hundreds of thousands, more Vietcong showed up. Ho Chi Minh said "You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours. But even at those odds, I will win."
Opposition to the War
During Vietnam, a massive counter-war protest sprang up, largely led by youth.

They claimed that we were killing innocents and wasting American lives and money.

This counterculture also rejected traditional American values and began to act differently- wearing blue jeans, long hair, and tye dye. Anti-War music popped up.

They also rejected materialism and what was expected of them by their parents.

The Draft
The US implemented a draft during the war- all men had to register at age 18.

People were given priority due to age and status. Full time students were deferred (excused), as well as those with money and connections.

As a result, most draftees came from the working class families.

Many protestors became conscientious objectors, claiming they were pacifists. Others burned their draft cards or moved to Canada.
In 1968, Lyndon Johnson's second term was ending. He opted not to run for re-election, even though he could have.

The Democratic party had a number of nominees- among them was Robert Kennedy, JFK's brother. Robert advocated for ending the war.

In 1968 during the primaries, right after winning California, Robert Kennedy was shot.

Hubert Humphreys was nominated at a violent convention attacked by anti-war protestors.
Election of 1968
Humphreys ran against Richard Nixon, the Republican.

Nixon promised "peace with honor" in Vietnam. He pointed to the left-wing protests as evidence the democrats could not control the country.

Nixon claimed to stand for a conservative "silent majority" who wanted law and order.

Nixon won easily.
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