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Unit 7: Vietnam War
Transcript of Unit 7: Vietnam War
a. French Indochina
1. WWI - Versailles
3. Nationalist movement
A. Ho Chi Minh
2. WWII - Japan
4. Vietnam Independence (1945)
b. Becomes radicalized
II. Pre-war U.S. Involvement
A. France wants Indochina back
1. U.S. backs France for two reasons:
b. Containment policy
a. Eisenhower - Domino Theory
b. One falls to communism, the rest fall
2. 1949: U.S. sends 600 "military advisers"
3. 1954 Ho Chi Minh defeats France
B. Ho Chi Minh coordinates guerrilla war
C. Three outcomes of Geneva Accords (1954)
2. U.S. installs "Client Ruler"
a. Ngo Dinh Diem
(1) Catholic in a Buddhist majority
(2) Corrupt: Funneling money to family
1. Ho Chi Minh agrees to split Vietnam
a. North Vietnam is communist
b. South Vietnam is free
3. Free Elections 1956
a. Ngo Diem refuses to hold elections (1956)
b. U.S. Backs Ngo Diem in his decision
(1) Domino Theory
D. Guerrilla civil war breaks out (North v South)
E. 1961 Kennedy takes office
1. Increases number of "military advisors"
from 600 to 12,000
2. JFK is unhappy with Ngo Diem and corruption
3. Military coup takes over: Ngo Diem killed (1963)
III. U.S. Becomes Involved
A. Lyndon B. Johnson
1. 1964 Runs as "Peace Candidate"
a. Already has plans in place to escalate
the war effort
B. Robert McNamera
1. Secretary of Defense: JFK / LBJ
2. "Whiz Kid"
C. Gulf of Tonkin Incident
1. U.S.S. Maddox
2. Johnson uses incident to ask Congress for
3. 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution
1. Operation "Rolling Thunder"
a. 3 years of constant bombardment
2. 25,000 - 184,000 Increase in troops
a. Elephant grass
b. Snakes and insects
a. Humidity 90%
b. Rain storms can last weeks
(1) Average 2-13 inches per month
1. Guerrilla tactics
a. VC = Viet Cong
b. Soldier - Rice Farmer
1. Americans are not going to "gain" anything by winning
2. The objective isn't clear to those fighting
3. There is no "front line"
(1) Agent Orange
This prompts an important question...
How do you know if you're winning?
D. Measuring success by a "body count"
1. McNamara is focused on data; called "The Technician"
2. If it's dead and it's Vietnamese, it's VC
a. Military promotions based on body counts
b. Body counts announced nightly on network news
channels - Living Room war
d. inflated and inaccurate reports
(1) 1:13 reported ratio 1966
E. War of attrition
1. VC just needs to hold defensive position
2. Wait out US aggression
a. Ho Chi Minh refuses to negotiate
b. Demands 100% unconditional withdrawal
(2) Credibility gap
c. Search-and-destroy missions
V. "A Nation Divided"
A. 2 important outcomes in 1965
1. Escalation of troops leads to public awareness
2. Civil Rights movements become more radicalized
a. "This isn't your fight"
b. Anti-War movement
(1) Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
1. Creates "New Left"
2. Idea that society has lost its way
a. "We are all products"
b. If you don't fight you're part of the problem
C. Jane Fonda
1. Visits North Vietnam to protest
a. Calls veterans "War Criminals"
b. Divides nation further
VI. The Significance of 1968
A. Tet Offensive
C. My Lai Massacre
VII. The Draft
VIII. End of an Era
1. Lunar New Year truce
2. 70,000 VC coordinate over 100 attacks
3. Marks the beginning of the end for U.S.
B. Battle for the hills
1. Highest ground provides advantage
2. Hill 875 / Hamburger Hill
a. Secure and leave
1. Slaughter of 555 men, women
a. Lieutenant Calley
(1) Convicted of murdering 22
(3) Senator Rivers: "My God"
Vet: "God didn't do this Senator, we did"
(2) Congressional hearings
D. 1968 Election
2. Johnson withdraws
a. Johnson: "I've carried the party through thick and thin"
3. Humphrey v. Nixon
a. Nixon: We are trying to do too much
1. Robert Kennedy: assassinated
(1) Reduces soldiers
A. Begins in 1940
1. 18-25 Register with Selective Service
2. Purpose was to ensure we had reserves in place
to fight communism
B. Deferments- Postponement
1. Local boards hear cases for exemption
a. Perception: Wealthy get exemptions, poor do not
2. Reasons for deferment
a. Enrolled in college
b. Poor health
c. Flee to Canada
d. Claim homosexual status
3. Other options
(2) "Gay deceiver"
C. Gay Rights
1. Exemption for homosexuals has 2 consequences
a. Encourages those who are gay to come out
b. Normalization; strength in numbers
(1) FBI tracking
(3) Army asks for "proof"
(1) 1973 American Psychiatric Association removes
homosexuality as a "mental disorder"
(2) Gay rights movement merges with
A. Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon
1. Henry Kissinger
a. National Security Advisor
b. 3 degrees from Harvard
(1) Gradual withdrawal
(2) "Peace with honor"
B. Cambodia 1970
1. Invasion causes massive protests
2. Kent State
C. "Peace is at hand"
1. 1972 Election
2. An agreement is reached...then broken
D. U.S. withdrawals 3/29/1973
a. Christmas bombings - 1972
b. 100,000 bombs in 11 days
F. Saigon falls - 4/30/1975
E. Nixon resigns - Gerald Ford (1974)
1. Renamed: Ho Chi Minh City
1. War Powers Act (1973)
G. Legacy of Vietnam War
b. Mines - 20 million craters
c. 5 million tons of bombs
2. Psychological Effects
b. Drugs / Alcohol
a. > 58,000 U.S. soldiers killed
b. > 300,000 wounded or missing
c. Total casualties from BOTH sides...
2 - 4 MILLION