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Vietnam - Condensed Unit

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by

Lisa Nooyen Muller

on 25 April 2016

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Transcript of Vietnam - Condensed Unit

The actions of a government can divide the people.
French Indochina

After France surrendered to the Nazis in 1940, a group of Communist rebels rose up in revolution against them in Vietnam. This group was called
the Vietminh
and were headed by a man named
Ho Chi Minh
.
In 1954, the Vietminh succeeded in getting the French to retreat from Vietnam and give up their claims to French Indochina.
Republic of Vietnam
In 1954, France and the Vietminh signed a peace treaty, the Geneva Accords. In the accords,
Vietnam was split in half
, with national elections set for 1956. The U.S. had supported the Vietminh originally, but now refused to recognize the treaty.
In the South,
the U.S. helped Ngo Dinh Diem become president there
. Diem was a Catholic, Vietnamese man who had gone to college in the U.S. and spoke French and English better than Vietnamese.
Diem made many mistakes. In 1956, he announced that the South
would not be holding the agreed-upon elections
. Instead, he had his own elections that were rigged. His U.S. advisers supposedly told him to shoot for 60-70%, but he "won" with 98%, with as much as 133% in some districts.
Another huge mistake was a
crackdown on the Buddhist religion
, leading to infamous self-immolation (setting yourself on fire) protests by Buddhist monks and nuns.
Vietnam
Domino Theory
The U.S. supported the Vietminh during WWII because
they were fighting the Japanese
. After the war, the U.S. suddenly stopped supporting them. The reasoning was the Domino Theory: the idea that
a small country falling to Communism would lead to other nations falling, like a line of dominoes
.
Gulf of Tonkin
In 1964, President Johnson gave a speech to the American people in which he claimed that the
North Vietnamese Navy had fired on two U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin

off the coast of Vietnam. He then used this attack to get Congress to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which
gave the President permission and money to do "whatever necessary" to support South Vietnam
. In 2005, declassified documents revealed that the attack was a hoax by the Johnson administration.
Ho Chi Minh
The leader of the Vietminh was Ho Chi Minh. He had
li
ved in the U.S., England, the Soviet Union, and China

before returning to Vietnam to
lead the resistance against the French and Japanese during World War II
. He had petitioned the U.S. multiple times to recognize a democratic republic in Vietnam but was ignored. It was generally agreed that

he would have won the 1956 elections if they had been held
.
Two Enemies
From the North, the U.S. fought the
North Vietnamese Army (NVA)
. They were the official army of North Vietnam.
In the South, the U.S. fought the Vietcong,
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 and sabotage
.
Making the Connection
Think back to
the Korean War
. What
similarities
can you think of between the Korean War and the Vietnam War? What
differences
can you think of?
The Draft
Of the roughly 3.5 million U.S. soldiers, Marines, and sailors that served in Vietnam, 2.2 million were drafted.
Many young people opposed the war in Vietnam and thus were very against the draft. Hundreds of thousands refused to serve - leading to the term
"draft dodger."
The Black Panthers argued that
African-Americans should be exempt from the draft due to their lack of voting rights
. Blacks were also disproportionately drafted.
Essential Understanding
Martin Luther King and Vietnam
In the last few years of his life,
Martin Luther King
began to speak out against the war in Vietnam
. This cost him the friendship and support of many of his white civil rights allies, such as President Lyndon Johnson, who came to feel that King had betrayed him after he had done so much for African-Americans.
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)
Explain this quote in your own words. Do you agree?
Expanding the Vote
Kent State
The anti-war movement took a tragic turn on May 4th, 1970, when
National Guardsmen fired on peaceful protestors
at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio
killing 4 students and wounding 9
. This event led to an increase in student protests and shifted public opinion more strongly against the war.
If you have to skip part of this, skip to about the 3/4ths mark.
The main protestors of the Vietnam war were college students, many of whom were too young to vote. They argued that it was unfair that people
18-20 were old enough for the draft but not to vote
. In response, in 1971 Congress passed the
26th Amendment to the Constitution
. It officially
lowered
the
voting age
to
18

in all elections.
The Tet Offensive
The Tet Offensive was a widespread,
surprise attack by the NVA and the Vietcong across Vietnam
. It was called the Tet Offensive because it took place during the Vietnamese holiday of Tet, in which it was generally agreed there would be no fighting.
The Tet Offensive seemed like a
big loss for North Vietnam
. Of around 100,000 fighters, at least 45,000 were killed; however, in the U.S., the
American people were shocked by the offensive and felt like the U.S. must be losing the war
. The Johnson administration tried to convince the American people that the U.S. was still winning, but they did not believe this.
The Credibility Gap
As the war dragged on, Americans came to distrust President Johnson and (later) President Nixon. They did not
believe that the war was going as well as the Presidents said
. This difference between what the Presidents said and what the public believed was called the "Credibility Gap."
Getting Out
President Nixon vowed to end the Vietnam War "with honor." This involved a tactic known as "Vietnamization." Vietnamization meant
training South Vietnamese troops (the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, or ARVN) to take over the war for themselves
. By 1973, all U.S. troops had left Vietnam (except for the Marines guarding the U.S. embassy in Saigon).
Wrap it Up
By the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. had spent $111 billion on the war (that's about $680 billion in today's dollars). Over 58,000 Americans were killed, with another 21,000 permanently disabled. There were about 5.3 million Vietnamese killed in the war, around 4 million of them civilians. Another 3 million or so Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians fled after the war. In the years following the war, there were revolutions in Laos and Cambodia. The Communist dictatorship that took over Cambodia committed genocide, killing 1/5th of its population (Communist Vietnam eventually invaded and took them out, though).
Was it worth it? Why or why not?
The War Powers Act
Also called the War Powers Resolution, it requires the President t
o notify Congress within 48 hours of sending the military into action and requires them to begin leaving within 60 days unless authorized by Congress
. It was passed by Congress in 1973 over President Nixon's veto.
The End of the War
Even with the U.S. Navy and Air Force providing some support, ARVN was no match for North Vietnam. On April 30, 1975, the capital city of Saigon fell. Soon,
Vietnam unified under a single Communist government and remains under it to this day
.
Full transcript