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The Vietnam War Conflict
Transcript of The Vietnam War Conflict
US Strategies - The Conflict Deepens for the US
Vietnam - Kennedy to Johnson
History of Vietnam
- Vietnam has not had control of it's own country for the majority of the time since the mid 19th century.
- Vietnam, along with Laos and Cambodia, were control by France as part of French Indochina until WWII.
- France lost control during WWII to Japan.
- In 1941, the Viet Minh was formed by communist leader Ho Chi Minh to resist Japanese occupation.
- Near the end of WWII, Japan began to grant Vietnam its independence.
- After Japanese defeat in WWII, France returned to Vietnam to take possession of French Indochina, including Vietnam.
Vietnam - The End of WWII
Vietnam Through the End of WWII
- Ho Chi Minh allowed entry into Vietnam by France only because France assured that Vietnam would be granted some independence as part of the French Union.
- Discussions between Ho Chi Minh and France were not successful. This led to the First Indochina War.
- The First Indochina War was between France, its colonies and its allies (mainly the US) and the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
- DRV was led by Ho Chi Minh and was supported by USSR and China.
- The US, initially neutral, became involved because of fear of the spread of communism and the domino theory. Support came in the form of financial aid to the war.
- in 1950, Truman offered $15 million in aid to France. Eisenhower continued aid when he took office in 1953.
Vietnam after Geneva Convention of 1954
- France and Ho Chi Minh agreed to settle the war at the Geneva Convention of 1954. The settlement was to temporarily divide Vietnam at the 17th parallel.
- The north to be controlled by Communist Ho Chi Minh.
- The South to be controlled by president Ngo Dinh Diem.
- The division was only to be in place until 1956 when national elections were to be held.
- 1956 - Diem refused to hold national elections. Eisenhower supported this by saying "If the elections had been held in 1956, Ho Chi Minh would have won 80% of the vote".
Kennedy and Vietnam
- Kennedy continued and increased aid to Vietnam in the wake of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis which increased fear of spread of communism.
- After Diem (supported by US) refused to hold national elections, he did not establish a democratic government in south Vietnam as promised. His government was very corrupt and feared in South Vietnam.
- They took land that the government had given to peasants and he jailed, tortured and killed his opponents. His policies drove many in South Vietnam to communism.
- By late 1963, the US had over 16,000 military personnel (to help train and advise Vietnam military). US officials told Diem to make major political, economic and military reforms but he refused.
- Kennedy and the CIA supported a military coup to overthrow Diem.
The coup leaders killed Diem and his brother.
- 3 weeks later Kennedy was assassinated. (JFK TAPES)
Johnson and Vietnam
- Diem's assassination came weeks after Johnson took office after Kennedy's assassination.
- South Vietnam was in chaos and much of it was controlled by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army.
- THE GULF of TONKIN RESOLUTION - This gave Johnson the authority to use military force in Vietnam.
- March 1965 - First US troops were sent into Vietnam
75,000 troops sent in mid 1965
184,000 total troops in Vietnam by the end of 1965.
By the end of 1968 there were more than 536,000 troops in Vietnam.
- LBJ TAPES
US Bombing Campaign -
- Operation Rolling Thunder -1965
- US planes attack Ho Chi Minh Trail
Ho Chi Minh Trail was a network of roads, paths and bridges that ran from North Vietnam through Cambodia, Laos into South Vietnam.
- Other planes attacked bridges, docks, factories and military bases in North Vietnam.
- From 1965 to 1968 US dropped more bombs on North Vietnam than on the Axis in WWII.
Use of Chemical Agents in Warfare
- US began search and destroy missions. Ground troops would seek out the enemy and then helicopter gunships would strike from the air.
- The also began using Napalm and Agent Orange.
is an explosive that burned very intensely (and at very high temps) and created large "fire storms
US Bombing Campaign
- The US used the chemical Agent Orange to clear out the foliage and brush of the Vietnam jungles by causing leaves to fall off the trees. It has been found to cause very serious health issues for soldiers and citizens that were exposed to Agent Orange and Napalm.
US Disadvantages in Vietnam
S soldiers were young and inexperienced.
Average age was 19.
Soldiers usually only served a one year term
What disadvantages came from this?
- There was no front line. The Viet Cong mixed in with the general public.The enemy would suddenly emerge from tunnels or from hideaways. They set land mines and booby traps, such as hidden bamboo stakes or grenades hanging from trees.
Climate and terrain difficult
- suffocating heat and constant rain. Soldiers waded through rice paddies, and tangled jungles. Leeches and mosquitoes were also troubling.
Tet is the Vietnamese celebration of the lunar new year.
- The Tet Offensive was a surprise attack during the holiday celebrations on January 30-31, 1968. In previous year of Vietnam War both sides held a truce on these two days. In 1968 the Viet Cong and the NVA broke that truce.
- The offensive went on for 8 months. The North attacked every major city as well an attempt on the US embassy in Saigon. The US lost 4,000 soldiers, while the North lost over 45,000 soldiers.
-The Offensive was deemed a loss for the north but they were able to hit the US in two areas. 1) The Tet offensive was an eyeopener for the US public. The media played a big part by helping the US public see that we were not close to wining the war as they had been led to believe. 2) The moral of the Military was also hurt due the the large attack across the entire nation of South Vietnam.
- This was the beginning of the end of the Vietnam war.......
The End Of The Vietnam War
The My Lai Massacre
Lieut. William Calley
= Lieut. Calley, along with 10 others were charged with the murder of over 100 people after the massacre of My Lai.
- Higher military officials claimed that Calley was NOT following orders as he had claimed. They claimed that he ordered his troops to kill civililians.
- He was solely convicted of 22 counts of premeditated murder adns was sentenced to life in prison but oly served a portion of that.
End Of Johnson Era
Johnson - "If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America"
- In March of 1968, Johnson refused General Westmoreland's request for 206,000 more troops.
- On March 31, 1968 he announced a change in his war policy saying that he would begin bargaining for peace.
- In the same speech he announced he would not run for re-election in Nov 1968.
Nixon Pledges to End War Quickly
- Nixon was elected in November of 1968.
- He promised to end the war quickly, but it continued to drag on.
- Morale continues to sink with the news of the My Lai Massacre (18 months after it took place).
- Nixon's strategy to gradually withdraw from Vietnam.
Spring of 1969- Nixon promised to withdraw 25,000 of the 543,000 Us ground troops by the end of the year.
- Although troops were being withdrawn, Nixon was still widening the war against the North. He began secretly bombing Cambodia. The bombing was meant to stop N. Vietnamese troops from carrying supplies and troops along the Ho Chi Minh trail.
- 1n 1970, Nixon admitted to the US public that he had sent troops into Cambodia, which angered the US public.
America Withdraws from Vietnam
-January 1973 US and South Vietnam agreed to a cease fire with NV and Viet Cong.
- US agreed to withdraw all troops within 60 days. NV agreed to release all US POWs within these 60 days.
- By March 29, 1973 the Vietnam War was over for the US.
-- The war continued in Vietnam until 1975 when he North launched a massive attack on the South.
- US sent money but no troops.
-On April 30th of 1975 communist forces captured Saigon, which was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. The war ended for Vietnam.
Legacy of the War at Home
- 58,000 americans dead; over 300,000 injured.
- Soldiers came home to a public that treated them coldly
-Soldiers left with PTSD and nightmares.
-26th amendment = passed in 1971, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
- War Powers Act = Limits the presidents war -making powers. President must now report to Congress within 48 hours of sending troops into a hostile situation without a declaration of war.