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Vietnam War

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Jennifer Crona

on 7 May 2013

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Transcript of Vietnam War

Background of the War
According to President Eisenhower’s , domino theory if one Southeast Asian nation fell to communism, others would soon follow. Vietnam War Ho Chi Minh, a pro-Communist leader in Vietnam, led a group called the Vietminh against French control of his nation before, during, and after World War II. After the Vietminh successfully defeated the French in 1954, a peace agreement called the Geneva Accords divided Vietnam into Communist North Vietnam and anti-Communist South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh led North Vietnam, while Ngo Dinh Diem led South Vietnam. The United States began providing economic aid to the French in Vietnam in 1950. In 1960, President Eisenhower sent hundreds of military advisors to help South Vietnam’s struggle against the North. Diem’s Downfall
During the early 1960s, Ngo Dinh Diem’s policies lost him the support of his people.
Realizing that the struggle against communism could not be won under Diem’s rule, President Kennedy told South Vietnamese military leaders that the United States would not object to Diem’s overthrow.
In November 1963, military leaders seized control of South Vietnam and assassinated Diem. McNamara’s Role
Robert McNamara, President Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense, was influential in shaping American policy toward Vietnam.
McNamara used his strong business background to cut costs while modernizing the armed forces.
In the coming years, McNamara would push for direct American involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy’s Vietnam Policy President Johnson and Communist Advances In South Vietnam, the military leaders who had taken over the government were unsuccessful and unpopular. As a result, Communist guerrillas in South Vietnam, known as the Viet Cong, made gains in both territory and loyalty. The Viet Cong’s political wing was known as the National Liberation Front. Battlefield Conditions
American Troops
Had superior weapons
Were unprepared for heat, terrain, or guerrilla tactics
Lacked support of most South Vietnamese
Most never saw the enemy but constantly faced the possibility of sudden danger Viet Cong Troops
Fought as guerrillas; avoided head-on clashes
Were familiar with terrain; had support of many South Vietnamese
Built and hid in elaborate underground tunnels The Air and Ground Wars- Some Weapons Used in the Vietnam War
Land Mines — Land mines,which can be set off by the pressure of a footstep, are explosive devices planted in the ground. Viet Cong landmines killed and wounded both American GIs and Vietnamese civilians. Expanding Presidential Power
Originally, American soldiers had been sent to advise the South Vietnamese; now their task was to prop up a failing South Vietnamese government led by Nguyen Cao Ky.
Despite the large buildup of American troops, between 1965 and 1967 the war was at a stalemate. Within the United States, debate raged between hawks, those who supported the war, and doves, those who did not. The Ho Chi Minh Trail
North Vietnamese troops and supplies entered South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a route that passed through Laos and Cambodia. Americans massacred hundreds of civilians at My Lai, a small village in South Vietnam. A helicopter crew that stopped the massacre was later rewarded, and the officer who had ordered it was imprisoned.
Because Americans now knew that the Viet Cong could launch massive attacks, and because no end to the war was in sight, the Tet Offensive proved to be a major psychological victory for the Viet Cong and a turning point in the war. Student Activism in the 1960s
Generation Gap — Young Americans in the 1960s had many opportunities unknown to previous generations; many also questioned the values of their parents. These factors contributed to a wider generation gap between college-aged youths and their parents.
As the Vietnam War progressed, the draft-resistance movement grew, with many young men burning their draft cards or fleeing the country to avoid the draft.
At first, college students could receive a deferment, or postponement of their call to serve. Deferments were eliminated in 1971 in response to complaints that they were unfair to those who could not afford college.
Two other Democratic contenders, antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy, brother of John Kennedy and a senator from New York, campaigned against Johnson for the party’s nomination.
On March 31, 1968, Johnson announced in a nationally televised speech that he would not seek another term as President. Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the Democratic nomination, but the party had been further torn apart by the convention’s events. The Nation Chooses Nixon
Richard M. Nixon received the Republican Party’s nomination for President.
Nixon soon took the lead in national polls, allowing his running mate Spiro Agnew to make harsh accusations, while Nixon stayed “above the fray.”
Independent candidate George C. Wallace drew many votes. Additionally, many disillusioned Democrats did not vote.
In a close race, Nixon won the presidency in the 1968 election. He therefore launched secret bombing raids and expanded the war to Cambodia, hoping to destroy Viet Cong camps there.Nixon hoped his Cambodian attacks would help America in peace negotiations. Instead, the attacks resulted in both civil war in Cambodia and more antiwar protests in the United States. Nixon Calls for Law and Order
The Silent Majority
Nixon had campaigned promising a return to law and order. As President, he strengthened this position, discouraging protest against the war.
In a 1969 speech, Nixon appealed to those who, he felt, quietly supported his policies. He referred to this group of Americans as “the silent majority.” Kent State and Jackson State
When student antiwar protesters at Kent State University in Ohio reacted angrily to Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia, Nixon ordered the National Guard to Kent State. After students threw rocks at the guardsmen, the troops opened fire, killing and wounding both protesters and bystanders.
The violence at Kent State, and a similar incident at Jackson State in Mississippi, horrified Americans. "Ohio"

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio. American Withdrawal Aftermath of the War in Asia South Vietnam Falls
After American forces had withdrawn, North Vietnam attacked strategic cities in South Vietnam, ending with its capital, Saigon.
Following a last-minute evacuation of both American soldiers and Vietnamese refugees, South Vietnam surrendered in April 1975, and Vietnam became unified under a Communist government.
In Vietnam, millions were dead or wounded, many of them civilians. The war also heavily damaged the landscape of Vietnam.
In 1994, the United States lifted its trade embargo against Vietnam; in 1995, full diplomatic relations were restored. The Legacy of the War Designed by 21-year old Maya Ying Lin and completed in 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It consists of a long wall of black granite, listing the names of every American who died in the Vietnam War. Since its completion, visitors have added to the memorial by leaving personal tokens at the wall in memory of their loved ones. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Shortly after Diem’s assassination in November 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated, and Vice President Johnson assumed the presidency. Students for a Democratic Society and the New Left — Organized in 1960, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had a major impact on the New Left, a political movement that advocated radical changes to deal with problems such as poverty and racism. The Free Speech Movement — Student protests for free speech at the University of California at Berkeley inspired similar movements elsewhere, including challenges to social restrictions on campuses. The Teach-in Movement — Begun at the University of Michigan in March 1965, teach-ins, or special sessions at which issues concerning the war could be discussed, soon became a popular means of expressing antiwar sentiment. Saturation Bombing — American B-52 bomber planes dropped thousands of tons of explosives, resulting in saturation bombing of North Vietnam. Fragmentation Bombs — Fragmentation bombs, dropped by Americans over both North and South Vietnam, threw pieces of their thick metal casings in all directions when they exploded. In South Vietnam, fragmentation bombs killed and maimed countless civilians. Agent Orange — American pilots dropped an herbicide called Agent Orange over Vietnamese jungles, killing vegetation and exposing Viet Cong hiding places. Agent Orange was later discovered to cause health problems in livestock and humans. Napalm — Another chemical weapon used in Vietnam, napalm, was a jellylike substance which, when dropped from planes splattered, and burned uncontrollably. Intensifying the War
After the election of 1964, President Johnson began a gradual escalation, or expansion of the war. The number of American soldiers stationed in Vietnam rose from about 25,000 at the beginning of 1965 to nearly 536,000 by the end of 1968. The Tet Offensive: A Turning Point
On January 30, 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnam launched a major offensive. This series of attacks was called the Tet Offensive since it occurred during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.
During and after the Tet Offensive, both sides were guilty of brutal atrocities. Communists slaughtered anyone they labeled an enemy Draft Resistance
To increase the available fighting force, the United States invoked the Selective Service Act of 1951, drafting young men between the ages of 18 and 26 into the armed forces.
Most of those who refused to be drafted in the early 1960s were conscientious objectors, people who opposed fighting on moral or religious grounds. Johnson Decides Not to Run
Continuing protests and an increasing number of casualties steadily decreased popular support for Johnson’s handling of the war.
After the Tet Offensive, Johnson rarely left the White House for fear of angry protesters. Nixon’s Vietnam Policy
Toward the end of his term as President, Johnson had called for peace negotiations to end the Vietnam War. However, the resulting Paris peace talks, which began in May 1968, failed to produce an agreement.
President Nixon campaigned on the claim that he had a secret plan to end the war. In June 1969, he began the policy of Vietnamization, replacing American troops in Vietnam with South Vietnamese soldiers.
Although Nixon wanted to end the war, he did not want to lose it. The Election of 1968
The Democratic Convention
At the time of the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Eugene McCarthy was thought too far out of the mainstream, and Robert Kennedy had been assassinated. During the convention, police attacked protesters, with much of the violence taking place in front of television cameras. With a cost of at least $150 billion, and hundreds of thousands of American soldiers killed or wounded, the Vietnam War was the longest and least successful war in American history. Thousands of American soldiers who did not return home after the war were listed as POWs (prisoners of war) or MIAs (missing in action). Many remain unaccounted for today.
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