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The Vietnam War
Transcript of The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War—commonly referred to as "America's longest war"—grew out of the American commitment to the containment of communism during the Cold War. For approximately fifteen years, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) fought against an American-supported Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The war for the U.S. ended in 1973 with the withdrawal of American combat troops, and two years later, South Vietnamese forces surrendered to the North.
With the unification of Vietnam under the Communist government of the North, the U.S. had officially failed to achieve its objectives. A nation accustomed to grand victories suffered its first major defeat; the "longest war" was a military, political, and social disaster, one that would haunt Americans for decades. Advantages and Disadvantages United States of America Viet Cong + North Vietnam Advantages:
Didn't know the land
Knew the land
Fighting for Freedom
Didn't have to travel far
Not many superior weapons
Money Johnson's Plan For Success President Johnson's goal for America's involvement in Vietnam was not for America to win the war, but for U.S. troops to bolster South Vietnam's defenses until South Vietnam could take over. By entering the Vietnam War without a goal to win, Johnson set the stage for future public and troop disappointment when the U.S. found themselves in a stalemate with the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong.
From 1965 to 1969, the U.S. was involved in a limited war in Vietnam. Although there were aerial bombings of the North, President Johnson wanted the fighting to be limited to South Vietnam. By limiting the fighting parameters, the U.S. forces would not conduct a serious ground assault into the North to attack the communists directly nor would there be any strong effort to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Viet Cong's supply path that ran through Laos and Cambodia). Life In The Jungle U.S. troops fought a jungle war, mostly against the well-supplied Viet Cong. The Viet Cong would attack in ambushes, set up booby traps, and escape through a complex network of underground tunnels. For U.S. forces, even just finding their enemy proved difficult. Since Viet Cong hid in the dense brush, U.S. forces would drop Agent Orange or napalm bombs which cleared an area by causing the leaves to drop off or to burn away. In every village, U.S. troops had difficulty determining which, if any, villagers were the enemy since even women and children could build booby traps or help house and feed the Viet Cong. U.S. soldiers commonly became frustrated with the fighting conditions in Vietnam. Many suffered from low morale, became angry, and some used drugs. Nixon's Plan for 'Peace With Honor' In 1969, Richard Nixon became the new U.S. President and he had his own plan to end U.S. involvement in Vietnam. President Nixon outlined a plan called Vietnamization, which was a process to remove U.S. troops from Vietnam while handing back the fighting to the South Vietnamese. The withdrawal of U.S. troops began in July 1969. To bring a faster end to hostilities, President Nixon also expanded the war into other countries, such as Laos and Cambodia -- a move that created thousands of protests, especially on college campuses, back in America. To work toward peace, new peace talks began in Paris on January 25, 1969.
When the U.S. had withdrawn most of its troops from Vietnam, the North Vietnamese staged another massive assault, called the Easter Offensive (also called the Spring Offensive), on March 30, 1972. North Vietnamese troops crossed over the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 17th parallel and invaded South Vietnam. The remaining U.S. forces and the South Vietnamese army fought back. Reunification of Vietnam After the U.S. had withdrawn all its troops, the fighting continued in Vietnam. In early 1975, North Vietnam made another big push south which toppled the South Vietnamese government. South Vietnam officially surrendered to communist North Vietnam on April 30, 1975. On July 2, 1976, Vietnam was reunited as a communist country, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.