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Vietnam -Overview Longest war in U.S. history ( )

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Presentation on theme: "Vietnam -Overview Longest war in U.S. history ( )"— Presentation transcript:

1 Vietnam -Overview Longest war in U.S. history (1955-1975)
More than 58,000 US soldiers killed 300,000 wounded 14,000 + disabled 800,000 Vietnam veterans diagnosed as having “significant” to “severe” problems of readjustment.

2 Overview In Vietnam – over 2 million killed (including civilians)
In Vietnam – 4 million wounded and 10 million displaced from their homes.

3 Background of the War Vietnam/French Indochina – was a French colony that was invaded by the Japanese during WWII. Ho Chi Minh – leader of the Vietnamese – called the Vietminh. Ho Chi Minh supported Communism

4 Background 1945 – French returned to control Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh & Vietminh forces – controlled North Vietnam and received aid from the People’s Republic of China. France – received aid from the United States 1950 – Pres. Truman sent $15 million to France to help with the war. Ultimately the US paid up to 75%-80% of France’s military costs.

5 Reasons for U.S. Involvement
Pres. Truman’s policy of containment – American policy of resisting further expansion of communism around the world. Pres. Eisenhower’s – domino theory – belief that if one country falls to communism, neighboring countries would fall.


7 France in Trouble May 1954 –Battle of Dien Bien Phu
France held area for 50 days but it fell to Ho Chi Minh and his troops. Major turning point – France pulled out of Vietnam after this defeat.

8 A Divided Vietnam July 1954 = Geneva Accords – Vietnam was divided near the 17th parallel into two separate nations: - North Vietnam, Communist, led by Ho Chi Minh - South Vietnam, non-Communist, looking for leader

9 The Two Leaders of Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh – leader of the North – but also many in South Vietnam look to him for leadership Hero because he broke up large estates and redistributed land to the peasants. He had beaten the French


11 The Two Leaders Ngo Dihn Diem – “placed” in office by the United States. Told to hold free elections – never held due to US’s refusal. Corrupt gov’t that suppressed opposition of any kind. Offered little or no land distribution to peasants.


13 Violence increases 1957- Vietcong, called VC by the Americans, - they were guerrilla fighters who wanted Diem out of South Vietnam.

14 VC get help Ho Chi Minh used the Ho Chi Minh Trail – a network of paths used by N. Vietnam to transport supplies to the Vietcong (VC) in S. Vietnam

15 JFK and Vietnam Called Vietnam – the “cornerstone of the free world.”
Sent members of his administration on a “fact finding mission”  recommend sending 8,000 combat troops JFK – sent “advisors” – help the South Vietnamese gov’t

16 Trouble for Diem In protest to Diem- Buddhist monks set themselves on fire. VC increasingly gained support within South Vietnam

17 Diem Out Increased discontent with Diem’s gov’t
U.S.-supported military coup Nov. 1, 1963 – Diem was executed US General William Westmoreland = overall commander of Vietnam

18 Johnson and Vietnam LBJ significantly increased U.S. involvement in the war. Sec. of Defense – Robert McNamara – recommended the U.S. send more troops

19 Trouble in the Gulf Aug. 1964 – Gulf of Tonkin incident
The U.S.S. Maddox was attacked by N. Vietnamese torpedo boats 2 days later – ship C. Turner Joy is “supposedly” attacked LBJ asked Congress to act

20 Tonkin Resolution August 1964, little opposition in US Congress
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave LBJ a “blank check” to take whatever steps were needed to stop North VN attacks. Like “grandma’s nightgown”

21 Escalation 1965 - 200,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam
Operation Rolling Thunder (March 1965 – Nov. 1968) intense bombing of N. Vietnam. Main target = Ho Chi Minh Trail

22 Tet Offensive Jan. 31, 1968 = Vietnamese New Year 70,000 North Vietnamese and Vietcong attack cities in South Vietnam. Boldest move – 19 VC attacked the U.S. Embassy in Saigon and killed 5 American soldiers.

23 Tet – a turning point in the war
A. Military victory for the U.S. but a psychological victory for the VC. B. American public thought U.S. was winning the war – but watched “live” as Americans were killed at the U.S. Embassy C. Contributed to widening the credibility gap – fewer Americans trusted the gov’t

24 D. Pres. Johnson said he would halt bombing of N
D. Pres. Johnson said he would halt bombing of N. Vietnam – not completely true E. Pres. Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election

25 My Lai – US public opininon 
March 16, 1968 Charlie Company – a group of U.S. troops under the command of Lt. William Calley On a “search and destroy” mission US soldiers killed 300 civilians – mostly old men, women and children

26 “Battle for Heart and Minds”
Clearing the jungle – strategy to expose the Vietcong’s tunnels and hideouts U.S. planes dropped napalm – a gasoline-based bomb that set fire to the jungle.

27 “Battle for Hearts and Minds”
U.S. also used Agent Orange – leaf-killing toxic chemical that devastated the landscape. U.S. dumped over 13 million gallons. Name comes from the orange barrels that stored the chemical.

28 Why not “win their hearts?”
The U.S. did not “win the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people. Why? A. Villages burned B. Livestock killed C. Use of chemicals poisoned the water, caused skin diseases, birth defects, and cancer

29 “One does not use napalm on village and hamlets sheltering civilians if one is attempting to persuade these people of the rightness of one’s cause. One does not defoilate the country and deform its people with chemicals if one is attempting to persuade them of the foe’s evil nature.” - an American commentator on the US policy failure in Vietnam

30 Pres. Nixon and the War Said he represented the “silent majority” = those individuals who did not demonstrate against the war or speak out against the government Promised to start bringing the “boys” home from Vietnam.

31 Nixon His approach – Vietnamization – called for the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops and for the Army of South Vietnam to take more control of the war. Said that he would cease bombing He initiated Operation Linebacker – the bombing of Cambodia to cut the supply lines of the Vietcong.

32 Nixon “Peace with Honor” – Pres. Nixon wanted to maintain U.S. dignity in the face of withdrawal from the war.

33 Policies Changed 1971 - Constitutional Amendment 26 –
Lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 1973 – War Powers Act – limited the President’s power to engage troops in undeclared wars. - Must notify Congress within 48 hrs. Of sending troops abroad. - Am. troops may not remain abroad longer than 60 days without congressional approval.

34 Start for Home April 1975 Operation Frequent Wind – the largest evacuation on record. Started moving all Americans out of Saigon. April 30th, 1975 – Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City at the end of the war.

35 Why did the US lose? Failure of military tactics
Unpopularity of South Vietnamese regime Experience of VC vs. inexperience of American soldiers in unfamiliar conditions Overwhelming popular opposition to the war PRC & USSR support for the VC

36 Failure of Containment in Vietnam
Led to changes in US relations with Communist states Improved relations with China (PRC) in United Nations Nixon’s visit to China Improved relations with the USSR US now wary of military involvement on foreign soil

37 The Vietnam War’s Legacy
58,000 killed 365,000 wounded N. and S. Vietnam – 1.5 million deaths Delayed stress syndrome – recurring nightmares, etc. 1982 – Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.



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