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The Vietnam War Years, 1954-1975.

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Presentation on theme: "The Vietnam War Years, 1954-1975."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Vietnam War Years,

2 Moving Toward Conflict
To stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia (Vietnam), the United States uses its military to support South Vietnam

3 French Rule in Vietnam Late 1800’s- WWII, France rules most of Indochina Ho Chi Minh- leader of Vietnamese independence movement- helps create Indochinese Communist Party 1940-Japan takes control of Vietnam Vietminh-organization that aims to rid Vietnam foreign rule September 1945, Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnam an independent nation

4 French Indochina War France Battles in the Vietminh
French troops move into Vietnam, French fight, regain cities in the South 1950, U.S. begins economic aid to France to stop communism

5 The Vietminh Drive Out France
Domino Theory- countries can fall to communism like a row of dominos 1954, Vietminh overrun French at Dien Bien Phu and France surrenders Geneva Accords divide Vietnam at 17th parallel Communist=North Anticommunists=South An Election to unify the country was called for in 1956

6 War Unfolds in Vietnam: North vs South
Diem (leader of South Vietnam) Cancels elections in 1956 Ho has brutal, repressive regime but is popular for land distribution South Vietnam’s anti-Communist president Ngo Dinh Diem refuses elections U.S. promises military aid for stable, reform government in the South Diem is corrupt, stifles opposition, restricts Buddhism (Buddhist Monks Oppose Diem by setting themselves on fire in the streets) Vietcong (Communist opposition group in South) kills officials Ho sends arms to Vietcong along Ho Chi Minh Trail

7 Kennedy and Vietnam Like Eisenhower, JFK backs Diem Financially; sends military advisors Diem’s popularity plummets for corruption, lack of land reform Diem starts strategic hamlet program to fight Vietcong (villagers were being moved from ancestral homes Diem presses attacks on Buddhism and monks burn themselves in protest U.S.- supported military coup topples government; Diem assassinated

8 President Johnson Expands the Conflict
The South Grows More Unstable Succession of military leaders rule South Vietnam; country unstable LBJ thinks U.S. can lose international prestige if communists win The Tonkin Gulf Resolution Alleged attack in Gulf of Tonkin; LBJ asks for power to repel enemy 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution gave LBJ broad military powers 1965 eight Americans killed, LBJ orders sustained bombing of North U.S. combat troops sent to South Vietnam to battle Vietcong

9 Johnson Americanizes the War
Johnson drastically increased troops in Vietnam ,000 troops by April, 120,000 troops by July ,000 troops ,000 troops United States became the main responsibility for South Vietnam to resist communism.

10 American Troops Face Difficult Conditions
North Vietnamese Army- knew the land and had underground extensive tunnels as their base camps. These tunnels were undetectable by the US military. NVA used guerrilla warfare (surprise attacks) Agent Orange- herbicide, named for the color of barrels it was stored in was used to kill plants and trees and strip the forest of the Vietnam jungles. It also contaminated soil, food, and exposed civilians and soldiers to the toxins.

11 General Westmoreland War of Attrition- wear down enemies strengths by eliminating troops Search and Destroy Strategy- platoons (small units of soldiers) would search our insurgents and draw them into a fight then call an air strike to destroy the enemy. Body count became a key tactic US soldiers fell victim to land mines (explosive devices buried underground)


13 War divides South Vietnam
SOUTH VIETNAMESE Some South Vietnamese people joined the Viet Cong Some remained neutral Some supported the South Vietnam government of democracy Pacification- policy designed to promote security and stability in South Vietnam Economic development in rural Vietnam ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam)- removed Viet Cong from villages

14 Pacification has problems and Viet Cong remain popular
ARVN- lack leadership skills and dedication to provide security in the villages. Also lacked the desire to fight, Search and Destroy missions created more enemies than friends (wrecking homes and food supplies of villagers) Napalm- jellied gasoline dropped from planes which burned forests brought the greatest agony on the Vietnamese people

15 Opposition to the War TV and NEWS- bring the war to living rooms (first news reports were positive then negative) Escalating costs- 30billion and 500,000 soldiers (1,200 dying per month) Credibility Gap- difference between the reality of the war and Johnson’s portrayal of it. Hawks vs Doves- Public opinion divided. Hawks- containment Doves- US action immoral and futile

16 26th Amendment 1971, 26th Amendment was passed lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. Young men felt if there were able to fight for their country they should be able to vote on their leaders. Tinker v Des Moines- students have the right to engage in symbolic speech Des Moines, Iowa 3 students aged wore black armbands to school to protest the war. They were suspended and sued the school.

17 1968: A Year of Crisis Tet Offensive: January, 1968: 85,000 North Viet Cong soldiers attacked cities, villages, military bases and air fields in the South including the US Embassy. 45,000 Viet Cong died. The Tet Offensive shocked Americans, to see the enemy inside the walls of the US Embassy on their television was a scary sight. Many Americans questioned whether the US could hold off the Vietnamese.

18 1968: A Year of Crisis Johnson decided not to run for reelection
Tet Offensive was a political catastrophe, only 26% of the public supported him afterwards Johnson did reject General Westmoreland’s idea to send 206,000 more troops Johnson did say in his final speech he would try and “deescalate the conflict” and then told Americans “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

19 1968: A Year of Crisis ELECTION of 1968
Johnson’s VP Herbert Humphrey ran for the Democrats and Richard Nixon for Republicans At the DNC (Democratic National Convention) in Chicago violence erupted by angry antiwar protesters when Humphrey accepted Johnsons Vietnam Platform for Vietnam. Chicago police clashed with protesters and tear gas and rifle butts were used to calm them down. The Republican National Convention was a tidy affair and this led to Richard Nixon’s victory as our next president.

20 Getting out of Vietnam Nixon had a Dilemma: Achieving “Peace with Honor” Vietnamization- South Vietnam will gradually take over the war and Nixon will reduce troops in Vietnam Self-government, Self-development, Self-defense

21 Invading Cambodia and Laos
Although Nixon promised the American people to get out of Indochina, he had planned secret attacks on the Viet Cong in Cambodia and Laos. Many of the Viet Cong received their supplies to launch attacks on the South through supply lines in Cambodia and Laos. By invading these neutral countries, Nixon wanted to show his commitment to Vietnam. April 1970, Nixon invaded Cambodia and February 1971, Nixon invaded Laos. These invasions were a partial success but his process of Vietnamization had failed when South Vietnamese troops were easily defeated Laos.

22 My Lai Massacre In 1968 US soldiers massacred the South Vietnam village of My Lai during a search and destroy mission. After finding no Viet Cong the soldiers rounded up 500 women, children, and men and executed them. This massacre was covered up by the military for a year until journalist Seymore Hersh published and article describing the killings. Americans were outraged and Nixon ordered to speed up the process of withdrawing troops.

23 Demonstrations against the WAR
Moratorium: 2 million people gathered to take the day off and reflect Vietnam. Kent State Shootings: After the invasion of Cambodia college campuses were outraged and held demonstrations across the nation. May 4th, 1970 at Kent State University in Ohio, students were protesting and had previously burned the ROTC building on campus. The National Guard was called to stop the protests, after students continued to chant and throw rocks the national guard fired, killing 4 students and wounding 9. 10 days later a similar situation occurred at Jackson State College in Mississippi that left 2 dead. Our society was divided.


25 Pentagon Papers 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, former Department of Defense official leaked a top-secret study known as the Pentagon Papers. This study revealed how previous administrations and deceived congress and the public about Vietnam. Congress stopped the publication of the papers but it was brought to trial in New York times Co. vs United States, free speech won and the papers were published.

26 War Powers Resolution Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, which placed limits on a presidents power to use armed forces in hostile situations without congressional authorization. This took away previously given powers to Johnson then Nixon in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

27 American Involvement in the War Ends… Kind of
Nixon declares “Peace is at Hand” in 1972, mainly to get reelected. South Vietnam’s President was afraid the US was pulling out and demanded many changes at the Paris Peace talks, which made them fall through. Christmas Bombings: Nixon was frustrated with the failed talks and wanted to punish North Vietnamese Army and bombed them on December 14th, 1972. January 27th 1973 Paris Peace accords signed ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam with a cease fire and division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel.

28 Veterans return home and POW return home
Veterans were not welcomed- they suffered from and suffered from: Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, irritability, nightmares, and depression. POW- Over 760 Americans were taken as Prisoners of War and at least 110 died. MIA- Over 2,600 Americans were Missing in Action and 1,800 are unaccounted for today.

29 South Vietnam falls to North Vietnam
Cease fire did not last long by March 1975 the North Vietnamese Army launched a full out offensive. President Ford refused to send military but sent aide to South Vietnam April 30th, 1975 South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam at Saigon and South Vietnam was dissolved. US had evacuated more than 1000 Americans and several thousand South Vietnamese

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