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The Vietnam Era: A Nation in Turmoil Vietnam represented a turning point in American politics, society and foreign policy.

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Presentation on theme: "The Vietnam Era: A Nation in Turmoil Vietnam represented a turning point in American politics, society and foreign policy."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Vietnam Era: A Nation in Turmoil Vietnam represented a turning point in American politics, society and foreign policy.

2 I. The French Phase of the War

3 A. World War II Japanese invasion of French Indo-China and its impact French resistance to giving up Indochina The Vietminh and their desire for independence Ho Chi Minh

4 B. Post-War Fighting French reassert their control of Indochina Vietnam drifts into the Cold War Inconclusive fighting U.S. reaction Ho Chi Minh: Nationalist or Communist? Containment leads U.S. to support French in Vietnam

5 C. Dien Bien Phu (1954) The location and strategy of Dien Bien Phu Problems with this strategy Apparent French loss creates U.S. dilemma Eisenhower’s decision

6 D. The Geneva Conference (1954) 18 nations attended this Conference The Geneva Accords --Temporary division along the 17 th parallel --nationwide free elections in 1956 No one signed the Accords

7 II. The Beginning of U.S. Involvement

8 A. The Eisenhower Years Post-Geneva U.S. position New leader in the South: Ngo Dinh Diem Diem’s mixed record Diem’s refusal to participate in 1956 elections Armed resistance against Diem grows in South Vietnam

9 A. Eisenhower Years (cont.) Southern resistance fighters are known as the “Viet Cong” (VC) VC use of “selective terror” VC relatively independent of the North Vietnamese army Increasing disorder and confusion in South Vietnam

10 B. The Kennedy Years JFK increases the number of military advisors Diem government became increasingly remote and corrupt Vietnamese Buddhist priests protest Diem’s rule U.S. sanctions assassination of Diem and a change in government

11 C. The Johnson Years Johnson’s background and political skills -- “The Johnson Treatment” Fluidity of Vietnam policy in the fall of 1963 Vietnam seen as a traditional containment problem

12 C. The Johnson Years (cont.) LBJ keeps all of Kennedy’s advisors LBJ meets with Henry Cabot Lodge 2 days after JFK’s death Keeping Vietnam “quiet” By 1964, NVA troops are moving into South Vietnam

13 III. The 1964 Presidential Election Republican party falls into the hands of the conservative right Barry Goldwater’s unique ability to frighten voters Johnson appears moderate by comparison North Vietnamese attack on the USS Maddox in August of 1964

14 III. The 1964 Election (cont.) LBJ bombs torpedo boat bases “The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution” LBJ’s landslide victory New Liberal Democratic congressmen break the conservative stranglehold Johnson’s “mandate” for change

15 IV. The Great Society Johnson’s “War on Poverty” Harrington’s The Other America (1962) “Great Society” programs Medicare, Medicaid and Federal aid to education New immigration laws Problems with the “Great Society” legislation

16 V. The Commitment of U.S. Ground Forces to Vietnam The opportunity to get out of Vietnam in 1964 The “Domino Theory” in Southeast Asia U.S. “message” that would be sent with ground troops “Rolling Thunder” (winter of ) Inability to stop bombing

17 V. U.S. Ground Forces (cont.) Need for air bases for bombing campaign Need for marines to protect the air bases (March 8, 1965) “Search and Destroy” patrols Escalation of the War on both sides

18 VI. An Overall Strategy in Vietnam? William Westmoreland claims that U.S. has a strategy No plans to invade and take over North Vietnam Limited U.S. commitment from the beginning

19 VI. Overall Strategy? (cont.) U.S. support for the war eroded faster than North Vietnamese will to fight --Fulbright hearings (1966) Military regrets over the conduct of the war LBJ’s predicament Vietnam as a “limited war” of body counts

20 VII. Increasing Costs of the Vietnam War U.S. seen as an international bully Less and less concern for South Vietnam South Vietnamese economy was destroyed War refugees and the unpopularity of the South Vietnamese government U.S. military loses prestige Presidential prestige was damaged The “Great Society” reform was sidetracked

21 VIII. “The Awful Realization”: 1968 Tet Offensive American belief that we were winning the war The Tet Offensive (January, 1968) The consequences of the Tet offensive The American press turns against the war effort --The significance of Walter Cronkite’s comments

22 VIII. Tet Offensive (cont.) Calls for more troops Growing belief within the Johnson Administration that there is no hope for victory Morale of U.S. troops plummets -- “fragging” incidents -- Increased drug use --My Lai Massacre (1968)

23 IX. The 1968 Presidential Election The Violence of 1968 Johnson’s Decisions to stop bombing and not to run for president A scramble for the Democratic nomination Republicans nominated Richard Nixon -- “secret plan” to end the Vietnam war

24 IX Election (cont.) The third-party candidacy of Governor George Wallace -- “Segregation now.. Segregation forever” The closeness of this election in the last few months Final Result and its implications

25 X. Nixon and Vietnam U.S. strategy to get out of Vietnam “Vietnamization” Bombing to create a “bloody balance” Changes in the draft reduce public protests of the War

26 X. Nixon and Vietnam (cont.) 1970 Invasion of Cambodia and subsequent protests --Kent State --Jackson State Reaction against these anti-war protests -- “The Silent Majority” Kissinger’s negotiations with Le Duc Tho ( )

27 X. Nixon and Vietnam (cont.) 1972 election and social divisions at home produced shift in U.S. position -- “Peace is at hand” Savage B-52 raids and mining of harbors make North Vietnamese more flexible Truce signed on January 27, 1973

28 X. Nixon and Vietnam (cont.) Post-truce warfare Last Americans leave in 1975 Casualties and cost of the Vietnam War Questioning of Containment Policy Remembering the “lessons” of Vietnam Vietnam War Memorial

29 XI. The Nixon Years at Home Nixon’s inability to influence a Democratic Congress Nixon’s opposition to Civil Rights laws --The Bakke decision (1978) Nixon’s appointments to the Supreme Court “Getting Tough on Crime” and Environmental Issues

30 XI. The Nixon Years at Home (cont.) Economic problems plagued the Nixon White House -- “Stagflation” Causes of these economic woes The “Nixon Recession” Wage and Price Controls (1971)

31 XII. The 1972 Presidential Election Nixon’s election seems assured Main threat seemed to be George Wallace Democrats nominate anti- war candidate George McGovern McGovern’s campaign problems Election Results The dirty tricks of CREEP

32 XIII. The Watergate Scandal Nixon’s preference for isolation Nixon’s sensitivity to criticism Nixon’s pattern of deceit Agnew as “point man” and the “enemies list” The Pentagon Papers

33 XIII. The Watergate Scandal (cont.) Creation of the “Plumbers Unit” led by G. Gordon Liddy and H. Howard Hunt The Ellsberg break-in Plumbers caught breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate hotel on June 17, 1972

34 XIII. The Watergate Scandal (cont.) Nixon had no knowledge of the break-in, but he was part of the cover-up from the beginning The cover-up begins to unravel Senate Watergate committee is formed to investigate

35 XIII. The Watergate Scandal (cont.) John Dean’s testimony and the existence of the Oval Office tapes Year-long battle for the Nixon tapes -- “Saturday Night Massacre” Supreme Court rules that Nixon must hand over the tapes (July, 1974)

36 XIII. The Watergate Scandal (cont.) Gaps in the tapes are discovered House Judiciary Committee recommends three articles of impeachment Nixon resigns on August 9, 1974

37 XIII. The Watergate Scandal (cont.) Agnew’s resignation in October of 1973 Gerald Ford appointed by Nixon to replace Agnew Ford succeeds Nixon as president Controversy over the Nixon pardon

38 XIV. Lessons of Watergate First resignation of a U.S. president Most serious constitutional crisis since 1867 Whole episode disclosed the strengths and weaknesses of the American political system Changing nature of presidential scandal

39 XIV. Lessons of Watergate (cont.) Presidential prestige was significantly tarnished The good and the bad aspects of investigative journalism were displayed --Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein -- “All the President’s Men”

40 XIV. Lessons of Watergate (cont.) Crisis displayed the importance of an independent federal judiciary Congressional power is rejuvenated -- War Powers Act (1973) --Campaign Finance Reform (1974) Public faith in politicians drops dramatically


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