Vietnam - French Colony Vietnam was originally part of a larger French colony called Indochina. The French tried to regain (from Japan) firm control of their colony after WWII ended. By 1950, the Vietnamese had no desire to be a French colony any longer. A vicious war of independence (AKA the First Indochina War 1950-1954) erupted between the Vietminh, the Vietnamese Communist-Nationalist (Independence) Movement, and the French forces. The US sent $2.6 Billion to support France’s war effort … Why?
Ho Chi Minh Leader of the Vi ệ tminh independence movement from 1941 onward, establishing the communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and defeating the French in 1954 at the battle of Đi ệ n Biên Ph ủ.. Communist Vietnamese National Hero
Dien Bien Phu The climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Vietminh communist-nationalist revolutionaries In other words, it’s the siege battle which caused the French to surrender Vietnam in 1954 The Geneva Accords of May, 1954 granted, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam independence from France and divided North (communist) and South (anti-communist) Vietnam at the 17 th parallel, with the guarantee of 1956 free elections to unify Vietnam.
Why does the US Care? Eisenhower’s Domino Theory: If Vietnam falls to Communism so will the other nations in Asia! Question: What policy, which we studied during the Cold War does Domino theory relate to?
So What Did the US Do? President Eisenhower 1952-1960 gave lots of money to South (Non-Communist) Vietnam to resist the Vietminh. 1954 SEATO was formed to contain communism in Southeast Asia President Kennedy 1960-1963 sent (15,000+) troops to keep the anti-communist South Vietnamese leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, in power. Kennedy called them military “advisers” or consultants.
Why Was This a Problem? Diem was not popular at all: Very restrictive/controlling Devout Catholic in a Buddhist country Refused to participate in free 1956 elections, because he would have lost. A group of communist rebels in the South ( Vietcong )began an insurgency against this South Vietnamese government Diem was eventually assassinated (with the help of US operatives and with Kennedy’s knowledge) in 1963… the same year as Kennedy.
ENTRY # 49: Read Documents 1-2: Gulf of Tonkin THEN: What happened in the Gulf of Tonkin? What does the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution allow the President of the United States to do? Why do you think the US. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? (Document 1 and 2)
Johnson “Inherited” Vietnam Thought all communists are the same, so predisposed to be aggressive against N. Vietnam August 2, 1964 -North Vietnamese ships attacked an American destroyer patrolling in the Gulf of Tonkin. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: Congress authorized the President to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the US armed forces and to prevent further aggression” - Allowed the President to commit further troops without having to go back to Congress for a Declaration of War. (LBJ: Resolution is like ” Grandma’s Nightshirt”)
The War By the Numbers 1963; 10,000 American advisers in Vietnam 1965: 180,000 American Soldiers in Vietnam. 2.7 million Americans served in Vietnam Average age of the 58,148 US killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years In 1973, the United States listed 2,646 Americans as unaccounted for from the entire Vietnam War. By April 2013, 1649 Americans remained unaccounted for, of which 850 were listed as Killed In Action – Body not recovered and 749 are listed as a presumptive finding of death Year in which the highest number of American deaths were reported in Vietnam: 1968 (16,592 deaths reported) The estimated number of Vietnamese deaths—military and civilian from both sides of the struggle—between 1965 and 1975: 1 million (However, some sources estimate 2 million; the Vietnamese government estimates 3.1 million war deaths Approximately 12,000 helicopters saw action in Vietnam (all services). http://www.shmoop.com/vietnam-war/statistics.html
The US Strategy: Attrition If the US killed enough of the enemy hopefully they would stop coming… Used our advantages: Massive Firepower Incredible technological advantage. Airpower
Operation Rolling Thunder Johnson ordered the operation in early 1965. We dropped 800 tons of bombs on North Vietnam per day for almost three years. 3x more bombs than all of WWII combined) Four objectives of the operation were to: boost the sagging morale of South Vietnam; persuade North Vietnam to cease its support for the communist insurgency in South; destroy North Vietnam's transportation system, industrial base, and air defenses, breaking the North Vietnamese will to fight; and cease the flow of men and material into South Vietnam.
Vietminh/Vietcong Strategy Guerilla Warfare Could decide when and where to attack then melt back into the jungle or into hiding in “plain sight” Using ambushes and hit and run tactics the Vietcong and North Vietnamese troops slowly defeated the American will to fight, matching each American troop increase with one of its own.
Ho Chi Minh Trail Was used to bring supplies into South Vietnam on foot. Went to every part of South Vietnam.
Why Did the Vietnam War Make the Government and the US look bad? The Endless War…No matter how much firepower, no matter how many troops were sent, no matter how much money was spent, there seemed to be no end in sight. Use of The huge monetary costs of the war were prohibiting money from being spent on domestic issues and were causing economic problems Misinformation by military and civilian leaders to the American people, along with Johnson’s reluctance to speak frankly regarding the scope and costs of the war created a “credibility gap” Napalm and Agent Orange… All caught on film and brought nightly into the American Living Room.
Napalm A mixture of chemicals which creates a jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns for up to ten minutes. The effects of napalm on the human body are unbearably painful and almost always cause death among its victims. “Napalm is the most terrible pain you can ever imagine” said Kim Phúc, a survivor from a napalm bombing. “Water boils at 212°F. Napalm generates temperatures 1,500°F to 2,200°F.” Napalm was first used in flamethrowers for U.S. ground troops; they burned down sections of forest and bushes in hopes of eliminating any enemy guerrilla fighters. Later on in the war B-52 Bombers began dropping napalm bombs and other incendiary explosives. Air raids that used napalm were much more devastating than flamethrowers; a single bomb was capable of destroying areas up to 2,500 square yards
Agent Orange Agent Orange is a toxic chemical herbicide that was used from about 1965 – 1970 in the Vietnam War. It was one of the main mixtures used during Operation Ranch Hand. Operation Ranch Hand was intended to deprive Vietnamese farmers and guerilla fighters of clean food and water in hopes they would relocate to areas more heavily controlled by the U.S. By the end of the operation over twenty million gallons of herbicides and defoliants were sprayed over forests and fields. Agent Orange is fifty times more concentrated than normal agricultural herbicides; this extreme intensity completely destroyed all plants in the area. Agent Orange not only had devastating effects on agriculture but also on people and animals. The Vietnam Red Cross recorded over 4.8 million deaths and 400,000 children born with birth defects due to exposure to Agent Orange.
Tet Offense Which side was behind the Tet Offense? What was the goal of the Tet Offense? Do you think the Tet Offense was successful? Why or why not? http://www.history.com/shows/vietnam-in-hd/videos/tet-offensive ENTRY #50 : Document # 5 in Vietnam Packet
Tet Offensive: Feb, 1968 Major coordinated communist/North Vietnamese offensive throughout South Vietnam, including the capital of Saigon and the holy imperial city of Hue Though US forces retook both Saigon and Hue, and though there were many, many enemy casualties, the Tet Offensive convinced Americans that we were not winning this war any time soon.
War Protest As the war dragged on and on, more and more protests of the war, first among pacifists and socialists, then on college campuses, and then in wider society. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and “teach ins “Doves and Hawks “Make Love, Not War!” 1967 March on the Pentagon Hell No, We Won’t Go! Hey, Hey, LBJ, How many kids did you Kill today!? “America, Love it or Leave it! “Nattering Nervous Nellies of Negativity”
The Draft Selective service system was used to keep up with troop demands Deferments for college students and some professions, and a military- assignment system that sent the better-educated to desk jobs, created a situation where lower-class youths were twice as likely to be drafted and then twice as likely to see combat duty than middle and upper class youths. Those who did not wish to go burned draft cards in protest, or ran away to Canada or other countries not involved in Vietnam (will later be pardoned by Ford)
1968 Democratic Convention Anti-war (and anti- political establishment) protests turned into rioting in the streets of Chicago. Yippies (Youth International Party – led by Abbie Hoffman) threatened to put LSD in the city’s water supply Democrats seen as the party of dissent and disorder, and Nixon cruised to victory in 1968 election. He claimed to have a secret plan to end the war.
Nixon and Vietnam Nixon’s general plan to end the war was a policy of Vietnamization, in which we trained South Vietnamese troops to defend their own country…under this policy, US troop numbers went from 540,000 in 1969 to 30,000 in 1972. This Vietnamization policy reduced the number of war protests temporarily, until news of 1)secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos, 2)the discovery of the My Lai Massacre and 3)the Publication of the Pentagon Papers refueled anti-war sentiment, leading to Kent State.
My Lai Massacre The My Lai Massacre was the mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968, by United States Army soldiers of "Charlie" Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the Americal Division. Victims included women, men, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang- raped and their bodies were later found to be mutilated, and many women were allegedly raped prior to the killings. While 26 U.S. soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at M ỹ Lai, only Second Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but only served three and a half years under house arrest. The first reports claimed that "128 Viet Cong and 22 civilians" were killed in the village during a "fierce fire fight.” The incident prompted global outrage when it became public knowledge in 1969. The massacre also increased domestic opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. -Wikipedia Vietnamese women and children in Mỹ Lai before being killed in the massacre, March 16, 1968. According testimony, they were killed seconds after the photo was taken. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
Pentagon Papers Classified history of the war in Vietnam leaked to the NY Times by former Defense Department analyst, Daniel Ellsberg Documented mistakes and deceptions of government policy- makers in dealing with Vietnam.
Kent State May 4, 1970: Kent State Massacre. Police shot at a group of unarmed protesters, killing 4. Four Dead in Ohio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= GI7-m919ynU
Paris Accords of 1973 created a cease fire and allowed the remaining US troops to get out of Vietnam completely, with a promise to South Vietnam to resume aid if North Vietnam attacked. Fall of Saigon In 1974, when President Ford asked Congress for aid to South Vietnam in the face of a strong attack from Communist forces, it was denied. In April, 1975, Saigon, South Vietnam’s capital, fell to communist forces, and Vietnam became one country under communist rule, with its capital at Hanoi. Evacuation of Vietnamese supporters of the US from Saigon. April, 1975.
Reflection… ENTRY # 51 Why would we say the Vietnam War was part of the Cold War? How was the outcome of this war different than other wars fought by the U.S.? How did the Vietnam War change the culture in the United States? Do you think there was a connection between the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement? Explain your answer.
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