Presentation on theme: "Vietnam: Beginnings. Why is Vietnam significant? Unique because… –Divergence between government policy and public opinion –U.S. defeat? Will encompass."— Presentation transcript:
Why is Vietnam significant? Unique because… –Divergence between government policy and public opinion –U.S. defeat? Will encompass 6 administrations –Truman & Eisenhower send economic aid –Kennedy begins military aid –Johnson “Americanized” the war –Nixon “Vietnamized” the war –Ford dealt with aftermath
Why Vietnam? Domino Theory –The fear that if one Southeast Asian nation fell to Communists, the others would also fall. “You have a row of dominoes set up, knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly…” -Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954
Background Vietnam had been fighting for independence since before WWII. –French colony Ho Chi Minh –Head of Communist Vietnamese nationalist movement Viet Mihn –Backed by Vietcong Anti-Diem Guerilla fighters 1954 Geneva Accords –Divided at 17 th parallel Ho Chi Minh becomes president of Communist North Ngo Dinh Diem becomes president of Democratic South –Democratic elections scheduled for 1956 to reunify country Never happens. Why would America fear the elections?
Early Involvement Eisenhower –Sends 675 military advisors and aid to Diem. Kennedy –Ups number to 16,000 military advisors and more aid for Diem.
Diem’s Downfall Diem is not liked among South Vietnamese –US money went into military or pockets of corrupt officials. –Enforced Catholic religion in a mostly Buddhist country. US allows South Vietnamese military to overthrow Diem in 1963 –“We will not object to Diem’s overthrow.”
Tonkin and “Americanization” Gulf of Tonkin Incident –“Maddox”(US ship) supposedly torpedoed by N. Vietnamese ships in two separate, unprovoked, incidents. Did we provoke? Did it happen at all? Gulf of Tonkin Resolution –President Johnson given authority to “repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States or prevent further aggression…until the peace and security of the area are reasonably secured…” “Blank Check”
Early War Johnson reelected in 1964 –“No boys sent to Vietnam.” –Invasion of NV would have cost 1 million troops and 7 years Begins bombing North Vietnam in Feb 1965 –“Rolling Thunder” –“Selective” bombing Pauses followed by peace initiatives Why? –Moral constraints –Superiority complex –Largely ineffective Number of troops increases from 1965 to 1968 to over 500,000 –Initially used to protect air bases
The Ho Chi Minh Trail
Fighting the War War of attrition –Attempt to wear out North Vietnamese Fire Support Base (FSB) and Landing Zones (LZ) –Troops brought into battle via helicopter and supported by artillery and air raids. Search and destroy –Patrols into enemy territory to locate the enemy and inflict as many casualties as possible. Hardships of War –Difficult Terrain Jungle, rice paddies, etc. –Snipers, Land Mines, Booby Traps –Who/where is the enemy?