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Chapter 28, Section 4: The War in Vietnam

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1 Chapter 28, Section 4: The War in Vietnam
Main Idea: In an effort to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, the US became involved in the long & unpopular Vietnam War.

2 A. Early Involvement in Vietnam
Vietnam won its independence from France after WWII. It was then divided into 2 nations: North: Ho Chi Minh, backed by USSR South: Ngo Dinh Diem (unpopular with most S. Vietnamese- favored rich), backed by US Vietcong: communist guerilla rebels (fighters who use hit-&-run tactics) in S. Vietnam supported by N. Vietnam

3 The Two Vietnams · Vietnam, a former French colony, was divided into two sections in 1954. · North Vietnam, led by Ho Chi Minh, was communist and backed by the Soviet Union. · South Vietnam, led by Ngo Dinh Diem, was democratic and backed by the U.S.

4 B. The Fighting in Vietnam Expands
Domino Theory – US got involved because they believed that if South Vietnam became communist, other nations in SE Asia would, too (like dominoes falling) Kennedy began sending military advisers in 1961; Johnson increased our involvement from ‘64 – ‘68 In Aug. 1964, N. Vietnamese patrol boats attacked a US ship; the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution allowed Pres. Johnson “ to take all necessary measures” in Vietnam (blank check – he could wage a war w/out having to ask Congress to declare war in Vietnam) Soon, US role in Vietnam was escalated from advisers to soldiers (by 1968, over ½ million); the draft raised many protests because it was unfair (rich could get out , poor usually were sent to fight- Fortunate Son –CCR)

5 Growing American Involvement
· The U.S. believed that if South Vietnam fell to the communists, the rest of the nations in Southeast Asia would as well in a theory called the domino theory.


7 C. The War at Home American soldiers had a difficult time fighting the enemy, because the style of fighting was not conventional. The enemy was very elusive & difficult to identify. Americans troops were unpopular w/ the S. Vietnamese – many people that US troops were fighting for were secretly cooperating w/ Vietcong (couldn’t tell friend from enemy) As the war went on, it grew increasingly unpopular at home. Protests grew in number & size. Many argued that American lives & $ were being wasted on an unjust war. Hawks v. Doves Unfortunately, many protesters took their frustrations out on returning soldiers, spitting on them & calling them baby killers. Very few received a hero’s welcome home.

8 A Viet Cong base camp burns as Pfc. Raymond Rumpa of St
A Viet Cong base camp burns as Pfc. Raymond Rumpa of St. Paul, Minnesota, walks away with his 45-pound 90mm rifle in My Tho, Vietnam, April 1968

9 Video Clip: Platoon The Uncertain Enemy
· Jungle warfare was difficult, and it was hard to locate the enemy. · In addition, it was very difficult to identify which South Vietnamese were our allies and which were supporting the Vietcong. Ex Vietcong showing secret tunnels, November 7, 2004





14 D. Peace Without Victory
Tet Offensive (1968)- Vietcong launch major surprise attack against US bases on Asian holiday. Militarily it was not a big victory, but psychologically it severely hurt the US. Support for the war will diminish after this. Kent State – 4 students are killed on Ohio campus by panicked National Guard soldiers during a war protest Nixon promised to withdraw all American troops. Over the next 5 yrs, he gradually brought them home while replacing them with S. Vietnamese troops. In 1/73, a cease-fire agreement was reached & the last American soldiers were pulled out of Vietnam. Over the next 2 yrs, US continued to send $ to help South Vietnam, but North Vietnam took over in 4/75 and reunited Vietnam under one communist govt.

15 The Tet Offensive: An Audio Description by NPR
The Tet Offensive: A Turning Point · In January of 1968, the Vietcong launched surprise attacks on cities throughout South Vietnam. · The American embassy was attacked as well in the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. · The attacks were known as the Tet Offensive because they occurred during Tet, the Vietnamese News Year’s holiday. · The Tet Offensive proved to the world that no part of South Vietnam was safe, even with the presence of half a million American troops. The Tet Offensive: An Audio Description by NPR

16 · On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard killed 4 anti-war protesters at Kent State University.
“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'. We're finally on our own. This summer I hear the drummin'. Four dead in Ohio. (chorus) Gotta get down to it. Soldiers are cutting us down. Should have been done long ago. What if you knew her and Found her dead on the ground? How can you run when you know?

17 Peace Without Victory · In January 1973, the U.S. reached a cease-fire agreement with North Vietnam and brought their troops home. · However, the U.S. continued to send billions of dollars in support of the South Vietnamese.

18 · In April of 1975, the communists captured the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, renamed it Ho Chi Minh City, and reunited Vietnam under one communist flag. Video: People rush to leave Saigon as the city falls to the Vietcong. April 30, 1975 (9 min.)

19 E. Civil War in Cambodia During the Vietnam War, N. Vietnam carried supplies & weapons to S. Vietnam through Cambodia (Ho Chi Minh Trail). They also used Cambodia as a place to escape from US forces. Nixon secretly ordered bombing of Cambodia; this plunged Cambodia into civil war, which was won by communist Khmer Rouge. Khmer Rouge ruled with brutal reign of terror, using forced labor & starvation (Killing Fields). After 1975, millions flee Vietnam & Cambodia, many seeking refuge in US.


21 Cambodia: Khmer Rouge 1975 to 1979 (2:55)
Civil War in Cambodia · The U.S. and South Vietnamese began to secretly bomb communist bases in Cambodia used by the North Vietnamese. · Cambodia soon fought a civil war, which was won by the communist Khmer Rouge in 1975, whereupon they changed the name of the country to Kampuchea. · The Khmer Rouge were brutal leaders, killing approximately two million people in just a few short years. Cambodia: Khmer Rouge 1975 to 1979 (2:55)

22 F. Vietnam Balance Sheet
Over 58,000 American soldiers died between 1961 & 1973 (every name is on the Vietnam War Memorial in Wash, DC- built in 1982) & over 1 mill Vietnamese soldiers & ½ mill civilians By 1967, US was spending over $24 billion per year on the war. This $ could have been used for Johnson’s Great Society programs & the war on poverty. Vietnam was an extremely divisive war that tore the nation apart.

23 Vietnam War Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Vietnam Balance Sheet · Between 1961 and 1973 over 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War. · During the same time period, over 1,500,000 Vietnamese died as well. Vietnam War Memorial, Washington, D.C.




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