2BackgroundUS involvement in Vietnam began due to Containment & Domino Theory.If one Southeast Asian nation fell to Communism, all others would fall.Communism in Vietnam threatened Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand.For 2,000 years, Vietnam fought to prevent Chinese takeover.1800s-French took over Vietnam, met resistance from Vietnamese.
6Created League for the Independence of Vietnam, known as Vietminh. 20th century-Ho Chi Minh, Communist supporter, French-educated, pushed independence against French.Fought against French before WWII, against Japanese in WWII, against French after WWII.Created League for the Independence of Vietnam, known as Vietminh.Indochina War fought between French, VietminhMay 1954-French defeated at Dien Bien Phu.Shortly after, Vietnam, France, others signed peace treaty called Geneva Accords.Vietnam divided into 2 nations, France withdrew.
11North Vietnam became Communist. Leader-Ho Chi Minh.Capital-Hanoi.South Vietnam became “democratic”.Leader-Ngo Dinh Diem.Capital-Saigon.Vietnams divided at 17th Parallel, by strip of land called De-Militarized Zone (DMZ).Treaty called for elections in 1956 to reunify Vietnams.Refused by S. Vietnam, said N. Vietnam would not hold fair elections.
14America’s Involvement in Vietnam Truman gave aid to French in Vietnam to gain French support for Containment in Europe.After French withdrew, US supported S. Vietnam.Ike began sending military advisors to train S. Vietnam’s military, police.JFK increased advisors from 675 to 16,000 by 1963.Problem-Diem was not popular, jailed critics, took bribes, practiced nepotism.Putting family/friends into positions of power.
15Diem began program to battle Communists. Created “strategic hamlets”-forced people to leave their lands, move to gov’t controlled farming communities.Tried to isolate population from Communists.Vietnam majority Buddhist, Diem Catholic.Tried to force Buddhists to follow Catholic religious laws.Buddhist monks protested by burning themselves.JFK realized Diem was no good, told S. Vietnam leaders US would not interfere if Diem overthrown.Nov Diem assassinated, military took over.
19When JFK was killed, LBJ took over, big supporter of Containment. JFK’s & LBJ’s Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, had major role in US’ Vietnam policy.Originally wanted to pull out, but later pushed to get more involved.When JFK was killed, LBJ took over, big supporter of Containment.Military gov’t in S. Vietnam unpopular.Communist guerrillas in S. Vietnam called Vietcong fought against gov’t, brought more S. Vietnamese to their side.Aided by Ho Chi Minh, North Vietnam.LBJ did not want SE Asia to fall to Communism, but did also did not want US to go to war.
23Congress passed Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. August 1964-LBJ announced that N. Vietnam torpedo boats attacked US destroyers in Gulf of Tonkin (international waters).Attacks did not actually occur, but destroyers thought they were fired on.Congress passed Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.Gave LBJ power to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against forces of USA”.Allowed LBJ complete control over US action in Vietnam, without declaration of war.LBJ began sending combat troops to Vietnam.
27The War US forced to fight guerrilla war. Small units, hit & run.US had superior arms, tactics, training.N. Vietnam knew land, could escape to Cambodia, Laos, US could not follow.Few/no uniforms, enemy mixed with civilian population.VC built huge tunnel complexes, could hide, strike, disappear.Used mines, bobby traps.
341964-LBJ began escalation, or expansion, of the war. By end of ,000 troops in SV.US goal-not to conquer NV, but to force NV to stop fighting.NV & VC began large infiltration into SV.Used Ho Chi Minh Trail-Series of roads, trails to move men, supplies from NV thru Laos, into SV.1966-US began B-52 bomber attacks.Used saturation bombing-drop thousands of bombs over large areas.US planes sprayed Agent Orange-chemical defoliant to deny jungle hiding places to VC.
44As war progressed, US divided into two sides. US attacks, bombing campaign severely hurt NV, but NV would not stop fighting.As war progressed, US divided into two sides.Hawks-supported war, focused on Containment.Doves-opposed war, said Vietnam not vital to US interest.January 30-Tet holiday (Vietnamese New Year).Traditionally, cease fire so both sides could celebrate.1968-NV &VC launched Tet Offensive.Huge attack across SV, cities & countryside.NV &VC killed any suspected of supporting USA.US stopped Tet Offensive cold, but US media said war was lost; began turning US against war.
54US made mistakes in Vietnam. Worst was My Lai Massacre. Intelligence claimed 250 VC soldiers in My Lai village.No soldiers, bunch of women, kids, old people.Lt. William Calley ordered all killed, about 400.After trial, Calley got life in prison, later commuted to 20 years.Many felt senior officers not punished.Due to Tet, My Lai, LBJ saw his popularity drop dramatically.