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Presentation on theme: "VIETNAM."— Presentation transcript:


2 BACKGROUND 1800s – WWII = France was a colonial power in Vietnam.
Many Vietnamese fled to China and organized under Ho Chi Minh Ho Chi Minh created the Indochinese Communist Party and worked to organize an independent movement from China. Ho Chi Minh

3 BACKGROUND 1940 – Japan took over Vietnam and Minh returns to help. (France is busy getting crushed by Hitler) Minh forms the Vietminh – an organization to win independence from foreign rule (France) The U.S. disliked Minh because he was a communist. When Japan is defeated in WWII the Vietnamese people believed that independence was possible. (Minh even declared Vietnamese independence in a speech) However – France had no intention of giving up this colony and returns to Vietnam in 1945 and successfully regains control of the cities in the South. Minh vows to help liberate the South from French control = war!!!

4 FRENCH INDOCHINA WAR The war lasted from 1946 to 1954.
1950 – Truman sends $15 million in aid to France and a total of $1 billion over the next 4 years. We supported the French politically and economically in crushing Ho Chi Minh because we wanted France’s support in containment.

5 U.S. dropping supplies to French at Dien Bien Phu.
FRENCH INDOCHINA WAR When Eisenhower came to office he continued supplying the French with aid (1953). Eisenhower explained the domino theory to the public and used it to justify U.S. involvement in Vietnam. U.S. dropping supplies to French at Dien Bien Phu.

6 U.S. dropping supplies to French at Dien Bien Phu.
FRENCH INDOCHINA WAR Despite U.S. aid, The French could not retake Vietnam. May 1954 the Vietminh overran the French outpost at Dien Bien Phu in northwestern Vietnam. U.S. dropping supplies to French at Dien Bien Phu.


8 GENEVA CONFERENCE Held July 21, Present were Reps. of Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese emperor Dai, and reps from Cambodia, Laos, France, U.S., USSR, China and Britain. Geneva Accords signed - made a provisional division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel. Ho Chi Minh controlled the north, Ngo Dinh Diem, a former official of Dai’s government became Premier in the South (and then President in 55). France and N. Vietnam agreed elections would be held in 1956 to reunited the country. Diem and U.S. supporters did not want to commit to this because they feared Diem would lose. The elections never took place.

9 Leaders of North and South Korea

10 Diem Cancels the Election
Despite Ho Chi Minh’s repressive rule, he had won the support of the people. South Vietnam’s president, Ngo Dinh Diem feared that a national election would lead to a victory for Minh and refused to take part in the election. U.S. promised to back up Diem if he promised to install a stable government in the South. Diem instead establishes a corrupt government and does nothing for the people.

11 POLICY OF JFK Kennedy sent V.P. Lyndon Johnson to Vietnam to assess the situation. Johnson argued that the South needed more aid to survive. Kennedy increased the number of military advisors - 16,000 by 1963. The problem was that Diem lacked support in his own country.

Diem would imprison people who criticized his government. He filled powerful government positions with family members, used U.S. aid to fund the military and fill the pockets of officials. He also launched an unpopular program to move peasants from their ancestral lands to “strategic hamlets”—government run farming communities (to isolate the peasants from communist influences).

Finally, he was Catholic in a largely Buddhist country, and he often dismissed the religious concerns of others. When he insisted Buddhists obey Catholic religious laws, serious opposition developed. In 1963, a monk doused himself with gasoline and burned himself to death in protest. Others followed.

BY 1957 a Communist opposition group, known as the Vietcong, had formed in the south and launched attacks against Diem’s government . Ho Chi Minh supported the Vietcong by supplying arms via a network of paths along the borders of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – trail known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

In 1963, the U.S. said it would not object to Diem’s overthrow. Vietnamese troops, with the help of the U.S. military, overthrew Diem’s government. Against Kennedy’s wishes Diem was assassinated. Kennedy was assassinated 3 weeks after Diem and Johnson inherited a problem—the new Vietnamese military government was in trouble

16 POLICY OF JOHNSON While in office Kennedy expressed his desire to withdraw from the conflict but Johnson has other plans. Johnson was determined to win the war. In his campaign for reelection, he posed as a man of peace. Meanwhile, however, war planning was underway.

17 LBJ’s Foreign Policy Team
(Left) Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense McGeorge Bundy (National Security Council) along with his brother William Bundy (Pentagon) were important advisors Dean Rusk, Secretary of State

18 INTENSIFYING THE WAR LBJ cleverly secured Congressional authorization for deepening American involvement in Vietnam. In 1964, by announcing that N. Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked U.S. destroyers in international waters (The Gulf of Tonkin)—he had reason to deepen the war.

19 INTENSIFYING THE WAR August 2, 1964, a North Vietnamese patrol boat fired a torpedo at an American destroyer, the USS Maddox, the U.S. returned fire and inflicted heavy damage. Two days later, another U.S. destroyer reported enemy torpedoes and began firing back – the crew later declared that they had neither seen nor heard hostile gunfire.

Johnson asked for and obtained a resolution giving him authority to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the U.S. and to prevent further aggression. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave the president near complete control over what the U.S. did in Vietnam. In Feb. 1965, after a Vietcong attack killed 8 Americans and wounded 126, Johnson authorized retaliatory bombing of N. Vietnam – “Operation Rolling Thunder”. General William Westmoreland, the commander of the U.S. forces in Vietnam asked Johnson to send more marines and by June of 1965 there were 50,000 U.S. soldiers in Vietnam.

21 THE WAR GROWS YEAR NUMBER OF TROOPS 1964 25,000 1965 184,000 1966
385,000 1967 485,000 1968 543,000

22 THE TET OFFENSIVE Jan 30, 1968, N. Vietnamese and the Vietcong mounted a major offensive during tet—the new year. It included strikes on numerous district capitals. Even though they were turned back, the Vietcong won psychological victory. The offensive demonstrated that the Vietcong could launch a massive attack on targets throughout S. Vietnam.

23 TET Offensive


25 FIGHTING CONDITIONS American soldiers were fighting a guerrilla war against a hidden enemy, and so they were so often unable to tell friendly S. Vietnamese peasants from Vietcong soldiers waiting for an opportunity to attack them. GIs grew increasingly frustrated by the demand of the war. Civilians suffered heavy casualties in the ferocious destruction of their land and way of life.




29 FIGHTING CONDITIONS Fighting conditions were also different from those they had seen in films. With 60 lbs. packs, they had to walk through jungles and cross flooded rice paddies—fought leeches, fever and jungle rot—a tropical fungus that infected the skin.

30 FIGHTING CONDITIONS Racial tensions within the ranks destroyed morale. American troops never knew what to expect next, they could not be sure who was friend or enemy. The Vietcong lacked the sophisticated equipment of the U.S. troops, so they avoided head-on clashes. Instead they used guerilla tactics, working in small groups to launch sneak attacks.




34 Vietnamese civilians Westmoreland’s strategy was to win the “war of attrition” – gradually wearing down the enemy through continuous harassment. Saturation bombing—air raids dropped thousands of tons of explosives over large areas. To expose Vietcong hiding places, a herbicide known as Agent Orange was dropped on jungle landscapes – caused leaves to fall off trees, killed crops, and caused health problems in humans (discovered later). Another chemical used was napalm - jellylike substance, dropped from planes, burned uncontrollably, stuck to people’s bodies and seared off their flesh.

35 Right: A napalm air strike during Vietnam.
Phan Thi Kim Phuc. South Vietnamese aircraft accidentally dropped its napalm payload on the village of Trang Bang. With her clothes on fire, 9 year old Phan Thi Kim Phuc ran out of the village with her family to be airlifted to the hospital. Phan Thi Kim Phuc


37 The Living room war Through the media Vietnam became America’s first “living room war.” Violent images were shown on television which led many Americans to oppose the war. Civil rights activists were among those who organized Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They organized a march on Washington & were a force in creating the New Left (wanted radical gov. changes). “Doves” wanted peace / “Hawks” supported the war.

38 The Living room war Resistance to the military draft began.
The Selective Service Act allowed for a draft of men College students got deferments so it seemed unfair to the poor (80% from lower socioeconomic status). Some left the country.


40 My Lai Massacre U.S. military conducted search and destroy missions - uprooting civilians with suspected ties to the Vietcong, killing their livestock , and burning villages March 1968, the brutality of the war came into sharp focus in the massacre at My Lai, a small village in South Vietnam. In response to word that the community was sheltering 250 members of the Vietcong, a U.S. infantry company moved in to clear out the village. Rather than enemy soldiers, the company found women, children and old men. The American troops already had suffered heavy combat losses. Some lost control. Lieutenant William Calley was in charge. Prisoners were rounded up and 200 were executed. Stories of the massacre shocked Americans.


42 Johnson out Deep rifts in the Democratic party and in the country as a whole forced Lyndon Johnson to leave the presidency at the end of his term and paved the way for the election of a Republican—Richard Nixon in 1968. Nixon made good on a pledge to withdraw the U.S. from Southeast Asia, but only after expanding the war outside of Vietnam. U.S. support continued to decline.

43 Richard M. Nixon became the 37th President of the United States when he defeated Hubert H. Humphrey who had been LBJ’s Vice-President. Nixon campaigned with a slogan that he had a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War.

44 Nixon’s approach He ran for the presidency on the claim that he had a secret plan to end the war, but he did not give details. Nixon appealed to the silent majority – moderate, mainstream Americans who quietly supported U.S. efforts in the war. He dedicated himself to a policy of Vietnamization, which involved removing American forces and replacing them with South Vietnamese troops.

45 Nixon’s approach Between 68 and 72, Amer. troop strength dropped from 543,00 to 39,000 and opposition to the war began to decline. But Nixon himself became caught up in the war. He resumed bombing raids, keeping his actions secret. He widened the war. In 1970, he announced entrance into neighboring Cambodia to clear out communist camps.

46 Renewed Protests Kent state university
At Kent State University, students reacted angrily to the President’s move. On the weekend following his announcement they broke windows in the business district downtown and burned the army ROTC building on campus which became a symbol of war to many. The governor ordered the National Guard to Kent State. Students threw rocks and empty tear gas canisters at them. The soldiers wore gas mask and carried loaded guns.


48 The National Guard opened fire.
Four students were killed and nine were injured. Of the four killed, two were bystanders not participating in the protests.




52 Renewed Protests Kent state university
(Why were they shot? To this day, there are conflicting stories and unresolved questions. Even after 30 years and several investigations, there are still no official conclusions on what led to the bloodshed. And several conspiracy theories persist) At least 28 guardsmen fired at least 61 shots in 13 seconds, according to court documents. Some of the guardsmen said later they felt their lives were being threatened by a menacing crowd. Others said they thought they were being fired on by students and fired back in self-defense.

53 Renewed Protests Kent state university
Federal charges were filed against eight of the Guardsmen, but citing a lack of evidence, a judge dismissed the charges. An out-of-court civil settlement was ultimately reached, splitting a total of $675,000 among the families of the dead and the nine people wounded. The Guardsmen who fired shots signed a statement of regret.

54 the u.S. withdraws The war dragged on as Nixon ran for a second term (1972). South Vietnam refused to accept a proposed settlement. Nixon ordered the most intense bombing campaign of the war in the spring of 72. Just days after the election National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger announced “Peace is at hand” A cease fire was finally signed.

55 the u.S. withdraws A civil war; however, continued for another two years in Vietnam. After the withdrawal of U.S. forces, South Vietnamese soldiers steadily lost ground. 1974 Nixon resigns and VP Gerald Ford takes over. In the spring of 1975—Saigon officially surrendered to the North Vietnamese.

56 What the papers wrote “The capitulation of the South Vietnamese government came just four hours after the last frenzied evacuation of Americans from the city. President Ford, who has requested humanitarian aid for the Vietnamese, let it be known that he was proud to have saved what Vietnamese he could in the last, frantic helicopter evacuation. But there is said to be deep humiliation in the United States government at the desperation and chaos of the final hours of America's presence in Vietnam. The President ordered United States ships to remain indefinitely off the Vietnamese coast to pick up refugees: but even this gesture has been snubbed by the North Vietnamese, who have prevented any more refugees from fleeing.”


58 Legacy of the war Largest and least successful war in which the U.S. participated. 58,000 American deaths, 300,000 wounded. Cost = $150 billion. The number of Vietnamese soldiers ran into the millions and countless civilians were killed.

59 The human cost of the Vietnam war. U.S. Battle deaths 1960-1972

60 A lasting legacy 26th Amendment (1971)—Changed the voting age from 21 to 18. What does this have to do with Vietnam??? War Powers Act(1973)—Said … The President had 48 hrs. to inform Congress after putting troops in harms way. 60 days to get them out (could get 30 day extension). Congress could remove troops at any time with a concurrent resolution.

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