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Vietnam War 1956-1973. Colonialism  France took control of Vietnam in the late 1800s  In the early 1900s nationalist movements began in Vietnam and.

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Presentation on theme: "Vietnam War 1956-1973. Colonialism  France took control of Vietnam in the late 1800s  In the early 1900s nationalist movements began in Vietnam and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Vietnam War

2 Colonialism  France took control of Vietnam in the late 1800s  In the early 1900s nationalist movements began in Vietnam and the most prominent movement was led by Communist leader Ho Chi Minh. He founded a militant organization called the Viet Minh  In World War II France lost its foothold in Vietnam and Japan took control of the country.  The Viet Minh resisted and extended its power base throughout Vietnam. When Japan surrendered in 1945 Ho Chi Minh’s forces took the capitol of Hanoi and declared Vietnam independent.

3 French and Vietnam  France refused to recognize Minh’s declaration and returned to Vietnam driving Minh’s forces into N. Vietnam.  Minh asked the U.S. for help, but due to the Cold War the U.S. aided France instead.  Fighting between France and Vietnam lasted until 1954 when France suffered a humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu and sought a peace settlement.

4 Divided Vietnam  The Geneva Accords of 1954 declared a cease-fire and divided Vietnam officially into North Vietnam (under Minh and communist forces) and South Vietnam (under a French-backed emperor).  Dividing like was at the 17 th parallel.  The Geneva Accords stipulated that the divide was temporary and that Vietnam was to be reunified under free elections to be held in 1956.

5 Cold War and the Domino Theory  The United States was in the middle of the Cold War and their foreign policy with the Soviets played a major role in Vietnam.  The US policy was dominated by the Domino Theory: which believed that the fall of one country to communism would trigger other nations to turn to communism as well.  So the US believed that if Vietnam fell to communism than other Southeast Asian countries would fall as well.

6 US and Vietnam  Within a year of the Geneva Accords the US followed through with their domino theory policy and began to offer support to the anti-communist politician Ngo Dinh Diem.  With US assistance, Diem took control of the S. Vietnam government in 1955 and declared the Republic of Vietnam and cancelled the elections that were scheduled for 1956

7 The Diem Regime  Diem’s regime proved corrupt, oppressive, and extremely unpopular.  Nonetheless, the US continued to prop it up, in fear of the increasing communist resistance activity in S. Vietnam.  The resistance against Diem was organized by the Ho Chi Minh-backed National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) a guerrilla army.

8 Diem Regime cont.  In 1962 JFK sent American “military advisors” to train the S. Vietnam army.  The US quickly realized that the Diem regime was going down. The people didn’t like him because he was corrupt and discriminatory against Buddhists the major religion.  In 1963 the US backed a coup (a sudden and illegal seizure of power from a government) that overthrew Diem and installed a new leader.  The new leaders were just as corrupt and ineffective as Diem.

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10 Johnson and US Escalation  In 1964 North Vietnamese forces allegedly attacked US Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.  This led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolutions which gave Johnson authorization without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of conventional military forces in Vietnam. (so the President could do whatever necessary)  LBJ began to send US troops to Vietnam.

11 US in Vietnam  Operation Rolling Thunder was a bombing campaign in 1965 and the conflict escalated.  By the end of 1966 there were nearly 400,000 US troops in Vietnam.

12 Tactics  The US used the strategy of attrition, attempting to crush the Vietnamese by continual attack and wearing them down with large causalities.  The Viet Cong used guerrilla tactics to demoralize and frustrate the troops. Lots of booby traps, mines, and Punji traps (sharp spikes hidden in pits)  The Viet Cong was also spread out and had a rural presence which made it hard to bomb since there were not a lot of clear targets.  The US turned to unconventional weapons such as napalm and the herbicide defoliant Agent Orange but still made little progress.

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14 The Tet Offensive  In 1968 the N. Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong launched a massive campaign called the Tet Offensive attacking nearly thirty US targets and dozens of other cities in S. Vietnam all at once.  Although the US pushed back the offensive and won a tactical victory the American media coverage characterized the conflict as a defeat.  Public support for the war plummeted.  Morale hit an all-time low for the troops and in 1968 there was the My Lai Massacre in which frustrated US soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians in a small village.

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16 The Antiwar Movement  Back in the US there was a large antiwar movement especially that gained momentum as student protesters, countercultural hippies, and many mainstream Americans opposed the war.  The draft began in  Protests against the war and the military draft grew increasingly violent, resulting in police brutality outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968 as well as the death of four students at Kent States University in 1970 when the Ohio National Guard fired on the crowd of student protesters.  Despite protest LBJ’s successor, Pres. Nixon declared that a “silent majority” of Americans still supported the war.

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19 Vietnamization and US Withdrawal  Nixon promoted a policy of Vietnamization of the war, promising to withdraw US troops gradually and hand over management of the war effort to the S. Vietnamese.  Although Nixon made good on his promise, he also illegally expanded the geographic scope of the war effort by authorizing the bombing of Viet Cong sites in Cambodia and Laos.  The revelation of these illegal actions, along with the publication of the secret Pentagon Papers in the US newspapers in 1971, caused an enormous scandal in the US and forced Nixon to push for a peace settlement.

20 The Cease-fire and Fall of Saigon  There were some secret negotiations between a US emissary and N. Vietnamese representative Le Duc Tho in 1972  Nixon engaged in diplomatic maneuvering with China and USSR and stepped up bombing of N. Vietnam to pressure the N. Vietnamese into a settlement.  This cease-fire was finally signed in Jan  The last US troops left in March 1973

21 Cease-fire and Fall of Saigon  US continued to fund S. Vietnamese army but funding quickly dwindled.  Meanwhile President Nixon was entangled in the Watergate scandal which ultimately led to his resignation in Aug  North Vietnam stepped up their attacks on the South and finally launched an all-out offensive in the spring of  in April 1975 the S. Vietnam capitol of Saigon fell to the North, who reunited the country under Communist rule as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

22 Effects of the War  58,000 US soldiers died and thousands were wounded.  Cost the US millions  Americans began to distrust and question the government  We did not win.  The Wars Power Act-said the President could not send troops anywhere without Congressional approval.


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