2 American Involvement Deepens A. After Ngo Dinh Diem refused to hold national elections, Ho Chi Minh and his followers created a new guerrilla army known as the Vietcong. Their goal was to reunify North and South Vietnam.B. The United States continued to send aid to South Vietnam. The Vietcong’s power, however, continued to grow because many Vietnamese opposed Diem’s government.C. President Kennedy continued the nation’s policy of support for South Vietnam, agreeing with past presidents that Southeast Asia was important in the battle againstcommunism.
3 D. The unpopularity of South Vietnam’s President Diem increased because his government was corrupt, he created strategic hamlets, and he discriminated against Buddhism, one of the country’s most widely practiced religions. Diem was overthrown and later executed. This further weakened South Vietnam’s government, forcing the United States to become more involved.E. After Kennedy’s assassination, President Lyndon Johnson inherited the problem ofVietnam.
4 Discussion QuestionWhy were Diem’s strategic hamlets unpopular with the peasants? (The peasants resentedbeing uprooted from their homes where they had worked to build farms and where many of their ancestors were buried.)
5 Johnson and VietnamA. At first, President Johnson was cautious regarding Vietnam, yet he was determined to prevent South Vietnam from becoming Communist. Politically, Democrats needed to keep South Vietnam from becoming Communist, or Republicans would use it against them.B. On August 2, 1964, President Johnson announced that North Vietnamese torpedo boats fired on two American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. A similar attack reportedly occurred two days later. The Senate and the House passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964, authorizing the president to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack on U.S. forces. Congress had given its war powers to the president.
7 C. After the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed, the Vietcong began attacking bases where American advisers were stationed in South Vietnam. After an attack in February 1965, Johnson sent aircrafts to strike in North Vietnam.D. While the polls showed that Johnson’s approval rating had increased, some dissenters in the White House warned that if the United States became too involved, it would bedifficult to get out. In March 1965, however, Johnson increased American involvement, and American soldiers were fighting alongside the South Vietnamese troops against the Vietcong.
8 Discussion QuestionWhy did President Johnson expand American involvement in Vietnam in 1964? (Johnsonwanted to prevent South Vietnam from becoming Communist. He did not want to “lose” Vietnam, because he feared that the Republicans would blame his administration for losing Vietnam to communism.)
9 A Bloody Stalemate Emerges A. By 1965 some 180,000 American combat troops were fighting in Vietnam, with thenumber doubling by Many Americans believed they could win in Vietnam.B. To take Vietcong’s hiding places away, American planes dropped napalm, a jelliedgasoline that explodes on contact, and Agent Orange, a chemical that strips leaves from trees and shrubs. Farmlands and forests were turned into wastelands.
14 C. Americans underestimated the Vietcong’s strength, stamina, and morale. D. Johnson refused to order a full invasion of North Vietnam, fearing China would get involved in the war.E. President Johnson also refused to allow a full-scale attack on the Vietcong’s supply line, known as the Ho Chi Minh trail. This made winning difficult.F. As American casualties increased, many American citizens began questioning the United States’ involvement in the war.
17 A Growing Credibility Gap A. When American troops first entered the Vietnam War, many Americans supported the military effort. B. As the war in Vietnam continued to drag on, public support decreased. Americans began to question the government and believed a credibility gap had developed, making it difficult to believe what the Johnson administration said about the war.
18 Discussion QuestionWhy did Americans believe there was a “credibility gap” in what the Johnson administrationsaid about the war in Vietnam? (The American commander in South Vietnam, General William Westmoreland, repeatedly reported that the enemy was almost defeated. Less optimistic reports were seen on television each night as the images of wounded and killed American soldiers were aired on the evening news.)
19 An Antiwar Movement Emerges A. As the casualties increased, Americans, especially college students, began to publicly protest the war. B. In March 1965, faculty and students at the University of Michigan abandoned their classes and formed a teach-in where they informally discussed issues of the war and why they opposed it. This triggered teach-ins at many college campuses
20 C. Young protestors focused their attention on what they felt was an unfair draft system. While college students could delay military service until graduation, those with low income and limited education were called to serve. As a result, minorities, especially African Americans, were called to war. Many draftees refused to serve. Others movedto Canada and other nations.
27 Discussion QuestionWhy is 1968 considered the most turbulent year of the chaotic 1960s? (On January 30,1968, during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese launched a surprise attack known as the Tet offensive. In the attack, guerrilla fighters hit American airbases in South Vietnam as well as the South’s major cities and provincial capitals. The approval rating for the president plummeted. Johnson withdrew from the presidential race, announcing his decisionin an address to the nation on March 31, In April Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. Two months later, Robert Kennedy was also assassinated. A clash between protesters and police at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August added to the chaos.)
28 D. By 1968 the nation seemed divided into two camps—the doves and the hawks. The doves wanted the United States to withdraw from the war, and the hawks felt the United States should stay and fight.Discussion QuestionWhy did many Americans oppose the war? (Some felt the conflict was a civil war in which the United States had no business. Others saw South Vietnam as corrupt, and defending the country as immoral.)
29 1968: The Pivotal YearA. On January 30, 1968, during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese launched a surprised attack known as the Tet offensive. In the attack,guerrilla fighters hit American airbases in South Vietnam as well as the South’s major cities and provincial capitals.B. Militarily, the Tet offensive was a disaster for the Communists, but it was a political victory that shocked Americans. As a result, the approval rating for the president plummeted.
32 C. Eugene McCarthy and Senator Robert Kennedy entered the 1968 presidential race as “dove” candidates for the Democratic nomination. D. Johnson withdrew from the presidential race, announcing his decision in an address to the nation on March 31, E. In April Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. Two months later, Robert Kennedy was also assassinated. This violence, coupled with a clash between protesters and police at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, left the nation in a state of chaos.
33 F. The chaos benefited the Republican presidential candidate, Richard Nixon, and an independent, Governor George Wallace of Alabama. Nixon promised to regain order and end the war in Vietnam. G. Although Johnson attempted to help the Democratic campaign with a cease-fire, Democratic presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey lost by more than 100 electoral votes as well as the popular vote by a slim margin. Richard Nixon became president.