Eisenhower backed Diems government even though it was unpopular and paid billions of dollars into it. JFK continued this support but by ’63 he realised that Diem was a problem because he evicted peasants from their homes and favoured the Catholic minority in South Vietnam. In November the US overthrew him and killed him. Soon after Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson took his place. He got America more involved in Vietnam because he feared the Democratic Party would lose the election if he pulled out.
The Gulf of Tonkin
In 1964 the communists controlled about half of South Vietnam and they asked the Americans for more help. The Republicans accused Johnson of being soft on Vietnam so he was forced to bomb the North , but he needed an excuse to get the Congress to back him.
They claim that in August North Vietnamese gunboats made unprovoked attacks on American ships at the Gulf of Tonkin. This allowed the Americans to take “necessary steps” however nobody knows if this was ever a genuine incident or fabricated by the Americans.
The Vietcong used Guerrilla tactics.
“ Search and Destroy Missions” – the soldiers went out to kill the Vietcong , but because they all looked similar many innocent civilians were killed.
Cluster bombs and Napalm were dropped on cities.
Herbicides were sprayed over 6 million acres of land by the air force to make it easier to see enemies, but many people died from this and it lead to many birth defects.