Overview:● A war between two sides: ○ France and govt. of South Vietnam supported by the US ○ Viet Cong and North Vietnam● lasted from the mid-1950s until the mid-1970s● the war ended in the complete communist takeover of Vietnam in 1975.
Origins of the ConflictLong Term:● French Imperialism● Vietnam NationalismShort Term:● French Seizure of Haiphong and Langs
French ImperialismLong Term Cause:● Vietnam was a French colony ○ expressed purpose of the conquest was to bring liberty to "the races and peoples still enslaved by ignorance and despotism" ○ needed for economic motives ■ Raw materials + markets
Vietnam NationalismLong Term Cause:● Ideas of self-determination led to many people in Vietnam wanting to be independent of French colonial rule ○ This fighting had been going on for nearly six decades● Japan invaded portions of Vietnam in 1941 ● Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh● In 1941, Ho Chi Minh comes back to Vietnam after traveling the world for thirty years ○ embraced communist ideas● Established Viet Minh in the North ○ Goal: To rid Vietnam of French and Japanese occupiers● In 1945 Ho Chi Minh and his Peoples Congress create the National Liberation Committee of Vietnam to form a provisional government.● On September 2, 1945, after gaining support for their cause, the Viet Minh announced the Vietnam Democratic Republic as an independent state and sought recognition from the US, UK, Soviet Union, and China● But France was determined to hold on to their colonies in Indochina.● The US did not recognize this independence due to their policy to contain communism.
French Seizure of Haiphongand LangsShort Term Cause:● After Vietnams declaration of independence, talks with the French failed to produce a negotiated settlement● In November 1946 French armed forces seized Haiphong and Langson ○ Initiated the Vietnam War
Division of Vietnam1954: French Defeated at Dien BienPhu● Division of Vietnam: 1954 Geneva Conference agree to split Vietnam at Seventeenth Parallel. (Communist North and Anti- communist South)● elections were supposed to be held in 1956 for reunification ○ US thought that this would give too much power to the Communist Party of Vietnam
US Fear of CommunistTakeover● the United States began supporting France in the effort to defend its colonial presence in Vietnam. ○ the US did this to contain communism, making it an indirect conflict between the US and the USSR in the cold war. ■ Remembering the failure of appeasement before World War II, policy makers turn to aggression ■ Johnson asserted that the "central lesson of our time is that the appetite of aggression is never satisfied. To withdraw from one battlefield means only to prepare for the next." ■ Domino Theory
Domino Theory● The US belief that if Vietnam fell into communism, its neighbors would follow in a chain reaction leading to possibly all of Southeast Asia under communist rule. ○ Truman Doctrine● Dwight D. Eisenhower: first to bring up this idea-Containment of Communism"You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences."
The US in Vietnam● a counter-revolutionary nation was built with the support of the Eisenhower ○ The Government of the Republic of Vietnam was established ■ Also called South Vietnam or GVN● Ngo Dinh Diem won the elections (suspiciously) and became president● Diem immediately began attacking North Vietnam● Diems rule was corrupt and unpopular, leading to opposition from many citizens
The National LiberationFront● On December 20, 1960, The National Liberation Front(NFL) was founded ○ Anyone could join as long as they opposed Ngo Dinh Diem and wanted to unify Vietnam● Also known as the Viet Cong
Guerrilla Warfare● Used by Viet Cong● Guerrillas do not directly confront strong opponents but employ hit-and-run tactics, sabotage, assassination, and terrorism in order to exhaust and harm an enemy.● Lead to digging of tunnels as shelter and fighting bases● Popular support is crucial to guerrillas
Ho Chi Minh Trail● network of roads that stretched from North Vietnam through Eastern Laos to South Vietnam● main supply route for Vietcong troops and materials
Innocent people were harmed for being accused of being Anti-Communist
Responses● By 1963, Kennedy begins supporting a coup of Diem● Diem was captured and killed● Three weeks later, Kennedy was assassinated● New US president Lyndon B. Johnson believed more aggressive action was needed in Vietnam ○ Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Gulf of Tonkin IncidentThe short term event that caused theescalation of the war:● In 1964, US destroyer Maddox reported to be fired by North Vietnamese torpedo boats, second attack on C. Turner Joy ○ Lyndon Johnson claims unprovoked aggression and orders air strikes against North Vietnamese torpedo bases ■ Operation Rolling Thunder
Tactics● The Communist Party switched to a protracted war strategy after the new American military commitment. ○ predicted that because US had no clear objectives, it would eventually tire from the war● Protracted war also meant more losses
Protests in US● As the war continued, more people were drafted, and more deaths ensued● Protests occurred mainly on college campuses and in major cities at first, but by 1968, protests could be seen all across the country.● The Tet Offensive was launched by North Vietnam and the NLF, coordinated attacks against the major Southern cities designed to force the US into a negotiation. ○ It was effective. Many people in the US were growing war-weary.
Vietnamization Policy● President Richard Nixon● withdrawing American troops and giving South Vietnam greater responsibility for fighting the war.● His attempt to slow the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into South Vietnam
Unification of Vietnam● In April 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to the North and Vietnam was reunited.● In July 1956, the Geneva Accords called for an election to take place to choose the government of a reunified Vietnam