By: Gurjit Rai, Brent Vivier, and Danielle Letkeman
Who: North and South Vietnam, America and
the Soviet Union.
What: After the rise of Ho Chi Minh and his
communist Viet Minh party in North Vietnam,
and an intense Cold War between two global
superpowers: the United States and the
Soviet Union, war broke out against South
Vietnam in efforts to inflict communism upon
all of Vietnam.
The Containment Policy and the Cold War
would be the driving reason why the USA
would get involved in the Indochina War
At the time of the containment policy there was
already a war underway in South Asia, The Indochina
War. French colonists had conquered Cambodia, Laos
and Vietnam. French Colonists had established almost
complete control of Vietnam when the ICP
(Indochinese Communist Party) was created by Ho Chi
Minh in 1930 after WW1 (Willbanks 2013).
This domination by Colonial France caused the roots
of Vietnamese nationalism and resistance.
1940’s- Ho and the ICP eventually waged full warfare
on the French and eventually leading to war on the
Americans as well. This was known as the first
When North Vietnam attacked US destroyers in August of 1964, the Americans
retaliated by strategically launching their own series of attacks on North
Vietnamese ammo bases and oil fields.
After these multiple attacks came the Tonkin Gulf Resolution which gave the US
army authority to deal with communist attacks anyway they see fit (Willbanks
The Tonkin Gulf incidents were seen as a turning point for the Americans. Not
only did it conclude with several North Vietnamese coastal base air raids but, it
resulted in the first deployment ground troops in South Vietnam In March 1965
(Willbanks 2013) . They were sent to protect US coastal bases.
Operation Rolling Thunder!
Some sources state that the events in the Tonkin Gulf were not as dramatic as the
US army reported. There is controversy if the majority of the attacks against the
US ships even happened due to communication issues (Willbanks 2013).
My Lai Massacre
March 16, 1968
504 civilians killed
Perpetrators: US Army
Viet Cong thought to be hiding in My Lai
Dak Son Massacre
December 6, 1967
252 civilians killed
Viet Cong vengeance attack on anti-communist
Differences between terrorism and warfare
Laws of war
Civilians and non-combatants not deliberately targeted
“Once a terrorist, is not always a terrorist. Yet the opposite is
also true: once a soldier, is not always a soldier.”
Terrorism and Politics
Revolutionary terrorism (activities aimed at philosophical
and political nature of government)
Reactionary terrorism (activities concerned with
preventing societal and governmental changes)
This was a plan to strike all the major cities within south
Vietnam, they had some victories in the beginning, but
they lost a lot more when the US and South Vietnam
With media being more readily available for reporters,
news of the US soldiers causing massacres in the name of
fighting the viet cong came to light in the United states.
This caused massive protests across the US and across the
world and under this pressure President Nixon put into
place the plan “Vietnamization” , this was a plan to slowly
reduce the soldiers in Vietnam but at the same time help
reinforce South Vietnamese army with giving them arms.
With the US forces pulling
out, and giving less and
less financial aid and not
providing as many arms to
the forces of South
Vietnam, it was evident
that the south was going to
loose to the north.
In January of 1973 the Paris
peace accord was signed
and this ended any direct
US military involvement in
With the Americans not being allowed to be
directly involved in the war the Viet Cong
continued to attack major cities, and when
they attacked the capital city of Saigon which
was the capital of south Vietnam and were
able to takeover the central buildings and had
the NLF(nation liberation force) flag waiving
from the Presidential palace in Saigon
Willbanks, James H., ed. The Vietnam War: The Essential Reference Guide. Santa Barbara: Library of Congress
Cataloging-In-Publication Data, 2013. Pages 15-19.
P. Schmid Alex (2004) Frameworks for Conceptualising Terrorism, Terrorism and Political Violence, 16:2, 197-221,
The VN Center Archive. (n.d). Dak Son Massacre. Retrieved from http://vnafmamn.com/VNWar_atrocities.html
Feltz, J. (1967). Dak Son burned huts after VC attack [Online image]. Retrieved October 13, 2013 from
BBC News. (1998). Murder in the name of war – My Lai. Retrieved from
Everett. (2013). Young Victim of Dak Son Massacre [Online image]. Retrieved October 13, 2013 from
[Untitled illustration of My Lai Massacre]. Retrieved October 13, 2013 from
[Untitled illustration of woman and gun]. Retrieved October 13, 2013 from