Topic.16 The War In Vietnam

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Topic.16 The War In Vietnam

  1. 1. Contemporary History Topic 16: The War in Vietnam Mr. Michael Meechin Celebration High School Social Science Dept.
  2. 2. Questions for Discussion o What do you notice first as you look at these images? o What has the photographer captured in this photograph? o What do images such as these communicate about the Vietnam War to us today?
  3. 3. “I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think… As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.” David Halberstam New York Times
  4. 4. What do you know about Vietnam? o The War in Vietnam was hard to define; o The war took a different meaning at home, different than any other war in our history; o The war is best defined by the photography that came out of country; o These photos played a major part in turning the public against the war in Vietnam…
  5. 5. The Meaning of the War in Vietnam? o The War in Vietnam was the longest in American history; o Vietnam was also the most unpopular war of the 20th century… o The conflict resulted in the deaths of nearly 60,000 US soldiers; o Vietnam caused turmoil on the home-front; o Anti-war protests became a daily part of life; o Americans became divided: pro-war hawks and anti-war doves… o The conflict was also the first war to come into the living rooms of Americans on a daily basis…
  6. 6. Ho Chi Minh o Ho Chi Minh was a man of small stature, he wore sandals and shorts, his people called him “uncle ho”… o Ho Chi Minh adopted Socialism while in the Soviet Union; o While there he organized a revolutionary Vietnamese force; o In 1945, Minh declared Vietnamese independence… o The French, who returned to Vietnam following WWII had different plans…
  7. 7. French Nam’ o The French took control of Indochina following WWII; o They fought a war against Vietnamese rebel guerillas… o The United States would begin to underwrite the war in 1950; o Providing $2 billion to the French war effort; o The French devised a plan to set a trap for the Vietnamese rebels… o 1954, Viet Minh defeated the French forces; o The French became surrounded in the town of Dienbienphu; o The French pleaded for US support, but President Eisenhower resisted…
  8. 8. Vietnamese Politics o The French and Vietnamese governments met in Geneva, Switzerland to sign the Geneva Accords (peace agreement); o The two sides agreed to temporarily divide Vietnam into a Communist North and a Non-Communist South; o The country would remain this way until elections in 1956… o However, the elections never took place; o S. Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, with US backing, refused to participate; o Diem was fearful of a Ho Chi Minh victory; o This led to a distrust in diplomacy between the North and South
  9. 9. United States Enters the War o Belief in the domino theory led President Eisenhower to back the autocratic government of Ngo Dinh Diem, a fierce anti-Communist; o What is autocracy? o Groups opposed to Diem formed the National Liberation Front (NLF), or the Vietcong; o To prevent Communism, Kennedy tripled aid to Vietnam and pressured Diem to reform; o Diem refused to comply…
  10. 10. United States Enters the War o November 1963, Vietnamese Army officials took the government by force; o This action was backed by the United States o Diem was killed in the confusion o A few weeks later an assassin’s bullet killed President Kennedy
  11. 11. Johnson’s War o President Johnson saw Vietnam as a key battle in the Cold War; o Johnson rejected any sentiment that did not guarantee a Non- Communist South Vietnam; o Using the attacks on two US destroyers, Johnson convinced Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; o The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution allowed Johnson to widen the war… o In Feb 1965, Johnson made two fateful decisions; o He launched Operation Rolling Thunder, three years of non-stop bombing of North Vietnam; o He sent the first ground troops into South Vietnam…
  12. 12. Questions for Discussion o When would it be justified, if ever, for the United States to fund another countries war? o During time of total war, what are the differences between civilians and soldiers? o What are rules of engagement? o Should soldiers be held accountable for violating the rules of engagement during war? o What limits do military’s have in regards to getting information from prisoners of war (POWs)?
  13. 13. Fighting the War o Despite massive bombing campaigns the United States failed to route the Vietcong [VC]; o The VC were kept well supplied by their allies in North Vietnam; o The supplies were transported through a vast system of tunnels… o Warfare erupted throughout South Vietnam; o The VC used guerrilla warfare to keep the American ground forced guessing… o Why can guerrilla warfare be so much harder to conduct a combat defense against?
  14. 14. Fighting the War o The United States forces went through a pacification program with the South Vietnamese civilians; o This program was designed to weed out VC living in S. Vietnamese villages; o This program was not effective as the VC knew the peasants better than the US forces… o The war in Vietnam seemed unwinnable for many of the US forces; o Vietnam will prove to be both frustrating and a nightmare for the US troops…
  15. 15. Tet Offensive o The Tet Offensive showed the no place in S. Vietnam was safe from attack; o Televised images of the war fueled the antiwar sentiment; o President Johnson announced the he would bow out of the 1968 Presidential race; o President Johnson also vowed to get out of Vietnam…
  16. 16. Tragedy and Triumph o The 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King launched the country into chaos; o The assassination caused rioting in cities across the country… o The nation was launched further into turmoil when the presidential front-runner Robert Kennedy was assassinated; o The nation had lost two civil rights leaders within three months of each other…
  17. 17. Election of 1968 o With the death of Kennedy, the 1968 Election was in shambles; o Richard Nixon entered the race as the Republican candidate; o Nixon saw that social unrest scared Americans… o Nixon promised “peace with honor” in Vietnam, as well as an end to “domestic violence”; o George Wallace threatened Nixon by running an even more conservative campaign o Wallace appealed to those who feared school integration and despised antiwar protestors…
  18. 18. Election of 1968
  19. 19. The Student Movement o Students protested the Vietnam War to no end; o Although only a small population of students protested, they belonged to prestigious universities; o This attracted great attention to the student movement… o Opposition to the war led to many refusing to be drafted; o Reasons included deferment, refusal to register, burning of draft cards, flight from the country, and going to jail; o Some believed the draft was unfair because it fell on those who could not afford to attend college… o Should citizens who do not choose education as a path be considered more so for military service?
  20. 20. Toward Peace o President Nixon moved toward the Nixon Doctrine… what he called “Vietnamization”; o The United States would provide weapons and financial aid to Asian countries; o However, they would have to fight their own battles… o As Nixon began the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam, he ordered Sec. of State Henry Kissinger to take action; o Kissinger met secretly with N. Vietnam’s government; o In a televised speech, Nixon asked Americans to support a “twist” in the war – sending troops into Cambodia…
  21. 21. Toward Peace o Escalation of the war led to public outcry; o Nixon and Kissinger promised that it was necessary to have an honorable end to the war; o The “Pentagon Papers” were released by the NY Times and informed the American people the US Presidents had lied; o The war in Vietnam was not continuing to stop Communism, but rather “to avoid a humiliating defeat”… o The Whitehouse tried to block the publication of these papers; o However, the Supreme Court said they could be published by the NY Times… o Should the press have the freedom to print what they want about the government? Should they have to give up their sources?
  22. 22. The Final Years of War o Despite US training and billions of dollars spent, the South could not defeat the North; o The South also refused to sign a peace agreement in Paris in 1972; o In 1973, the US negotiated a cease-fire… US prisoners of war were returned; o The Vietcong was allowed to remain in the South… o After the final US troops left in 1973, the cease-fire ended; o The South surrendered to the North in 1975; o Vietnam remains a Communist country today…
  23. 23. Cost of War o 58,000 troops were killed in Vietnam, over 300,000 were wounded, many permanently disabled; o The US government poured more than $150 billion into Vietnam while underfunding many social programs; o For the first time the US had lost a war, shattering the confidence of the WWII victory… o Two million Vietnamese and uncounted Cambodian and Laotian were dead; o More than 8 million tons of bombs had been dropped in Southeast Asia…

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