• What do you know about the Vietnam War?• What were the goals of the United States in this war?• What was the goal of the communist North Vietnamese?
The French Connection• France had gained control of Indochina in a series of colonial wars beginning in the 1840s and lasting until the 1880s.• During World War II, Vichy France had collaborated with the occupying Imperial Japanese forces.• Vietnam was under Japanese control although the Vichy French continued to serve as the official administrators.• After the Japanese surrender, the French fought to retain control of their former colony against the Viet Minh independence movement, led by Communist Party leader Ho Chi Minh.• After the Viet Minh defeated the French colonial army at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the French withdrew, and the colony was granted independence.
Geneva Conference-1954• Vietnam was partitioned temporarily into a Northern and a Southern zone of Viet- Nam at the 17th parallel.• The North was to be ruled by Ho Chi Minh, while the South would be under the control of Emperor Bao Dai.• In 1955, Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem became President of a new South Vietnamese republic.
Geneva Conference• The Geneva Conference (1954) set up elections to unify the country by July, 1956.• Such elections were never held because neither side wanted to lose.
Early US Strategy• On December 11, 1961, the United States sent 900 military advisors to give temporary support to Diem’s government in the South.• The strategy was to create the impression that Diem’s government was being overrun by "hostile Communist forces."• At the time, this rebellion was mostly inspired, not directed, by the North.• The definition of an "enemy" would prove to be fateful for U.S. soldiers ordered to make life- and-death choices on the ground.
• The impossible task of defining who the enemy was would lead directly to the general hatred and the human rights atrocities for which the Vietnam War is widely known.• The bigger overall strategy was to deliberately create a more conventional conflict with the Soviet Union in Vietnam, rather than to allow nuclear conflict to erupt elsewhere like Cuba or Europe.
Who Fought?• The United States Armed Forces• The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN— the South Vietnamese Army)• The NLF, a group of South Vietnamese guerilla fighters(Vietcong)• The Peoples Army of Viet Nam (PAVN—the North Vietnamese Army, pronounced Pahvin)
Escalation 1957-1975• Under escalation, U.S. involvement increased over a period of years. Started with the deployment of non-combatant military advisors to the South Vietnamese army.• Then started using special forces(Green Berets) for commando-style operations.• Use of regular troops whose purpose was to be defensive only.• Use of regular troops in offensive combat.• Once U.S. troops were in active combat, escalation shifted to the adding of more US troops. (Overhead)
Kennedy and Vietnam• Kennedy strongly believed that if South Vietnam was a stable and democratic country, it would keep communism out.• Aid to the South was often made on the condition that the government would undertake certain political reforms.• Soon, US Government advisors were playing a prominent role in every level of South Vietnams government.• South Vietnamese President Diem did not work well with the US.• He would often go through the motions of these US- prescribed reforms, but ended up embarrassing the US.• Diem did not believe that US ideas of democracy were suited for his government.• With possible CIA backing, Diem was overthrown by the SV military and killed due to his actions and beliefs.
• Johnson and Vietnam President Johnson had some doubts about whether the US should be in Vietnam, as shown in the following excerpts from a taped telephone conversation he had with his National Security Advisor, McGeorge Bundy on May 27, 1964.• Johnson: Ill tell you the more that I stayed awake last night thinking of this thing, the more I think of it, I dont know what in the hell - it looks like to me were getting into another Korea. It just worries the hell out of me. I dont see what we can ever hope to get out of there with, once were committed. I believe that the Chinese Communists are coming into it. I dont think we can fight them ten thousand miles from home.... I dont think its worth fighting for and I dont think we can get out. Its just the biggest damned mess that I ever saw.• Bundy: It is. Its an awful mess.• Johnson: And we just got to think about - I was looking at this sergeant of mine this morning... and I just thought about ordering his kids in there and what in the hell am I ordering him out there for? What the hell is Vietnam worth to me? What is Laos worth to me? What is it worth to this country? Now weve got a treaty but, hell, everybody elses got a treaty out there and theyre not doing anything about it. Of course if you start running from the Communists, they may just chase you right into your own kitchen.• Bundy: Yeah, thats the trouble. And that is what the rest of that half of the world is going to think if this thing comes apart on us. Thats the dilemma.
• On 17 July, 1964, the Republican Party selected ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater as their nominee for president.• Johnson now found that he had to act in a way that would not allow Goldwater to charge him with being “soft on Communism”.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution• Several US ships were supposedly attacked by North Vietnamese torpedoes in the Gulf of Tonkin.
• Most experts today do not think the ships were attacked.• This was Johnson’s ploy to get more involved in Vietnam.• On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution giving President Johnson the power …to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression and ...to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.• Only two people in Congress voted against it.
• What did this resolution really do?• Why do you think this resolution came about at this time?Hint: Notice the date.• On August 26, 1964, President Johnson was nominated as the Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States.• During his campaign he promised that “We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves”.• Johnson easily defeated Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election.
• President Johnson and General William Westmoreland kept saying that with more troops we will win the war.• Most Americans tended to believe this at first.• The American publics faith was shattered, on January 30, 1968, when the enemy, supposedly on the verge of collapse, mounted the Tet Offensive in which nearly every major city in South Vietnam was attacked.• Named after the lunar new year festival which is the most important Vietnamese holiday in South Vietnam.• Although we crushed the enemy militarily, the surprising huge offensive attack from an enemy that was supposedly almost defeated convinced many Americans that victory was impossible.
Losses during Tet OffensiveCountry/Force Killed Wounded MissingUS, Korea, Australia 1,536 7,764 11South Viet Nam 2,788 8,299 587North Viet Nam and Viet 45,000 not known notCong knownCivilian 14,000 24,000 630,000 homeless
• There was an increasing sense among many people that the government was misleading the American people about a war without a clear beginning or end.• When General Westmoreland called for still more troops to be sent to Vietnam after the Tet Offensive, more and more people started protesting.• The support of the government and war effort suffered even more when the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers.• It was a top-secret historical study about the war, that showed how the government was misleading the US public in all stages of the war.
Operation Rolling Thunder• Operation Rolling Thunder was the code name for the non-stop bombing raids in North Vietnam conducted by the United States armed forces.• Its purpose was to destroy the will of the North Vietnamese to fight, to destroy industrial bases and air defenses and to stop the flow of men and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.• Was not successful in destroying the will of the North.
Anti-War• Why were so many people against the war? 1. Tet Offensive 2. Pentagon Papers 3. Injuring/killing innocent people(My Lai Massacre) 4. Supporting a bad government in South 5. The power of the press
My Lai Massacre March 1968• US soldiers killed 504 Vietnamese civilians.• The dead civilians included fifty age 3 or younger, 69 between 4 and 7, and 27 in their 70s or 80s.• Women were raped and bodies mutilated.
How did people get out of serving?1. Went to Canada or Sweden2. Went to college(student deferment)3. Got married4. Medically unfit for service5. Joined the National Guard or Peace Corps6. Claimed to be homosexual7. Being rich
Nixon and Vietnam• Nixon called for the “vietnamization” of the war.• “Peace with Honor”• Gradually pull US troops out and train the ARVN to take our place in fighting the North.• Expanded the war into Laos and Cambodia leading to college protests(Kent St.)
• On January 15, 1973, President Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam.• The Paris Peace Accords were later signed on January 27, 1973 which officially ended US involvement in the Vietnam conflict. 1. Fighting stopped 2. US would pull out of Vietnam 3. North and South Vietnam would recognize each other’s independence
Peace???• The peace agreement did not last.• In March, 1975, the North invaded the South.• The South was not strong enough and fell quickly.• Saigon, the South’s capital fell on April 30, 1975.• US did not live up to it’s promise to come to their aid if the North attacked.• North Vietnam united both North and South Vietnam on July 2, 1976 to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.• Saigon was re-named Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the former president of North Vietnam.• Vietnam is still communist today.
War Powers Act 1973• Limits the power of the President of the US to wage war without the approval of the Congress.• It requires the President to consult with Congress prior to the start of any hostilities as well as regularly until U.S. armed forces are no longer engaged in hostilities.• President must remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities if Congress has not declared war or passed a resolution authorizing the use of force within 60 days.
Vietnam Remembered• Vets were not treated well upon their return to the US.• The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial(The Wall) was built as a remembrance to those that died in the Vietnam War.