Introduction: Before the war, the Chinese were ruling Vietnam. From 1955 to 1960, the Communist South Vietnamese (Vietcong) and the North Vietnamese worked together to try and take over the government of South Vietnam. Three years later, they were proven successful as the South Vietnam president, Diem, was executed. After this occurred, North Vietnam then tried to take over the entire region of Vietnam. They were planning on doing this with the help of Russia and China.
5 W’s: Who: South Vietnam (Vietcong) formed an alliance against Communism, this nation fought against North Vietnam and its allies, Russia and China, which supported Communism. Then, once the United States realized that the Vietcongs could not withstand on their own, they came into alliance with South Vietnam and began fighting against North Vietnam in the battle of communism. What: The war at first was an assault on South Vietnam by North Vietnam. America was involved because of fear, and so they came to assist the ally of Southern Vietnam. Warfare was brutal, and becoming a prisoner of war was one of the greatest fears of Americans. Guerilla warfare was highly utilized by the Viet Cong, which was a small sect of the communist military muscle in Southern Vietnam. Guerilla warfare entailed waiting in trees and in other high places to launch a surprise attack on the enemy. This is why the Vietnam War was so dangerous for the anti-communist alliance – enemies could strike not only on the ground, but from above at any given time also. When: The entire conflict lasted from November 1st 1955 – April 30th 1975. Military advisors from the United States entered Vietnam at 1950, and from then on, American troop involvement increased. Combat units began to deploy around 1965, and the Tet Offensive occurred at the beginning of 1968. A peace treaty was signed in 1973 called The Paris Peace Accords. Fighting continued on sometime after this. In 1973, the US established a cease-fire. Then, North Vietnam took over South Vietnam in 1975. In the end, Vietnam had been involved with armed conflict with foreign countries for well over a whole century. Where: The war was centered at Vietnam – this was a conflict that occurred on Vietnamese territory throughout. North Vietnam and South Vietnam were both fighting throughout their territories. One of the major cities that faced battle was Saigon (largest city in Vietnam). Why: The domino theory played a key role in the causes of the war. Anti-communist countries such as the United States feared that one country falling to communism would cause many other countries to, and they felt that communism posed a big threat to the security and sense of community in the world. The United States felt that it was its responsibility to protect the rest of the world from communism. Fear of this government system resided in America since World War II. This is arguably mainly due to Joseph Stalin and the U.S.S.R. To help prevent North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam and implying communism, the US decided to come in and take charge against North Vietnam to try and put an end to the over taking of South Vietnam.
Welcome Aboard, United States: The United States could sense an entire regional communist take over by the North Vietnamese and they quickly approached the problem and progress of the Vietcong and Ho Chi Minh. He was the prime minister/president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). USA did not like the ideas of communism and they did not want it spreading to more countries than it already had, but they were concerned about attacking North Vietnam because of the fear of a WWIII. Now, the US was faced with internal conflicts and a policy for the Vietnamese region was never formed. South Vietnam and the United States had different views on different cultures, so cultural differences definitely got in the way. The officials and armed forces of South Vietnam faced a lot of corruption. The ARVN’s (Army of the Republican of Vietnam) leaders had very low confidence and quickly became very unorganized. Now, the US was having a hard time holding together a South Vietnamese Army, so they decided to take care of business on their own. In 1950, the United States began to deploy troops to Vietnam to fight in the battle.
The President’s Feelings: During the beginning of this war, Lyndon B. Johnson was the president of the United States. The involvement of the US in this battle came upon because of him and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave the president permission in Southeast Asia, without Congress’ formal declaration of war, for the use of a conventional military force. Like many others, Johnson was torn between the plans the US had for Vietnam. Although there were many deaths and many problems back home in the US, Johnson did not want to pull the troops out of war because then he would be known as the first US president to loose a war. He could not handle the pressure and did not run for his second term. Richard M. Nixon then became the president.
Servicemen: The US army was placed in an area that was completely foreign to them. Their commander was General William Westmoreland. There was nowhere that they could be safe in Vietnam. The enemy was everywhere. They were even in the jungles. Many servicemen began using drugs and the US morale began to fall. Now, people resisted the draft, riots against the war were normal in the US, and veterans were trying anything they could to end the war. Eventually the US government had to make plans to withdraw from the war.
Ending the Fight over Communism: On January 27th, 1973 the US established a cease-fire (temporary stop of war), and began to send home soldiers. In 1975, the North Vietnamese took over South Vietnamese and completely ignored the war stoppage. Then North and South Vietnam became one large communist state. It could be said that over 2 million lives and injuries were lost for nothing.
Target Questions: Why were hippies so greatly opposed to the war? What were some interesting ways hippies protested against the war? What kind of combat did the U.S. and Vietnam use in the war? Why did people call U.S. soldiers “baby killers”?
1. Why were hippies so greatly opposed to the war? There were many peace movements in the US to bring back forces from Vietnam. Hippies lead these peace movements and believed that if the US was to get out of the war, then there would be less deaths and less tension throughout the United States and Vietnam. Many groups of hippies united that were against the U.S. anti-communism. Some even opposed the war because of the Just War Theory. This theory stated that a conflict can meet the criteria of political justice by punishing those who do wrong and fighting those you oppose in opinion (just as the Vietnam War had come along). The people who wanted US withdrawal (hippies) were typically known as “doves” and their opponents (those who did not want withdrawal) were know as “hawks”. There were many street protests for those who greatly opposed the Vietnam War. They were trying to turn the p0litical opinion around of the United States views. On October 15, 1969, millions of Americans were attracted to a protest. It was know as the Vietnam Moratorium. This developed from the call of Jerome Grossman. He said he would start a strike if the war had not ended by October 1969. There were more and more reports of military abuses of Americans and now there was more attention than ever for the anti-war movement. A major military abuse that brought a lot of attention was the My Lai Massacre in 1968. Following along the hippies footpath, even some veterans turned their backs on the war and joined a movement of anti-war. This was called the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In 1973, the Paris Peace Accords was signed, and anti-war movements ended. The last withdrawal of troops was taken after this. Because the United States pulled out, South Vietnam had to defend themselves against North Vietnam and they were still faced with battles and war. They did not want anymore war, so many South Vietnamese went to the US for refugee. Although it took a while, the hippies were finally able to bring home their troops. They were upset about all of the deaths that occurred, but were glad that they were able to keep any more troops from dying.
2. What were some interesting ways hippies protested against the war? At Kent State University, there was a fatal shooting. Four protesters (anti-war) were shot. Then, nation-wide protests at universities took place. This brought many youth protests in the late 1960s. The hippies believed that the Kent State Protest was an example of suppression of opposition to imperialism. In 1965, the Antiwar Movement finally began. Many familiar phrases were put on posters and used during marches such as: “free love”, “Kent State”, “establishment”, and “nonviolence”. Major places of urban riots were Detroit, New York, and San Francisco where 100,000 people would get together to protest. Young people in college began to protest once the draft was announced. Students would organize marches. They were know as the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and had their first riot in Washington in 1965. Even celebrities and musicians would get together and riot. They would do this in the form on concerts and demonstrations all over the country. The hippies were able to know what was going on over in Vietnam because of news reporters. Every night, there would be broadcasts on television about events going on over seas. Woodstock was a festival of music during this time held in White Lake, NY in 1969. It was the 3 Days of Peace & Music and was one of the most pivotal movements in music during this time period. Thousands of hippies gathered together during this time to try and promote peace.
3. What kind of combat did the U.S. and Vietnam use in the war? Guerrilla warfare was greatly used by the Viet Cong during the war. Guerrilla warfare is when small groups of combatants use tactics (raids & ambushes) to attack a larger, traditional army force (such as the US in this case). These consisted of surprise attacks. Preemptive strikes and surprise attacks were major key strategies in the Vietnam war on every side. Another major use of combat were Snipers. Snipers were very popular during this time period. They would wear camouflaged clothing and aim at their enemies. These camouflaged troops were able to secretly hide and pick target enemies. They could easily do this from a distance and successfully hit what they aimed for. Battlefields were heavily bombed during the Vietnam war. During this war, there were more than 120 battles. Some of the battles were: The Tet Offensive was a surprise attack that broke a pact in which the North Vietnamese assaulted the South Vietnamese in the United States. The purpose of this battle was to try to create a civilian uprising, ending the war instantly. The Battle of Hamburger Hill involved trying to take control of a place that arguably offered strategic assistance. However, the United States managed to take control of it, and it proved to be of valuable assistance. The Easter Offensive was conducted by North Vietnam against South Vietnam. The object of this strategy was to gain a large amount of territory and simply eliminate North Vietnam’s enemies – this was not a battle for a strategic location. The Battle of An Loc was a very important battle, since the South Vietnamese stopped North Vietnam from seizing Saigon, an important location to the South Vietnamese and Americans also. The Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord was the last major battle between the United States and the North Vietnamese army. The U.S. was outnumbered almost ten to one, and eventually withdrew so planes could drop carpet bombs on the surrounding area.
4. Why did people call U.S. soldiers “baby killers”? Most people who called soldiers baby killers were hippies or people who were against the war in general. They did this mostly because they were frightened that they or someone they knew were going to get shipped off to the war in Vietnam. It is said that American soldiers did all they could to protect the children dying, but since children die in every war they could only do so much. Many soldiers contributed money, time, and material for building hospitals and schools for these children. Although some soldiers were trying to protect the children there were also some that just didn’t care. There were many recorded instances of GIs using their lighters, the Zippo, to burn down people’s houses and belongings. This was part of the My Lai massacre in 1968. The soldiers coming home from war were no longer considered heroes. They were now called names and looked down upon to some people; they were called things like “baby killers.” Due to this cruel gesture soldiers were trying very hard to get out of the draft. To do this they would run off to Canada and would be conscientious objectors.
Images of War: The battle over communism left a great impact on the lives of many. These images show just what went on over seas in Vietnam. South Vietnam: Battalion Seas Arriving US Fighter Pilots
Picture 1: An American soldier uses a machine gun in a hovercraft
Picture 2: Ammunition is lifted by a Chinook Helicopter on battle grounds
Picture 3: This is an example of an American Hovercraft used in battle over seas
Picture 1: This is a Vietnamese Ranger in May, 1968 fighting on the streets of his town, Saigon.
Picture 2: These are ARVN rangers carrying the wounded at one of the major battles, Operation Lam Son (1971).
Picture 3: This is a woman soldier known as , The Tiger Lady. She was a combat master sergeant. She fought alongside her husband, Major Le Van Dan.
Picture 4: The dead lay in the streets as the Vietnamese soldiers look over them. This was a common scene during the Vietnam War.
Conclusion: In concluding this project, we believe that this war was a waste of our time. Our group decided that if we had not gone over to Vietnam in the first place, everything would have still turned out the same and we would have not lost nearly as many lives. We take the same view as the hippies; peace. We believe that sending as many troops to Vietnam as we did was a terrible thing. So many lives were lost and then we pulled out in the end. Although we did make a cease-fire agreement, North Vietnam still went ahead and took over South Vietnam. As we said earlier, things would have been the same if the US did not go there. The North still would have taken over South Vietnam.
Pulling it all together: Enjoy the video The Vietnam War!
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