The Vietnam War


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This power point is an educational look at the causes of U.S. involvement in Vietnam through withdrawal.

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The Vietnam War

  1. 1. The Vietnam War
  2. 2. Historical Background• From the late 1800s until WWII, France ruled most of Indochina
  3. 3. Historical Background• The people of Indochina resisted French colonial rule• The Indochinese Communist Party, founded in 1930, revolted against French rule under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh
  4. 4. Historical Background• Ho Chi Minh was sentenced to death but fled Vietnam to the Soviet Union and then China
  5. 5. Historical Background• The Japanese had begun creating their own empire in Southeast Asia• In 1940 Japan replaced French rule in Indochina
  6. 6. Historical Background• Ho Chi Minh returns in 1941 and helps form the Vietminh – Vietminh – an organization whose goal is to win Vietnam‟s independence from foreign rule
  7. 7. Historical Background• The United States forges an alliance with Ho Chi Minh and supports him with aid to resist the Japanese
  8. 8. Historical Background• When Japan is defeated in 1945 Vietnam assumes independence• Ho Chi Minh based the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence on the U.S. Declaration of Independence
  9. 9. Historical Background• France wanted to regain its profitable colony of Vietnam• The Vietnamese people weren‟t willing to allow more colonial rule – Resistance of French rule is passionate
  10. 10. Historical Background • The French regain the southern half of Vietnam • Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese freedom fighters maintain control of the north
  11. 11. Historical Background• Ho Chi Minh vows to fight for independence, “If ever the tiger pauses, the elephant will impale him on his mighty tusks. But the tiger will not pause, and the elephant will die of exhaustion and loss of blood.”
  12. 12. U.S. Involvement• In 1945 Lieutenant Colonel A. Peter Dewey is sent to Indochina to gather intelligence on the situation• Dewey reported, “Cochinchina (southern Vietnam) is burning, the French and British are finished here, and we (the U.S.) ought to clear out of Southeast Asia.”
  13. 13. U.S. Involvement• On his way to the airport Dewey is shot and killed, becoming the first American killed in Vietnam
  14. 14. 1950s• Despite Dewey‟s warning the United States steps onto the slippery slope that is involvement in Vietnam
  15. 15. 1950s• In 1950 Truman sends $15 million in economic aid to France to aid their fight in Vietnam• Over the next four years the U.S. provides $1 billion for France‟s efforts
  16. 16. Eisenhower and Vietnam• Ike continues to supply the French after taking office in 1953• Domino Theory – Eisenhower believes that if one nation becomes Communist then surrounding nations would also become Communist
  17. 17. French Lose• In 1954 the French are defeated and are forced out of the nation
  18. 18. Geneva Accords• 1954 – Representatives from France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States, China, Laos, and Cambodia meet with the Vietminh and with South Vietnam‟s anticommunist nationalists to create a peace agreement
  19. 19. Geneva Accords• They decided to temporarily divide the nation at the 17th parallel until elections could be held in 1956
  20. 20. Election of 1956• Ho Chi Minh‟s popularity – Fought the French colonials and the Japanese – Broke up large estates and redistributed land to peasants • These things made him wildly popular in Vietnam
  21. 21. Election of 1956• South Vietnam‟s president, Ngo Dinh Diem knew he couldn‟t win an election• Ngo Dinh Diem refused to participate in the elections
  22. 22. Election of 1956• The United States supported canceling the election because they also knew their guy couldn‟t win• The US instead offers more money and military support to Diem
  23. 23. Ngo Dinh Diem• Diem, the U.S. supported president of South Vietnam, was corrupt and brutal
  24. 24. Ngo Dinh Diem• Diem also restricted Buddhist practices in a nation with a majority Buddhist population• Buddhist monks protested Diem‟s restrictions
  25. 25. V.C.• Vietcong – in 1957 a Communist opposition group in the South began attacking Diem‟s government – Vietcong receive aid from Ho Chi Minh
  26. 26. Ho Chi Minh Trail• The Vietcong were supplied from Ho Chi Minh’s North Vietnam along an intricate network of paths and tunnels
  27. 27. Sink or Swim with Diem• Diem‟s South Vietnam was growing more unstable• Eisenhower decided to Sink or Swim with Diem
  28. 28. John Fitzgerald Kennedy• 1961 – Kennedy takes office and continues to support Diem and the South
  29. 29. Kennedy and Vietnam• Along with more $$$ the U.S. sent thousands of military advisors• By 1963, 16,000 U.S. military personnel were in South Vietnam
  30. 30. Ngo Dinh Diem‟s Downfall• Diem‟s Hamlet Program, failure of land reform, corruption and severe crackdown on Buddhism caused his loss of support – Buddhist Monks protested Diem‟s rule
  31. 31. Diem Has to Go• On November 1, 1963, a U.S. –supported military coup topples Diem‟s regime• Diem is assassinated• Saigon, South Vietnam‟s capital falls to chaos
  32. 32. The Decision Worth 60,000 American Lives• Before his death, Kennedy announced a plan to withdraw• Lyndon Baines Johnson, the new president of the U.S. decides to stay and win
  33. 33. The Decision Worth 2,000,000 Vietnamese Lives• With the U.S. maintaining financial and military support it was only a matter of time before Vietnam had its own version of… – The Explosion of the USS Maine – The Capture of the Zimmerman Telegram – The Attack on Pearl Harbor
  34. 34. Justifying War
  35. 35. The Fighting Continues • Before Lyndon Johnson‟s election he claimed he was “not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”
  36. 36. The Fighting Continues• March 1965 – Lyndon Johnson dispatched tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers to Vietnam
  37. 37. Sinking Morale• “When we marched into the rice paddies… we carried, along with our packs and rifles, the implicit convictions that the Vietcong could be quickly beaten. We kept our packs and rifles; the convictions, we lost.” – Lieutenant Philip Caputo
  38. 38. Sinking Morale• Fighting an elusive enemy in jungle conditions frustrated the Americans
  39. 39. Sinking Morale• Many soldiers turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with their situation• Some superior officers were even killed by their own soldiers
  40. 40. Home Sweet Home• Early on, the American public mostly supported the halting of Communism in Southeast Asia
  41. 41. Home Sweet Home• As the cost of war increased the American economy suffered• To pay for the war LBJ asked for a tax increase
  42. 42. The Great Society• Conservatives agreed to the tax increase for the war in exchange for a $6 billion cut in Great Society Programs
  43. 43. The Great Society• LBJ‟s Great Society was a plan to improve the lives of millions of Americans and end racial injustice – The war became more important
  44. 44. Almost There… But, Not Really• Meanwhile, General Westmoreland and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara insist the North is close to surrender
  45. 45. A Nation Divided• By 1967, Americans were split over supporting and opposing the war
  46. 46. The Draft… of the working class• Many soldiers sent to Vietnam were drafted
  47. 47. The Draft… of the working class• Draft Dodging – Enroll in College – Medical Reasons – Conscientious Objector – religious or moral reasons to not fight in war
  48. 48. The Draft… of the working class• 80% of American soldiers sent to Vietnam were from lower economic levels – The draft created a working-class war
  49. 49. Something‟s Amiss• 20% of the combat deaths were African Americans• 10% of the American population was African American
  50. 50. African Americans in „Nam• “We were taking the young black men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem…We have been repeatedly faced with cruel irony of wacthing Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  51. 51. Opposition Grows• College Students become vocal against the war• As the war grew so did opposition
  52. 52. Reasons for Opposition• The belief the Vietnam War was a civil war• The belief that the South Vietnam government was no better than the North Vietnam government
  53. 53. Reasons for Opposition• The belief that the U.S. cannot police the entire globe• The belief that war is immoral
  54. 54. Reasons for Opposition• 18 years old = eligible to fight• 21 years old = eligible to vote• “The Eastern World, it is explodin‟ Violence flaring, bullets loadin‟ You‟re old enough to kill, but not for votin‟ You don‟t believe in war, but what‟s that gun you‟re totin‟?” -Singer Barry McGuire
  55. 55. Opposition Rhetoric• “Burn cards, not people!”• “Hell, no, we won‟t go!”• “Hey, Hey LBJ, How many kids did you kill today!?”
  56. 56. Draft Resistance• 200,000 accused of draft offenses• 4,000 imprisoned for draft dodging• 10,000 fled to Canada
  57. 57. Hawks• A 1967 poll showed that 70% of Americans believed war protests were “acts of disloyalty”
  58. 58. Hawks• Americans also supported the government‟s policy – “Support our men in Vietnam” – “America – love it or leave it”
  59. 59. Hawks• “…you can‟t have freedom without defending it.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
  60. 60. Happy New Year!!!
  61. 61. 1968• The Tet Offensive brought the war into America‟s homes• Before Tet 28% of Americans called themselves Doves and 56% called themselves Hawks
  62. 62. 1968• After the Tet Offensive, both sides tallied 40%
  63. 63. 1968• Famed and popular reporter Walter Cronkite speaks out against the war
  64. 64. 1968• Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara resigns
  65. 65. 1968• March 31, 1968 – Lyndon Baines Johnson makes shocking announcements – The U.S. would seek negotiations to end the war – “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”
  66. 66. 1968• April 4, Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated• June 5, Robert Kennedy is assassinated
  67. 67. 1968• At the Democratic National Convention riots break out as news cameras caught the violence
  68. 68. 1968• “There are people today who are afraid, in a sense, to hope or to have hope again, because of what happened in…1968. Something was taken from us. The type of leadership that we had in a sense invested in, that we had helped to make and to nourish, was taken from us… Something died in all of us with those assassinations.” – Georgia Congressman John Lewis
  69. 69. Richard Millhouse Nixon• In 1969 Nixon enters the Whitehouse and says, “We have to get rid of the nightmares we inherited. One of the nightmares is war without end.”
  70. 70. Richard Millhouse Nixon• As many troops were pulled out of Vietnam, the fighting and bombing continued for several more years
  71. 71. My Lai, Vietnam• In November 1969 a story breaks about a massacre that had taken place on March 16, 1968
  72. 72. My Lai, Vietnam• Under the command of Lieutenant William Calley Jr., over 200 women, children and elderly men were massacred
  73. 73. My Lai Massacre• “We all huddled them up. I poured about four clips into the group…The mothers hugging their children…Well, we kept right on firing.” – Private Paul Meadlo
  74. 74. My Lai Massacre• When asked what his directive had been, one solder answered, “Kill anything that breathed.”
  75. 75. The Easter Offensive and Calculated Barbarism
  76. 76. Ghosts of Vietnam