TheVietnamWarU. S. government’s anti-Communist strategy ofcontainment in AsiaVUS.13b
Help theFrench andsend someadvisors-Increaseadvisors,send sometroops-Escalate- wecan not lose awarPeace withHonor- wegotta get out!
Vietnam: (1954-1973)An American Attempt to ContainCommunism in Southeast AsiaSource: www.geographic.org, used with permission
Containment:•Preventing the spread ofcommunism•U.S. feared the “DominoTheory”-- that if onenation fell to communism, itsneighbors would soon fall.
Early U.S. Involvement:• Vietnam had been part of French Indo-China(a colony).• Communist Party, led by Ho Chi Minhrose to power• French asked U.S. to assist (we financed 75%of their efforts)• French failed in 1954 in the battle of DienBien Phu and fled the nation.Ho Chi MinhA true communist, he taught hisfollowers the deadly arts of guerrillawarfare and terrorism.
Vietnam Divided:•Vietnam was divided (similar to Korea)along the 17th Parallel•North = Communist / South = Pro-West•Ho Chi Minh was a true communist andmade popular changes in the North•South was run by a corrupt dictator whowas backed by U.S. (Ngo Dinh Diem)•Northern Army and Southern Communistguerillas (Vietcong) attacked SouthVietnam.
South Vietnam Resisted:•U.S. assisted South Vietnam bysending military advisors underJFK.•This role expanded under LBJafter 1963 to include troops.•American containment policy nowincluded battle.Napalm bombs explode onsuspected Viet Congstructures south of Saigonin South Vietnam.
Increasing Involvement:• Gulf of Tonkin Resolution(passed by Congress in 1964) gave LBJright to expand the war effort.•Involvement steadily increased throughthe 1960’s (escalation) under LBJ•Many Americans supported these effortsin the early 1960’s.•Even though LBJ would have preferred tobuild the “Great Society”, he was bound tonot allow the U.S. to actually lose its firstwar.
The Tet Offensive: 1968•A strong attack by Vietcong(communist) forces•Even though U.S. troops held, itproved the war was not nearlyover•Turned many Americans againstthe war effortHelicopters airlift soldiers during asearch and destroy mission by the 25thInfantry Division, northeast of Cu Chi,South Vietnam.
Our Problems Fighting this War:•We were forced to fight a limitedwar-- not to engage civilians orleave certain regions•Ho Chi Minh was a very popularcommunist man, with popularreforms•The Ho Chi Minh Trailsupplied Vietcong by runningthrough Laos and Cambodia(both neutral nations)•We could not identify the enemy•Many soldiers were not “spirited”to fight (low morale)
NIXON’S PLAN FORVIETNAMIZATION:• Nixon elected in 1968 (LBJ refused to run again andBobby Kennedy was assassinated)• Goal to return the fight to people of Vietnam(Vietnamization)• Nixon increased bombing, invaded Cambodia…• U.S. drew up peace accords with North Vietnam in 1973(“Peace with honor”)Nixon’s campaign in 1968focused on peace with honorin Vietnam and law andorder at home
A Bitter Division at Home:• Hawks: Pro War•Containment of Communism•Domino Theory•Must Win!!!• Doves: Anti-War•Anti-war movement (mostly oncollege campuses)•Not our business•Destroying the people and society•Too much cost•54,000 men lost
This photograph was taken during astudent protest at Kent State University,in Ohio. The National Guard openedfire on a demonstration, killing four andwounding nine. This violence made thenation realize that there was a warraging in the U.S. as well as in Vietnam.OHIOTIN SOLDIERS AND NIXONS BOMBINGWERE FINALLY ON OUR OWNTHIS SUMMER I HEAR THE DRUMMINGFOUR DEAD IN OHIOGOTTA GET DOWN TO ITSOLDIERS ARE GUNNING US DOWNSHOULD OF BEEN DONE LONG AGOWHAT IF YOU KNEW HER ANDFOUND HER DEAD ON THE GROUNDHOW CAN YOU RUN WHEN YOU KNOWFOUR DEAD IN OHIOFOUR DEAD IN OHIOFOUR DEAD IN OHIOFOUR DEAD IN OHIOA song by Neil Young
Legacies of Vietnam:•U.S. pulled out of Vietnam in 1973.•By 1975 Vietnam had been reunited under Communist rule.•Cambodia and Laos also fell to communism in the early1970’s (domino theory).•Nixon was forced to resign due to the Watergate scandal.•American faith in government diminished.•Opposition to war was reflected onto the treatment ofveterans returning home.
The U. S.government’s anti-Communiststrategy ofcontainment inAsia led toAmerica’sinvolvement in theKorean andVietnamese Wars.Bodies of Viet Cong
The Vietnam War demonstrated thepower of American public opinion inreversing foreign policy.Anti-Vietnamdemonstrator offers aflower to a military police,Arlington, Virginia
It tested the democraticsystem to its limits, leftscars on American societythat have not yet beenerased, and made manyAmericans deeplyskeptical of future militaryor even peacekeepinginterventions.Captured Viet Cong