You are on page 1of 63

The Vietnam War: An

Introduction

Mr. Ornstein
Willow Canyon High School
IB: History of the Americas
What Do I Know About Vietnam and
the American War in Vietnam???

 Write 10 Things You Know About


Vietnam and the Vietnam War:
Where is Vietnam???
Southeast Asia

 Vietnam is in
Southeast Asia
 Near Laos,
Cambodia.
Thailand, and parts
of China
Vietnam Facts

 83 Million People
 Very Fertile
 Many Resources
 Hot and Wet
Climate
Religion in Vietnam

 Most People
are Buddhist
 Strong
Minority of
Catholics
Early History of Vietnam

 One of Few Asian Countries to


Defeat the Mongols at the Time
of Kublai and Genghis Khan.
 Victim of Chinese Colonialism
 Vietnam and China have not
had a good relationship.
Vietnam and Resistance to
Foreign Control

 Vietnamese Resistance to the Chinese


and Mongols is Typical to the History of
Vietnam
Indochina and French Colonialism

 Ultimately Vietnam Gained


Independence from China
 Vietnam's independence ended in the
mid-19th century, when the country was
colonized by the French Empire.
 Vietnam was part of the French
Colonial Empire in Southeast
Asia/Indochina
France and Vietnam

 ExploitedVietnam’s Resources
and People
 Introduced Catholicism
 Western Education
 French Language and Customs
Vietnam and Imperialism

 Vietnamese will Strongly Resist Imperialism


from:
 China
 Mongols
 French
 Japanese
 Many American Military and Political Leaders
were Ignorant of this.
WW1/14 Points and Vietnam

 At the End of WW1


American President
Woodrow Wilson
Promised to end
Colonialism
 A Young Ho Chi Minh
Showed Up at
Versailles Conference
Hoping to Get
Vietnamese
Independence from
France
Nationalism

 Pride in your country.


 Desire for an independent
homeland for your people.
Viet Minh

 Founded by Ho
Chi Minh
 Communist/National
ist Group that
Opposed the
French and later
Japanese
WWII

 At the Start of WW2, Vietnam


and Much of Southeast Asia
was still controlled by France.
 Vietnamese Resistance to
France had started to grow.
Ho Chi Minh

 Leader of the Viet Minh


 Wants Independent
Vietnam
 Opposes French,
Japanese, and
Americans
 Trains in China and
USSR
 Helps Rescue
Americans during WW2
 Communist or
Nationalist
Answer:

 Who was Ho Chi Minh?


 What was the Vietnam?
 What European Country Colonized
Vietnam?
 Who invaded Vietnam during
WW2?
Vietnam During WW2

 Invaded By Japan
 OSS/CIA Helps Train Viet Minh to
Fight the Japanese
 OSS Officials were strong
supporters of Viet Minh and
Vietnamese Independence
Declaring Independence: Ho Chi
Minh

 WW2 Ends and


September 2, 1945
Ho Chi Minh
Declares
Vietnamese
Independence
 Reads from US
Declaration of
Independence
Ho Chi Minh: Nationalist???

 Some See Ho Chi Minh’s


Declaration of Independence as
Evidence of Being a Nationalist
over Being a Communist and
Wanting to Have Relationship with
the US
France Wants Indochina Back

 France Does Not


Recognize
Vietnamese
Independence
 France Reclaims
its Colony
What Should the US Do???

 Shouldthe United States


Support Vietnamese
Independence or Help France
Regain its Colonial Empire?
Divided American State
Department

 European  Asia Experts in


Experts in American
American Government
Government Support Backing
Support Backing Ho Chi Minh
France  Feel he is
Nationalist or
“Asian Tito”
US Backs France

 Truman  Cold War


Administration,  Strong France Helps
Stop Communism in
Followed by Western Europe
Eisenhower Back  Containment
the French  Ho Chi Minh and Viet
 Korean War Minh were more
Communist than
 Loss of China Nationalist
 Idea of Monolithic
Communism
First Indo-China War
 1945-1954
 France vs. Viet Minh
 French try to keep
Vietnam, Viet Minh
Fight For
Independence
 70% of French
Costs are Paid by
US
Dien Bien Phu

 1954
 Final Defeat of
the French by the
Vietnamese
 French Surrender
and Lose
Indochina
1954 Geneva Conference

 End Hostilities Between French and


Vietnamese
 Temporarily Divided Vietnam at 17th
Parallel until French Leave.
 Elections in 1956
Realities of Geneva Conference

 Dominated By Soviets and Chinese


 America Does not Directly Participate or
Recognize Results. US won’t Negotiate with
Communist China.
 Americans Know Ho Chi Minh and
Communists Will Easily Win Unification
Election
If Vietnam Goes Communist…

 Failure of Containment
 Domino Theory
 Fear of Monolithic Communist Alliance
of China, Vietnam, and USSR
South Vietnam

 Instead of Support Geneva Agreement


and Allowing Unification Elections and
Communist Victory the United States
Supports the Creation of Non-
Communist South Vietnam
 American War in Vietnam is fought to
keep South Vietnam Non-Communist
John F. Kennedy and Vietnam

 Views Vietnam as
Important to Cold
War like Truman
and IKE
 Begins Escalation of
Troops
 Overall Picture
unsure due to
assassination
South Vietnam

 JFKBelieved the Best Way to


Stop Communists in Vietnam
was to Build South Vietnam into
a Nation
Ngo Dinh Diem

 First Leader of
South Vietnam
 Nationalist but
strongly anti-
Communist
 Catholic
Ngo Dinh Diem

 Strong Support from Eisenhower and


Kennedy
 Massive Military and Financial Aid from US
 Brutal to Communists
 Upsets Buddhist Majority
 Brother and Sister in Law are unpopular
 Administration is very corrupt
Assassination of Diem

 Assassinated in November 1963


 Kennedy either knew of plot and ignored it or
supported it.
 South Vietnamese Government Would Never
Be Stable
 Increased American Involvement in South
Vietnam’s Internal Affairs
Some Stats

 When IKE Left Office Less than 1,000 US


Soldiers in Vietnam.
 At Time of Kennedy Assassination over
16,000 Soldiers in Vietnam
 1969- 543,000
 Many of the Soldiers under JFK were Special
Forces and under Johnson Regular Ground
Troops will be introduced.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

 North Vietnamese
“Attack” on Two US
Ships in the Gulf of
Tonkin is Johnson’s
Excused to Get
Congressional
Approval for Major
Escalation in
Vietnam.
Some Terms

 Hanoi-Refers to North Vietnamese


Government
 NVA-North Vietnamese Army
 VC/Charlie-Viet Cong-Communist Rebels in
South Vietnam
 ARVN-South Vietnamese Army
 POW-Prisoner of War
 MIA-Missing in Action
Must Read

 Fallen Angels-Walter
Dean Meyers
 Fields of Fire and Lost
Soldiers by James
Webb
 Rumor of War-Phil
Caputo
 Faith of my Fathers-
McCain
Who Did America Fight in
Vietnam?

 VietCong
 North Vietnamese Army
 Heavily Supplied from USSR via
China
Johnson and Limited War
 Johnson is Afraid of Conflict Spreading to
involve USSR and China.
 Strict Rules of Engagement
 Limited Targets for US Troops and Air Strikes
 Areas of North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
North Vietnamese Communists Can Attack,
Move Supplies From and Retreat and
American Troops Can Not Go
North Vietnam

 NorthVietnam wants a unified and


Communist Vietnam
 Want Americans Out
 One Vietnam
Early American Support for War in
Vietnam

 Americans Initially Supported War


in Vietnam
 Hit Song-”The Green Berets”
 Public is Told Troops will be home
soon and war is almost over
The Television War

 Vietnam is First War


Heavily Covered by
TV News.
 American Public
See Daily Images of
Casualties
 Public Begins to
Turn Against the
War
Escalation

 Johnson Attempts to Limit the


War while at the Same Time
Constantly Increasing the
Number of Soldiers in Vietnam
 Over 500,000 by 1969
Johnson and Negotiation

 LBJ would attempt negotiation


at the same time he would
scale back offensive operations
in Vietnam
 North Vietnamese Take
Advantage Of This
Tet

 Tết, is the most


important holiday in
Vietnam. It is the
Vietnamese New
Year Tet is the most
popular festival in
Vietnam.
 1968 Cease Fire
Tet Offensive
 1968
 Viet Cong Attack Every
Major US Base in
South Vietnam
 North Vietnamese Army
Takes City of Hue and
kills many inhabitants
 US Embassy
Compound in Saigon is
attacked
Effects of Tet

 Major Military Victory for the US


 Viet Cong Devastated
 American Media Turns Against War
 American Public Turns Against War
 Political and Psychological Victory for
North Vietnam
 President Johnson Will Not Seek
Reelection
American Anti-War Movement

 Strong Anti-War Movement in


the United States
 Becomes Stronger After 1968
 War Divides American
Population
Richard Nixon

 Elected in 1968
 Claims to Have A Secret Plan to
End the Vietnam War
Cambodia

 Was Neutral
 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese
Would Use Cambodia as a Sanctuary
 US Troops Could Not Enter
 Cambodian Government is Powerless
to Prevent Communists From Entering
 Bad History between Vietnam and
Cambodia
Nixon and Cambodia

 Supports Coup That Puts Strong


Anti-Communist Government in
Charge
 Secret Bombing and Invasion of
Cambodia
 Expands Conflict
Public Opinion, Vietnam, and
Cambodia

 War is Illegal
 Public is Outraged at
Expansion of Conflict
 Massive Protests
Cambodia

 Bombing and Invasion Fails to


Make Significant Difference in War
 Cambodian Communists Go
Deeper into Cambodia
 Vietnamese Were Using Cambodia
to attack to kill Americans
Nixon and Ending Vietnam War

 Uses Combination of Increased


Bombing of North Vietnam and
Secret Negotiations
 Diplomacy with China and USSR
Ending the War/Vietnamization

 Vietnamization-Nixon’s Plan
 Turn the War over the war South
Vietnamese
 Train and Equip South Vietnamese
to Fight the North
 US Troops Withdraw
 Last US Troops Leave by 1973
South Vietnam Betrayed???

 South Vietnam is Promised that the US


Would Send Troops, Money, and
Supplies if North Vietnamese Launch
Massive Attack
 Nixon Resigns due to Watergate
 Congress and American People Do Not
Support the Idea of Further
Involvement
1975

 North Vietnam Takes Over South


Vietnam
 US Does not Prevent
 Vietnam is Unified
 Vietnam is All Communist
Results of Vietnam War

 60,000 Americans Killed


 US reluctant to use military power
 American public is divided
 Americans don’t trust government
 Vietnam is Communist
 Cambodia Falls to Communist
Results in Cambodia

 Khmer Rouge/Cambodian Communist Take


Power
 Pol Pot is Leader
 Killing Fields-Genocide of 1/3 of Cambodian
Population by killed.
 Vietnam Invades and Occupies Cambodia to
defeat Khmer Rouge.
Ticket Out the Door
 How was Tet a Turning Point in the Vietnam
War?
 How did TV affect people’s view of the
Vietnam War?
 What country did President Nixon Expand
the Vietnam War Into?
 Which US President is associated with
escalating the number of US troops in
Vietnam?
 What year did the last US Troops leave
Vietnam?
Vietnam and China

 1979 War Between Vietnam and China


 China improved relations with US after Nixon’s Visit
 Vietnam Moved Closer to USSR
 China Supports Khmer Rouge and is upset that
Vietnam Defeats.
 China attempts to invade Vietnam to “teach lesson”
 Chinese leave after 1 month
 Vietnamese Put up much stronger fight than the
Chinese expected