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The Vietnam War – Causes

The Vietnam War – Causes

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The Vietnam War – Causes

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  1. The Vietnam War – Causes

  2. Background: How did the USA first get involved in Vietnam? • Vietnam is in South-East Asia. • It was part of an old French Colony called Indo-China • During WW2 the Japanese captured it from the French • The Vietnamese resistance was led by the communist Ho Chi Minh (left) • 1945: They resisted the French when they tried to re-establish control • 1946: War broke out between the two groups • Vietnam was 9000 miles from the USA, yet they decided to get involved by pouring $500 million a year into the French war effort. • Why???

  3. (a) General Causes • Produce a one-sided table in Word with 4 rows dealing with the following topics. • You have 15 minutes!

  4. Factual and Theoretical Assumptions that motivated American Involvement • Containment Version #1 – U.S. must stop communism in Vietnam to save France and NATO • France’s colonies make it stronger, hence a more solid NATO. • US must placate France in Indochina to gain cooperation in NATO.

  5. Containment Version #2 • The US must stop communism in Vietnam to contain Soviet or Chinese expansion. A communist victory in Vietnam will enhance the Soviet empire or Chinese empire and tilt the global balance of power in their favor. • Proxy Assumption – 1949-75 Ho Chi Minh as Moscow’s or Beijng’s puppet

  6. Containment Version #2 2. Domino Theory (4 versions) 1-A communist controlled Vietnam will send agents across the borders to subvert neighbors. 2-A communist controlled Vietnam will send armies across borders to conquer neighbors. 3-A communist victory in Vietnam will inspire revolutions elsewhere in Southeast Asia showing they can succeed and that the US will let them succeed. 4-A communist victory in Vietnam will position Vietnam to intimidate other Southeast Asian states into submission and alliance with Vietnam.

  7. Strategic Regional Assumptions • A. Southeast Asian bases matter; their transfer tips the global balance of power. • The West depends on Southeast Asian raw materials (crude oil, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes )

  8. Discussion point from this work:“To what extent were the USA paranoid about the threat posed by communism after WW2?”

  9. (b) Specific causes: 1. The Defeat at Dien Bien Phu • a. French defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954; • b. Geneva Agreement: • i. divides Vietnam into • a Northern zone (communist – Ho Chi Minh, capital=Hanoi) and • a southern zone (democratic – Ngo Dinh Diem, capital=Saigon) • ii. Arranges for elections to take place in both zones.

  10. (b) Specific causes: 2. The American reaction • SEATO: • Fearing that the communists would win a massive amount of votes with the Buddhist peasant population who were disgusted by the materialism of the Dinh Diem government, the US • - refuses to allow these elections to take place • - forms the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) to protect the independence of Vietnam.

  11. (b) Specific causes: 2. The American reaction • Containment / Domino Theory • Truman (President 1945-53) = “Containment” = Europe • Eisenhower (President 1953-61) = “Domino Theory” = Asia • “You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly” • (South Vietnam > Cambodia > Laos > Thailand > Burma > India > ??? • Ho Chi Minh responds with a guerrilla campaign against the south.

  12. The Domino Theory Illustrated

  13. Main Task:“Do you think that the USA was justified in interfering in the affairs of Vietnam? Explain your answer”.