American Involvement Vietnam
Early US Involvement Truman aided the French • 1950-1954 – U.S. gave France $2.6 billion Eisenhower continued U.S. support of the French • Domino Theory – if Vietnam fell so would its closest neighbors, etc. • Fighting communism in Vietnam was protecting the whole region
Dien Bien Phu 1954 – Dien Bien Phu • Vietnam trapped the French for 55 days • French lost 15,000 troops • French surrendered May 7, 1954
Peace #1 Geneva Accords: • independence to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia split V.N. into 2 countries • N – communist • S – Democratic • Elections supposed to take place in 1956 to unite the country • U.S./Eisenhower • provide economic and military aid to S.V. and its leader, Ngo Dinh Diem • 1956 • elections were to be held, Diem would have lost to Minh
Vietnam Intensifies 1957 – S.V. – National Liberation Front (NLF) Communist rebel group a.k.a. Vietcong -Insurgency to undermine Diem Diem very unpopular – signed anti-Buddhist Legislation in a Buddhist nation Only U.S. kept him in Power 1961 – Kennedy sent Special Forces troops to advise the army in S.V. Army = Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) More effective ways to fight the Communists By 1963 – 15,000 American advisors in (fighting) Vietnam Anti Buddhist Policies Buddhist protestors set themselves on fire • November 1, 1963 – Diem removed from power • U.S. plotted with anti-Diem genera
U.S.-Going to War • August 2, 1964 – N.V. boats fired on American destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin Maddox not hit, fired back • Johnson – ordered air strikes against N. Vietnam Gulf of Tonkin Resolution • Johnson went to Congress to get authority for use of force to defend American troops • Passed overwhelmingly with ease • Authorized President “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression” • Allowed the President to fight a war without ever asking Congress for a Declaration of War
February 1965 – Johnson changes U.S. Role • Operation Rolling Thunder • First sustained bombing campaign against N.V. – didn’t work • Goal: N.V. stop supporting Vietcong in S.V. • U.S. committed more troops and assumed greater military role. U.S. 1st, S.V. supportive • 1965-1973 – U.S. dropped more than 6 million tons of bombs, 3 times all that were dropped in WWII • Napalm – Jelled gasoline dropped in large canisters exploded on impact covering large areas in flames • Agent Orange – herbicide meant to kill plant life half of S.V. forests sprayed at least once devastating ecological impact scientists believe it causes cancer • March 8, 1965 – Marines armed to defend air base Da Nang
Minh’s Military Philosophy Minh’s military doctrine – guerrilla war fare U.S. – elephant V.C. – Tiger Only fight when victory is assured Never fight on opponents terms If Tiger stands still elephant will crush it If Tiger keeps moving and occasionally takes bite of elephant – elephant will slowly bleed to death V.C. – traveled light-hid during day and ambushed At night set booby traps Strategy to wear down the Americans V.C. avoid losing the war then American would eventually leaved more than 58,000 American soldiers killed/died
Timeline • 1965 - Most American soldiers in VN had been drafted • Morale declined – seemed Americans dying to defend a nation whose people would not • 1.5 million men drafted into Vietnam • 20% combat deaths African American • by 1967 – Country and Congress is divided • Hawks – supported Johnson and war • Doves – questioned the war • 1969 – S.S. System adopted a lottery to fix inequities – most who served came from poor/working class backgrounds • Jan 1968 –Tet Offensive • Coordinated assault on 36 province capitals, 5 major cities, and the U.S. Embassy • Fierce fighting - U.S. and S.V. repelled the offensive • Strategic blow to Americans because Communists had not lost their will to fight
Nixon and the War • May 1968 - Peace talks begin and stall everyone wants U.S. out • Nixon's Plan - Vietnamization and Peace with Honor • Vietnamization - slow pullout of U.S. troops turning over to S.V. troops • Secretly bomb H.C.M. Trail in Cambodia • Neither really helped • 1970 - Ordered attacks on N.V. bases etc in Cambodia • College campuses erupted after Cambodian invasion • Kent State Confrontation between protestors and National Guard
Vietnam Mistakes • March 1968 - My Lai Massacre • 400-500 V.N. killed – civilians • March 1971 - Lt. in charge convicted in military court • 1971 Pentagon Papers published in NY Times • Showed American Leaders did not fully inform American people and lied to Congress
Peace #2 and Results • October 1972 - Peace settlement with Vietnam • N.V. refused to sign agreement • America bombed N.V. again • January 1973 - Paris Peace Accords signed • Ceasefire • U.S. troop withdrawal • POW's exchanged • U.S. 550 POW's • Neither North nor South Vietnam honored ceasefire, continued fighting - civil war • Spring 1975 - Saigon fell to N.V.
Results • 58,000 Americans died • 300,000 American wounded • 2 million Vietnamese • War undermined Americans trust on its leaders • 1973 - War Powers Act Restricted Presidents war making powers by requiring him to consult with Congress within 48 hours of committing American forces to a foreign conflict.