The Vietnam War:1954 - 1975 Unit 13: The Tumultuous Sixties RUSH Mrs. Baker
The Build-Up Towards the Vietnam War 1945 - 1963
Background of the War France controlled “Indochina” since the late 19th century. Japan took control during World War II. With U.S. aid, France attempted re-colonization in the postwar period. The French lost control to Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces in 1954. President Eisenhower declined to intervene on behalf of France.
Geneva Accords • International Conference at Geneva • Vietnam was divided at 17th parallel. • Ho Chi Minh’s nationalist forces controlled the North • Ngo Dinh Diem, a French-educated, Roman Catholic claimed control of the South • Diem backs out of elections. • Fearful of the strength of Ho Chi Minh’s popularity • Created a military conflict between North and South Vietnam
Early U.S. Military Involvement Why did U.S. provide aid? • Repressive dictatorial rule by Diem • Diem’s family holds all power. • Wealth is hoarded by the elite, • Buddhist majority persecuted • Torture, lack of political freedom prevail • The U.S. aided Diem’s government • Ike sent financial and military aid • 675 U.S. Army “advisors” sent by 1960.
Protesting Diem’s Government Buddhist monks protests the actions of Diem regime through self-immolation
Kennedy and Vietnam • JFK shared belief in domino theory • By 1963: 17,000 US “advisers” were in South Vietnam • Continued to support Diem regime • Debate over Involvement • American adviser urged Diem to adopt reforms to broaden his support • Diem brutally suppressed all opponents and ruled as a dictator • November 1, 1963: South Vietnamese army overthrew Diem • JFK and the U.S. military approved of the action. • At the same time, JFK announced that the US intended to withdraw all US military personnel from Vietnam by 1965.
Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War 1963 - 1968
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (1964) • Gulf of Tonkin Incident • August 4, 1964 • American destroyers had been the victim of unprovoked attacks by the North Vietnamese. • As a result: • LBJ asked Congress for authority to order air strikes against the North Vietnamese • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution • Resolution empowered “the President, as commander in chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the US and to prevent further aggression.” • The “Blank Check”
1965:The Build-Up of American Troops • Air Raids • Operation Rolling Thunder • Ordered to begin in February • Massive bombing campaign in North Vietnam • Ground Troops • Initially uninterested in using ground troops, LBJ started sending ground forces in November. • By the end of 1965, U.S. government sent more than 180,000 troops.
Who was the Enemy? • Vietcong • Communist opposition group in South Vietnam. • Farmers by day & guerillas by night. • Very patient people who were willing to accept many casualties. • Ho Chi Minh supported the group. • In 1959 the Vietcong began receiving supplies through the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The Tactics of War:Vietcong • Hit-and-run and ambush tactics. • Used their keen knowledge of the jungles. • Guerrilla Warfare: • Fought in the jungles of Vietnam • Enemy did not wear uniform • No clear battlefields emerged • Used elaborate series of tunnels • Allowed Vietcong to withstand airstrikes • Allowed for surprise attacks • Used booby traps and land mines
The Tactics of War:United States • U.S. entered the war believing that its superior weaponry would end the war quickly. • Fight a war of attrition • Gradual wearing down of the enemy by continual harassment. • Napalm • Gasoline-based bomb that set fire to the jungle. • Agent Orange • Leaf-killing toxic chemical • Search-and-destroy missions • Uprooting civilians with suspected ties to the Vietcong, killing their livestock, and burning villages.
By late 1965, an antiwar movement had begun to take shape in the United States The Vietnam War at Home A Nation Divides
The Roots of Opposition • College students become the leaders of the movement. • Campuses became centers for political protest against the war. • The New Left • Growing youth movement of the 1960s • Demanded sweeping changes in American society. • Two Major Groups: • Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) • Group charged that corporations and large government institutions had taken over America • Free Speech Movement (FSM) • Gained prominence at the University of California at Berkley
Campus Activism • Teach-ins: meetings in which speakers usually promoted unconditional American withdrawal from Vietnam • Led demonstrations, sit-ins, draft-card burnings, and protests against universities
Draft Dodgers • By 1968, about 10,000 draft resisters fled to Canada. • Some deferred being drafted by entering college. • Leaving a large number of minorities and poor to fight the war.
Protest Marches • People of all ages joined in protest marches. • 1965 – Washington, D.C. • 1967 – 300,000 protesters marched on NYC • Another 50,000 shut down the Pentagon
War Divides the Nation • Congressional divide • Hawks: supported the President and favored victory at any cost • Doves: favored immediate withdrawal and an end to the war
The Events of 1968 A Tumultuous Year in American History
The Tet Offensive:January 1968 • North Vietnamese Army + Vietcong attack South Vietnam simultaneously • 67,000 troops • Attack 100 cities, bases, and the U.S. embassy in Saigon. • Take every major Southern city • U.S. and South Vietnamese (ARVN) troops beat back the offensive • Vietcong destroyed • North Vietnamese army is debilitated • But…seen as an American defeat by the media.
March 1968 • Eugene McCarthy • Peace candidate & leading “dove” • Wins Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire • Robert Kennedy announces his candidacy for the presidency • LBJ announces he will not seek reelection • Devote the remainder of his time to trying to end the war • War hurt his popularity with voters.
Why LBJ does not seek re-election… Johnson’s popularity dropped in 1968 from 48% to 36%.
April 1968 • American forces in Vietnam reach 549,000 • Combat deaths climb to 22,951 • North Vietnam announces it willingness to enter into peace talks • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated
May 1968 • Preliminary peace talks with North Vietnam begin • Serious negotiations do not take place for several years
June 1968 Robert Kennedy was assassinated shortly after his victory in the California Democratic primary
August 1968 • Democratic National Convention nominates Huey Humphrey amid the worst political rioting demonstrations ever experienced • Republicans National Convention nominates Richard Nixon • American Independent party nominates Governor George Wallace of Alabama
November 1968 Nixon wins the 1968 election with 43.4% of the popular vote.
The End of the War and Its Legacy 1969 - 1973
President Nixon’s War Approach • New policy towards the war in Vietnam • Vietnamization • Gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops in order for the South Vietnamese to take on a more active combat role in the war. • “Peace With Honor” • Nixon wanted to maintain U.S. dignity in the face of withdrawal from war. • Preserve U.S. clout on the negotiation table to keep the South Vietnamese government intact. • Nixon was secretly planning more attacks on North Vietnam and Cambodia.
Trouble Continues… • The My Lai Massacre – November 1969 • U.S. platoon under the command of Lieutenant William Calley, Jr. massacred an innocent village of civilians in the small village of My Lai. • Calley was searching for Vietcong rebels. • They killed more than 200 citizens, mostly women, children, and elderly men.
Trouble Continues… • Invasion of Cambodia • While promoting Vietnamization, Nixon bombed neighboring Cambodia • Claimed the country served as a base for North Vietnamese guerillas.
Violence on Campus • Kent State University • Students responded to bombing in Cambodia with a large protest and burning of the ROTC building. • Local mayor called in the National Guard • May 4, 1970 • National Guards fired live ammunition into a crowd of campus protesters who were hurling rocks at them • Similar violence broke out at Jackson State University in Mississippi
The Pentagon Papers • Officially titled: • United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense • Top-secret United States Department of Defense history of the United States' political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. • June 1971 former Defense Department worker Daniel Ellsberg leaked the top secret papers. • 7,000 page document • Written by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara • Americans believe that the Papers confirmed their belief that the government had not been honest about its war intentions. • New York Times Co. v. United States (1971) • Upheld the 1st Amendment right to Freedom of the Press • The publication of the Pentagon Papers could not be stopped on grounds of national security.