Road to War – Truman Era Ho Chi Minh • France took control of Vietnam and other SE Asian countries during the Age of Imperialism. • Ho Chi Minh led nationalist forces (Vietminh) against the French in an attempt to gain independence and create a Communist state. Communist Founder Name means: “Bringer of Light”
The Road to War – Eisenhower Era • U.S. supports French • Overthrown in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu • Geneva Conference • Vietnam then becomes divided at the 17th parallel with a Communist North and a Democratic South • Domino Theory: Fear that if one country in SE Asia falls to Communism, the rest would follow • South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO): An international organization for defense against Communism in Southeast Asia
THE ROAD TO WAR – KENNEDY ERA • The Communist North led by Ho Chi Minh • Democratic South led by Ngo Dinh Diem • Educated abroad • Pro-west, Anti-communist • Discriminated against Buddhists • Killed protesters
THE ROAD TO WAR – KENNEDY ERA • US learns of a possible coup against the unpopular Diem • Help stage a military coup • Diem is assassinated and America’s military commitment rose. • Vietcong –Communist Guerillas who were South Vietnamese.
THE ROAD TO WAR – JOHNSON ERA • Gulf of Tonkin Incident: USS Maddox attacked by N. Vietnamese torpedo boats in Gulf of Tonkin • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: Congress authorized President Johnson to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent any further aggression.” • Essentially gives Congress’ war powers to the president; allows a “conflict”, but doesn’t declare war.
USA Viet Cong Methods of War “Search and destroy” missions: Sending out troops from a fortified position to locate and destroy Vietcong or NVAunits in the countryside. Agent Orange Napalm Ambushes Booby traps Guerrilla tactics Blended in in with general population Ho Chi minh Trail
VietCong Booby Traps
Agent Orange • Agent Orange: An herbicide (plant killer) used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War to draw the VietCong out in the open. • About 21,136,000 gal. used • 4.8 million people exposed • Over 400,000 deaths; 500,000 children born with birth defects
A jellied gasoline intended to destroy thick jungle areas and draw the VietCong into the open. • Made to burn at extremely high temperatures and stick to materials, as well as rapidly deoxygenating the available air Napalm
The iconic photo taken in Trang Bang by AP photographer Nick Ut shows 9-year-old Kim Phuc running naked on a road after being severely burned by a South Vietnamese napalm attack.
Tet Offensive • Tet Offensive: Campaign of surprise attacks by North Vietnamese forces against military and civilian commands and control centers throughout South Vietnam during Tet (New Year) • “Credibility Gap”: Public suspicion that there was a significant "gap" between the Johnson administration's declarations of military successes and the reality. A South Vietnamese officer executes a Vietcong prisoner, February 1, 1968
Vietnam in Your Living Room • TV was the most important news source and the most powerful influence on public opinion • 90% of the evening news was dedicated to the war • 50 million viewers every night • Up until this time, the war had strong support from the media • Journalists followed the military into combat and reported their observations without restriction. • Public shown more graphic images as the war progressed • Interviewed soldiers without military censorship Walter Cronkite
“If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” -Lyndon B. Johnson “To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To say that we are mired in a bloody stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory conclusion” -Walter Cronkite
The Faces of War American boys playing soldier
“Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” • At 18, you could be drafted, but could not vote until 21. • Young men, eager to avoid the draft, escaped to Canada, feigned homosexuality, had “hunting accidents” or blatantly burned their draft cards.
Average Age of WWII Soldier: 24 years old Average Age of Vietnam Soldier: 22 years old
11,465 KIAs were less than 20 years old
The youngest Vietnam casualty: Daniel Bullock, 15 years old
Protest and the Vietnam War Hawks and Doves
Hawks • Pro-war • Mostly Republican and conservatives • Believed America had both a political and moral obligation to save Vietnam. • Believed America could win the war, but required more public support
Doves • Anti-war • Mostly Democrats and young people • Believed in a peaceful solution to the conflict • Did not see a positive ending to the war
Protest Music • Protest music had grown in popularity during the Civil Rights Movement • Blowin’ In the Wind, Bob Dylan • A Change Is Gonna Come • The Times They Are A Changin’ • Anger over the war in Vietnam, the draft, the seemingly unfair treatment for the wealthy, and the absence of a political voice for young people led to an explosion of protest songs during the 1960s and early 1970s.
Vietnam Protest Music I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag By Country Joe and the Fish Find the Cost of Freedom By Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Alice’s Restaurant Massacree By Arlo Guthrie For What It’s Worth By Buffalo Springfield
Fortunate Son By Creedence Clearwater Revival The Unknown Soldier By The Doors War By Edwin Starr I Should Be Proud By Martha and the Vandellas
Pro-War Songs Ballad of the Green Berets By SSgt. Barry Sadler Okie From Muskogee and The Fightin’ Side of Me By Merle Haggard
You say you want a revolutionWell, you knowWe all want to change the worldYou tell me that it's evolutionWell, you knowWe all want to change the worldBut when you talk about destructionDon't you know that you can count me outDon't you know it's gonna be alrightAlright, alrightYou say you got a real solutionWell, you knowWe'd all love to see the planYou ask me for a contributionWell, you knowWe're all doing what we canBut if you want money for people with minds that hateAll I can tell you is brother you have to waitDon't you know it's gonna be alrightAlright, alright, al...You say you'll change the constitutionWell, you knowWe all want to change your headYou tell me it's the institutionWell, you knowYou'd better free your mind insteadBut if you go carrying pictures of Chairman MaoYou ain't going to make it with anyone anyhowDon't you know know it's gonna be alrightAlright, alright Protesting the Protests Revolution was written in response to violent clashes between antiwar protesters and government officials after the Tet Offensive. The song explains the need for a clear plan and set of goals for the anti-war movement to succeed.
Ending the War in Vietnam The Unwinnable War
My Lai Massacre • U.S. military intelligence believed that one of the Vietcong battalions responsible for the Tet Offensive was taking refuge in the village of My Lai. • My Lai Massacre (1968): U.S. soldiers murdered at least 340 unarmed civilians in My Lai, most of which were women, children, infants, and elderly people. • Initially reported as a victory over the Viet Cong during a “fierce fire fight” • Only 22 civilian casualties initially reported
Second Lieutenant William L. Calley
Vietnam Veterans Against the War • In April 1971, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began to hear testimony on continuing the war in Vietnam. • John Kerry (Representative of VVAW) spoke on the necessity of immediate and total withdrawal, based on Vietnam veterans' personal experiences. "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Vietnamization Time to LEAVE! • Richard Nixon is elected in 1968 after promising to gradually withdraw U.S. troops and replace them with South Vietnamese forces. • Vietnamization: The U.S. would train and prepare the South Vietnamese to fight their own war against North Vietnam and the Vietcong.
The Nixon Doctrine “The United States will assist in the defense and developments of allies and friends… [but will not] undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world.” -Richard Nixon, 1969 • Nixon Doctrine: The U.S. now expected its allies to take care of their own military defense, but would aid in defense as requested.
Invasion of Cambodia • U.S. invades Cambodia in summer 1970 • Looking to root out VietCong hiding there, e.g. Ho Chi Minh Trail • Looking to boost South Vietnam’s ability to defend itself after Vietnamization • Led to a number of protests across the country, especially on college campuses.