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The Vietnam War 1950-1975

The Vietnam War 1950-1975

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The Vietnam War 1950-1975

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  1. The Vietnam War 1950-1975 Purpose: To stop the spread of communism (containment) in Southeast Asia, the United States used its military to support South Vietnam. How is this a continuity from earlier American foreign policy?

  2. U.S Presidents During the Vietnam War • Harry S Truman (1945-1953) • Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) • John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) John F. Kennedy was a strong believer in containing communism and the “Domino Theory” • Lyndon B. Johnson (1963 – 1969) • Richard Nixon (1969 -1974) • Gerald R. Ford (1974 – 1977) Why did this war last so long?

  3. Background to Vietnam Vietnam as a colony of France and Japan • In the late 1800s to WWII, France ruled most of Indochina (including Vietnam) • In 1940, Japanese took control of Vietnam during WWII • In Sept. 1945, Ho Chi Minh (Vietnamese Communist leader) and the Vietminh (an organization that aimed to rid Vietnam of foreign rule) declared Vietnam an independent nation. • French forced out of Vietnam • After WWII French troops moved back into Vietnam; French fought and regained cities in the South • In 1950, the U.S. sent economic aid to France to stop communism. • • In 1954, the Vietminh forced the French out. • • Geneva Accordsdivided Vietnam at 17th parallel; Communists get north. The South is controlled by a series of unstable “democratic” rulers.

  4. U.S Military Intervention • Instability in South Vietnam • Succession of military leaders rule S. Vietnam; country unstable • LBJ (Lyndon Johnson-U.S President) worried the U.S. would lose international prestige if communists won. • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution • Alleged attack in Gulf of Tonkin; LBJ asked for power to repel enemy. • 1964- Tonkin Gulf Resolutiongives LBJ broad military powers • 1965- 8 Americans killed, LBJ ordered sustained bombing of North • U.S. combat troops sent to S. Vietnam to battle Vietcong 1965. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMhx8R7IL8M

  5. A Difficult War to Fight: The Vietcong • Who were the Vietcong? • The guerilla force that, with the support of the North Vietnamese Army, fought against South Vietnam (late 1950s–1975) and the United States (early 1960s–1973). • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsLE6EtrvhM

  6. Conflict in the U.S over the Vietnam War • The Draft • Selective Service System, draft, called men 18–26 to military service • Thousands looked for ways to avoid the draft • Many—mostly white, affluent—received college deferment • 80% of U.S. soldiers came from lower economic levels • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDCzxG8Dra0 • Doves strongly opposed the war, believed U.S. should withdraw • Hawks favored sending greater forces to win the war In 1967 the majority of Americans supported war and considered protesters disloyal.

  7. The Tet Offensive: The Turning Point in the Vietnam War A Surprise Attack • In 1968 villagers travel to cities to celebrate Tet (Vietnamese new year) • Vietcong among crowd; attack over 100 towns, 12 U.S. air bases • The Tet offensivelasted 1 month before the U.S. and South Vietnam regain control https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPgWqgpgVRc • Tet Changed U.S Public Opinion • Before Tet, most Americans were hawks; after Tet, hawks and doves were both 40% • Mainstream media openly criticized war (first televised war in U.S history) • LBJ’s popularity dropped; 60% disapproved his handling of the war

  8. President Nixon’s Role in the Vietnam War The plan for exiting South Vietnam • New president Richard Nixonfound negotiations were not progressing • His administration’s plan= Vietnamization—U.S. troops withdraw and S. Vietnam troops take over BUT before U.S troops leave South Vietnam: • The My Lai Massacre of 1968 • U.S. platoon carried out massacre of civilians in My Laivillage • Lt. William Calley, Jr., in command, is convicted, imprisoned (Turned some protestors in US against soldiers returning from their tours in Vietnam) • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnvTyMptOt8

  9. Continued Conflict in the U.S over the Vietnam War • Violence on Campus—Kent State University, Ohio • National Guard kills 4 students in confrontation at Kent State University • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr8AEq_b40w

  10. America’s Longest War Ends • “Peace is at Hand” • 1971, 60% think U.S. should withdraw from Vietnam by end of year • By 1973, the U.S withdrawals from Vietnam • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDDu331J6YY • The Fall of Saigon • Cease-fire breaks down; South surrenders after North invades in 1975. • North and South reunite. Vietnam becomes a unified communist country. NEXT

  11. The Legacy of Vietnam • 58,000 Americans, over 2 million North, South Vietnamese die in war • Returning veterans face indifference, hostility at home • About 15% develop post-traumatic stress disorder • Government abolishes military draft • 1973 Congress passes War Powers Act: • - president must inform Congress within 48 hours of deploying troops • - 90 day maximum deployment without Congressional approval • War contributes to cynicism about government, political leaders • Further Turmoil in Southeast Asia • Communists put 400,000 S. Vietnamese in labor camps; 1.5 million flee • Civil war breaks out in Cambodia; Khmer Rouge seize power (Cambodian Genocide)