Mid-Term Exam Preparation: Tuesday, 4 February 50 questions plus 3 bonus questions 100 question, thin scantron and pencil Review the following materials: All lectures and presentations (Wilson, Jim, Harry Maixner, Bob Brady and Hecht) Review all reading assignments up through and including the fourth week. Website: Hecht on “Why is a Class on Vietnam a Religious Studies course” and Nolan on “My First 25 Days in Vietnam.” Today’s lecture “The History of the Vietnam War and Diplomacy” is on the website.
Religious Studies 155The Impact of the Vietnam War on American Religion and Culture The History of the Vietnam War and Diplomacy
Outline Introduction: Misguided Presumptions, Casualties, Vietnam in Post-WWII Part I – The Civilizations of South East Asia Part II -- “A Very French Affaire: Vietnam’s Long Struggle for Autonomy” Part III – The American Interlude Part IV -- President Johnson’s War – 1963 to 1968 Part V – Nixon’s War – 1968 to 1975 Part VI – The Home Front – 1965 to 1977 Part VII – Lesson Learned from the Vietnam War?
“From 1954 to 1968 the entire American effort in Vietnam went through many of the same changes that occurred in the most insecure and domineering of the American advisers. The central of aim of the United States in Vietnam had never been to develop the economy and reform the Saigon government, but to “stop Communism” in Southeast Asia. When the military aid together with the attempts at reform and development failed as one means to that end, the United States adopted two additional strategies: the bombing of the north and the commitment of American combat troops. The second strategy the officials had hoped to avoid for the reason that it cost American lives and raised political difficulties at home. The first was much less “expensive.” In 1965 they began to prosecute the air war on a large scale and for reasons that were of dubious rationality.” Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam, p. 374.
Casualties 1,100,000 NVA killed 251,000 Vietcong killed 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians killed in the war in both South and North. 58,272 Americans service personnel killed in action 303,644 Americans wounded in action 2,646 American service personnel missing in action in 1975. Now 1,678 MIA 725 POWs > 660 freed; 28 escaped; 65 died in captivity. Total Vietnamese deaths nearly 4,000,000 or ten percent of the total population.
Why did the war in Vietnam last so long with few positive results. General William Westmoreland (Commanded US military operations in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968) – President Johnson: too many restraints; escalation was too slow; President Nixon: abandoned our South Vietnamese alley; the role of the press in poisoning the public attitude toward the war; the negotiated treaty allowed the North Vietnamese troops to remain in South Vietnam during the ceasefire which began in 1973. Other military leaders counseled press censorship, which both Johnson and Nixon rejected. Johnson was concerned that censoring the press would damage his social program (“The Great Society”) Nixon thought censorship would damage his political ambitions for a second term. Both adopted however “a policy of minimum candor.” Other military leaders were critical of “graduated escalation” and “attrition.” We could have won the war by bombing massively and earlier. American troops were ill-prepared to fight in jungles and rice fields and where the enemy could not be distinguished from the local peasants we were to protect.
Admiral Thomas Moorer: “We should have fought in the north, where everyone was the enemy where you did not have to worry whether or not you were shooting friendly civilians. In the south, you had to cope with women concealing grenades in their brassieres, or in their baby’s diapers…But Lyndon Johns did not want to overthrow the North Vietnamese government. Well, the only reason to go to war is to overthrow a government you don’t like.” Communists had complete resolve to reunify Vietnam under their control. They saw the struggle against America and its South Vietnamese allies as another chapter in their nation’s thousand years of resistance to the Chinese and, later, French rule. They were prepared to accept unlimited losses to achieve their “sacred” objective. American strategists were wrong. They had superimposed our values to the Communists. General Westmoreland believed there was a point where they would break. Years after the war, he continued to think that attrition would be the answer. He once said that General Giap, who had fought the Japanese and the French, would have been sacked over night if he were an American commander. American exceptionalism negated an accurate evaluation of the enemy. Racism – “gooks” or soldiers who saw the huge numbers of dead after a battle might say that “Asians don’t think about death the way we do.”
Vietnam in the post-WWII age Berlin Blockade (1948-1949) Chinese Communists drive Chiang Kai-shek from the mainland of China (1949). Russia detonates its first nuclear weapon (1949) North Korea with the support of PRC invades South Korea (1950) and the beginning of the Korean War Russia detonates its thermo-nuclear weapon (1953) Fallout shelters in the backyard (1954) and “duck and cover.” Hungarian and Polish Revolts (1956) crushed by Soviets Soviet Premier Nikta Khrushchev – Moscow Polish embassy speech: “We will bury you…” (1956) Cuban Revolution (1953-1959) and the Cuban Communist Party Sputnik (1957) Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
George Kennan, State Department Soviet Expert and chief of Policy Planning Division, writing under the pseudonym X, published an article in Foreign Affairs in which he used the term “containment. Kennan will later explain that “containment” was appropriate for Europe, but not South East Asia. General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ of Staff (1962-1964) – concern for the “domination” of South East and formulates the idea that if South Vietnam falls, other Communist victories would follow. The classic “domino theory.” Vice-President Lyndon Johnson dispatched by President Kennedy to Vietnam and reports: “the loss of Vietnam would compel America to fight on the beaches of Waikiki…The battle against Communism must be joined in Southeast Asia with strength and determination…or the United States, inevitably, must surrender the Pacific and take our defenses on our own shores.” (1961) General Taylor is convinced that massive bombing of North Vietnam will make it impossible for South Vietnam to be threatened by invasion from the north. Bombing the North Vietnamese into “the stone age.”
Robert S. McNamara (1916-2009) – President of Ford Motor Company, then Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson (1961-1968), and then the President of the World Bank until 1981. Ted Sorenson described his role in the Cuban missile crisis as absolutely central to defusing the potential conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, and the start of a nuclear war. The main architect of the American strategy in Vietnam. In his book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995) he set out the reasons why we were drawn into the conflict – “the Domino Theory” and also our ignorance of the history of Vietnam, its people, cultures and religions, and also its language. Mid-level intelligence personnel had been shifted to other tasks involving the expansion of Communism in Asia and Latin America. C.Wright Mills’ “military-industrial complex”
Secretary of Defense McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor confer with President Kennedy (1961)
General and Ambassador Maxwell Taylor [US Ambassador to Vietnam 1964-65], testifying before Congress in an attempt to explain the difficulties of “pacification” in Vietnam, reached for a metaphor that would at once define the difficulty and suggest the likelihood of final success: “It is very hard to plant corn outside the stockade when the Indians are still around. We have to get the Indians farther away…to make good progress.” “Indian country” Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: “The Americans were once again embarked upon a heroic and (for themselves) almost painless conquest of an inferior race. To the American settlers the defeat of the Indians had seemed not just a nationalist victory, but an achievement made in the name of humanity – the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil, and of civilization over brutish nature. Quite unconsciously the American officers and officials used a similar language to describe their war against the NLF [National Liberation Front].” Richard Slotkin, The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890 (1985). JFK’s “the new frontier”
The Civilizations of South East Asia. • Indian Expansion into South East Asia • Buddhism and arya vartana • Kingdom of Fūnan • Cambodia – 9th century Khmer empires and Angkor civilization. • Thailand/Siam • Laos • Vietnam Each of these civilizations were forced to contend with Chinese efforts to dominate Southeast Asia, and Vietnam was most exposed to Chinese influence.
II. “A Very French Affaire”: Vietnam’s Long Struggle for Autonomy 40 CE – Trung sisters lead insurrection against Chinese and set up an independent state. 1428 – After a decade of revolt the Chinese recognize Vietnam’s independence. 1545 – Civil strife splits Vietnam for nearly two centuries. 1637 -- Alexandre de Rhodes, French Jesuit missionary adapts Vietnamese language to the Roman alphabet. Opens the door for extensive French influence in Vietnam 1802 – Nguyen Anh becomes emperor and unifies the country. 1820 – Captain John White from Salem becomes first American to visit Vietnam. 1847 – French forces and Vietnamese Mandarins clash in Danang.
1847 – Vietnamese king Tu Duc plans to eliminate Christianity in Vietnam. 1852 – French republic under Napoleon III commits to a series of expeditions to Vietnam to protect French missionaries and secure trade concessions. 1861 – French capture Saigon. 1863 – French control Cambodia 1873 – French gain control over Tonkin 1879 – Cochinchina’s first French civilian governor is appointed. 1887 – France controls Cochinchina, Annam, Tokin 1914 – WWI brings over 100,000 Vietnamese to France as labor battalions. 1932 – Bao Dai (“The French King”) returns from France. 1940 – France falls to Germany in June; in September Japanese occupy Indochina, but leave the French colonial administration in place.
1945 – Japanese take over French administration throughout Indochina and Bao Dai proclaims the independence of Vietnam under the auspices of the Japanese and then is immediately force to abdicate. Ho Chi Minh declares the independence of Vietnam. Famine in the north kills more than two million. 1946 – China and France reach an accord which exchanges extraterritorial concessions – France gives up claims in China; China gives up claims in Vietnam. France recognizes Vietnam as a “free state” within the French colonial union; French troops take the place of the Chinese. There will be a referendum to determine whether Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina should be reunited. Ho Chi Minh goes to Paris to negotiate independence, but negotiations break down and France proclaims a separate government in Cochinchina. Heavy fighting between French and Vietminh around Hanoi. The French Indochina War has begun. 1950 – US now funding French in Indochina because of fears of the Chinese Communists. Vietminh being trained and supported by China. 1953 – Eighty percent of the cost of the French war was being paid by the US. 1954 – French believe they can lure the Vietminh into a battle at Dienbienphu, but instead the French garrison is surrounded and seven weeks later surrenders: 1,500 dead; 4,000 wounded and 10,000 POWs
III. The American Interlude President Eisenhower decides against American intervention to save the French. 1954 -- The Geneva conference: * cessation of hostilities in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos * division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel pending political settlement through nationwide elections Our man in Saigon –Ngo Dinh Diem with $100 million aid. Hundreds of thousands of refugees flee south 1955 – Aid funneled directly to Saigon government and the US agrees to train South Vietnamese army. Diem rejects the Geneva Accord and refuses to hold national elections. Diem declares himself President of the Republic of Vietnam. 1957 – Communist insurgency in the south (assassination of more than 400 minor South Vietnamese officials). Thirty-seven armed companies are organized in the Mekong Delta. 1959 – North Vietnam begins to infiltrate cadres; Ho Chi Minh trail is used to bring supplies and fighters into the south.
1960 – John Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon for the US Presidency; President Eisenhower warns Kennedy that Laos is the major crisis in South East Asia. North Vietnamese form the National Liberation Front which the Saigon regime brands “Vietcong” or Communist Vietnamese. 1961 -- Vice-President Lyndon Johnson visits South Vietnam and proposes additional American aid to the Diem regime. 1962 – Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow (State Department) visit Vietnam and urge Kennedy to send combat troops disguised as flood relief workers (?). 1963 – Ngo Dinh Nhu Diem’s forces attack Buddhist temples. Self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc and then others. Coup d’état and the Diems are executed on 1 November. President Kennedy is assassinated on 22 November in Dallas.
Ho Chi Minh born in central Vietnam in 1887. His father is a well-known Confucian Scholar who also became a low-ranking provincial adminstrator. 1911 – Ho leaves Vietnam and will not return for thirty years. 1912 arrives in the US where he works as a baker and other menial positions in New York and then in London until 1918. After WWI he journeys to Paris where he uses the name Nguyen ai Quoc (“Nguyen the Patriot”). 1919 – Ho petitions President Wilson at Versailles Peace Conference for self-determination in Vietnam. 1920 – joins the newly formed French Communist Party. 1924 – Leaves Paris for Moscow, then Canton and in 1930 forms the Indochinese Communist Party in Hong Kong. 1941 – Ho returns to Vietnam and forms the Vietminh to fight the French and the Japanese.
President Johnson’s War 1963 to 1968. • In 1960 there were 15 US military advisers in Vietnam. By the end of the 1963, there were 15,000. Aid-level reaches $500 million. • 1964 – Pentagon beings refining plans to bomb North Vietnam. South Vietnamese naval operations begin against North Vietnam. • 2 August – North Vietnamese patrol boats attack the US Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. Dubious second night confrontation two days later. • 7 August – Congress passes Tonkin Gulf Resolution giving President Johnson extraordinary powers to act in South East Asia. • Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright (1945-1979) • Manages the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964, but • quickly turns against the war and the Foreign Relations. • Committee under his chairmanship becomes the most • critical Senate committee. • President Johns rejects proposal to carry out bombing • raids North Vietnam
1965 – In February, President Johnson approves plan for air raids against North Vietnam. “Operation Rolling Thunder” – sustained heavy bombing of North Vietnam begins. Two marine battalions land to defend Danang airfield [first US combat troops in Vietnam]. President Johnson offers Ho Chi Minh participation in the South East Asian development plan in exchange for peace. North Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong rejects President Johnson’s proposal. Any settlement of the conflict must be based on Vietcong program. Air Vice Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky becomes prime minister in a military regime in Saigon. South Vietnamese combat regiments and battalions take high loses in battles with Vietcong.
General William Westmoreland requests forty-four additional combat battalions and Johnson agrees. US forces defeat NVA units in the Ia Drang. This is the first major conventional clash of the war. By the end of 1965 American troop strength was nearly 200,000. President Johnson halts bombing of the north in the hope that the North Vietnamese might be willing to enter negotiations. 1966 – Johnson resumes bombing of the north at the end of January. By Christmas, there will be almost 400,000 combat forces in Vietnam. 1967 – North Vietnam takes the position that the US Must stop all bombing before negotiations can begin. Nguyen Van Thieu is elected President and General Ky Vice President.
Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky reviewing military plans in 1965. President Nguyen Van Thieu with President Richard Nixon in 1971.
Robert McNamara testify in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that American bombing of North Vietnam is ineffective. By the end of 1967, American troop strength in Vietnam is 500,000 and Westmoreland believes there is light at the end of the tunnel; the war will be over soon. 1968 – The Tet Offensive begins at the end of January. NVA hit major cities in South Vietnam, including the US embassy. It takes more than a month for the battle to end and the North Vietnamese. American and South Vietnamese are caught off-guard by the scope of the attack. The Marine Base at Khesanh is under siege from NVA (January to April 1968). Attempt to divert American resources to the isolated area. Westmoreland falls for it and decides to hold Khesanh. He saw the attacks on the cities as a diversion and Khesanh as much more important. President Johnson announces that he will not run for election; Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota runs for President; Robert Kennedy announces his candidacy for the presidency; Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated; Robert Kennedy is assassinted; Vice President Hubert Humphrey wins the Democratic nomination for President amidst rioting in Chicago. Richard Nixon is elected as President.
“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 suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could. This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.” (27 February, 1968)
V. Nixon’s War – 1968 to 1975 General William Westmoreland is “sacked” and becomes Army Chief of Staff. North Vietnamese diplomats arrive in Paris to begin talks on possible cease fire. Nixon’s successful presidential campaign features a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam war. Appoints Henry Kissinger as National Security Adviser. At the end of 1968, American troop strength has reached 540,000. 1969 – Paris talks are expanded to include Saigon government and representatives from the Vietcong. Nixon begins secret bombing of Cambodia. Nixon’s Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird releases the “secret plan” – “Vietnamization” Ho Chi Minh dies at the age of seventy-nine. By December, American troop strength reduced by 60,000.
My Lai massacre takes place – 200 civilians are killed by US army. Poorly trained officers – Captain Medina and Lt. Calley “All civilians in My Lai are VC US Army helicopter pilot intervenes Initial cover-up by local commanders 1969 – massacre is revealed; Calley goes on trial in 1970 and found guilty of premeditated murder in 1971. Invasion of Cambodia (June 1970) and ARVN alone invades Laos (1971) but must be rescued by US forces. Invasion of Cambodia destabalizes Khmer government and leads to Pol Pot Invasion of Laos demonstrates that “Vietnamization” is not working. Secret talks in Paris with Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger
Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reach agreement on 23 January, 1973 and agreement signed on 27 January, 1973 Las American troops leave Vietnam on March 29, 1973 and last POWs are released from Hanoi on 1 April, 1973. 1974 North Vietnamese violate the Paris Peace Agreement and renew war on the South Vietnamese government. April 1975, Saigon falls to Communist forces. 1976 -- Jimmy Carter is elected president and immediately upon his inauguration pardons most of the 10,000 draft evaders from the war. 1977 – Americans and Vietnamese begin discussions exploring US recognition of Vietnam.
VI. The Home Front from 1960 to 1977 American Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s sets pattern for protests. The challenge of the anti-war movement and the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. Draft resistance Religious resistance Anti-war demonstrations escalate throughout the period Massive demonstrations in Washington (1969) Massive demonstrations throughout the US (1970) Kent State 4 May, 1970
“Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” Riverside Church, 4 April, 1967. His advisers thought that a public rebuke of the war would bring the civil rights movement into direct conflict with President Johnson. He challenged his speech writers: “This is too wishy-washy. I can’t equivocate when we’re bombing innocent women and children. And it’s destroying the more fabric of our country…You should know that I’m a minister of God before I’m a civil rights leader. This is about morality, not politics.” “The true meaning of compassion and nonviolence …helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his question.”
Lessons Learned from the Vietnam War? • American Security Policy Development. • The Weinberger Doctrine[Caspar Weinberger was Secretary of Defense under President Reagan (1981-1987)] • 1. Vital US interests are threatened. • 2. US clearly intends to win. • 3. Clearly defined political and military objectives. • 4. Support of public and congress reasonably assured. • 5. Exit strategy. • Powell Doctrine [General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)] • Rejection of graduated response • 1. Overwhelming force • 2. Minimum loss of US lives • 3. Win decisively and quickly • 4. Do not operate in the margins – send more than you need.
The Clinton Doctrine [Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright] • 1. Interests and values at stake • 2. Clear objectives • 3. Firm commitment • 4. Decisive military action • 5. Clear purpose and resolute execution • 6. Resist reflexive calls for premature withdrawal • The Bush Doctrine • “Make no distinction between terrorists and the nations that harbor them – and hold both to account” • “Take the fight to the enemy overseas before they can attack us” • “Confront threats before they materialize” • “Advance liberty and hope as an alternative to the enemy’s ideology of repression and fear” • Multilateralism becomes unilateralism
Pre-emptive use of force Regime change Global war on terrorism Barak Obama Security Principles Global engagement and attempt to neutralize fears that the US is at war with Islam [at war only with al-Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates Greater reliance on diplomacy. Focus limited security – “Ensure US Forces can defeat more than one enemy at a time. Economic security is linked to national security (e.g., energy self-reliance)