Ho Chi Minh • Born 1890. • Father was a schoolteacher but was fired for refusing to learn French.
Ho Chi Minh • Ho learned to resist the rule of France and fight for Vietnamese independence. • Ho educated in France to prepare him to fight against French.
Ho Chi Minh • 1917 Ho lived in Paris and helped form the French Communist Party. • Lived in Soviet Union then moved to China on the Vietnam border.
Ho Chi Minh • Ho could not return to Vietnam because French would arrest him. • From China he helped other exiled nationalists organize into the “Vietnam Revolutionary League”.
World War II • 1940 Japan invaded Indochina. • French under attack from Germany and were not worried about Indochina. • Ho saw as opportunity to gain Vietnamese independence. • Organized group called “Vietminh” to fight against Japanese.
World War II • Vietminh received weapons from Soviet Union and U.S. to fight Japanese. • September 1945 Ho announced the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. • Allies had other plans for Vietnam.
The French • French refused to recognize the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. • Vietminh begin fighting French. • 1949 Mao Zedong takes control of China.
The French • China now communist and supports Ho in fight against French. • 1953 Vietminh control much of north, the French control much of south.
The French • French citizens growing tired of war • 90,000 killed • Trying to rebuild after WW II • No clear French victory after seven years. • People believed France had no reason to be in Vietnam.
The French • 1953 Dien Bien Phu • French surrounded by 70,000 Vietminh. • French asked for help from U.S. • U.S. refused unless other countries joined. • March 1954, Vietminh launched attack that lasted for 56 days.
The French • May 1954 French surrendered and promised to leave Vietnam. • U.S., Soviet Union, Britain, & France meet to work on peace in Korea and Vietnam.
The Agreement • Vietnam divided at 17th parallel.
The Agreement • North ruled by Ho Chi Minh. • South ruled by No Dinh Diem
The Agreement • French leave Vietnam. • Vietminh withdraw from South Vietnam • Vietnamese freely choose to live in North or South. • July 1956 General Election held for all of Vietnam.
The U.S. • 1956 General Elections cancelled by Diem because Ho Chi Minh would win. • U.S. supports. • “I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held at the time of fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh”. Eisenhower
Problems • Diem becomes unpopular in South Vietnam. • Hamlet Program: forcing villagers to leave village. • Attacked Buddhist temples and monks • Monks burn themselves in protest.
Problems • 1959 Ho begins to support South Vietnamese people who oppose Diem. • National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF) or Vietcong (VC) • Vietcong use the tactics of Mao Zedong • Gain support of peasants. • “without the constant and active support of the peasants. . . failure is inevitable.”
The Vietcong • Code of behavior in the villages. • Do not damage the land, crops, houses, or belongings of the people. • Do not buy or borrow what the people are not willing to lend or sell. • Never break your word. • Do not talk down to the people. • Help them in their daily work.
The U.S. • 1964 U.S.S. Maddox is attacked while spying on North Vietnam. • President Johnson orders “Operation Rolling Thunder” • Regular bombings of North Vietnam • Vietcong begin focusing attacks on U.S. airbases in South Vietnam.
The U.S. • General Westmoreland requests that without more men the Vietcong would take over.
The U.S. • 3,500 U.S. Marines sent. • In America 80% of people supported the bombings and deployment of troops.
Fighting the War • U.S. helps South Vietnamese Army fight against Vietcong and Vietminh. • Vietcong hid among villagers and used ambush techniques. • Hard to tell the Vietcong from the villagers. • Women and children used to kill Americans. • Elaborate tunnel systems were used to hide and move troops without being seen. • Booby traps and land mines used to kill Americans.
America’s Strategy • Kill as many Vietcong as possible • As the number of dead rose, they would surrender.
America’s Strategy • Win support of South Vietnamese villagers since the Vietcong hid among them. • Search and Destroy missions uprooted villagers then destroyed the village. • “We had to destroy the town in order to save it.” • Agent Orange: Chemical used to kill plants • Used to expose tunnel systems. • Napalm: Gas bomb • Set fire to jungle to expose tunnel systems.