The Vietnam War

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Vietnam War
Russia and China
The Korean War made the cold war a worldwide conflict rather than one based in Europe. The West
distrusted the East and faced two communist superpowers in Russia and China. China and Russia
appeared to be acting as one. This included 10000 Chinese were trained in Russia, China traded with
Russia and Russia loaned China millions of dollars. In 1957 Russia promised to share nuclear weapons
with China.
In an attempt to stand up to the communist threat the USA created an alliance with capitalist countries in
Southern Asia forming the SEATO treaty.
Washington believed that China was another puppet of the USSR. However, Mao's communism was
different. China wanted to use force to spread communism. This led the USA to draw conclusions
resulting in the domino theory. US powers feared that as one country fell under communism others would
follow leading to communism spreading rapidly throughout the world.
SinoSoviet split
The alliance between China and the USSR was never stable. The death of Stalin and the leadership
change to Khrushchev led to further problems as Mao viewed Russia as weak in the spread of
communism. Further problems were caused in the field of agriculture as the USSR pushed for
technological advances and China in direct contrast wanted more jobs for peasants. This compounded
with the revolutionary ideas and violence in China led to the breakdown of relations. In 1963 Mao made
a public split from the USSR which resulted in the death of 31 USSR troops at the border of China and
Russia.
A new domino
After being ruled by France post World War 2 and then occupied by Japan Indo China experienced
periods of war throughout history which resulted in Indo China being separated in to four distinct
countriesNorth Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The hope was to reunite Vietnam and
create a multi party system of government. However, this did not happen. Ho Chi Minh took power in the
North and installed a communist government into power while the South was ruled by Diem who created
a nationalist, catholic, anti communist government which he ruled with his family and friends. Diem had
the support of the USA.
Vietnam was seen as a domino which could fall to communism.
In North Vietnam support for communism was building with changes in landownership. Landlords were
imprisoned and executed with their land being redistributed. A million refugees fled to Southern
Vietnam. In addition from 1960 onwards guerrilla troops were trained for North Vietnam and became
known as the Vietcong. These guerrillas terrorised people in the South forcing support in the form of
food, shelter, information and recruits. The guerrillas were supplied by the North via routes through the
jungle and over the highlands of Laos this became known as the Ho Chi Minh trail.
The US saw these actions as a threat to the free world but Kennedy refused to send in troops but offered
support with military advisers training South Vietnamese counterinsurgency. By the end of 1961 there
were 3,000 US military personnel in South Vietnam. By 1962 there were 11,500 US military personnel.
During this time Diem became increasingly intolerant of other religions and targeted the Buddhist religion
raiding pagodas, destroying shines and arresting monks. Monks protested this by setting themselves on
fire. This led the USA to seek out a successor for Diem and decided to withdraw personnel. However,
before this could happen a coup led by South Vietnamese rebels occurred resulting in the death of Diem
and his brother. This coincided with the assassination of Kennedy in Dallas.

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The likelihood of war increases
Johnson took over from Kennedy and announced that he would not allow South Vietnam to become
communist. However, government instability in South Vietnam divided the people with 20 parties gaining
support and leadership changes occurring every six weeks.
Gulf of Tonkin
In 1964, North Vietnamese fired on US patrol boats. This led to the bombing of North Vietnamese bases
in retaliation.…read more

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The Tet Offensive
During the Tet religious festival Vietcong attacked 100 South Vietnamese cities and US bases. This
suggested the war could not be won. However, this was not a victory for North Vietnam as the communist
message was not spread, resources were depleted and many Vietcong were killed or injured.
Public opinion in the US continued to decline and Johnson declared that he would not stand for election.
Richard Nixon won the presidential election but the war continued for a further 5 years.…read more

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Tasks
1. Explain China and Russia's relationship.
2. Why did Russia and China split?
3. Explain how the USA became involved in the Vietnam War. (Include dates, number
of military personnel, incidents)
4. What is vietnamisation?
5. Explain the impact of the Vietnam War.
6. Explain why the USA became involved in a crisis over Cuba in 1962. (8 marks)
7. Explain why views on the Vietnam war changed in the USA.…read more

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