Chapter 5 Case Studies

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  • Created on: 05-05-16 12:34

Case study 1: The Korean War

  • Background: Korea ruled by Japan until '45. The North (Leader Kim Il Sung) remained Communist and the South (President Syngman Rhee) was anti-communist. 1950, the hostility between leaders lead to open warfare
  • President Truman determined to contain Communism - policy of containment 
  • UN intervention better than US intervention; Truman put pressure on the UN Security Council to condemn NK troops; US biggest contributor to UN budget
  • USSR would have used right of veto to block US action, but USSR was boycotting UN over other issue at the time, and USSR not at meeting  
  • Sep. '50: UN force advances at Inchon, NK's driven back to original border within weeks
  • General MacArthur did not stop, despite warnings from Mao Tse-Tung, Chinese leader, saw opportunity to remove communism completely
  • Nov. '50: UN force retreats, 200,000 Chinese troops joined NK's; launched attack and strongly committed, knew landcapes better
  • March '51: MacArthur sacked - wanted to continue war, Truman felt it was enough. MacArthur ignored UN instruction - aggressive policy rejected 
  • June '51: Peace talks begin, stalemate at 38th parallel, and in '53 Eisenhower (new President) wanted to end war, Stalin dead, armistice signed
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Case study 2: Cuban Missile Crisis part 1

  • Cuba was US ally, US had provided Cuban ruler, General Batista with economic and military support - Batista was a dictator, corrupt & unpopular but opposed to communism
  • In 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew Batista - Castro very charismatic and ruthless: communist
  • US taken by surprise but the relationship between the two grew worse slowly for two reasons: 1. Cuban exiles in US who had fled from Castro and formed powerful groups in the US 2. Castro took American-owned agricultural businesses and took the land and distributed it to his supporters
  • 1960, Eisenhower authorised the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to investigate ways to overthrow Castro
  • US companies in Cuba refused materials imported from USSR; American media broadcasted streams of criticism
  • Castro responded with mixed response, allowed Americans in Cuba, and told them they were safe, allowed US naval base but he allied with the Soviet Union, and also began recieving arms from the USSR, and American spies knew
  • To invade or not to invade? In 1961, JFK (new president) broke off relations with Cuba; Castro thought the US was preparing to invade; Americans didn't invade directly, but Kennedy wasn't going to tolerate a Soviet satellelite in the USA's 'sphere of influence'; plans began to overthrow Castro
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Case study 2: Cuban Missile Crisis part 2

  • Bay of Pigs: JFK supplied arms, equipment and transport for 1,400 anti-Castro exiles to invade Cuba and overthrow him; failed massively, exiles met by Cuban troops and captured and killed them all
  • Impact: Cuba and USSR guessed that the US didn't want to get directly involved with Cuba; strengthened Castro's position and saw JFK as weak, suspicion of US
  • Soviet arms soon flooded into Cuba, May 1962 USSR supplied Cuba with arms publicly; Cuba had missiles, boats, tanks, radar vans, missile erectors, jet bomber etc. by July 1962
  • US watches with alarm; USSR to put nuclear missiles on Cuba?; USSR assures no
  • October Crisis 1962: US spy plane over Cuba, detailed photos of missile sites, found nuclear missile sites being built by USSR
  • Many reports from US spy planes confirmed that the missiles were nearly finished and more were on their way
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Case study 2: Cuban Missile Crisis part 3


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Case study 2: Cuban Missile Crisis part 4

Why did the Soviet Union place nuclear missiles on Cuba?

  • To test the USA
  • To bargain with the USA
  • To trap the USA
  • To close the missile gap
  • To defend Cuba 
  • To strengthen his own position in the USSR


For JFK and US

  • Improved reputation
  • JFK successfully stood up to some people in his own government
  • Secretly agreed to remove missiles from Turkey; slightly awkward; NATO decision
  • Cuba to stay communist
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Case study 2: Cuban Missile Crisis part 5

For Khrushchev and USSR

  • In public responsible peacemaker, made first move towards compromise
  • Cuba safe from American action
  • Khrushchev had gotten the US to withdraw Turkey missiles; propaganda
  • Exposed US to criticism
  • Khrushchev had been forced to back down, humiliation
  • No impact on missile gap

Cold War

  • Helped thaw relations between US and USSR
  • More prepared to take steps to reduced nuclear war
  • Permanent phone link direct from White House to Kremlin set up
  • Nuclear Test Ban Treaty 1963, limited tests

For Cuba

  • Castro very upset, but little choice
  • Cuba stayed comunist and highly armed 
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Case study 3: The Vietnam War part 1

  • Before WWII Vietnam had been ruled by France; during the war it was conquered by the Japanese, treated Vietnamese people badly, strong anti-Japan resistance movement (Viet Minh) emerged under leadership of Communist Ho Chi Minh
  • Ho had lived in the USA, Britain and France and had studied Communism in the USSR
  • Viet Minh entered northern city of Hanoi in 1945 and declared Vietnam independent after WWII
  • Fighting the French: In 1945 they wanted to rule Vietnam again, Ho was not letting this happen, 9 years of war followed between Viet Minh in north and French in south 
  • 1949 Ho supported by China, which had become a Communist state
  • The US, unlike in the Korea situation, poured in $500 million a year into the French effort
  • Despite this, France pulled out of Vietnam in 1954
  • Peace conference held in Geneva, country divided into North and South Vietnam
  • 1954, US prevented elections from taking place; fear that communists would win
  • Why? Domino theory: US thought other Asian countries would fall to Communism; acted on ignorance and determination: Eisenhower and Secretary of State JF Dulles
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Case study 3: The Vietnam War part 2

  • Diem's regime: 1955, US helped Ngo Dinh Diem set up Republic of South Vietnam, Diem was bitterly anti-Communist, Diem unpopular with Vietnamese people: He was landlord class, Christian (most Vietnamese were Buddhist peasants), corrupt (US knew of no one better)
  • US supported Diem with $1.6 billion in 1950s, Diem overthrown by army leaders in 1963
  • Increased support among ordinary peasants for Communist-led National Front for Liberation of South Vietnam, set up in 1960, called Viet Cong
  • South Vietnamese opponents of gov. also large numbers of Comm. North Vietnamese taking orders from Ho Chi Minh, those who did not support Viet Cong faced violence
  • Guerrilla war against South Vietnamese gov, attacked gov officials and buildings, supplied by reinforcements and supplies, attacked American air force and supply bases
  • South gov. launched strategic hamlet programme which involved moving peasant villages from Viet Cong areas to areas controlled by the South government
  • Americans helped, gave materials, money, equipment and food: policy backfired, corruption
  • American 'Advisers', 1962, (pres in 1961) JFK sent military personnel to help South army fight Viet Cong; JFK didn't want war, assassinated in 1963
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Case study 3: The Vietnam War part 3

  • Successor, Lyndon Johnson more prepared to commit USA to full scale conflict
  • 1964, North Vietnam patrol boats opened fire on US ships in Gulf of Tonkin
  • Furious US reaction, congress passed Tonkin Gulf Resolution, gave Pres power to 'prevent further aggression'
  • Feb 1965, US started Operation Rolling Thunder, bombing campaign against North Vietnam cities, factories, army bases and Ho Chi Minh trail, continued for 3 years
  • 8th March 1965: 3,500 US marines, combat troops came ashore at Vietnam: Officially at war

Why did US send troops to Vietnam? 

  • Policy of containment
  • Domino Theory
  • Powerful groups in USA wanted war
  • 1961, Eisenhower warned that America had powerful military-industrial complex
  • Armed forces and business gained money from conflict
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Case study 3: The Vietnam War part 4

Tactics and technology in Vietnam War

  • American decision in hindsight big gamble

Viet Cong

  • Guerilla warefare (Ho had seen Mao Tse-tung use it to win a comm. victory): retreat when enemy attacks; raid when enemy camps; pursue when enemy retreats; nightmare for US army, Guerrillas did not wear uniform, hard to tell apart, no base camp, after attacking disappeared into tunnels; attacks aimed to wear down enemy soldiers, US soldiers lived in constant fear of ambushes and booby traps, 11% of casualties from traps, 51% from ambushes; hanging on to the American belts
  • Civilians: Ho knew it was important to keep population on his side, Viet Cong courteous and respectful to Vietnamese peasants, helped in the fields, but also ruthless to people who opposed them; conducted campaign of terror against employees of South gov. killed 27,000 civilians
  • Supplies: depended on supplies from North Vietnam along HCM trail
  • Commitment: Viet Cong and North dead in war a 1 milion, higher than US losses
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Case study 3: The Vietnam War part 5

US tactics

  • Bombing: Main tactic, bombed industrial targets in north Vietnam, bombed towns and cities all over the who country, bombed HCM trail, bombed Laos and Cambodia; damaged North war effort, disrupted supply routes, 1970-1972 forced North for negotiation of peace; air power couldn't defeat the communists
  • US troops: early stages professional; soon conscription introduced, average age 19, no experience; all walks of live; knew very little about Vietnam, didn't care about democracy or communism; morale very low, policy one-term service, backfired, as soon as soldiers gained experience they were sent home
  • Search and destroy: To combat guerrilla warefare; raids often based on inadequate information; inexperienced troops often fell into traps; innocent villages were mistaken for Viet Cong strongholds; US and South troops unpopular
  • Chemical weapons: Agent Orange (highly toxic 'weedkiller' to destroy jungle where Viet Cong hid); Napalm (burned through skin, destroyed jungles); many civilians harmed
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Case study 3: The Vietnam War part 6

The Tet Offensive

  • American view of war from 1965-1967 success
  • Confidence shattered by 1968, over 100 cities targeted and attacked by Viet Cong
  • Viet Cong tied down US force in Saigon for 2 days
  • US embassy captured
  • US forces fought to regain control room by room
  • Bad for Communists, though South people would join them, but they didn't, VC lost 10,000 experienced fighters, weakened badly
  • But it was a turning point; raised questions about USA; 500,000 troops in Vietnam, $20 billion a year on the war, so how had the Comm. been able to launch a major offensive?
  • US & South forces quickly retook towns but used enormous amounts of artillery, many civillians killed


  • Until this point, media coverage had been positive
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Case study 3: The Vietnam War part 7

Peace movement in USA

  • Anti-war feeling after Tet Offensive
  • War draining money; no closer to winnning war
  • Exposed racial inequality in US, 22% percent of casualities black even though they only made up 11% of US force; how they fight for a country which discriminated them at home? Muhammad Ali
  • Americans felt deeply uncomfortable about Vietnam; media war, TV, radio, newspaper, photographers, showed executions, torture, crying burn victims etc.
  • 1968-70, anti-war protests; Nov 1969 700,000 anti-war protesters demonstrated in W.D.C, largest political protest in US history

The My Lai massacre

  • Charlie Company 1968, young US soldiers started search & destroy, told that in the My Lai area there was Viet Cong headquarters & 200 VC guerrillas
  • Ordered to destroy all houses, dwellings and livestock; told all villagers would leave for market because it was Saturday; under impression ordered to kill everyone they found
  • 16th March they arrived; killed over 300 civillians, mostly women, children and old men; no VC found, only 3 weapons recovered
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Case study 3: The Vietnam War part 8

  • At the time, army treated it as success, reports showed 20 non-combatants had been killed, rest were VC, praised
  • Year later letter from Ronald Ridenhour (US soldier served in Vietnam) to gov officials in W.D.C, had evidence of 'something rather dark and bloody' that had occured in My Lai
  • Investigation: Life magazine published photos of the massacre that had been taken by official army photographyer
  • Lieutenant William Calley trialled and charged for mass murder
  • Army denied giving orders to Calley

Ending the war

  • Johnson reduced bombing campaign, and announced he would not seek re-election
  • 1968, Nixon became President, decided how to tackle communism
  • Improved relations with USSR and China, they had fallen out in 1969
  • Withdrew US forces, handed over effort to South forces
  • Peace negotiations with North Vietnam
  • Increased bombing, to show no weaknesses
  • 1973, all parties signed peace agreement
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