Eisenhower and Two Vietnams

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  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 05-04-14 21:51

Vo Nguyen Giap

  • Vietminh commander important in French defeat
  •  Giap on French list revolutionaries from 13
  •  joined Indochinese Comm Party 1937
  •  commanded Vietminh from 1944 - number around 5000 initially
  •  Nov 1947 Vietminh declare war on French
  •  improved training+set out plan for revolutionary war - start Guerilla war then move to set piece battles
  •  paid attention to winning hearts and minds
  • Mao's 1949 triumph changed situation -Mao gave Ho+Giap recognition+armaments+sanctuary in China
  •  1952 Giap commanded 250,000 soldiers/militia near 2m
  •  each army division supported by 40,000 porters - many women
  •  Giap soldier's willing to suffer for country and cause
  •  French inability to win owed much to Giap's determination to defeat them - Chinese aid also big factor
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Dienbienphu, 1954

  • French tried enlisting native Vietnamese in army didn't trust them little responsibility
  • French homefront losing interest in Indochina
  •  1954 French hope put pressure on Laos
  •  built fortress at Dienbienphu - hoped would draw Vietminh into set piece battle
  • thousands peasants bought long ranged guns to surrounding hills and camouflaged them 'til ready to fire on fortress.
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Eisenhower+French before Dienbienphu

  • Eisenhower gave French $385m armaments shortly before Dienbienphu for offensive vs. Vietminh
  •  questions asked about extent of intervention
  •  was SE Asia vital to U.S security? - If vital should U.S be involved? what intervention should be used - financial military assistants?
  •  did U.S have enough troops to get involved? Was victory possible for French? Was U.S willing to clash with China? How much would U.S do without allied support?
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Arguements for American intervention at Dienbienph

  • French strength draining
  •  Eisenhower want france strong NATO member - defend Europe from S.U
  •  French threatened to be unhelpful about European defence if U.S didn't aid in Indochina(blackmail)
  •  Presidential election campaign Eisenhower reject Truman containment policy - advocated 'liberation of Communist countries'
  •  Eis knew Tru suffered when he 'lost' china(1949) - didn't want to be seen as losing Vietnam
  •  Eisenhower fear losing Vietnam to Comm. would change global balance of power
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Arguements against U.S intervention

  • many doubted domino theory
  •  Secretary of Defence felt U.S intervention would be pointless
  •  Vice Admiral insisted 'partial' involvement through air+sea
  •  Eisenhower - "no military victory is possible in that kind of jungle theater"
  •  no troops readily available
  •  'new look' defense policy emphasized nukes over manpower
  •  many Americans uncertain about getting entangled with French problems
  • Eisenhower+Dulles failed to get British support that congress required before they would authorise U.S intervention
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Reasons for Geneva Conference(1954)

  • Occured during battle at Dienbienphu
  •  Armistice ended 3 years fighting Korean war - good time to end fighting in Indochina
  • Stalin died - new S.U leaders eager reduce tensions
  •  China wanted to stall U.S involvement in Indochina
  •  HCM clearly winning and saw nothing to be gained from talking
  •  China+S.U put pressure on HCM to negotiate
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Geneva Conference(1954)

  • 7th May 1954 - Vietminh raise red flag over Dienbienphu
  •  next day representatives from France+Vietminh+Cambodia+U.S+Laos+S.U+China assembled discuss ending war
  •  each representative had different aims - Vietminh+Bao Dai wanted independence - French hoped retain influence in Indochina - U.S wanted contain Communism in S.E Asia and avoid elections in Vietnam as they knew HCM would win
  •  U.S rejected idea of Comm. gov in Vietnam
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The Geneva Accords 1954

  • Vietminh agreed with France that: Comm. rule in N.Vietnam Bao Dai + Diem would govern south
  •  Vietminh give up territory south of 17th parallel
  •  French forces withdraw from North HCM forces from South
  •  truce between North-South
  •  democratic elections for single Vietnamese gov. in 1956
  •  Noth/South not allowed to make allies with foreign powers
  •  French remain in south to prepare for elections in 1956
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Significance of Geneva Accords

  • Showed S.U+China not completely supportive of Democratic Republic of Vietnam
  • S.U+China forced HCM to accept settlement that forced him to retreat behind 17th parallel - HCM agreed thought 1956 election be respected
  •  HCM knew he was most popular leader he would win
  •  HCM needed S.U+China aid
  •  U.S slow to exploit divisions in Comm. world
  •  Caesefire between French+Vietminh not Vietminh+South government
  •  Eisenhower gov. agreed to respect but not sign Geneva Accords - not bound by declaration
  •  America chose misinterpret temporary caesefire along 17th parallel
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Ngo Din Diem - background

  • Catholic - Mandarin family - continued family tradition gov. service until clash French 1933
  •  nationalist hated French unwillingness to give Vietnamese any power
  •  1950 went to U.S impressed Catholics i.e JFK+Mike Mansfield - Mansfield key supported after 1955
  •  1954 Bao Dai made Diem Prime Minister - by this point most Vietnamese nationalists were Vietminh
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Diem and American "nation building"

  • Eisenhower felt HCM had triumphed at Geneva - he had to do something to restore U.S prestige in far east
  •  Dulles masterminded South East Asian Treaty Organisation(SEATO) - SEATO members agreed protect S.V - Cambodia - Laos
  •  Geneva agreements ignored - French didn't stay South to enforce caesefire until elections 1956
  •  Diem rejected nationwide elections - knew HCM would win
  •  Diem turned back on French and relied on U.S who quickly supported
  • Diem+U.S agreed Comm. menace must be stopped
  •  One way was to build stable non-comm S.Vietnam
  •  Nov 1954 Eisenhower sent 'lightning joe' collins to implement 'crash program' to maintain Diem regime
  •  Collins urged land reform most important
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American doubts about Diem

  • Nixon - S.V lack ability to conduct a war by themsleves or to govern themselves
  •  Eis admin. almost withdrew support but Spring 1955 Diem action against Bao Dai and other non-comm opponents halted them
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Diem defeat of Bao Dai

  • Oct 1955 Diem held election S.V
  •  voting for Bai Dai = punished
  •  Diem claimed 98.2% of vote
  •  450,000 coters in Saigon Diem won 605,025 votes
  •  Diem made himself undisputed leader of S.V
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Support for Ho and Communism

  • Ho's regime just as brutal as Diem's in south
  •  HCM liquidated thousands of land lords+opponents and even loyal vietminh
  •  1956 HCM soldiers had to containt revolt - 6000 peasants killed or deported
  • HCM+Giap admitted wrongfully resorting to terror
  •  Ho's egalitarian regime free from foreign influence won hearts and minds of people - Diem's never did.
  • Before 1959 HCM told supporters in South not to attack Diem
  •  Hanoi wanted to be seen as abiding my Geneva Accords - divided whether consolidation in North take priority over liberation of South - gave Diem opportunity to arrest+execute S.V Communists - numbers dropped 10,000 1955 to 2,000 1959
  •  S.V Communists revolted
  •  HCM supporters change name to Nation Liberation Front(NLF) 1960 - Diem called them Vietcong
  •  VC emphasised national independence
  •  Peasants hated force+removal from homes/lands/ancestral tombs
  •  Dissatisfaction with 'American Diem' increasing
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Diem situation 1961

  • recieved $7billion aid from Eisenhower
  •  many said situation could not be won with Diem in power
  •  Diem supporters only saw situation in military terms
  •  Comm's. had decent support in South alrdy - even Diem army contained opponents
  • 1961 U.S supporting unpopular regime in South.
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Why did the U.s get involved and remain in Vietnam

  • several presidents involved in trying/failing to defeat Comm in Vietnam - quagmire theory developed - ignorance of Vietnamese people+overconfidence in U.S power leaders let U.S get gradually trapped
  •  alternate theory - stalemate theory - U.S escalated not to win but to avoid being seen as losing by American voters
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Bao Dai's unpopularity and Ho's popularity

  • French puppet never popular
  •  1951 U.S official said his gov. "has no appeal whatsoever to the masses"
  •  HCM a patriot who cared about the normal people of Vietnam
  •  fairer redistribution of land+education+healthcare programmes helped win over peasantry
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Vietnamese rebel strength

  • Elusive and determined
  •  guerilla tactics used geography of country
  •  Vietminh use surprise attacks then retreat into west vietnam jungle/mountains
  •  China supplied HCM with weapons
  •  Vietminh fought for inspiring cause: freedom of their country
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