Us involvement in Vietnam

Why did the Cold War start after WW2?

  • Lots of Ideological diffrences e.g With the Emergence of communism, Capitalist America and Communist Russia had very diffrent views
  • The Soviet Union's fear of America's Nuclear weapons and refuasl to share their nuclear secrets
  • During World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union fought together as allies against the Axis powers. However, the relationship between the two nations was a tense one. Americans had long been wary of Soviet communism and concerned about Russian leader Joseph Stalin’s tyrannical, blood-thirsty rule of his own country. For their part, the Soviets resented the Americans’ decades-long refusal to treat the USSR as a legitimate part of the international community as well as their delayed entry into World War II, which resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of Russians.
  • Postwar Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe fueled many Americans’ fears of a Russian plan to control the world. Meanwhile, the USSR came to resent what they perceived as American officials’ arms buildup and interventionist approach to international relations. In such a hostile atmosphere, no single party was entirely to blame for the Cold War; in fact, some historians believe it was inevitable.
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Causes of the Korean War-why did war start in 1950

The Korean War (1950-1953) began when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel*and invaded non-Communist South Korea. As Kim Il-sung's North Korean army, armed with Soviet tanks, quickly overran South Korea, the United States came to South Korea's aid.

*(the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south.)

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Why did the Korean War end in a stalemate in 1953?

  • (October 1950) Not wanting a US-backed state on its border, China invaded Korea and drove the UN forces back below the 38th parallel. General MacArthur called for the use of atomic weapons to defend Korea but this was denied by President Truman and MacArthur was sacked.
  • (June 1951) More UN troops were deployed to Korea and the communists were eventually driven back to the 38th parallel. The war became a stalemate. The war then took to the skies, where American and Soviet pilots fought for a further two years. The Soviet pilots were dressed in Chinese uniforms flying planes with Chinese markings. The aerial battles were kept secret from the US population in case they demanded all-out war with the USSR.
  • (November 1952) Republican General Dwight D. Eisenhower won the US presidential election, promising he would go to Korea to see how the war could be ended.
  • (July 1953) An armistice (a formal agreement made by groups or countries at war to stop fighting) was signed at Panmunjom on the 38th parallel, which left Korea divided as it had been in 1950, and still is today.
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What was the impact of the Korean war?

The aftermath of the Korean Was set the tone for Cold War tension between all the superpowers. The Korean War was important in the development of he Cold War, as it showed that the two superpowers, United States and Soviet Union, could fight a "limited war" in a third world country. The "limited war" or "proxy war" stratergy was a feture of conflicts such as the Vitenam War.

The war devistated Korea. Historeans said that between three and four million people were killed,although firm figures have never been produced, particularly by the North Korean government. As many as 70 percent of the dead may have been civilians. Destruction was particularly bad in the North, which was subjected to years of American bombing, including with napalm. Roughly 25 percent of its prewar population was killed.

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Why were the french involved in Indochina?

From the late 1800's to 1954, Vietnam was part of a French colony called French Indochina. When the French first became interested in Indochina French missionaries sought to convert the Vietnamese to Catholicism, the religion of France.

France obtained control over northern Vietnam following its victory over China in the Sino-French War (1884–85). French Indochina was formed on 17 October 1887 from Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina (which together form modern Vietnam) and the Kingdom of Cambodia; Laos was added after the Franco-Siamese War in 1893.

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French withdrawal after Dien Bien Phu.

Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces decisively defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu, a French stronghold besieged by the Vietnamese communists for 57 days. The Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu signaled the end of French colonial influence in Indochina and cleared the way for the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel at the conference of Geneva.

In November 1953, the French, weary of jungle warfare, occupied Dien Bien Phu, a small mountain outpost on the Vietnamese border near Laos. Although the Vietnamese rapidly cut off all roads to the fort, the French were confident that they could be supplied by air. The fort was also out in the open, and the French believed that their superior artillery would keep the position safe.

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Vietnam after French withdrawal after Dien Bien Ph

Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam fell after a four month siege led by Vietnamese nationalist Ho Chi Minh. After the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the French pulled out of the region. Concerned about regional instability, the United States became increasingly committed to countering communist nationalists in Indochina. The United States would not pull out of Vietnam for another twenty years.

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Reasons for USforce involvement in Viet after 1964

In early August 1964, two U.S. destroyers stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam radioed that they had been fired upon by North Vietnamese forces. In response to these reported incidents, President Lyndon B.Johnson requested permission from the U.S. Congress to increase the U.S. military presence in Indochina. On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing President Johnson to take any measures he believed were necessary to retaliate and to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia. This resolution became the legal basis for the Johnson and Nixon Administrations prosecution of the Vietnam War.

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Tactics of the Vietcong/ North Vietnamese army

  • Punji traps. (simple devises such as trip wiresor pits filled with sharpend bamboo sticks, sometimes coverd in animal excrement). 
  • Bouncing Betty land mines.(When triggerd, this would be thrown into the air and would exsplode, causing terrible injuries to the stomach and groin.
  • "hanging on to American belts" (America had better airpower so the VC stayed close to the Americans so the airstrikes would be uneffective as they might hit the Americans to)
  • The VC used Guerrilla tactics to counter the lack of firepower
  • They dug big underground tunnel networks to hide in and to use as a safe haven against air attacks
  • Were friendly towards Civilians as to win them over the Civilians offerd help towards the VC becuase of this.
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Tactics of the US army

  • American tactics focused on their air superiority. However they were not very acurate
  • American tactics in Vietnam can be summed up by the acronym BEAST - Bombing, Escalation, Air and artillery, Search and destroy and Technology.
  • EscalationPresident Johnson slowly increased the number of American troops on the ground in Vietnam. In 1965, two battalions of US Marines were deployed to protect military bases at Da Nang
  • Search and Destroy. From 1965, the American military began a policy of sending soldiers into the jungle and villages of Vietnam to ‘take the war to the enemy’. This often meant soldiers were easy targets for Vietcong guerrilla attacks as the Vietcong were far more at home in the jungle than the American soldiers.
  • Technology.The USA relied on high altitude bombers to drop heavy bombs in North Vietnam. They used jets to dump napalm on suspected Vietcong strongholds, and Agent Orange, an ultra-strong defoliant, was used to destroy the jungle cover. Helicopters were used to deploy (search for) and destroy guerrilla combatants. Television propaganda was used in the USA to report the ‘body count’ of estimated Vietcong casualties.
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Reasons why America struggled to win the Viet war

  • The US army had superior conventional weapons but they were ineffective against a country that was not industrialized and an army which employed guerrilla tactics and used the dense jungle as cover.
  • Dedication. North Vietnamese soldiers were dedicated to fighting for independence and for communism. They were fiercely loyal to their leadership, which had already provided land reform in the north. These soldiers were conscripted and served long tours of duty. As a result, the Vietcong became highly experienced and knowledgeable about American tactics.
  • Fighting on familiar ground. The Vietcong had an intricate knowledge of the terrain. They won the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese people by living in their villages and helping them with their everyday lives. Their tunnel systems, booby-traps and jungle cover meant they were hard to find.
  • Foreign support. The North Vietnamese were supplied and supported by China and the Soviet Union. A total of $2 billion was given in aid to the fight against America between 1965-1968. This included 8,000 anti-aircraft guns and 200 anti-aircraft missile sites.
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The Tet Offensive Jan 1968

The Tet Offensive was a huge series of coordinated / suprise attacks by the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong (rebel forces sponsored by North Vietnam) on the South. They attacked cities, towns, and hamlets throughout South Vietnam. It was considered to be a turning point in the Vietnam War.

Over 30 towns and cities were attacked by over 80,000 soldiers. This show of strength convinced many Americans that the war was ‘unwinnable’, especially after the capture of the US Embassy in Saigon. 

In October 1969, one of the largest protests that America has ever seen was held in Washington, with 250,000 protesting against the war.

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The My Lai massacre

The My Lai massacre was one of the most horrific incidents of violence committed against unarmed civilians during the Vietnam War. A company of American soldiers brutally killed most of the people, women, children and old men in the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. More than 500 people were slaughtered in the My Lai massacre, including young girls and women who were r*ped and mutilated before being killed. U.S. Army officers covered up the carnage for a year before it was reported in the American press, sparking a firestorm of international outrage. The brutality of the My Lai killings and the official cover-up fueled anti-war sentiment and further divided the United States over the Vietnam War.

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Nixon's policies in Viet.Cambodia and Laos, Bombin

  • Invasion of Cambodia. In addition to US troop withdrawals and efforts to prepare and modernise the South Vietnamese army, Nixon's Vietnamization stratergy also featured programs designed to strengthen the South Vietnamese government and exspand its political base in rural areas. He offerd US assistance to help the South Vietnaese officials organise local elections and implement social reforms and economic development initiatives.

At the same time that the Vietnamization plan was put in place, however, the Nixon administration also escalated U.S. military activity in other parts of Southeast Asia. In April 1970, for example, the president secretly authorized bombing campaigns and a ground invasion of Cambodia, a neutral country.

When his expansion of the war came to public attention, Nixon asserted that the incursion into Cambodia was necessary to keep pressure on the enemy until the Vietnamization strategy took root. The president’s actions nonetheless came under harsh criticism and prompted massive anti-war demonstrations across America.

  • Vietnamization was a strategy that aimed to reduce American involvement in the Vietnam War by transferring all military responsibilities to South Vietnam. The increasingly unpopular war had created deep rifts in American society. President Nixon believed his Vietnamization strategy, which involved building up South Vietnam’s armed forces and withdrawing U.S. troops, would prepare the South Vietnamese to act in their own defense against a North Vietnamese takeover and allow the United States to leave Vietnam with its honor intact.
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The Anti-War movement and protest

The movement against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War began small–among peace activists and leftist intellectuals on college campuses–but gained national prominence in 1965, after the United States began bombing North Vietnam in earnest. Anti-war marches and other protests, such as the ones organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), attracted a widening base of support over the next three years, peaking in early 1968 after the successful Tet Offensive by North Vietnamese troops proved that war’s end was nowhere in sight.

The anti-war movement began mostly on college campuses, as members of the leftist organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) began organizing “teach-ins” to express their opposition to the way in which it was being conducted. Though the vast majority of the American population still supported the administration policy in Vietnam, a small but outspoken liberal minority was making its voice heard by the end of 1965. This minority included many students as well as prominent artists and intellectuals and members of the hippie movement, a growing number of young people who rejected authority and embraced the drug culture.

By 1970, thousands of people in the United States were actively protesting the Vietnam War

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The impact of the media including the Kent state

In May 1970, students protesting the bombing of Cambodia by United States military forces, clashed with Ohio National Guardsmen on the Kent State University campus. When the Guardsmen shot and killed four students on May 4, the Kent State Shootings became the focal point of a nation deeply divided by the Vietnam War as some people felt that war was right and others not.

  • As more Am erican households obtained television sets, it became easier for citizens to keep up with the war.
  • By the mid-1960s, it was becoming increasingly clear that the war was not going well for the U.S. and South Vietnam, despite the optimism of official accounts. As reports from the field became increasingly accessible to citizens, public opinion began to turn against U.S. involvement, though many Americans continued to support it. Others felt betrayed by their government for not being truthful about the war. This led to an increase in public pressure to end the war.
  • By early February 1968, a Gallup pollshowed only 32 percent of the population approved of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s handling of the war and 57 percent disapproved (the rest had no opinion).
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The Process of withdrawal from Vietnam

  • Two months after the signing of the Vietnam peace agreement, the last U.S. combat troops leave South Vietnam as Hanoi frees the remaining American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam. America’s direct eight-year intervention in the Vietnam war was at an end. In Saigon, some 7,000 U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees remained behind to aid South Vietnam in conducting what looked to be a fierce and ongoing war with communist North Vietnam. 
  • Finally, in January 1973, representatives of the United States, North and South Vietnam, and the Vietcong signed a peace agreement in Paris, ending the direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. Its key provisions included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the release of prisoners of war,  and the reunification of North and South Vietnam through peaceful means. The South Vietnamese government was to remain in place until new elections were held, and North Vietnamese forces in the South were not to advance further nor be reinfor  ced.
  • In reality gowever, the agreement was little more than a face-saving gesture by the U.S governmant. Even before the last American troops departed on March 29, the communists violated the cease-fire, and by early 1974 full scale war had resumed. At the end of 1972,South Vietnamese authorites reported that 80,000 of their soldiers and civilians had been killed in the fighting during the year, making it the most costly of the Vietnam War.
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Impact of the Vietnam war

  • The most immediate effect of the Vietnam War was the staggering death toll. The war killed an estimated 2 million Vietnamese civilians, 1.1 million North Vietnamese troops, 200,000 South Vietnamese troops, and 58,000 U.S. troops(With a total of 3,358,000). Those wounded in combat numbered tens of thousands more.
  • The massive U.S. bombing of both North and South Vietnam left the country in ruins, and the U.S. Army’s use of herbicides such as Agent Orange not only devastated Vietnam’s natural environment but also caused widespread health problems that have persisted for decades.
  • U.S. government spent around $350 billion to $900 billion on the Vietnam War including veteran benefits and interests, which left a heavy burden on its economy.
  • The news of atrocities such as the My Lai massacre questioned the U.S. claim of moral superiority and its status as the world defender of freedom and right. Together with the Watergate scandal, the war weakened American people’s faith and confidence in their governments. In fact, there was a widespread public distrust of the government, especially in military decisions right after the war. 
  • The Vietnam War also left many long lasting effects on the veterans who had fought hard in the war. Around 700,000 Vietnam veterans suffered psychological after-effects. The Vietnam War thoroughly changed the way the American approaches military actions.
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The impact of the Watergate scandal.

A June 1972 break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters led to an investigation that revealed multiple abuses of power by the Nixon administration.

  • The Watergate scandal began early in the morning of June 17, 1972, when several burglars were arrested in the office of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate complex of buildings in Washington, D.C. This was no ordinary robbery: The prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents. Nixon took aggressive steps to cover up the crime afterwards, and in August 1974, after his role in the conspiracy was revealed, Nixon resigned. The Watergate scandal changed American politics forever, leading many Americans to question their leaders and think more critically about the presidency.
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