US involvement in Vietnam


Why did the Cold War start after WW2?

1917- Russia had communist revelution. Needed strong goverment but clashed with capatalist  beliefs of property ownership and democracy.                                         USSR (communist Russia) and USA allied agaisnt Hitler during WW2. Tension came from what to do with territory liberated from Nazis. Everdent at Potsdam comeference in July 1945 when president Truman boasted to Stalin that USA had tested atomic bombs this was the beggining of the Cold War.

1949-USSR tested first nucleur bomb. Same year France, Belgium, Britain, USA,  and Canada set up defence organisation called NATO. Mao Zedong (Chinease leader) declared peoples republic of China(communist) followed long running civil war between communists and nationalists who supported equiptment and weapons by the USA.

USSR claimed countries and turned them into satalite states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Zechoslovakia and Romania) became known as eastern block. Churchill said Europe divided by iron curtain.

America feared communist takeover of europe, 1947 Truman Doctrine-USA plege of money and military aid to any country threatened with communist takeover. Policy called "Containment".

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Causes of the Korean War

Tension building between USSR and USA since 1945 becuase Cold War began and US had atomic weapons.

By 1945 tension high because China became communist and UN security council refused to reconise them. USSR walked out in protest, also tested nuclear weapons.

 Stalin humiliated in Berlin Blockade by the USA/Britain.

1950- North Korea invaded South because US troops left. UN security council votes to send troops to aid South Korea.

 The USSR couldnt stop them as they had walked out over Chinas ban from UN.

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End of Korean War

Peace talks began in June 1951 as no side could win.

Truman replaced Eisenhoover and Stalin died hindering possibility of armistice.

Armistice signed in March 1953.

UN suffered 30,000 casualties, USA had 30,000 also. China had over a million.

1.3 casualties (equal North and South) 1 in 10 civilians killed.

The boarder remained on the 38th parallel.

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Developments in the Korean War

China was communist but had anti communist countrys on their border. Didn't want to be threatend by non communists, UN forces approached the Yalu River and China joined the war.

China had more troops than US and US retreated (largest retreat in US history) because of morale collapse, winter, death or equiptment failure.

General Mcarthur was sacked because he didnt have the skills or up to date weaponary.

Peace talks began in 1951 but continued for 2 years becuase of changes of leadership, agreed in 1953 july but no treaty. 38th parrellel stayed.

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Causes of Veitnam War

During WW2 Indochina was ruled by France. Then France was defeated by the Nazis and Indochina invaded by the Japenease.

This led to growing support for Ho Chi Minh as he organised a resistance movement against the Jananease.

After Japan was defeated in 1945 France wanted to regain controll of Indochina because France lost all their colonies and were devestated by WW2.

This led to a war against France and Ho Chi Minh because France wanted Indochina back.

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Causes of increased US involvement- French withdra

1954- French loosing war as Vietnam controlled most rural areas and used Guerilla tactics. The French then decided to trick the Vietminh into a set peice battle in the middle of Vietminh territory in North Vietnamease jungle.

The French dropped troops and supplies to a base at Dien Bien Phu but surrounded by guns and fighters. 50,000 French planes attacked supply routes but hampered by weather and anti-aircraft guns.

The Vietminh destroyed base runways and French ran out of medical supplies and water. After 57 days of fighting 3000 French killed, 8000 wounded and Vietminh losses of 8000 dead and 12000 wounded but French surrendered.

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Causes of increased US involvement-after French wi

Geneva Accords-1954. US agreed to dividing up Vietnam and were worried Ho Chi Minh would win the election. USA backed new leader Diem although he persucuted Buddhists and used violence but he was overthrown in 1960 becuase he wasn't an effective leader, he and his brother were shot. The USA started a properganda war from 1954 until 1960 against the North and Chinease killed civilians.

1960-1963- Strategic Hamlets led by Diems goverment and CIA designed to stop the Vietcong winning. President Kennedy elected in 1961-1963, increased military advisers sent to South army (soldiers sent to aid the nation with military training and organisation).

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Johnson's war- reasons for for US military involve

President Johnson 1964-1964 promised to prevent Vietcong victory.

Official Explanation: The Gulf of Tonkin incident, 3rd August US ships Maddox and Turnerjoy enetered Gulf of Tonkin and North Vietnam launched torpedo attack. 5th August 1964 President Johnson and Congress passed Gulf of Tonkin saying act of war would mean retaliation by attacking North Vietnam on the ground.

Declassified everdence: America wanted to attack the North but needed an exuse to avoid negative publicity. Johnson was advised that South Vietnam would fall to communism soon. The captain of the Maddox immediatly contacted Mc Namara to tell him they hadn't actually been fired on but this was ignored.

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Johnson's War-tactics of the Vietcong/Vietnamase a

Weapons and Uniform: didn't wear uniform. Soviet AK-47 riffle, reliable and accurate even if been  underwater. Only carry a ration of rice and live of donations from villagers.                       Punji traps:sharpened bamboo steaks covered in leaves and smeared with excrement to infect US. Bamboo would go through army boot of damage limbs.                       Hanging onto their belts: staying in temporary camps along the Ho Chi MInh trail to stay very close to the Americans and ambush them.                                             Guerilla Warfare: no base camps or headquaters. Work in small, well armed groups and follow basic principles: retreat when enemy attacks, attack when enemy retreats, attack enemy camps whenever you can. Tactics designed to destroy morale of enemy.

Ho Chi Minh Trail: series of tunnels, paths, tracks and roads to keep N Vietcong in the S supplied with 60 tonnes daily of weapons, equiptment and food. Ran through Laos, Cambodia and thick jungle so US couldnt find the trail. advanced network 15000 kilometers. 10 routes between 2 different points.

Tunnels: underground to avoid detection. Stretched over 300 kilometers under jungles. contained workshops, hospitals, kitchens, houses and conference rooms. Ingeniously booby trapped to stop US soldiers enetering. 

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Johnson's War- tactics of US army

Hightech Warefare: B52 bombers, artilery, helicopters (transport plantoons and air ambulance), napalm, and defoliants (Agent Orange). killed many civilians but failed to stop Veitcong.

Search and Destroy "Zippo Raids": US and Vietnamease (ARVN) patrols looking for Vietcong. via helicopter. "Zippo Raids" burn villages and My Lai Massacure of peaceful villagers in 1968. US and ARVN soldiers even more unpopular in South.

Chemical Warefare "Defoliants": destroy jungle cover for Vietcong. "Agent Orange" weed killer 8.2 million litres used. "Agent Blue" destroyed crops so Vietcong wouldnt have enough to eat.

Napalm: type of bomb that exploded and showered victims with petroleum jelly, attached onto skin and produced 5th degree burns at 800 degrees. Most victims died.

Operation Rolling Thunder: 1965-1969 daily bombing campaign on the North. Cost of damage: $300 million. Cost of US aircrafts: $900 million. Didnt stop Ho Chi Minh trail. Launched from bases in Thailand. 300 tonnes for every women, child and man were dropped.

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Johnson's War- why America struggled to win

Unpopular military tactics: America tried to win the war from the air, the lack of sensitivity and their brutal tactics meant they turned to Vietnamease people against them. Napalm cleared the undergrowth but stuck to humans and caused horrific injuries. Agent Orange meant the civilians lost their farms and crops and killed their animals.

Strategic Hamlets: to prevent Veitcong from hiding in the villages the Americans put the peasants away from their villages and settled them in "Strategic Hamlets". They were surrounded by barbed wire and controlled by the US. The peasants opposed to this as they were far away from their burial grounds and farms wich they had tended for generations.

Operation Rolling Thunder: 1965-1968 US bombed targets in the North but weren't many industrial targets so innefective, the bombs often missed targets and hit schools and hospitals.

Search and Destroy missions: US dropped in by helicopter and killed who they thought was a Vietcong. Millions of innocent civilians killed. My Lai massacure in 1968 ended lives of many civilians including women and children. Vietnamease civilians constanly killed in crossfire began to question if US army was really on their side. US troops became very unpopular.

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Turning points- The My Lai massacure

March 1968

Charlie company (US) set to find Vetcong suspects in countryside after Tet Offence. They killed between 300-500 unarmed women, old men and children. Put the people in ditches and shot them from 10-15 weeks away.  Sense the US soldiers had lost touch with reality (drug usage high) and they wanted revenge for previous losses in their country.

Initially story reported as victory for US. Some witnesses began to speak out. Journalist Seymour Hersh tracked down Lieutenant Calley (who ordered many of the shootings and was being protected by the US army.

The story broke in November 1969.

Calley was the only soldier involved who was convicted (3 years).

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Turning points-The Tet Offensive

January 1968. Tet Offensive was a military victory for the US. US deaths were 1,500 and ARVN had nearly double at 2800. Vietcong losses were 45,000 and 170,000 casualties.

The Vietcong held US Embassy for 6 hours and it was shown on TV.

Walter Cronkites (US) said "What the hell is going on, i thought we were winning this war?" and Hue was held for 25 days. Point-Blank range shooting shocked American people.

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Nixon's War

"Peace with honour"

Vietnameasation: training up ARVN to fight Vietcong whilst US soldiers withdrew. It was introduced because the American people didn't want their family members to keep being drafted. By 1971 400,000 of 500,000 troops had been withdrawn from Vietnam and 50% of adult males in South Vietnam joined ARVN. 

Cambodia and Laos: were bombed by America because the US targetted the Ho Chi Minh trail to stop supplies getting through. Nixon decided to keep this a secret to avoid international outrage.  intended to pressurise North Vietnam but instead North Vietnam withdrew from Cambodia.

In 1970 the USSR and USA both agreed to reduce amounts of nuclear weapons. In 1972 Nixon became the first president to visit communist China.

Peace Negotiations: in September 1969 secret peace negotiations began, later known as Paris peace talks. The American negotiator of state Henry Kissenger met with Wi Duc Tho from North Vietnam. The central issue which they couldn't agree on was if Vietnam should be united or not.

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Ending the War-Anti War movement and protest.

"Draft"- people began to question wheater it was worth it as their sons, farthers and brothers were drafted. The draft law hit the African Americans hardest. Many middle classed Americans opposed the war because by 1967 the death rate increased to 160 per week.

Civil Rights Movement- fought for more fights for African Americans as they were often given the worst posting and assignments as they were new recruits. Muhammad Ali had boxing title revoked for refusing to fight in the war.

Youth- in the 1960s student protest movements began in California but spread to all major cities and universities across US by 1968.

Pacafists- many believed war was morally wron. Mass protests across USA including Washington in December 1969. Singers wrote anti-war songs that critisised Vietnan War. Bob Dylan wrote "Masters of War" and John Lennon wrote "Give Peace A Chance".

Political- American Goverment spent vast amounts of money on war that could have been spent on domestic problems. Some politicians who at the beggining supported the war, like McNamara began to turn against American Involvement.

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Ending the war-impact of the media and Kent State

Kent State- May 4th four peaceful student demonstrators were shot dead in Kent State University Ohio, by Ohio National Guardsmen during a noon time campus anti-war protest, known as Kent State Massacure. The protest took place because of family members and friends were being drafted.

First televised War. Reported by Journalists who went to Vietnam in search of stories. Images of civilians being killed, maimed, and tourtured were shown on TV and in newspapers. This turned many Americans against the was as they were horrified.

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Ending the war- process of withdrawal

Impact of the Wartergate Scandal-Richard Nixon first president in history of America to resign following impeachment. Accused of misconduct whilst in charge of country, happened as a result of involvement in Watergate. Day after Nixon resigned Gerald Ford became President of America and he promised to clean up goverment after Watergate Scandal, kept most of Nixons workers. Ford critisised for giving Nixon a pardon for his part in Watergate. People of America lost trust in goverment because of scandal. In 1976 Jimmy Carter became president and tried to regain peoples trust, gave jobs to women and black people. Criticized for high price of petrol due to oil crisis and way he dealt with situation involving hostages in iran in 1979.

Nixon anti-communist. Didn't want nucleur war. Vietnamisation policy introduced (AKA Nixon Doctrine) in a speech on July 25th 1969. Building up capacity of armed forces of Americans alliesin Vietnam until they could take responsibility for their own defence. Meant USA began process of withdrawal whilst strenghtening South Vietnamease army with aim of getting it to take over the war against communism.

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Ending the war-impact of the war.

War ended 30th April 1975.

Effects on Vietnam: 500,000 civilians died. Agent Orange caused birth defects in children and chemical still in water and has negative effects. Country reunified after communist takeover of the South in 1976. Before the war Vietnam was major rice exporter, destruction of land meant they couldn't produce enough food for the population. Many skilled professional workers connected to South regime left country in fear of being persecuted. Communist forces established concentration camps for enemies of communism and supporters of South Vietnamease Goverment where many were sent to be re-educated.

Effects on America: across world reputation ruined and critised for supporting corrupt goverment and world saw how brutal American tactics were. Approximately 58,000 American soldiers killed and another 153,000 wounded. During war US spent $828 billion on military. From 1965 it spent more than $50 billion per year. The additional spending to fund USA involvement estimated at $111 billion. Over 100,000 troops lost limbs and needed treatment, "Draft dodgers" treated badly and some fled country, troops returning from war were ill-treatedby civilians.

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