vietnam flashcards


background- before and during ww2

  • Before outbreak of WW2, Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) was a french colony.
  • During WW2, Indochina was taken over by the Japanese however they ruled brutally and anti-Japanese sentiment was high.
  • the Japanese rule was callled The Vietminh and they disagreed with the french.
  • in 1945, the french wanted to get Indochina back but Ho Chi Minh (who was the leader of the new state of north vietnam) wasn't prepared to let this happen.
  • subsequently, 9 years followed between the Vietminh and the French.
  • the Vietminh were supported by China who had just become communist under Mao Zedong. the Americans saw the Vietminh as pupppets of China so they helped the french by pouring $500 million into the French war effort.
  • However, the french were still unable to hold onto the country.
  • The French underestimated the strength of the Vietminh, who were helped by both China and the USSR.
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French involvement and Bien Dien Phu

  • During the 9 years war between the french and the vietminh, the french bulit a base at bien dien phu to protect laos as well as acting as a decoy.
  • The Vietminh surrounded it.
  • the french were confident that they could defend it due to their airpower however, they experienced many problems with that.
  • the Vietminh repeatedly attacked the base until they captured it.
  • this led to the geneva conference and a divided vietnam as well as increased tenisons.
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the geneva conference

  • after bien dien phu, in may 1954, britain, france china, the USSR, the USA and vietnam met in geneva, switzerland.
  • they agreed on a withdrawal of french troops, the creation of a ceasefire and a new territorial settlement.
  • the new countries of Laos and Cambodia were formed
  • North vietnam (communist) and south vietnam (non communist) however this was supposed to be temporary. 
  • the dividing line was the 17th parallel, with a demilitarised zone at that point.
  • it was intended that there would be elections to decide the future government across the whole of Vietnam in 1956.
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domino theory

  • domino theory was the idea of communism being spread one country after another, like a chain of dominoes.
  • this led to the truman doctrine, which was president harry truman's foreign policy against the spread of communism and the marshall plan which gave aid to european countries so they dont become communist.
  • this was the major ideal behind the cold war as the USA was capitalist and the USSR was communist and both wanted to spread their own political ideals and led to involvement from both sides in 'proxy wars'
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supporting and overthrowing Diem

  • ngo dinh diem was put in charge of south vietnam by the usa in 1954 and he ruled with an iron fist until 1963.
  • he was very corrupt claiming 605,000 votes in the 1956 elections from saigon even though 450,000 people were allowed to vote from there and the elections were abandoned.
  • he was a rich catholic whilst ost south vietnamese people were poor buddhists. so this caused people to protest as he persecuted buddhists which led to things like the burning monk.
  • he coined the term viet cong to describe the national liberation front's soldiers that were coming in their masses to start a guerilla war against him.
  • he was eventually overthrown and killed by the USA as he was so unpopular with the south vitnamese people even though they put him in charge in the first place.
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military advisors and strategic hamlets

  • under president eisenhower, the usa started sending 'military advisors' to help the south vietnamese against the north.
  • this was adopted again by kennedy and he sent them as 'advisors' as full out military intervention was a bad idea.
  • led by diem's government, funded by the US, the south vietnamese governmentset up 'strategic hamlets'.
  • this is where they took villages that were near the 'vietcong' and moved them to walled villages that were surrounded by barbed wire and and guarded by non communist guards.
  • these were a failure and didnt work for a number of reasons. 
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the gulf of tonkin incident and military involveme

  • this happened between the 2nd and the 4th of august 1964.
  • on the second, the North vietnamese attacked the US ship, the USS Maddox.
  • on the 4th, US ships, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy reported another north attack however, no sailor or pilot at the time said they saw anything.
  • this let johnson pass the gulf of tonkin resolution and let him make the US go to war with viet cong on the side of south vietnam.
  • the US found it very hard to fight the viet cong's guerilla tactics and struggled in the conditions.
  • with all of the US' firepower, you can't kill an enemy that you can't see/ find.
  • this was also to do with the Ho Chi Minh trail which let the north get themselves supplies without being found by the americans.
  • as well as this, the viet cong were exceptionally good at setting booby traps which inluded the likes of punji sticks and trip wires.
  • this led to the defeat of the US and of south vietnam.
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