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  • Created by: Caitlin
  • Created on: 29-04-13 18:15


  • Japanese control is South East Asia after WW2
  • Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam leads resistance against Japan
  • 1945      Japan defeated by Vietnamese  - independence for the Democratic Republic of                Vietnam (DRV)
  • 1948      British assist in Malaya to try and stop communism spreading
  • 1954      French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, splits Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh controls the north              and the french control the south
  • 1954      US president Eisenhower creates SEATO (South East Asia Treaty                                Organisation) in attempt to stop communism spreading in Asia
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Key terms/ things to remember for exam : )

  • Viet Minh -- Vietnamese nationalist group led by Ho Chi Minh in the north
  • Domino theory -- idea of communism spreading in Eastern Asia
  • Geneva Accords -- agreement which split Vietnam in 2
  • SEATO -- The South East Asian Treaty Organisation
  • Malayan Emergency -- Conflict in Malaya
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France and Britain's involvement?

  • French Indochina -- french territories in South East Asia -- included Laos and Cambodia (bordering countries of Vietnam)
  • British used to control Burma, Singapore and Malaysia
  • South East Asia economically important to France and Britain -- resources, raw materials and trade

1. During WW1, France and Britain unable to hold onto Vietnam -- Japanese take control

2. 1941     Viet Minh established (nationalist group) by Ho Chi Minh to resist Japanese rule

3. Ho Chi Minh a communist and nationalist -- wanted independence for Vietnam

4. Ironically the US supplied the Viet Minh with weapons to fight the Japanese

5. 1945    Ho declares independence, establishes Democratic Republic of Vietnam - hopes                  US will support him

6. French want their land back -- allies with the US who turn against Ho

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The start of the war 1946-1954

1. France v. Viet Minh

2. Viet Minh use guerrilla tactics -- used to defeat Japanese

3. General Giap led DRV (Democratic Republic of Vietnam)

  • 1954      French defeated at Dien Bien Phu 
  • French try to stop Viet Minh entering Laos and stop supplies reaching the DRV from China
  • Also wanted to lure the Viet Minh onto a battle field -- couldn't adapt to guerrilla tactics
  • Viet Minh suprise French -- dismantle heavy artillery to move uphill
  • French suffered huge losses -- forced to admit defeat -- left in 1956

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President Truman and the French

  • Ho Chi Mihn hopes for US support -- prove the UN works -- they were being 'victimised' by French and Japanese
  • US saw Vietnam as a communist country -- believed Vietnam being controlled by USSR and China -- another proxy war???
  • Truman supplies French with $500 million in aid and military equipment to fight the French
  • Fall of China to communism in 1949 -- US convinced communism spreading
  • By opposing Ho, Truman thinks he is opposing Stalin and Mao -- containing communism
  • 1949      Elysée Accords -- gives Vietnam independence in finances, army and foreign                  policy
  • France part of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) -- Truman wants to keep relationship strong -- worries of USSR in Europe -- France and Britain US's stepping stone into the EU
  • Domestic pressure -- Truman blamed for loss of China in 1949 -- McCarthyism and the 'Red Scare'
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President Eisenhower and the French

  • 1952       Eisenhower elected as President
  • Continued to economically support the French
  • Domino Theory created -- defending countries from communists
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Significance of the Geneva Accords 1954

  • May 1954
  • France, Viet Minh, Cambodia, Laos, the US, the USSR, China, Britain and Bao Dai's south Vietnam government met in Geneva
  • Viet Minh to control the north
  • Bao Dai to control the south, supported by the French
  • Elections to be held in 1956 -- lead to unification of the country
  • Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) created -- like the 38th parallel in Korea -- spliting Vietnam in two
  • US and South Vietnam do not sign the Accords -- gives them a 'free hand'

What happened??

1.1955     Ngo Dinh Diem rigged election -- becomes Prime Minister

2. Diem and US aware of Ho's popularity -- knew he would win election -- refuse to hold             elections

3. Diem and US happy to have the country split than have it as another communist country

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Significance of SEATO

  • 1954     Eisenhower creates SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation)
  • Allianced aimed to contain communism
  • US, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines sign Manila Pact
  • SEATO = a military alliance
  • South Vietnam not a member of SEATO -- US promised military protection under Manila Pact
  • Used this as an 'excuse' to authorise military action in South Vietnam
  • 1964      Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
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Escalation: Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson

  • US support for Diem's corrupt and unpopular government (1955-1963)
  • Increased US commitment to Vietnam -- increased numbers of military advisers and aid
  • By November 1963 both Diem and Kennedy had been assassinated -- Diem killed by South Vietnam Army who hated him
  • Johnson succeeds Kennedy in 1963
  • 1964       Gulf of Tonkin Incident -- US adamant this is a communist attack on US                         warships
  • Johnson sends in aircraft and troops into south Vietnam
  • 1968       Viet Minh launch the Tet Offensive
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Eisenhower and Diem

  • Diem's regime repressive, corrupt and unpopular with South Vietnamese people
  • US couldn't find suitable alternative
  • Eisenhower provides Diem with $7 billion of aid between 1955-1961 to prepare for invasion of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA)
  • Diem regime involved executing thousands of South Vietnamese communists to prove he was anti-communist
  • 1959      Agroville programme -- pack peasants into concentrated settlements away from              communists, reveal Viet Cong hiding places -- unpopular because people had to              leave their homes, land and graves of their family members -- religion
  • Diem was a Catholic, most Vietnamese people Buddhists -- resent Catholic elite
  • 1960      National Liberation Front formed in South Vietnam -- united communists,                        nationalists and Buddhists who hated Diem
  • NLF also consisted of the People's Liberation Armed Forces (Viet Cong)
  • Ho Chi Minh strengthens his political and military power in North Vietnam -- preparing to attack the south
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Eisenhower's involvement

  • Eisenhower decides to send in 1500 US advisers and personnel into South Vietnam -- help train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)
  • Not prepared to commit ground troops -- no rush to get into another Asian war after Korea
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Kennedy and communism

  • 1960       Kennedy elected as President -- just won over Nixon
  • Strong against communism -- had to make the Democratic Party look tough on communism
  • Supporter of the idea of containment - criticised Truman when he 'lost' China in 1949
  • Believed in the domino theory -- had to support Diem's corrupt regime
  • Kennedy saw Ho Chi Minh as a communist rather than a nationalist leader -- thinks Ho taking orders from China/USSR
  • Agrees with US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara -- Vietnam problem can only be solved with military force -- Kennedy prepared to escalate US involvement in South east Asia
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Kennedy and other conflicts

1. Cuba:

  • Becomes communist country in 1959 -- less than 100 miles away from the US
  • 1961      Bay of Pigs invasion -- an attack on Cuba under Fidel Castro

2. Laos

  • After French withdrawal, Laos likely to turn communist
  • Reluctant to intervene after Cuba attack -- worried of war with China
  • 1962        Geneva Accords -- Laos to remain neutral
  • North Vietnamese used Laos to launch attacks on South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh trail)

After failure in Cuba and Laos, Kennedy had desire to come down on communism

Didn't want to be criticised for 'losing' Vietnam like Truman and 'lost' China

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Kennedy's escalation 1961-1963

  • Urged to commit ground troops in South Vietnam -- reluctant -- sends in more advisers
  • Numbers of advisers increased from 12k in 1962 ----- 16k in 1963
  • US advisers train ARVN to fight Vietcong guerrillas
  • Committed air support for the ARVN -- helicopters alert Vietcong
  • Vietcong continued to be successful in South Vietnam regardless of financial aid

1. 1962        Operation Ranch Hand -- involves spraying defoliants and herbicides on forests                    and crops to destroy Vietcong hiding places and reduce food -- chemicals                            responsible for cancer, liver disease, birth defects???

  • Oct 1963           Before his death, he was going to withdraw 1000 military advisers from                            SV???
  • Kennedy's increased financial and military aid to Vietman made it difficult for Johnson to pull out -- no President wanted to 'lose' Vietnam
  • By allowing Diem to be overthrown, it committed Johnson to politically support SV
  • Kennedy uncertain about what to do in Vietnam before his death???
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Diem's regime out of hand

  • Increasing brutal and imcompetent
  • 1961        Agrovilles replaced by strategic hamlets programme 

1. Strategic Hamlets:

  • smaller than argrovilles
  • scale much larger than agroville programme - by July 1963 over 7k hamlets created
  • too many hamlets made -- inadequately defended
  • programme corrupt -- ARVN unwilling to defend hamlets after dark

2. May 1963          Diem bans the flying of Buddhist religious flags -- causing protests

3. June 1963         73 year old Buddhist monk burns himself alive in Saigon

3. US believe that Diem wasn't right to lead South Vietnam

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Diem's assassination

  • January 1963          Battle of Ap Bac -- 2000 ARVN troops engage with 200 Vietcong --                                ARVN troops refuse to attack
  • Late 1963               ARVN generals and troops plan a coup against Diem - US                                            Ambassadors aware of the plot
  • Nov 1963                Diem murdered along with his brother
  • Nov 1963                Kennedy also assassinated
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Johnson's war

  • Johnson became president after Kennedy's assassination in 1963
  • Largely interested in domestic issues in America -- civil rights
  • Inherited a difficult situation in Vietnam (idea of a quagmire)
  • Felt too committed into Vietnam to pull out
  • Running for election in 1964 -- want to win for himself
  • China increasingly supporting Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese communists
  • Vietnamese (Viet Cong) control 40% of rural are in South Vietnam
  • ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) low morale and desertion levels increasing
  • Johnson wants approval from Congress to bomb North Vietnam
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Gulf of Tonkin Incident

  • 2nd August 1964 -- US Navy ship (USS Maddox) attacked by North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin -- supposedly attacked again
  • Reported to the White House
  • Congress pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution -- giving Johnson the power to repel attacks -- take pressure off Saigon by bombing the north
  • March 1965 -- Operation Rolling Thunder -- bombing campaign that lasted till 1968 -- aim to destroy the north's industrial economy and cut off suplly routes from China
  • Little impact on guerilla warfare tactics -- economy rural -- didn't cut off routes
  • 1965 -- Operation Steel Tiger -- targets Ho Chi Minh trail -- trail wasn't broken
  • Many bombs faild to explode -- North Vietnamese supplied with bombs to attack the ARVN
  • March 1965 -- combat troops sent to defend airbase at Da Nang
  • Operation Rolling Thunder enxtended
  • Commit further 125,000 troops in July 1965
  • End of 1966 = 385,000 troops in Vietnam
  • end of 1967 = 500,000 troops
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  • Guerilla warfare = raids, ambushes and sabotage
  • Vietcong used hidden traps in the jungle to inflict casualties -- triggered tripwire, covered pits, bamboo spikes, underground tunnels to hide from Americans when they napalmed
  • Vietcong blend in with South Vietnamese villagers -- US attack innocent people -- lose hearts and minds of people
  • US used search and destroy tactics -- killing enemy troops and destroying villages that supported them
  • US see war as war of attrition -- kill as many as possible -- Westmoreland focus of kill ratios to show US winning the war
  • US not used to Jungle Warfare in hot, humid, wet conditions
  • US fighting out of element -- Vietnamese fighting for homeland (wanted it more)
  • US soldier service short -- gain no experience fighting
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Napalm and Agent Orange

  • Napalm stuck to objects and people -- burned at high temperatures
  • Used as a defoliate -- burn the jungle to see enemy
  • Agent Orange a defoliant -- destroys trees and plant life -- harmful effects on civilians (deformaties)
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The Tet Offensive 1968

  • January 1968, NVA and Vietcong launch attack
  • 80,000 Vietcong attack Saigon
  • Most of ARVN troops on leave or enjoying Tet Festival
  • Saigon captured in 3 days
  • Weeks of house-to-house fighting to get city of Hue
  • Massacre of Hue -- reported on negatively by U.S. press
  • By end of the Tet Vietcong lost 60,000 men, US lost 4,000 and ARVN 2,000
  • Vietcong severely weakened
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Public turning point of Tet Offensive

  • Tet Offensive had a negative impact on US public opinion -- although US had weakened the Vietcong
  • Showed on television Vietcong attacking US embassy in Saigon -- didn't look like they were winning like Westmoreland had told
  • Pursuaded many Americans the war couldn't be won -- anti-war protests
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Difficulties for Johnson

  • US troops losing disipline -- fragging/killing own officers -- deserting and losing morale
  • Morale worsened by anti-war movement back home -- no support
  • Felt they were risking their lives for no reason -- shouldn't be in Vietnam
  • Worsened by an invisible enemy -- wanted revenge
  • Some soldiers commit atrocities like the massacre at My Lai
  • South Vietnam had no real government for 4 years after Diem's death
  • US has little support from allies -- Britain and France refuse to support like in Korea
  • Anti-war movement in the US growing 1966 -- MLK speaks against the war, protest of 100,000 people
  • Opposition to drafting (conscription)
  • Media go against the war -- Walter Cronkite
  • March 1986 New York Times says Westmoreland asks for 200,000 more men -- very unpopular
  • Johnson doesn't run for re-election
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Peace with Honour: Nixon

  • Nixon elected in 1968 -- promised to withdraw from Vietnam -- no previous ties to the war
  • Changed US tactics -- Vietnamisation
  • Extended the war in Cambodia and Laos -- although supposedly pulling out?
  • Spoke with USSR and China to encouraged North Vietnam to agree peace -- huge bombing on the North
  • Peace agreemnt signed January 1973 -- Saigon fell in 1975
  • Nixon Doctrine -- military and economic assistance to allies, wouldn't supply manpower
  • 'Madman Theory' - wanted enemies to believe he was dangerous -- nuclear weapons
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New US tactics in Vietnam

  • Clear and hold replaced search and destroy
  • Operation Pheonix -- capturing National Liberation Front (NLF) organisers
  • Vietnamisation -- training ARVN
  • Extends war into Cambodia and Laos
  • South Vietnam under threat again -- after peace signed in 1973 American troops begin to leave
  • Saigon falls in 1975
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The end of the Vietnam War

  • My Lai Massacre outrage -- war corrupting American soldiers
  • Student Protests at Kent State Uni - National Guards open fire on protesters -- 4 students killed -- triggered further riots
  • Congress cutting military spending
  • Pentagon Papers -- showed Kennedy and Johnson misled public, doubts on attacks in Gulf of Tonkin -- tricked into war?
  • North Vietnam in no hurry to sign peace -- wait for antiwar protestes in America and Congressional cuts -- force America to sign peace at any price
  • Nixon gains relations with China and USSR - reduce North Vietnamese support
  • China and USSR fallen out in 1960s (sino-soviet split)
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Finally, the aftermath

  • US lost 58,000 men
  • 300,000 wounded
  • Vietnam's population davastated -- 3 million died
  • Most northern cities destroyed from bombing
  • Napalm and Agent Orange harmed many civilians -- caused deformaties
  • Large areas of south vietnam countryside ruined
  • Returning servicemen suffered physical and psychological trauma
  • Growing drug culture
  • Atmosphere of pessimisn
  • South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos fall to communism in March 1975
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thanks so much!


Thank you!!


This is a really great summary, and is perfect for anyone studying Vietnam. I'd give it a full 10 out of 10! Amazing!

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