Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

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  • Created on: 30-12-12 15:03

Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

American involvement in Vietnam under President's Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnsons:The Origins of the Vietnam War- Before the 2nd World War, Vietnam was ruled by France. In 1942, Japan invaded and occupied Indo-China, the vietnamese were treated brutally. A strong vietnameses resistance movement was set up b Ho Chi Minh. He had lived in Europe and the USA and studied communism in USSR. In August 1945, Japan was defeated and the French returned to rule. But Ho Chi Minh and his communist supporters continued to fight for independance. Depsite American assisstance, the French army was defeated by the Communist at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. A peace trety was signed and the French pulled out. After the French withrawal, Vietnam was divided into two, Communist North Vietnam and non-Communist South Vietnam.

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Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

Why did the USA send troops to South Vietnam?-Under the terms on the 1954 peace treaty which also aimed to unite vietnam and elections were to be held within 2 years. The Americans, led by Eisenhower, were concerned that the Communists might win, so they helped the Anti-Communist, Ngo Din Diem set up the Republic of South Vietnam. Diem's government was corrupt, many of his relatives held positions of power and he refused to hold elections. Vietnamese peasants were treated badly by Diem, and many began supporting the Communist National Liberation front for South Vietnam, known as Vietcong. The Vietcong, supported by Commuist North Vietnam, began a Guerilla War against the South Vietnamese Government. 

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Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

Why did USA send troops to Vietnam-There were several reasons why the US involvement in Vietnam increased. Diem's governement was weak and needed US support if it was to survive. During the Cold War, the US policy was based on the idea of containment. The US therefore supported the French in Vietnam in the 1950's in order to stop the spread of Communism and gain support from his allies.U.S.President Eisenhower and others believed in the Domino theory. They believed that the USSR was trying to spread Communism throughout the world. So if one country was allowed to fall to the Communnists, others would follow.some historians believe that acombinaton of hgh raking offficers and large arms manufacturers actully wanted a war with the USSR.War meant that more money would be spent on arms and equipment. In his last speech in January 1960 Eisenhower warned US people not to let this military industrial complex become too powerful. From 1961, under the leadership of Kennedy, US military support for S. Vietnam increased. In 1961, 16 000 US 'advisors' were sent to assist the S.Vietnamese army. After Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, his successor Johnson sent a large number of combat troops to Vietnam. In August 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats fired on US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. In response, the US congress gave President Johnsons sweeping powere to retaliate. He sent thousnds more troops to fight in the jungles of South Vietnam.

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Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

US tactics during Vietnam War-a) bombing:Strategic- Bombing supply lines and key cities in N.Vietnam was a major part of the US strategy during the War. Bombing the Vietcong+N.Vietnam achieved some objectivse:1) Vietcong supply lines were disrupted and N.Vietnam's industry and military production was badly damaged.2) Extensive bombing of N.Vietnam encouraged Communist leaders to try end the war. But bombing alone couldn't win the war: 1) The N.Vietnamese war effort was disrupted and slowed down but not stopped. Vietcong supply lines continued to operate and S.Vietnamese towns and cities were still attacked. 2) The Vietcong used a system of tunnels and underground passages that bombing did not affect. 3) The cost of it was huuuuuuuuuuuge. The communists destroyed approx..14,000 US+South Vietnamese aircraft. b:Chemical weapons- N.Vietnam was being bombed with explosives, S.Vietnam was being bombed with chemicals. US developed Agent Orange, which was used to destroy jungle foilage in order to help Vietcong fighters. The Americans also used napalm. Napalm was highly inflammable and burnt everything with which it came into contact. Civilians suffered extensive burns.c:Search and Destroy- Vietcon used guerrilla tactics they made hit and run attacks and hid in the jungle. To try beat this, General Westmoreland developed Search and Destroy tactics.US would use helicopters to quickly land near Vietnamese villages and kill hidden Vietcong. The Vietcong set traps for US. Innocent civilians were kills, wrong villagges were attacks and intelligence was wrong. These tactics made the soldiers very unpopular and encouraged mant civiliants to join the opposition.

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Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

Reasons for the American withdrawal from Vietnam:In the early stages of the War, it seemed that the USA would be able to use its huge military power to defeat the Vietcong and prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam. However USA faced a serious of problems: a) Low morale and inexperienced troops: - up to 1967, US troops were volunteers, but after that, many were conscripted.-Many of these conscript soldiers had just left school. They were inexperienced and simply wanted to return home. In contrast, Vietcong fighters were very motivated and believed in the cause they were fighting for.-Many soldiers came from poor or immigrant backgrounds. These soldiers had seen others avoid being drafted in, and therefore had little willingness.b) The Vietcong and its ally were no match for the Superior force of the USA and South Vietnamese. The Vietcong had about 170,000 soldiers with weapons supplied by Communist China anad USSR. The USA had 500,000 troops in S.Vietnam by 1968. In response, the Vietcong used guerilla warfare. Ho Chi Minh had seen, had seen guerilla tactics used successfully by the Communist, Mao Zedong to gain power in China. The methods were simple:1. Retreat when the enemy attacks 2. Launch suprise attacks on enemy camps 3. Pursue the enemy when he retreats 4. Wear the enemy down by ambushin troops and laying booby traps and mines. 5. Use the local terrain, tunnels or jungle to hide. 6. Live amongst civilians for protection 7. Decide not to wear uniform to make it difficult to separate fighters from civilians. Guerilla tactics were very effective and made US soldiers paranoid-a major factor in their defeat. Cambodia and Laos helped Vietcong- giving them more hiding space.

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Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

Reasons for the American withdrawal from Vietnam-c)Declining the support for the USA in S.Vietnam- US bombing of key targets and the use of weapons to destroy jungle camoflauge also killed 1000's of innocent civilians. In addition, the S.Vietnamese government was seen as corrupt by many of its people and the USA therefore lost the support of the S.Vietnamese by supporting an unpopular government and by killing innocent civilians.d)The press and media- The American press and TV news was often accused of undermining the government in its effort to win in Vietnam. From 1964-68, most American TV journalists and newspapers did not criticise the US involvement. They didn't want to be seen to be undermining the governments anti-Communist policies. After 1967, content of news reports from Vietnam began to change. This was because Television began to take over from newspapers, which ment the news recieved from Vietnam by the public, often showed graphic violence. Also, by 1968, concern was increasing about the huge number of Americans (500,000) fighting in Vietnam. Highly respected TV reporters, such as Walter Cronkite of CBS news, publicy suggested that the Vietnam war was un-winnable. This effected American public opinions significantly. e)Military Problems: the My Lai Massacre- March1968, US soldiers on Search and Destroy mission were informed that Vietcong fighters were hiding in the village of My Lai. Within 4 hours, nearly 400 civilians had been killed and no Vietcong found. The incident only became known when a soldier gave an account of events on US TV, 1969. An investigation was launched and soldiers in charge of the My Lai operation were put on trial for mass murder. Only 1 officer, William Cally, was found guilty and was given 20 years, but only served 3 in custody. The massacre+investigation shocked US public and further undermined the war effort.

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Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

The Tet Offensive: Jan 1968- from 1965-67 war in Vietnam was widely thought to have been going well for the Americans, despite increasing number of US casualties. In Jan'68, the Vietcong launched a major attack on about 100 Vietnamese cities in the New Year holiday. The Vietcong had hoped that ordinary Vietnamese would join in the rebellion, but it didn't happen. It lost about 10,000 experienced fighters during the offensive and its power was severely weakened. However, despite these setbacks, the Tet Offensive was a major turning point for the US in Vietnam:- Before the Tet Offensive, Americans were convinced they could win the war.-After the offensive, it became clear that it would take many more troops and therefore more casualties to gain military victory.-Americans were not expecting such a coordinated and effective response from the Vietcong. 

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Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

Protests against the Vietnam War- As American problems in Vietnam worsened, protests against the war increased. In 1968, there were protests accross the USA about several issues- Civil rights for African Americans, the problems of poverty and the Vietnam War. The Vietnam war showed inequalities in US society. Many young white men were able to avoid conscription by joining Universities, but this did not apply to many African Americans. Therefore the number of AA's was proportionally much higher than White Americans. In addition 22.5% of casulaties were AA's but only 11% were white. There were further protests at many Universities across the US. The worst events occured in 1970 at Kent State University in Ohio. When nervous US national guardsmen fired into a group of unarmed students protesting about the extension of the Vietnam war into neighbouring Cambodia. 4 students were killed and 11 others were injured. By 1969, half a million US troops and thousands of bombing raids had not defeated a determined, resourceful and well-motivated Vietcong. As one of the two Superpowers, the US with its huge military capability, was being humilated in the South-East of Asia. Despite the lessons of History, American military problems were convinced that modern technology and weaponary would always deliver a victory. By 1969, it was clear that a military solution alone was not possible.

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Why did the USA fail in Vietnam?

The end of the Vietnam War- With the previous problems all of the US political parties campaigning in the 1968 Presidential campaign realised they had to support a policy to end th Vietnam War or lose the election. Johnson decided 1968, not to seek re-election;  the Vietnam war had defeated him. His successor Richard Nixon now looked for a way to end the Vietnam war without it looking like an American defeat. 

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