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The Vietnam War


The Vietnam War Through Notes and Songs From the Divided House Anthology * 1 1 * Kennedy s advisors were clearly fighting a covert war by 1963. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War
  • Through Notes and Songs
  • From the Divided House Anthology

Southeast Asian ConflictA Chronology of Events
  • American involvement in Vietnam began in 1950
    when the US provided massive amounts of economic
    and military support to the French in order to
    help them regain control of Vietnam after WWII.
  • The French ruled Indochina from the late 1800s
    until Japan gained control during WWII.
  • After WWII the Vietnamese worked for their
    independence. The Indochina communist party was
    formed and staged revolts under Ho Chi Minh.
  • The Vietminh was established goal Vietnams

A New Vietnam?
  • September 2, 1945 Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam
    independent. (Minhs declaration of independence
    is ironically almost identical to the US
    Declaration of Independence.)
  • French troops quickly moved to reoccupy Vietnam.
  • May 1954 After the Vietnamese victory at Dien
    Bien Phu the French were forced out of Vietnam.
  • The Geneva Accords were held to determine what
    would happen in Vietnam. Vietnam was temporarily
    divided along the 17th parallel.
  • Communist Ho Chi Minh controlled the north from
  • Nationalist (anti-communist) Ngo Dinh Diem
    controlled the south from Saigon.
  • An election to reunify the country was called for
    in 1956, but it never happened because the
    anti-communist countries of the world were afraid
    Uncle Ho (as the N. Vietnamese referred to him)
    would be elected to rule the country. Ho
    implemented land reform that made his strict
    regime very popular with the peasants.

You can kill 10 of my men for every one I kill
of yours, yet even at those odds, you will lose
and I will win
  • Founder of the Vietnamese Communist Party
  • Traveled for almost 30 years around the world.
    Visited France, England, Russia, China, Thailand
    and the United States.
  • In that time he learned to speak fluent Russian,
    Chinese and English.
  • Patriot or Communist?
  • Motivated the Vietnamese to rebel and fight
    against France/US for independence.
  • Became Vietnams first president.

Ho Chi Minh 1890-1969 Light-Bringer"
  • I first met Ho on the China border between China
    and Indochina in the last days of April of 1945.
    He was an interesting individual. Very sensitive,
    very gentle, rather a frail type. We spoke quite
    at length about the general situation, not only
    in Indochina, but the world at large.

  • First democratically elected President of South
    Vietnam in 1955.
  • Next 7 years, he presided over an increasingly
    corrupt, nepotistic and repressive regime.
  • Communist guerrillas (VC) backed by North Vietnam
    launched a new rebellion
  • A civil disobedience led by the country's
    Buddhist monks contributed more directly to his
  • Brutal persecution of Buddhist monks in 1963
    damaged Diems shaky international reputation.
  • With US support, Vietnamese generals overthrew
    and assassinated Ngo later that year.

Problems in the South
  • Diem, a catholic, angered many South Vietnamese
    by restricting the countrys majority religion,
    Buddhism. Diem was Harvard educated and hand
    chosen to rule by Kennedy. Many people in his
    country saw him as westernized with little
    respect for the ancient culture of the Vietnamese
  • By 1957 a communist opposition group known as the
    Vietcong began attacks on the southern government
    in which thousands of officials were
  • Ho Chi Minh supported the Vietcong (VC) (which
    became the National Liberation Front) via a
    network of paths and tunnels known as the Ho Chi
    Minh trail.

Early Protests of Diems Government
Self-Emulation by a Buddhist Monk protesting
against the brutality of Diems government
American Action
  • Kennedy sent thousands of military leaders to
    help train the South Vietnamese troops.
  • The Diem administration attempted land reform to
    please the peasants. They instituted the
    strategic hamlet program in which all villagers
    moved to protected areas and formed cooperative
    farms. The program caused resentment however,
    because people did not want to move away from
    their ancestral homelands.
  • Diem intensified his attacks on Buddhist, who
    began to publicly burn themselves to death in
  • November 1, 1963 Diems regime was toppled and
    he was assassinated by a US backed military coup.
    (Kennedy was assassinated days later.)

Johnson expands the conflict
  • LBJ, like Kennedy, did not want to seem soft on
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
  • On August 2 1964 a North Vietnamese patrol boat
    fired a torpedo at an American destroyer (USS
    Maddox). The torpedo missed its target but the
    Maddox returned fire and heavily damaged the
    patrol boat. Two days later the Maddox reported
    enemy torpedoes but had not seen nor heard them.
    This alleged attack prompted Johnson to launch
    bombing strikes on the N. Vietnamese. Congress
    granted the Tonkin Gulf Resolution which did
    not declare war but did grant Johnson broad
    military power in Vietnam. Combat troops began
    arriving in Vietnam shortly there after and by
    1967 there were over 400,000 US troops in

vietnam collage
  • Why are we in South Vietnam? We are there
    because we have a promise to keep. Since 1954
    every American President has offered to support
    the people of South Vietnam.
  • We have helped to build and we have helped to
    defend. Thus, over many years, we have made a
    national pledge to help South Vietnam defend its

Lyndon Johnson, Speech at Johns Hopkins
University, "Why are we in South Vietnam"
vietnam collage
  • I intend to keep our promise. To dishonor that
    pledge, to abandon this small and brave nation to
    its enemy and to the terror that must follow
    would be an unforgivable wrong.
  • We are there to strengthen world order.

Lyndon Johnson, Speech at Johns Hopkins
University, "Why are we in South Vietnam"
vietnam collage
  • Around the globe from Berlin to Thailand are
    people whose well-being rests, in part, on the
    belief they can count on us if they are attacked.
  • To leave Vietnam to its fate would shake the
    confidence of all these people in the value of
    American commitment. The result would be
    increased unrest and instability, or even war.

Lyndon Johnson, Speech at Johns Hopkins
University, "Why are we in South Vietnam"
  • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
  • Passed by Congress 5 Aug 1964
  • Radically altered the War in Southeast Asia
  • Gave President Johnson a blank check
  • To take all necessary steps to repel armed
    attack against US forces, including force, to
    assist South Vietnam and any member of SEATO
  • Committed US to fight for S Vietnam

Expanding Presidential Power
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
The Ho Chi Minh Trail
  • North Vietnamese troops and supplies entered
    South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a route
    that passed through Laos and Cambodia.

Fighting in the Jungle
  • An elusive enemy The Vietnamese knew the land
    well. They used tactics such as hit and run
    ambushes and booby traps. The Vietnamese were
    hard to find and fight.
  • The VC saw the war as a battle for their very
  • Hearts and Minds Americans were trying to win
    support of the S. Vietnamese while they used
    things like
  • Agent Orange a leaf killing toxic agent that
    was supposed to force the VC out of their jungle
    hiding spots. Often harmed civilians, crops, and
    US soldiers.
  • Napalm a gasoline based bomb that set fire to
    the jungle. Used for the same reasons Agent
    Orange is used.
  • Search and destroy missions that uprooted
    civilians with suspected ties to the VC, killing
    their livestock, and burning villages

The Ho Chi Minh Trail
  • North Vietnamese troops and supplies entered
    South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a route
    that passed through Laos and Cambodia.

The Air WarA Napalm Attack
The Draft
  • All males over 18 were screened (unless they had
    a medical exemption) and everyone 18-26 could be
    called into service.
  • Many Americans began to find ways to avoid the
  • Sought medical exemptions
  • Conscientious objector.
  • Joined Natl Guard or Coast Guard for non-Vietnam
  • College deferment (most college attendees were
    white middle to upper class males) - Many
    poor/minority soldiers. Almost 80 of American
    soldiers at the time came from lower economic
  • MLK lashed out at the cruel irony of black
    dying for their country (disproportionate levels)
    that still treated them as second-class citizens.

U.S. Troop Deployments in Vietnam
Who Is the Enemy?
  • Vietcong founded in South Vietnam who were
    communistssupported by N. Vietnam.
  • Farmers by day guerillas at night.
  • Very patient people willing to accept many
  • The US grossly underestimated their resolve and
    their resourcefulness.
  • Charlies to American Troops that will later
    fight them.

The guerilla wins if he does not lose, the
conventional army loses if it does not win.
-- Mao Zedong
Who Is the Enemy?
The Vietcong consisted of a well organized
guerilla fighting force in South Vietnam. Their
guerilla and jungle hit and run tactics made them
a menace for American, South Vietnamese, and
other allied forces.
Who Is the Enemy?
The Vietcong possessed underground networks of
tunnels Passageways that contained hidden
caches weapons and supplies that were difficult
to locate and destroy.
Who Is the Enemy?
Whos your enemy?U.S. and South Vietnamese
forces found it extremely difficult to fight the
Vietcongs hit and run tactics. Vietcong could
easily blend into a village where they could move
about freely since they did not belong to a
standard army.
Who Is the Enemy?
Who Is the Enemy?
Who Is the Enemy?
The Tet Offensive
  • January 30, 1968 The Vietnamese New Year known
    as Tet. There was a weeklong truce proclaimed in
    order to celebrate the New Year. Many Vietnamese
    took advantage of this time to bury the dead.
  • Vietcong agents filled several coffins with
    weapons and launched an overwhelming attack on
    100 towns and villages in South Vietnam, 12 air
    force bases, and the US embassy in Saigon, which
    killed 5 Americans.
  • The Tet Offensive continued for a month before
    the US and S. Vietnamese troops regained control
    of the area.
  • In the end from a military strategy the US and
    RVN (S. Vietnamese Army) won the battle, however
    it was a psychological defeat, which would
    produce a credibility gap for the US government
    and change public support for the war.

The Tet Offensive
US troops defending the American Embassy in Saigon
The Tet Offensive, January 1968
Because of the Tet Offensive, the US media
announced the US was loosing the war. Walter
Cronkite, part of CBS news who opposed the war
after Tet.
Impact of the Tet Offensive
  • Domestic U.S. Reaction Disbelief, Anger,
    Distrust of Johnson Administration
  • Hey, Hey LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?

Impact of the Tet Offensive
The Beginning of the End
  • 1968 Johnson seeks negotiations to end the war.
  • In the same year Johnson said he would not run
    for reelection
  • 1968 Richard Nixon (Rep.) is elected President
  • Dec. 31 1970 Congress repealed the Tonkin Gulf
  • March 29, 1973 the last US combat forces left
  • April 30 1975 N. Vietnam captures S. Vietnam
    and despite promises not to seek retaliation
    millions are either killed, imprisoned or flee
    the country.
  • War Powers Act President must inform Congress
    within 48 hours of sending troops anywhere.
    Troops may remain in a region only 90 days with
    out Congressional approval or declaration of war.

Vietnam Music
  • Music from wars previous to Vietnam were
    battlefield anthems. In contrast, Vietnam war
    music provided escape from wars terrors and the
    day to day grind of war.
  • Nearly 90 of the American soldiers in Vietnam
    were under 23 years old.
  • The younger soldiers in Vietnam sometimes wore
    beads and peace symbols on their uniforms.

Anti-War Demonstrations
  • Columbia University, 1967

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Hanoi Jane
  • Hollywood opposed the war.
  • Jane Fonda went to Hanoi to visit with U.S. POW.
  • She was used as propaganda by North Vietnam.
  • Recently, a Vietnam vet spit on her and called
    her a traitor.

Jane Fonda
Anti-War Demonstrations
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  • Rock music became an important force in the late
    1960s and early 1970s largely due to music that
    CONDEMED the Government!
  • American rock music about Vietnam had a wide
    range of sentiments from Pro War Songs such as
    THE BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERET to anti war songs
    such as the I FEEL LIKE IM FIXIN TO DIE rag.

  • JFKs Assassination became a defining moment in
    which Americans began to question authority.
  • Pete Seeger the writer of Where have all the
    flowers Gone? had been question by the House Un
    American Activities Committee in the 1950s.
  • After promising in his election campaign not to
    deploy thousands of soldiers to Vietnam LBJ used
    the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to open the door to
    deploy thousands of Americans to Vietnam.
  • American music culture had recently been
    transformed during the mid-1960s by the arrival
    of the Beatles.

Whose to Blame?
  • By the End of 1965, President LBJ had deployed
    184,000 Am troops to Vietnam.
  • The Song Universal Solider not only blamed the
    generals for the war, but also the ordinary
    fighting man.

I Aint Marching Anymore
  • I Aint Marching Anymore is in clear defiance of
    the Vietnam War.
  • By Phil Ochs

LBJ Told a Nation
divided US
  • Called Middle America, the Silent Majority
  • Supported Vietnam War
  • Traditional American values hard work, family
    and patriotism
  • Feared and disliked new styles of music and dress
    of youth
  • Against use of illegal drugs
  • Called counterculture Hippies, Flower Children
  • Opposed Vietnam War
  • Disillusioned with values of money, status,
    power emphasized love, individual freedom,
  • Music and fashion emphasized movement toward new
    society, greater freedom
  • Used mind-expanding drugs, LSD

McGuires Eve of Destruction
  • Expressed a sense of General Frustration about
    social issues in the mid 1960s.

Home Sick
  • The song California Dreamin pre-empted a counter
    culture rebellion which alarmed older Americans
    who were already worried about Communism and
    moral decay

Psychedelic Rock
  • Two songs that symbolized the Psychedelic culture
    that spoke about mind expansion and exotic
  • Incense and Peppermints
  • White Rabbit

  • The Old Father of Jazz Louie Armstrong, was
    responsible for a serene and reassuring song
    called What a Wonderful World.
  • While The Ballad of the Green Beret by Staff
    Sgt. Barry Sadler in 1966 was the last song to
    celebrate Americas military in Vietnam.

  • Troops in the fields were nicknamed grunts.
  • They were usually men of working class
  • Grunts were often drafted straight out of high
  • The basic tour of duty (time served) in Vietnam
    was 12 months, 13 months for the Marines.
  • By 1967, 16,000 Americans had been killed in

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dead soldiers
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We Gotta Get Outta Here
  • We Gotta Get Outta Here was banned from South
    Vietnams radio waves because of its anti-war
  • The communist controled N. Vietnamese station,
    Radio Hanoi, was often more popular with GIs
    because it mixed hard rock with Anti-American
    propaganda hosted by deejay, Hanoi Hannah.

  • Some pro-war advocates believed rock and roll
    contributed to the usages of drugs and the STD
    rates among US troops.
  • The new availability of cassette tapes gave
    troops the opportunity to listen to any type of
    music they wanted.
  • The 14 hit in 1968 Sky Pilot depicted the
    duality of an army chaplain preaching
    Christianity to soldiers in wartime.

More Homesick
  • Some songs became popular with GIs because they
    reminded them of home and family.
  • Cockers With a Little Help from my Friends in
    1968 has a special meaning for units of American
    troops facing enemy fire in the Vietnam jungles.

  • Wooly Bully
  • Good Vibrations
  • Closer to Home
  • American Pie
  • Brown Eyed Girl
  • Time of the Season
  • Green Eyed Lady

More Psychedelic Rock
  • Two more psychedelic drug songs that became
    popular on the home front and with GIs oversees
  • White Rabbit
  • A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Every six months US troops were given a weeks
    worth of rest and relaxation, which they often
    spent in nightclubs listening to Asian versions
    of American and British music.

Soldiers Sent to Vietnam
  • African American soldiers were sent to Vietnam in
    disproportionate numbers.

One of My Favorites
  • Front line soldiers in this era were all male.
    And often missed their female counterparts back
  • American Woman

Hey, Hey, LBJ How Many Kids Did you Kill today.
  • The Tet Offensive in 1968 convinced many US
    troops and Americans back home that the war was
    doomed to failure.
  • By 1968 the assassinations of Dr. King and Robert
    F. Kennedy and the political demise of President
    Lyndon B. Johnson caused many Americans to
    question the US Governments role in Vietnam.
  • Nixon Becomes President

  • The largest anti-war demonstration was 11-15-1965
    when 250,000 participants marched on Washington
  • When President Nixon announced the US was
    expanding the war into the neighboring country of
    Cambodia a new round of demonstrations resulted
    across the US, resulting in the shooting deaths
    of four students at Kent State University.
  • The Rhythm and Blues Hit War condemned the
    destruction of innocent lives.

Anti-War Demonstrations
  • May 4, 1970
  • 4 students shot dead.
  • 11 students wounded
  • Jackson State University
  • May 10, 1970
  • 2 dead 12 wounded

Kent State University
The Start of the End
  • Marvin Gayes Whats Going On was another more
    reflective plea for peace.
  • By 1971 the US public was tired of the Vietnam
    war. President Nixon began to slowly withdraw US
    troops from Vietnam and turn over the protection
    of the South Vietnamese to South Vietnamese

Last War Song!
  • Going Up Country

  • Baezs The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
    reached back to the Civil War for its theme of
    wartime suffering and quiet endurance.
  • By 1972 there were only 24,000 US troops
    stationed in South Vietnam.
  • By January of 1973 the US government and the
    North Vietnamese government had reached an
    agreement to bring US POWs home.
  • By April 1975 South Vietnam fell to the communist
    North Vietnamese.

  • National Security Advisor, Henry A. Kissinger
    begins secret peace talks with North Vietnamese
    leaders in Paris.
  • President Nixon withdrew 40,000 troops as part of
    the Vietnamization process.

Troop levels
South Vietnamese 968,000
American 334,600
Australian 6,800
New Zealand 470
South Korea 48,450
Philippines 70
Thailand 11,570
  • Nixon withdraws 100,000 troops.
  • Defensive role for U.S. ground forces.
  • Offensive attacks by South Vietnamese Army.

Troop Levels
South Vietnamese 1,046,250
American 156,800
Australian 2,000
New Zealand 100
South Korea 45,700
Philippines 70
Thailand 6,000
Pentagon Papers, 1971
  • Former defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked
    govt. docs. regarding war efforts during
    Johnsons administration to the New York Times.
  • Docs.--gt Govt. misled Congress Amer. People
    regarding its intentions in Vietnam during
  • Primary reason for fighting not to eliminate
    communism, but to avoid humiliating defeat.
  • New York Times v. United States (1971)

Troop Levels
South Vietnamese 1,048,000
American 24,200
Australian 130
New Zealand 50
South Korea 36,790
Philippines 50
Thailand 50
The Ceasefire, 1973
  • Peace is at hand Kissinger, 1972
  • North Vietnam attacks South
  • Most Massive U.S. bombing commences
  • 1973 Ceasefire signed between
  • U.S., South Vietnam, North Vietnam
  • Peace with honor (Nixon)

Nixon Ends the War
  • 1-23-1973

Peace Negotiations
  • US Vietnamese argue for 5 mo. over size of
    conference table.

Dr. Henry Kissinger Le Duc Tho
The Ceasefire, 1973
  • Conditions
  • U.S. to remove all troops
  • North Vietnam could leave troops already in S.V.
  • North Vietnam would resume war
  • No provision for POWs or MIAs
  • Last American troops left South Vietnam on March
    29, 1973
  • 1975 North Vietnam defeats South Vietnam
  • Saigon renamed Ho Chi Minh City

American Withdrawal
Provisions of Peace Settlement Between the United
States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the
Viet Cong,Signed in Paris in January 1973
  • The United States would withdraw all its forces
    from South Vietnam within 60 days.
  • All prisoners of war would be released.
  • All parties to the agreement would end military
    activities in Laos and Cambodia.
  • The 17th parallel would continue to divide North
    and South Vietnam until the country could be

Troop Levels
South Vietnamese 1,110,000
American 50
  • Nixons impeachment hearings/Resignation
  • South braces for huge Communist invasion.

The Fall of Saigon
South Vietnamese Attempt to Flee the Country
The Fall of Saigon
April 30, 1975
America Abandons Its Embassy
The New Vietnam
Formerly Saigon
The Fall of Saigon
North Vietnamese at the Presidential Palace
In case there was anyone doubt who won the war,
the communists later rename Saigon, Ho Chi Minh
  • The ancient capital city of Hue falls to the
    North Vietnamese Army.

Last Americans evacuate as communists take Saigon.
President Gerald Ford declared the war finished.
Aftermath of the War in Asia
  • South Vietnam Falls
  • After American forces had withdrawn, North
    Vietnam attacked strategic cities in South
    Vietnam, ending with its capital, Saigon.
  • Following a last-minute evacuation of both
    American soldiers and Vietnamese refugees, South
    Vietnam surrendered in April 1975, and Vietnam
    became unified under a Communist government.
  • Southeast Asia After the War
  • In April 1975, Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge,
    a Communist force led by Pol Pot. The Khmer Rouge
    killed a quarter of the Cambodian population,
    claiming they were tainted with Western ways.
  • Vietnams new leaders forced hundreds of
    thousands of Vietnamese into reeducation camps
    refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and newly
    Communist Laos fled their home countries.

The Impact
  • 26th Amendment 18-year-olds vote
  • Nixon abolished the draft--gt all-volunteer army
  • War Powers Act, 1973 ?
  • President must notify Congress within 48 hours of
    deploying military force
  • President must withdraw forces unless he gains
    Congressional approval within 90 days
  • Disregard for Veterans --gt seen as baby killers
  • POW/MIA issue lingered

The Legacy of the War
  • With a cost of at least 150 billion, and
    hundreds of thousands of American soldiers killed
    or wounded, the Vietnam War was the longest and
    least successful war in American history.
  • Thousands of American soldiers who did not return
    home after the war were listed as POWs (prisoners
    of war) or MIAs (missing in action). Many remain
    unaccounted for today.
  • In Vietnam, millions were dead or wounded, many
    of them civilians. The war also heavily damaged
    the landscape of Vietnam.
  • In 1994, the United States lifted its trade
    embargo against Vietnam in 1995, full diplomatic
    relations were restored.

Some American POWs Returned from the Hanoi
Senator John McCain(R-AZ)
2,583 American POWs / MIAs still unaccounted
for today.
And in the End.
Ho Chi Minh
  • If we have to
    fight, we will fight. You will kill
    ten of our men and we will kill one of
    yours, and in the end it will be you who tires of

Scenes from Francis Ford Coppolas Vietnam
epic, Apocalypse Now
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