Vietnam%20War%201956-1973 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Vietnam War 1956-1973 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Vietnam%20War%201956-1973

Vietnam War 1956-1973
  • France took control of Vietnam in the late 1800s
  • In the early 1900s nationalist movements began in
    Vietnam and the most prominent movement was led
    by Communist leader Ho Chi Minh. He founded a
    militant organization called the Viet Minh
  • In World War II France lost its foothold in
    Vietnam and Japan took control of the country.
  • The Viet Minh resisted and extended its power
    base throughout Vietnam. When Japan surrendered
    in 1945 Ho Chi Minhs forces took the capitol of
    Hanoi and declared Vietnam independent.

French and Vietnam
  • France refused to recognize Minhs declaration
    and returned to Vietnam driving Minhs forces
    into N. Vietnam.
  • Minh asked the U.S. for help, but due to the Cold
    War the U.S. aided France instead.
  • Fighting between France and Vietnam lasted until
    1954 when France suffered a humiliating defeat at
    Dien Bien Phu and sought a peace settlement.

Divided Vietnam
  • The Geneva Accords of 1954 declared a cease-fire
    and divided Vietnam officially into North Vietnam
    (under Minh and communist forces) and South
    Vietnam (under a French-backed emperor).
  • Dividing like was at the 17th parallel.
  • The Geneva Accords stipulated that the divide was
    temporary and that Vietnam was to be reunified
    under free elections to be held in 1956.

Cold War and the Domino Theory
  • The United States was in the middle of the Cold
    War and their foreign policy with the Soviets
    played a major role in Vietnam.
  • The US policy was dominated by the Domino Theory
    which believed that the fall of one country to
    communism would trigger other nations to turn to
    communism as well.
  • So the US believed that if Vietnam fell to
    communism than other Southeast Asian countries
    would fall as well.

US and Vietnam
  • Within a year of the Geneva Accords the US
    followed through with their domino theory policy
    and began to offer support to the anti-communist
    politician Ngo Dinh Diem.
  • With US assistance, Diem took control of the S.
    Vietnam government in 1955 and declared the
    Republic of Vietnam and cancelled the elections
    that were scheduled for 1956

The Diem Regime
  • Diems regime proved corrupt, oppressive, and
    extremely unpopular.
  • Nonetheless, the US continued to prop it up, in
    fear of the increasing communist resistance
    activity in S. Vietnam.
  • The resistance against Diem
  • was organized by the Ho Chi
  • Minh-backed National
  • Liberation Front (Viet Cong)
  • a guerrilla army.

Diem Regime cont.
  • In 1962 JFK sent American military advisors to
    train the S. Vietnam army.
  • The US quickly realized that the Diem regime was
    going down. The people didnt like him because he
    was corrupt and discriminatory against Buddhists
    the major religion.
  • In 1963 the US backed a coup (a sudden and
    illegal seizure of power from a government) that
    overthrew Diem and installed a new leader.
  • The new leaders were just as corrupt and
    ineffective as Diem.

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Johnson and US Escalation
  • In 1964 North Vietnamese forces allegedly
    attacked US Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.
  • This led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolutions which
    gave Johnson authorization without a formal
    declaration of war by Congress, for the use of
    conventional military forces in Vietnam. (so the
    President could do whatever necessary)
  • LBJ began to send US troops to Vietnam.

US in Vietnam
  • Operation Rolling Thunder was a bombing campaign
    in 1965 and the conflict escalated.
  • By the end of 1966 there were nearly 400,000 US
    troops in Vietnam.

  • The US used the strategy of attrition, attempting
    to crush the Vietnamese by continual attack and
    wearing them down with large causalities.
  • The Viet Cong used guerrilla tactics to
    demoralize and frustrate the troops. Lots of
    booby traps, mines, and Punji traps (sharp spikes
    hidden in pits)
  • The Viet Cong was also spread out and had a rural
    presence which made it hard to bomb since there
    were not a lot of clear targets.
  • The US turned to unconventional weapons such as
    napalm and the herbicide defoliant Agent Orange
    but still made little progress.

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The Tet Offensive
  • In 1968 the N. Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong
    launched a massive campaign called the Tet
    Offensive attacking nearly thirty US targets and
    dozens of other cities in S. Vietnam all at once.
  • Although the US pushed back the offensive and won
    a tactical victory the American media coverage
    characterized the conflict as a defeat.
  • Public support for the war plummeted.
  • Morale hit an all-time low for the troops and in
    1968 there was the My Lai Massacre in which
    frustrated US soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed
    Vietnamese civilians in a small village.

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The Antiwar Movement
  • Back in the US there was a large antiwar movement
    especially that gained momentum as student
    protesters, countercultural hippies, and many
    mainstream Americans opposed the war.
  • The draft began in 1969.
  • Protests against the war and the military draft
    grew increasingly violent, resulting in police
    brutality outside the Democratic National
    Convention in 1968 as well as the death of four
    students at Kent States University in 1970 when
    the Ohio National Guard fired on the crowd of
    student protesters.
  • Despite protest LBJs successor, Pres. Nixon
    declared that a silent majority of Americans
    still supported the war.

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Vietnamization and US Withdrawal
  • Nixon promoted a policy of Vietnamization of the
    war, promising to withdraw US troops gradually
    and hand over management of the war effort to the
    S. Vietnamese.
  • Although Nixon made good on his promise, he also
    illegally expanded the geographic scope of the
    war effort by authorizing the bombing of Viet
    Cong sites in Cambodia and Laos.
  • The revelation of these illegal actions, along
    with the publication of the secret Pentagon
    Papers in the US newspapers in 1971, caused an
    enormous scandal in the US and forced Nixon to
    push for a peace settlement.

The Cease-fire and Fall of Saigon
  • There were some secret negotiations between a US
    emissary and N. Vietnamese representative Le Duc
    Tho in 1972
  • Nixon engaged in diplomatic maneuvering with
    China and USSR and stepped up bombing of N.
    Vietnam to pressure the N. Vietnamese into a
  • This cease-fire was finally signed in Jan. 1973
  • The last US troops left in March 1973

Cease-fire and Fall of Saigon
  • US continued to fund S. Vietnamese army but
    funding quickly dwindled.
  • Meanwhile President Nixon was entangled in the
    Watergate scandal which ultimately led to his
    resignation in Aug. 1974.
  • North Vietnam stepped up their attacks on the
    South and finally launched an all-out offensive
    in the spring of 1975.
  • in April 1975 the S. Vietnam capitol of Saigon
    fell to the North, who reunited the country under
    Communist rule as the Socialist Republic of

Effects of the War
  • 58,000 US soldiers died and thousands were
  • Cost the US millions
  • Americans began to distrust and question the
  • We did not win.
  • The Wars Power Act-said the President could not
    send troops anywhere without Congressional
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