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Escalation of the Vietnam War (redirected from The Vietnam War)

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 3 years, 1 month ago


 The Escalation of the Vietnam War  - Tonkin, Tet and a T.V. Set

The Vietnam War transformed the character of American politics and became
the most unsuccessful and internally divisive conflicts in U.S. History.


  Vietnam Summary






Vietnam Graphic


STAGE #1 The United States’ involvement in Vietnam expanded through a series of stages between 1950 and 1965. From 1950 to 1954, in the name of containing communism, the US assisted the French in fighting a Communist-led nationalist revolution in Vietnam, ultimately paying close to 80 percent of the cost of the war.  Domino theory



STAGE #2 From 1954 to 1961, after the French had departed, the American government attempted to construct in the southern part of Vietnam an independent, non-Communist nation to stand as a bulwark against further Communist expansion in Southeast Asia.


STAGE #3 From 1961 to 1965, the United States assisted the South Vietnamese in fighting an internal insurgency backed by Communist North Vietnam.


STAGE #4  full-fledged shooting war between US and South Vietnamese combat forces and National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgents and North Vietnamese regulars (ARVN) lasted from 1965 to 1973



The A B C 's of Vietnam 


1950-   The United States began providing economic aid and arms to France in a colonial war in which the Vietnamese are led by Ho Chi Minh, who was a communist and a nationalistic Vietnamese Declaration of Independence


1954-   The French surrender at Dien bien phu and a compromise is worked out at the Geneva Conference that split Vietnam into South Vietnam and North Vietnam with elections to unify the country to be held in two years. In order to retain US influence in the region, Eisenhower had used a truce to set up a client state in the South (a violation of the Geneva Agreement)



1955 - 1960   The Outbreak of the Vietnam War The United States began sending military advisers to South Vietnam


 1961-   The first American, Richard B. Fitzgibbon,  died in Vietnam


1963-   Diem, who proved to be a ruthless dictator, was overthrown and killed in a military coup that the United States approved; by the end of the year, 73 Americans had died in Vietnam


1964-   While campaigning for President, Lyndon Johnson said “We are not about to send American boys 10,000 miles from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” 



1964-   Aug. 2- Gulf of Tonkin incident – two United States destroyers, on a raiding mission, are “attacked” by the North Vietnamese.





President Johnson Escalates the war

1964-   Aug. 5 – Gulf of Tonkin Resolution - Congress, with only two “nay” votes, passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave LBJ the power to take “all necessary action” in Vietnam. The Resolution which gave the President extraordinary military powers to act quickly against North Vietnam.  President Johnson began bombing North Vietnamese cities and increased the amount of troops involved in the Vietnam War.  


1965-   Feb. The US states bombing North Vietnam  - Operation Rolling Thunder




1965   April- The United States begins to use combat troops to fight against North Vietnam.  By the end of the year, the United States had 185,000 troops in Vietnam.




“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know

yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the

enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”   

Sun Tzu, The Art of War



The "Ride" featured in Apocalypse Now (1979), where the  Air Cavalry squadron plays it on helicopter-mounted loudspeakers

during their assault on a North Vietnamese-controlled village as psychological warfare and to motivate their own troops.



Underestimation of the enemy
Key Players in Vietnam  






With superior armed forces and advanced technological and economic resources, military and government leaders felt it would be a short, easy war for the U.S.  They underestimated the strength of Vietnamese nationalism and their willing to risk everything to unify the country.


















1965 - Protests begin at United States colleges and universities- protesters   concentrate on teach-ins (War Opposition Vietnam )



The Eve of Destruction 




University of Michigan 1960s  


1967-  Domestic opposition to the war also turns to resistance- March on the Pentagon, draft card burning; USS Forrestal






“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America,” he said at the time. “And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”


Muhammad Ali 

Protesting the Draft during the Vietnam War






 1968 The Year in ReviewRise of the New Left and Counter Culture 


North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops staged a massive attack and captured several important South Vietnamese cities.  Although U.S. troops, over time, were able to win back the territory taken during the offensive, the successes of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong showed the American public that winning in Vietnam was not a foregone conclusion.  General Westmoreland, who had our 500,000 troops, wanted 208,000 more.






1969-   New President Richard M. Nixon begins the policy of Vietnamization by gradually substituting South Vietnamese troops for American troops


1969, the Selective Service System of the United States conducted two lotteries to determine the order of call to military service in the Vietnam War for men born from 1944 to 1950. "The draft" occurred during a period of conscription, controlled by the President, from just before World War II to 1973. The Selective Service System commonly uses the label 1970 or says "Issued 1969 – Applied 1970". These lottery numbers were used during calendar year 1970 both to call for induction and to call for physical examination, a preliminary call covering more men.  Selective Service Vietnam





President Nixon continues the war

 In the Presidential election of 1968, Richard Nixon campaigned on a promise of an early “peace with honor.”  Nixon began a policy of “Vietnamization,” replacing American troops with South Vietnamese.  This allowed the U.S. to gradually withdraw U.S. forces and reduce the number of soldiers in Vietnam.  In 1973, President Nixon negotiated a cease-fire agreement with the North Vietnamese and withdrew all remaining U.S. soliders.  With the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the South Vietnamese government collapsed and Vietnam was reunified under a communist government.





1969-   March – Nixon began the secret bombing of Cambodia


In the late 1960’s the U.S. was being divided between “hawks” (those supporting the war) and “doves” (those who felt the U.S. should withdraw from Vietnam.  By 1970, as public opinion turned against the war, anti-war protests were held throughout the country. Draft cards were burned and college campuses were shut down as hundred of thousands protested U.S. involvement in Vietnam




Protest and the American Character





1970-   May - Kent State

The Kent State shootingsalso known as the May 4 massacre or the Kent State massacre—occurred at Kent State University in the U.S. city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis 




The Hard Hat Riot occurred on May 8, 1970 in Lower Manhattan. The riot started about noon when about 200 construction workers mobilized by the New York State AFL-CIO attacked about 1,000 high school and college students and others protesting the Kent State shootings, the American invasion of Cambodia and the Vietnam War near the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street. The riot, which spread to New York City Hall, lasted little more than two hours. More than 70 people were injured, including four policemen. Six people were arrested.








1971 -New York Times v. U.S.  The U.S. government tried to stop the publication of the Pentagon Papers which was a classified study on Vietnam War policy showing the government was lying to the American public.  The government felt that it was permissible to limit freedom of the press since the nation’s security was at risk.  The Supreme Court refused to stop the publication of the book claiming that national security was not threatened by the release of the book.  The Supreme Court held for freedom of the press even during wartime.


1972-   Dec. -   Nixon ordered heaviest bombing of the war


1973-   Jan. - Cease fire agreements were formally signed and the draft was ended.


1975-   Vietnam falls to Communism




Historic photograph of the Fall of Saigon in 1975





Casualties of War -  58,220 dead;  303,644 wounded




Reasons the U.S. could not win the warMany factors combined to stop the U.S. from winning the Vietnam War.  The jungles and dense forests provided ideal cover for the enemy’s use of guerrilla warfare.  The Viet Cong did not fight out in the open in “conventional” methods.  They also hid among the South Vietnamese people making it very difficult for American troops to tell who the enemy was.  Another problem faced by the U.S. was the large amounts of supplies, money, and support that Communist China and the Soviet Union provided to North Vietnam.  The U.S. fought a limited war in Vietnam due to their fear of Chinese and/or Soviet intervention.



Impact on U.S.:  The President’s military power was curtailed by the War Power Act in 1973.  The act required the President to inform Congress within 48 hours of sending troops into combat.  Within 60 days Congress must decide whether or not to declare war.  If they don’t declare war, the President must remove combat troops within 30 days.  U.S. power and prestige was also curtailed.  The Nixon Doctrine stated the U.S. would continue to meet its treaty obligations but would not provide actual combat troops.  SEATO was also phased out after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.



Impact on Southeast Asia:  In 1975, North Vietnam defeated South Vietnam and unified Vietnam under communist control.  The domino theory was proven true as Laos and Cambodia also turned communist.









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