The Path to War Vietnam 1954-1972 Understanding America’s Longest War MR. Brown Main Menu The Domino Theory 1954-1965 Perhaps the most remarkable fact about the Vietnam War is Gulf of Tonkin Resolution 1965 that it was not even about Vietnam. It was instead, a The Tet Offensive 1968 prolonged battle of the Cold The War at Home 1968-1972 War, fought to block the expansion of communist Vietnam by the Numbers power in Asia. The war brought a turning point for Verbatim Americans: It brought not only the first defeat for the Web Resources U.S. military, but also a profound loss in faith in References government and authority. The Domino Theory 1954-1965 The U.S. commitment to defending democracy in South Vietnam was sealed in 1954, when Secretary of State John foster Dulles went to Geneva for a nine-delegation conference on Indochina. This conference set the terms for ending the war between France and the Viet Minh, the North Vietnamese communist forces that had declared independence from France in 1945. Vietnam was split into two countries, with a demilitarized zone dividing North from South. The U.S. supported the new government of South Vietnam, pumping more than $1 billion in military and economic aid to South Vietnam between 1955-1961.Dulles, Eisenhower and Johnson all used the “domino theory” as rationale for the U.S. presence, and later military intervention. Under this theory, if South Vietnam fell to the communists, then other countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines would topple to communism. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution 1965 By early 1964, the U.S. had The U.S. Presence in Vietnam 16,300 military advisors in Date U.S. Force Level U.S. Killed Vietnam: their task was to train Dec-61 3,205 25 and support the South Dec-63 16,300 195 Dec-67 184,300 2,264 Vietnamese army. On August 2, Dec-67 485,600 19,560 1964, the U.S. destroyer Maddox, Dec-69 475,200 47,768 patrolling international waters in Dec-71 156,800 56,206 Dec-73 50 57,015 the gulf of Tonkin, reportedly an Dec-75 0 57,354 attack by North Vietnamese forces. In response L.B.J asked Congress to pass a resolution allowing him “to take necessary measures to repel an armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” This resolution, approved overwhelmingly by both the House and Senate, was seen as the start of full-scale U.S. involvement in the war. The Tet Offensive 1968 A Turning Point LBJ and Vietnam: Public Opinion In January 1968, following Q: Do you approve or disaprove of the way the nearly three years of bombing Johnson Administration is handling the situation in Vietnam by the U.S, the North Date Approve Disapprove No Opinion Vietnamese and Viet Cong Sep-65 58% 22% 20% Feb-66 50% 33% 17% launched a major surprise Sep-66 43% 40% 17% Jul-67 33% 52% 15% attack on more than 30 South Feb-68 35% 50% 15% Vietnamese cities during Tet, the lunar New Year. Watching at home, Americans saw the televised attack on the U.S. embassy in Saigon, the massacre by Viet Cong soldiers of civilians in the city of Hue and other atrocities. This attacked helped turn the tide of popular sentiment against the war as Americans realized The War at Home 1968 Few issues in recent history have polarized the American people as deeply as the Vietnam War. While student protesters were the perceived leaders of the anti-war movement, opposition eventually spread to almost all segments of the population. Opponents of the war charged that in the crusade against communism, the U.S. was attempting to impose an MR. Brown 1968 American solution on a foreign people; that Vietnam was of Student protestor or Warrior? little strategic importance, and that the conflict had turned into “an endless war”; and that the drat system was set up so that poor men did the fighting while the privileged got deferments. By 1968, Democratic Vietnam by the Numbers • 19 Average age of U.S. combat soldier in Vietnam, 1968 • 26,800,000 Total number of U.S. men eligible for the draft • 15,410,00 Number deferred, exempted or disqualified • 8,720,000 Enlisted voluntarily • 2,215,000 Drafted during Vietnam era • 171,000 Conscientious Objectors who refused to serve based on moral grounds • 58,193 American military personal killed • 1,100,000 North Vietnamese military personnel killed • $24 billion American aid to South Vietnam between 1954-1975 • $165 billion Direct American expenditures for the Vietnam War Verbatim “Kill ten of our men and we will kill one of yours. In the end, it is who will tire” Ho Chi Minh 1946 “I could conceive of no greater tragedy than for the U.S. to fight in an all out war in Indochina” President Eisenhower 1954 QuickTime™ a nd a GIF decompressor are need ed to see this picture. “We do commit the U.S to prevent the fall of South Vietnam to Communism” Secretary of Defense McNamara 1961 “We are not about to send American boys 10,000 miles away to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves” President Lyndon B. Johnson 1964 “Hell no, we won’t go!” Web Resources The Vietnam War http://www.vietnampix.com/intro3.htm The Domino Theory Principle, Dwight D. Eisenhower Interview 1954 http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/domino.html Media and the Vietnam War: Interview with Brian Williams http://www.archives.gov/presidential- libraries/events/vietnam/pdf/transcript-06.pdf Documents Relating to American Foreign Policy: Vietnam http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/vietnam.htm The Wars for Vietnam 1945-1975 http://vietnam.vassar.edu Famous American Trials: The My Lai Courts Martial http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mylai.htm References Special Thanks to Time Inc. and HBOFILMS http://www.hbo.com/films/pathtowar The Vietnam War-Tim Page, UPI, Bettman Archives and Corbis. http://www.vietnampix.com/intro3.htm National History Standards Era 9 Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s) Standard 2C Demonstrate understanding of the foreign and domestic consequences of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. California State Content Standards 11.9 United States foreign policy since World War II 11.9.3 Trace the origins and geopolitical consequences(foreign and domestic )of the Cold War and containment policy with regards to the Vietnam War.
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