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HI114 – VIETNAM WAR.docx

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Department
History
Course
HI114
Professor
Robert Davison
Semester
Fall

Description
HI114 – VIETNAM WAR The early years – from Truman to Kennedy The Vietnam War (1954 – 1975) – Key Controversies - The draft - Long - Failed - Domestically divisive - Bloody: o 58,000 Americans Killed o 153,000 injured o 4 million Vietnamese soldiers/ civilians killed o (10% of the population) A) The French Roots of America’s War - 1867 Vietnam colonized - Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia = French Indochina - French create very repressive system of government - Ho Chi Minh (1890 –1969) - When he was 21, left Vietnam to travel world, during second world war, ends up in Versailles, argues for Vietnamese independence - Ho becomes a communist - 1940 – 1941 Vietnam occupied by Japan - 1941 Viet Minh organized - Aug 1945 Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) established - March 1946 France and Viet Minh “compromise” – DRV = free state. In French Union. French military occupation of northern Vietnam - Dec 1946 First Indochina war (fighting from Haiphong to Hanoi) - French able to control cities, but Viet minh have large control over country and how it develops - 1948 emperor bao dai installed by French – lobbying for US support - feb 1950 president Truman recognized bao dai + increases aid - $2bn (1945 – 54) frances total expenditure = $5bn) - military assistance advisory group (300 military advisors in 1954) What to do? Admiral Arthur radford – night attacks on the Viet Minh + tactical nuclear weapons Matthew ridgeway – intervention = a hare brained scheme International action Support from congress? No appetite within congress for taking the fight within Vietnam even April 1954 Geneva meetings French surrender at Dien Bien Phu + Viet Minh control 2/3rds of Vietnam Geneva arguments (july 20) - Vietnam divided at the 17 parallel - French troops withdraw below the 17 parallel - No military alliances or foreign bases - National elections for 1956 and reunification - Plus elections in Laos and Cambodia - The US Response - Refuse to support Geneva arguments - Establish SEATO (sept 1954) [Britain, France, Pakistan, Phillipines, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand] - All say they will support Americans in Vietnam (only Australia Thailand and new Zealand send troops) - Back Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem - Increase military advisors (685 by 1961) - Increase economic aid - Replace bao dai with diem 1955 – 1958 - Diem rejects North Vietnam proposals for talks on 1956 elections - (Supported by Eisenhower) - but diem and Eisenhower realized if there is a referendum, ho chi minh will win - so they reject this and refuse to allow it to take place - Referendum in South instead - Diem “wins” 98% of vote = president of republic of Vietnam (RVN) fake - No one wins that many votes - US aid = $300m per year (80% for military purposes) - “Denunciation of communists” campaign (20,000 – 30,000 suspected communist jailed) - South Vietnam’s troops = army of republic of Vietnam (ARVN) - December 1960 creation of National liberation Front (NLF) C) John F Kennedy’s War 1961 – 1963 - Eisenhower and kennedy did not see it as a civil war, saw it through lens of cold war - Communist on one side, western democracies on other side - When they looked at it, communist bad – western democracy good. We need to stop communism - Kennedy administration was young, energetic Kennedy’s Cold war warriors - Mcgeorge Bundy, special assistant for national security affairs secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, secretary of state, Dean Rusk Expanding US presence in Vietnam - Jan 61 $28.4m to enlarge ARVN - $12.7m to improve civil guard - May 61 400 special forces soldiers + 100 more military “advisors” - Oct 61 “fact finding” mission of general Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow Taylor and Rostow recommendations: - 8,000 combat troops? - US helicopters? – Sends helicopters only. Doesn’t think the other measures are necessary yet and does not see situation as badly as it is - Bomb North Vietnam? - Or - A negotiated Settlement? Nov 1961 - More “advisors” - 61 = 3,205 - 62 = 11,000 - 63 = 16,700 - Plus - Helicopters, minesweepers, and reconnaissance aircraft - Napalm - Operation RANCHHAND = defoliation program - Strategic Hamlet Program – instituted run by diem’s brother - 1961 – 63 - protests against Diem Increase May 1963 - shooting of 9 Buddhist monks in Hue June 1963 - A Buddhist sets himself on fire and covers himself in gasoline What to do with Diem? - Stick with him – McNamara, Lyndon Johnson, CIA director John McCone
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