The Vietnam War - The Cold War (–) - CVCE Website
Kids learn the history of the Vietnam War during the Cold War. A fight between the Dates: November 1, - April 30, The Vietnam War was fought. The section 'The Vietnam War' looks at the US intervention (–) in the but these did not directly jeopardise relations between the United States and the The fall of Saigon on 30 April marked the true end of the Vietnam War. Sep 11, Vietnam War: A timeline of U.S. entanglement .. demonstrations across the United States, take place; a second happens on Nov. the Presidential Palace in Saigon on April 30, , signifying the fall of South Vietnam. July Under President Bill Clinton, the U.S. normalizes relations with Vietnam.
The subsequent treaty signed in July at a Geneva conference split Vietnam along the latitude known as the 17th Parallel 17 degrees north latitudewith Ho in control in the North and Bao in the South.
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The treaty also called for nationwide elections for reunification to be held in Eisenhower had pledged his firm support to Diem and South Vietnam. Though the NLF claimed to be autonomous and that most of its members were not communists, many in Washington assumed it was a puppet of Hanoi.
Kennedy in to report on conditions in South Vietnam advised a build-up of American military, economic and technical aid in order to help Diem confront the Viet Cong threat. Bythe U. Gulf of Tonkin A coup by some of his own generals succeeded in toppling and killing Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, in Novemberthree weeks before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Congress soon passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolutionwhich gave Johnson broad war-making powers, and U. In MarchJohnson made the decision—with solid support from the American public—to send U.
By June, 82, combat troops were stationed in Vietnam, and military leaders were calling formore by the end of to shore up the struggling South Vietnamese army.
Despite the concerns of some of his advisers about this escalation, and about the entire war effort amid a growing anti-war movement, Johnson authorized the immediate dispatch oftroops at the end of July and anotherin Westmoreland pursued a policy of attrition, aiming to kill as many enemy troops as possible rather than trying to secure territory.
Heavy bombing by B aircraft or shelling made these zones uninhabitable, as refugees poured into camps in designated safe areas near Saigon and other cities. Even as the enemy body count at times exaggerated by U. Additionally, supported by aid from China and the Soviet Union, North Vietnam strengthened its air defenses.
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The later years of the war saw increased physical and psychological deterioration among American soldiers—both volunteers and draftees—including drug use, post-traumatic stress disorder PTSDmutinies and attacks by soldiers against officers and noncommissioned officers. Between July and Decembermore thanU. Bombarded by horrific images of the war on their televisions, Americans on the home front turned against the war as well: In Octobersome 35, demonstrators staged a massive Vietnam War protest outside the Pentagon.
Opponents of the war argued that civilians, not enemy combatants, were the primary victims and that the United States was supporting a corrupt dictatorship in Saigon. On January 31,some 70, DRV forces under General Vo Nguyen Giap launched the Tet Offensive named for the lunar new yeara coordinated series of fierce attacks on more than cities and towns in South Vietnam.
Taken by surprise, U. Reports of the Tet Offensive stunned the U. With his approval ratings dropping in an election year, Johnson called a halt to bombing in much of North Vietnam though bombings continued in the south and promised to dedicate the rest of his term to seeking peace rather than reelection. Despite the later inclusion of the South Vietnamese and the NLF, the dialogue soon reached an impasse, and after a bitter election season marred by violence, Republican Richard M.
Nixon won the presidency. In an attempt to limit the volume of American casualties, he announced a program called Vietnamization: In addition to this Vietnamization policy, Nixon continued public peace talks in Paris, adding higher-level secret talks conducted by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger beginning in the spring of The North Vietnamese continued to insist on complete and unconditional U. My Lai Massacre The next few years would bring even more carnage, including the horrifying revelation that U.
After the My Lai Masscreanti-war protests continued to build as the conflict wore on. Originally, Vietnam ended at the 17th parallel, but it gradually conquered all the area southward along the coastline of the South China Sea and west to Cambodia. Population in the south was mostly clustered in a few areas along the coast; the north always enjoyed a larger population.
The two sections were not unlike North and South in the United States prior to the Civil War; their people did not fully trust each other. Before the s, the French controlled Vietnam.
In the early 20th century, Vietnamese nationalism began to rise, clashing with the French colonial rulers. The French suffered a major defeat at Dien Bien Phu inleading to negotiations that ended with the Geneva Agreements, July 21, Under those agreements, Cambodia and Laos—which had been part of the French colony—received their independence. Vietnam, however, was divided at the 17th parallel. The division was supposed to be temporary: When the time came, however, Diem resisted the elections; the more populous north would certainly win.
Some 80, Vietnamese from the south had moved to the north after the Geneva Agreements were signed.
Ending the Vietnam War, 1969–1973
Ten times as many Vietnamese had fled the north, where the Communist Party was killing off its rivals, seizing property, and oppressing the large Catholic population. A cadre was drawn from those who went north; they were trained, equipped and sent back to the south to aid in organizing and guiding the insurgency. Some in the North Vietnamese government thought the course of war in the south was unwise, but they were overruled.
Although publicly the war in the south was described as a civil war within South Vietnam, it was guided, equipped and reinforced by the communist leadership in Hanoi. S—feared communist expansion throughout Southeast Asia. The Central Intelligence Agency CIA advised that was not the case—America had a strong military presence in the Pacific that would serve as a deterrent. A different feeling prevailed among many within the U. The communist takeover of China and subsequent war in Korea against North Korean and Chinese troops had focused a great deal of attention on Southeast Asia as a place to take a strong stand against the spread of communism.
They were the only father-son pair to die in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh had been educated in Paris. There is considerable debate over whether he was primarily nationalist or communist, but he was not especially anti-Western. Ho attempted to contact Eisenhower to discuss Vietnam but received no answer. That would have made any negotiation with Ho politically ticklish. A lingering question of the war is what might have happened if Eisenhower and Ho had arranged a meeting; possibly, an accord could have been reached, or possibly Ho was simply seeking to limit American involvement, in order to more easily depose the Diem government.
North Vietnam, had by then established a presence in Laos and developed the Ho Chi Minh Trail through that country in order to resupply and reinforce its forces in South Vietnam. Kennedy saw American efforts in Southeast Asia almost as a crusade and believed increasing the military advisor program, coupled with political reform in South Vietnam, would strengthen the south and bring peace.
The peasants resented being forced from their ancestral lands, and consolidating them gave the VC better targets. The program, which had been poorly managed, was abandoned after about two years, following the coup that deposed Diem. Diem fell from favor with his American patrons, partly over disagreements in how to handle the war against the VC and partly because of his unpopular suppression of religious sects and anyone he feared threatened his regime. He, in turn, called the Buddhists VC sympathizers.
Two younger monks poured a mix of gasoline and jet fuel over him and, as the three had planned, set fire to him. Seven more such immolations occurred that year. To make matters worse, Diem responded by sending troops to raid pagodas. The administration was caught by surprise, however, when Diem was murdered during the coup, which was led by General Duong Van Minh. This began a series of destabilizing changes in government leadership. That same month, Kennedy himself was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
His successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, inherited the Vietnam situation. His political party, the Democrats, had been blamed for China falling to communism; withdrawing from Vietnam could hurt them in the elections. On the other hand, Congress had never declared war and so the president was limited in what he could do in Southeast Asia. Gulf of Tonkin Incident That changed in August The pilot of an F-8E Crusader did not see any ships in the area where the enemy was reported, and years later crew members said they never saw attacking craft.
Congress swiftly passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that removed most restrictions from the president in regards to Vietnam. Though a congressional investigative committee the previous year had warned that America could find itself slipping into in a morass that would require more and more military participation in Vietnam, Johnson began a steady escalation of the war, hoping to bring it to a quick conclusion.
Ironically, the leadership of North Vietnam came to a similar conclusion: On September 30,the first large-scale antiwar demonstration took place in America, on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley.
The war became the central rallying point of a burgeoning youth counterculture, and the coming years would see many such demonstrations, dividing generations and families. This would be a war without a front or a rear; it would involve full-scale combat units and individuals carrying out terrorist activities such as the Brink Hotel bombing. Westmoreland In previous war, progress and setbacks could be shown on maps; large enemy units could be engaged and destroyed.
Guerrilla warfare asymmetrical warfare does not permit such clear-cut data. Westmoreland with a thorny challenge: Westmoreland adopted a search-and-destroy policy to find and engage the enemy and use superior firepower to destroy him. Every major engagement between U.
The body count policy fell into disfavor and was not employed in future American wars; in Vietnam it led officers to inflate enemy casualties. The VC and NVA dragged off as many of their dead and wounded as possible, sometimes impressing villagers into performing this task during battles, so determining their casualties was guesswork based on such things as the number of blood trails.
On the other side, the same thing was occurring, with even more inflated numbers—vastly more. Both sides were fighting a war of attrition, so communist commanders sent Hanoi battle reports that often were pure fantasy. Marines—near Van Truong, from the VC point of view. On February 7,the U. Air Force began bombing selected sites in North Vietnam. This grew into the operation known as Rolling Thunder that began on March 2,and continued to November 2, Its primary goal was to demoralize the North Vietnamese and diminish their manufacturing and transportation abilities.
An air war was the most that could be done north of the 17th parallel, because the use of ground troops had been ruled out. On July 9,China had announced it would step in if the U. North Vietnamese officers, after the war, said the only thing they feared was an American-led invasion of the north, but the U. Tet—the Turning Point By the end ofthere wereAmerican troops in Vietnam, and the military draft was set to call upyoung men in the coming year, an increase of 72, over But the war news was hopeful.
The South Vietnamese Army was showing improvement, winning 37 of their last 45 major engagements. American troops had won every major battle they fought, and General Nguyen Van Thieu had come to power in South Vietnam in September; he would remain in office untilbringing a new measure of stability to the government, though he could not end its endemic corruption.
Antiwar protests continued across America and in many other countries, but on April 28,Gen. Westmoreland became the first battlefield commander ever to address a joint session of Congress in wartime, and Time magazine named him Man of the Year. In an interview he was asked if there was light at the end of the tunnel, and he responded that the U. They struck at least 30 provincial capitals and the major cities of Saigon and Hue.
American intelligence knew an attack was coming, though the Army had downplayed a New York Times report of large communist troop movements heading south.
The VC was effectively finished; it would not field more than 25,—40, troops at any time for the remainder of the war. The NVA had to take over. It was one of the most resounding defeats in all of military history—until it became a victory. News footage showed the fighting in Saigon and Hue.
The Tet Offensive shocked Americans at home, who thought the war was nearing victory. Initially, however, homefront support for the war effort grew, but by March Americans, perceiving no change in strategy that would bring the war to a conclusion, became increasingly disillusioned. He closed by saying: To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past.
To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
Tensions between blacks and whites had been intensifying for years as African Americans sought to change centuries-old racial policies. That disparity would decline before the war ended, but the racial tensions at home began to insert themselves into the military in Vietnam, damaging unit morale. Even white troops were beginning to protest. One day in Octoberfifteen members of the Americal Division wore black armbands while they were on patrol, the symbol antiwar protestors wore in the states.
Earlier, in Marchthe Americal Division had been involved in what became known as the My Lai Massacre, in which over men, women and children were killed.
Similar, even larger, atrocities were conducted by VC and NVA units—such as an NVA attack on a Buddhist orphanage at An Hoa in September or the execution of 5, people at Hue during the Tet Offensive—but the concept of American soldiers killing civilians in cold blood was more than many Americans could bear.
Support for the war eroded further. Some antiwar protestors blamed the men and women who served in Vietnam, taunting them and spitting on them when they came home.
Military personnel, including nurses, were warned not to wear their uniforms in the States. However, polls consistently showed the majority of Americans supported the war. Security was improving even as American forces were in the process of withdrawing. Then, on March 30,the North Vietnamese attacked across the 17th parallel with 14 divisions and additional individual regiments. Better armed than ever before, thanks to increased aid from the Soviet Union, they employed tanks for the first time.
The ARVN bent but did not break. By June they had stalled the invasion, with the help of American airpower. The NVA suffered somecasualties. American drawdown continued, with only 43, personnel left in-country by mid-August. In retaliation for the invasion, and in hopes of forcing Hanoi to negotiate in good faith, Nixon ordered Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam to be mined and he intensified bombing of North Vietnam.
Hanoi offered to restart peace talks, yet remained intransigent in its demands. On January 27,peace accords were signed between North Vietnam and the U. North Vietnam spent two years rebuilding its military; South Vietnam was hamstrung in its responses by a fear the U. Congress would cut off all aid if it took military action against communist buildup. Its army lacked reserves, while the NVA was growing. On March 5,the NVA invaded again.
ARVN divisions in the north were surrounded and routed. To its own surprise, Hanoi found its forces advancing rapidly toward Saigon, realized victory was at hand, and renamed the operation the Ho Chi Minh Offensive. On April 30, their tanks entered Saigon. American helicopters rescued members of its embassy and flew some South Vietnamese to safety, but most were left behind.
The domino fell but did not take down any of those around it. Nguyen Ngoc Loan about to pull the trigger of a pistol pointed at the head of a bound VC prisoner; of a naked young girl running crying down a road after an American napalm strike that left her badly burned—these images and others became seared into the minds of Americans on the homefront, and in those of civilians in allied nations such as Australia. Never before or since have journalists been given such complete access to cover a war.
Such images pack tremendous emotional punch but often lack context.