Segments descriptions
      American Wars Series
      Vietnam War
, Part 1

             Description: Vietnam 10

Sampler
Vietnam War, Part 1
   
             sampler  4’-55”   (48’ lecture)

What Vietnamese historical background underlies the Vietnam War, including the Versailles Treaty and Ho Chi Minh’s connection with it?
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1

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Vietnam’s hope to be freed from France peacefully is denied.  Vietnam’s long history of struggle against foreign control, including being a part of France’s colonial empire and its need for rubber, a major resource in the industrial era.  Hi-Chi-Minh sees Pres. Wilson’s self-determination principle in the WWI peace treaty as a hope for Vietnam’s independence, but is denied. 
 

2

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Guerilla war against France in 1930s led by Ho Chi Minh.  He calls himself a communist as a foil to French capitalism, but is a Vietnamese nationalist, part of his country’s history and not a puppet of Russia.  This is needed to understand events during the Cold War after WW II.
 

3

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Guerilla war against the Japanese who drive out French during WW II.  The close cooperation with the U.S. against the common enemy.  After Japan surrenders in 1945, Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnamese independence in the spirit of the American Declaration of Independence.
 

4

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The Vietnamese must fight against the French all over again..  Now in the Cold War, America sees this as an extension of its perceived threat from communist Russia.  The U.S. rejects Vietnamese independence, and provides material support for France’s reoccupation of Vietnam.  France becomes a U.S. surrogate to stop the spread of communism in Asia.
 

5

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Could the U.S. have accepted an independent Vietnam calling itself communist?  The example of the U.S. support after WW II of the independent communist country of Yugoslavia led by Tito.  The U.S. fails to treat Vietnam the same way, so from 1946 until 1954, 8 years of brutal bloody warfare follow.

6

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Geneva Accord of1955.  France withdraws from Vietnam after a major military defeat at Dien Bien Phu, including setting a temporary dividing line at 17th parallel to help French troops to withdraw.  U.S. does not sign but promises to abide by the accord.
 

7

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The French are out, the Americans are in.  The U.S. creates a fiction of a North Vietnam and a South Vietnam.  Diem chosen to head South Vietnam, with Saigon as its capital, under U.S. control and military support.  Elections were stopped, violating the Geneva Accord, to prevent Ho Che Minh from winning. 
 

8

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Pres. Eisenhower refuses to send American troops into Vietnam.  Diem corruption results in many American arms winding up in guerilla hands.
 

9

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JFK’s election in 1960 is new turning point.  The American foreign policy of containment in the Cold War, with the threat of massive retaliation with nuclear weapons.  Ignoring Eisenhower’s policy, JFK sends American troops (“advisors”) in 1961, believing containment is involved, instead of a continued nationalist war for independence.
 

10

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Missed opportunity for America to withdraw from Vietnam with honor.  1962 massive demonstrations led by Buddhist monks, including self-immolation, against unpopular dictatorial and corrupt Diem government.  America remains, allowing a military overthrow of Diem who is replaced by a series of generals all of whom had fought on the French side.  Myth of JFK getting us out of Vietnam if he had lived.
 

11

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TheTonkin Bay Resolution of 1964.  Lyndon Johnson is now president.  He asks congress for broad war powers to deal with a reported attack on American warships in Tonkin Bay, later seen as a possible setup by the U.S.  Johnson wins reelection in 1964 as the peace candidate.  Then there is a major escalation of American troops in Vietnam, which already had been planned.
 

12

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The brutal resourcefulness of the guerillas.  Land mines.  Booby trapped dead bodies.  Sharpened stakes in hidden pits.
 

13

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American high-tech tactics.  Saturation bombing for 10 years.  Defoliation to destroy food supply and ground cover.  Chemical accidentally damages U.S. troops.