Vietnam and Wars of
The World Since 1945
The American Public and Vietnam
After the Fall of Saigon, the
American public wanted to forget Vietnam.
The war was so divisive that
Hollywood and TV would not really touch the subject.
More than the
More than the War
How about the
What Made Vietnam Divisive?
Emphasis on Total
Who Did The Public Blame?
The public sought answers and
couldnt find them.
Defeat is almost alien to
Blame fell on the warriors.
Few Americans failed to
understand one truth.
They are to blame for
Then Came Hollywood
Oliver Stones Contribution
Contributions of Hollywood
Reinvented Vietnam for the
Often gave the false impression
Played upon popular stereotypes.
Such as POWs and MIAs.
Often better seen as a metaphor.
Rather than historical truth.
Cold War Culture and Vietnam
Westerns had a political flavor
Television only increased their
John Wayne, a hero in his own
right, gave the Cold War a positive and ennobling imagine.
What about Gary Cooper in
Myths of Vietnam
We really could have won the
If the politicians didnt tie
the hands of the military.
The news media was responsible
for our defeat.
Americans never committed
Every GI was a combat veteran.
Legacy and Culture
Did Vietnam create a climate of
About the time of the fall of
Saigon Soldier of Fortune
How do men measure themselves in
a changing world?
Legacy and Culture 2
Major themes are
That American GIs
were sold out by Washington.
It becomes a form
of a stab in the back legend.
Read by boys.
The Situation After the War
The US military demobilized.
Tensions mounted between the
US and USSR.
The British could not pick up
the tab for Greece so the
Followed by the
The United States lost its
The world was no longer safe.
The Situation in Vietnam
The French wanted to return to
Vietnam was occupied by both
in the North and British troops in the South.
The British supported the French
in and around Saigon.
The division of Vietnam irked
OSS supported the aspirations of the Vietnamese.
The Vietnam-American Friendship
Was formed on Oct. 17, 1945.
Gen. Philip E. Gallagher, CO of
the South China Command appeared on Vietnamese radio.
Both Americans and Vietnamese
They even sang songs on the
This exacerbated relations
between Paris and Washington.
Confusion at Foggy Bottom
Washington needed a strong
France with mounting tensions developing in Europe.
The State Department reigned in
Hard liners in Washington had no
love for Communists either.
Ho asked Truman for support at
least three times and was rejected.
A strong France was more
important than Vietnam.
Who Was The First American
Casualty in Vietnam?
Situation in the Spring of
French arrange for the Chinese
to leave Tonkin.
March 6, 1946, a French task
force arrives at Haiphong.
Ho Chi Minh and Sainteny, a
French negotiator, reach a major agreement.
Ho Chi Minh-Sainteny Agreement
France recognized RVN as a free
and independent nation with its own parliament, central government, and armed
RVN would be part of the French
15,000 French troops would be
stationed north of the 16th Parallel and would be relieved by
Vietminh troops in five years.
France was to train and equip
the Vietminh troops.
What Went Wrong?
The French High Commissioner,
Admiral Thierry d Argenlieu,
decided on his own to reach a similar deal with Cochinchina.
Ho Chi Minh thought that this
was done in bad faith.
Ho thought that he had spoken
for all of Vietnam.
Due to confusion in France, no
one was willing to negotiate with Ho when he arrived.
The Thoughts of Jean
Sainteny in 1953
France undervalued the . .
. The power [Ho] wielded. Theres no doubt that he aspired . . . To become the
Gandhi of Indochina.
Jean Sainteny in 1953
The Status of the French
The French could not use
draftees to serve in Indochina.
The French Command only had
approximately 100,000 troops to draw upon.
French foreign legionnaires,
colonial troops, or from the Regular Army.
The French would eventually use
Vietnamese and that was hard for them and the Vietnamese.
Giap made some premature
mistakes on the offensive operations.
Eventually, the Vietminh move
into the Central Highlands in an effort to drive the French out.
The Vietminh openly aid the
The Political Situation in
The French were looking for a
way out of the war in 1952.
With the Korean Armistice in
1953, the French didnt want to go it alone against the Red Chinese.
The new French commander, Henri
Navarre came up with a new, bold, and yet stupid, plan.
The Navarre Plan
Goal was to keep the Vietminh
By rapid raids in the border
It was hoped that such moves
would keep the Vietminh away from the deltas.
Then Navarre wanted to disrupt
the Vietminhs thrust into Laos.
He selected a remote and
isolated base at Dienbienphu.
At the limit of French airpower.
The Object of Dienbienphu
Designed to block
Giaps moves into Laos.
Expand the defensive
Establish an airfield.
Overlooked the five
feet of annual rain.
The Changing International
The Korean War ends in 1953.
The French want out.
French Positions at
French Paratroopers Land at
Words of Wisdom from the French
Arty Commander at Dienbienphu
Giap Surprised the French
Giap moved faster than the
Giap had 50,000 men plus another
20,000 along the LOCs.
His men moved the arty up hill
by hand and dug them in.
The attack began on March 13,
1954 on Fort Beatrice followed on Gabrielle.
The attacks were costly
The Situation Becomes Desperate
French airpower could not
support the base.
Only air drops could re-supply
In the meantime, Giaps troops
moved closer and closer.
The French Chief of Staff,
arrived in Washington with a request on March 20.
He wanted air strikes in and
around Dienbienphu, including possible
The Fighting Around
Chairman of the JCS, proposed a raid of 60 B-29s flying from the Philippines
with French markings.
The French liked the idea and so
did the USAF.
But the British didnt nor did
the US Army.
The Pentagon thought that three
nukes could do the job.
LBJ, the minority leader thought
The French Surrender
The French were left to their
The last reinforcements were
Then on May 8, 1954, the end
The International Meeting at
The meeting took place before
the fall of Dienbienphu.
The meeting was co-chaired by
Great Britain and the USSR.
The other nations or states that
attended included: China, USA, France, Cambodia, Laos, DRV, and RVN.
A truce was signed on July 20,
Hanoi claimed that the PRC
forced them to sign.
The Geneva Accords
A provisional demarcation line
was established at the 17th parallel.
Set national elections for 1956.
Evacuation of French troops
north and Vietminh troops south of the 17th Parallel.
Freedom of movement among both
zones for 300 days.
Both North and South Vietnam
could not join foreign alliances.
An International Commission to
monitor the accords.
On The Cover of Time
November 22, 1954
JFKs Words Mobilized a Nation
JFK Meets With Ike
Foreign affairs was a key issue.
Ike thought that Laos was the
most dangerous problem the country would face in the Far East outside of
Vietnam was to become his test
Lansdale warned JFK that in
JFK also allowed for an
expansion of the ARVN force levels.
JFKs Early Crises
Bay of Pigs
The Civil War in Laos.
The Berlin Crisis.
Khrushchevs call for Wars of
Missions to Vietnam:
Kennedys Eyes and Hears
The first Mission was led by
Staley gave JFK two options
about ARVN force levels 200,000 or 270,000.
Kennedy selected the
The Kennedy did not make any
requirements that Diem had to meet before he received aid to pay for those
The next mission was led by
Kennedy Always Asked The
He only asked how Vietnam could
be saved, not whether Vietnam was worth saving.
The State Department wanted a
quid pro quo.
JFK did not want to do anything
that would push him into a corner.
If a commitment was going to be
made, it would be the least possible.
But he did not want the
Communists to succeed.
Intellectual and Scholar.
Commander of the 101st
Airborne in WW II.
Author of Flexible
Advisor to JKF and Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs.
And Ambassador to Vietnam.
The Taylor Mission
Coaxed Diem to get the Viet Cong
Including the use of U.S.
He cabled his report from the
He recommended sending 8,000
troops to Vietnam.
And conduct air ops against the
The Debate within the Administration
The first person
to question the logic of getting involved was
Undersecretary of State.
U. Alexis Johnson
another State Department figure authored Concept for Intervention.
He wanted to send
20,000 to 25,000 troops under the guise of
Some in the
Pentagon wanted to clear the decks and send in six divisions to Vietnam.
JFK on Walt Rostow
The Issue of Resolve
Today this is ludicrous, but to
the men of 1961 it was very important.
Vietnam now became central to
the policy of Containment.
Vietnam was just one more issue
in the Cold War Greece (47), China (49), Korea (50).
Kennedy nearly lost the 1960
Election over the issue of Quemoy and Matsu.
Then there was the
Bay of Pigs,
the John Birch Society, and the
Some Key Issues
Taylor and Rostow were wrong,
Vietnam did not collapse.
McNamara actually thought that
US troops could leave Vietnam!
Still the numbers continued to
grow 700 in 1961, 3,200 at the start of 1962, and by the end of the year they
Advisors were now down to the BN
MACV replaced MAAG
Paul Harkins as MACV Commander
Origins of the Credibility Gap
Reporters saw what was going on.
They managed to separate reality
from the distortions.
Plus some reporters had an
That source was John Paul Vann.
A LTC and advisor to ARVN.
The State of ARVN
By 1962, ARVN checked the VC.
Americans were advising the
Vietnamese on all levels.
The Americans provided UH-1
Huey Helicopters and M-113 APCs.
Even with these advantages,
there were still problems with ARVN, including desertions and poor leadership.
This would become obvious during
the battle of Ap Bac.
The Battle of AP BAC
Diem did not appreciate
The VC had already become
accustomed to the new ARVN weapons and ambushed the helicopters.
Lost five copters.
At a time when ARVN claimed that
they were winning.
The Buddhist Crisis, Part I
May 8, 1963, Eight Buddhists
were shot in Hue.
The reason for the demonstration
was the flying of both the national flay and the Vatican Flay in honor of the
accession of Ngo Dinh Thuc, Diems brother.
This was a violation and the
Buddhists took to the street.
The U.S. Consul tried to defuse
the crisis and met with Thich
advice was The sky is blue, but the clouds drift
The Buddhist Crisis, Part II
On May 28, 400 Buddhist Bonzes
protested in front of the National Assembly
The Buddhists then went on a
The demonstrations spread
through out the county by June 5.
Most American newsmen did not
cover the story at first.
Then Malcolm Browne received a
telegram on June 11 to cover the demonstration in front of the main Pagoda.
The Buddhist Uprising
The Administration was Divided
The Ambassador Frederick Nolting
was opposed to a coup.
So was LBJ.
Lodge replaced Nolting and was
set on a coup.
In an interview with Walter
Cronkite, JFK warned Diem that he could be replaced.
Lodge then began preparing for a
coup authorizing a meeting with the ARVN generals.
Madame Nhu was Part of the
The Forces on the Potomac
W. Averell Harriman
Henry Cabot Lodge
The ARVN Generals Wanted
That Aid would continue
The link between Lodge and the
generals was Lucien Conein, codenamed Mordecai.
The Americans hoped that Diem
would leave the country.
The Generals realized that he
was too dangerous and had to be murdered.
Death of Ngo Dinh Diem
Vietnam as a Presidential
For past presidents, Vietnam was
a nagging problem, not a critical one.
But that changed by mid decade.
The war would alter his domestic
LBJ was always influenced by
concerns about the USSR and the PRC.
Continuation of Policy
Vietnam did not dominate the
early years of LBJs administration.
He kept key players onboard
Rusk and McNamara.
His first action was
which guaranteed a continuation of JFKs Vietnam
South Vietnam after Diems death
experienced a revolving door government in 1964.
There was a need to bolster the
Saigon kept claiming that they
were ready to move North.
Two intelligence operations were
being conducted to gather info on North Vietnam.
Intelligence Gathering and
Clandestine Operations in North Vietnam
OPLAN 34 A
Raids on the coast of North Vietnam.
gathering missions along the coast collecting electronic information on North
Congress did not know about
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident
On August 2, 1964, the US
was attacked in international waters.
Two days later, the
C. Turner Joy
joined with the
On August 4, both reported
This attack was highly doubtful.
This gave LBJ a reason to go to
Congress and ask for authorization to take extreme measures.
The Attack on the Maddox
on August 2, 1964
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
LBJ used the incident as a
casus belli for action against North Vietnam.
The resolution empowered LBJ to
take all necessary measures to repel an armed attack against the forces of the
United States and to prevent further aggression.
It was passed on August 7, 1964
and passed the House by a vote of 416 to 0 and the Senate by a vote of 88 to 2.
The dissenting were Wayne Morse
and Ernest Gruening.
Tet is the holiday celebrating
the Chinese lunar New Year.
It is Christmas, New Years, the
4th of July all in one.
In 1968 it was the Year of the
Tet fell on Jan. 30th
Traditionally both sides laid
down their weapons and visited their families.
VC announced a
truce running from Jan 27th to Feb 3rd.
In the past, Tet truces were
marked by a frenzied effort by the Communists to resupply.
The Americans never liked them.
Saigon announced their own truce
36 hours Jan 29 to Jan 31.
An exception as made at Khe Sanh
were there was no truce.
Diplomats hoped that this could
be the start of a peace settlement.
The American Political Scene
Nineteen Sixty-Eight was the
start of the presidential election year.
A major issue was going to be
There emerged a dump Johnson
movement within the Democratic Party.
Meet The Candidates
The main challengers included
Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy.
Soon middle class liberals
became hostile to LBJ as the war continued.
Particularly the issue of the
The War as a Political Issue
LBJ had serious problems with
college faculties, the clergy, and civil rights leaders.
By U.S. standards the war was
too long, more than three years too long.
By Dec. 31, 1967 the war cost
Already 500,000 men were
The war now cost
The Progress Campaign
It started in 1967 when LBJ
brought in leading administrative officials to sell the war.
The object was to drowned out
Deny that the war was a
Gain support for limited war.
It involved a flood of
optimistic reports about RVN.
LBJ set the tone by asserting
the the enemy was suffering incredibly high loses.
The Highlight of the Progress Campaign
On November 21, 1967, William
Westmoreland appeared at the National Press Club.
He told reporters that there was
no stalemate either on the battlefield or with pacification.
He told reporters that there is
light at the end of the tunnel.
General Wheeler Tells All
On December 18, 1967, Gen.
Wheeler in Detroit said that the
were not on the ropes yet.
They can still
supply their cadres in the South.
Heavy fighting was
Even a Battle of
the Bulge-like Offensive.
VC/NVA hit provincial capitals
not far from Saigon.
Better weapons moved South.
LTG Fred Weyand of the 25th
ID warned of an attack.
NVA drew MACV towards the
borders of Cambodia and the DMZ
The siege of Khe Sanh started on
Jan. 24, 1968.
The 101st captured
the NVA OPORDER.
But MACV didnt believe it.
Statements of POWs.
Reduction of defectors.
Forty simultaneous attacks.
Capture of a VC agent with a
The Other Side of the Hill
In Jan. 1967 the Central
Committee decided to conduct a general offensive.
Object was to win the war
But to be prepared for the long
If if the offensive failed, it
would still shorten the war.
Nearly an Undefeatable Strategy
To Giap The Key Was The Political
Situation in the USA
Force Washington to curtail its
commitment to Saigon.
Give Saigon a crushing blow that
the people will ally with the NLF and drive the Americans out.
According to Hanoi the major
weaknesses of the USA were 1) financial, 2) doctrinal, and 3) overextension of
US Forces were nearly
The South Vietnamese would not
support the offensive if it was led by the NVA.
There was a pressing need for
Distract US Forces from the true
The deception battles had to be
in the frontier zones and be costly and news worthy.
VC/NLF as Vanguard of the Attack
VC Main Force BNs received new
weapons such as the B-40 rocket and Ak-47.
VC BNs were brought up to
VC agents dropped their cover
and returned to their parent units.
NVA fillers replaced those who
Objective of TCK-TKN*
Force Americans to fight at Khe
Sanh and Con Thien away from the cities.
Once capturing a town announce
that the Saigon government has collapsed.
Proclaim a new coalition
Present the US with a
and have the Americans fall back to their enclaves and eventually withdraw from
The War Destroyed LBJs
The New Deal coalition was
The GOP brought back a New
In early 68 White House
Insiders forced LBJ to realize that the war was a failure.
LBJ drops out after Eugene
McCarthy does better than expected.
The fight was on between
McCarthy and RFK.
The Election of 1968
Nixon and Kissinger
Kissinger and Nixon were willing
to try anything to end the war.
The objective was to get out and
still have an independent South Vietnam.
Nixon thought he could do this
an increase in ARVN and b)
more pressure on DRVN.
The Results of Nixons Strategy
The war lasted for four more
Domestic violence continued.
The Peace Process was a fraud.
The Key to Vietnamization
Kissinger and Nixon
The Odd Couple
Both men wanted to shape the
world in their own image.
They saw each other as a vehicle
to achieve their own aspirations.
Both loved raw power.
As NSC director (at first) he
shaped American policy.
As ideologues both were flexible
enough to attempt to solve the Vietnam problem.
Both had to reshape their
earlier views on Vietnam.
The Road to Hanoi went
Through Beijing and Moscow
All US troops would leave RVN
sixty days after the signing of the ceasefire.
Then the POWs would be released.
This would come right before the
Kissinger was ready to fly to
Hanoi and sign on Oct. 22, 1972.
This was the decent interval
that Nixon was concerned about.
Nixon has Second Thoughts
Nixon didnt like abandoning
He still clung to Peace With
Nixon then raises about 60 minor
Hanoi was upset.
This set the stage for the
Christmas Bombing, Linebacker II, in 1972.
It was bombing with an attitude.
No targets were spared 36,000
tons of bombs were dropped and the US lost 15 B-52s.
The Paris Agreement
The DMZ was a provisional not a
political or territorial boundary.
The issue of the civilian
movement was open to future discussions.
All troops were locked in place.
The PRG was given legal status.
The political fate of RVN was
left to the future.
US forces would be withdrawn and