Vietnam Research Project

Vietnam Research Project

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Vietnam Research Project

1. Vietnam was a conflict that was originally fought by the French.
They acted this way to follow the 'Truman doctrine' but by 1950, war
had flared up again and America joined. In '54 Eisenhower had come up
with the 'domino theory' as a justification for the involvement. This
theory stated, "If South Vietnam falls to the Communist, Laos,
Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, India and Pakistan would also fall like
dominos. The Pacific Islands and even Australia could be at risk."
After the French were defeated in 1954, Vietnam was split in two; the
north was Communist, led by Ho Chi Minh, and the south was Capitalist
under Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem's regime got billions of dollars from the US
but remained very unpopular with most Vietnamese people. The US
prevented the elections that were promised under the Geneva conference
because it knew that the Communists would win. Vietnamese Buddhist
monks protested against American involvement by suicide, mainly by
burning themselves.Operation Phoenix was organised by the CIA. This
led to the arrest and murder of thousands of Communists in the south.
First the US sent in military advisers, and then President Johnson
sent in troops in huge numbers. This shows that America had one main
reason for getting involved in Vietnam; to stop the spread of
communism. They didn't want to get involved in this conflict, so they
let the French try to resolve it, helping them with a donation of $15
million, including a military mission and military advisors. American
involvement officially began in 1950 when the US government recognized
the Bao Dai government and began sending the French aid to fight off
the communist backed Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh, and also when
Communist forces from North Korea invade the Republic of South Korea
on June 25. In response top this President Truman appealed to the
United Nations to take action. The UN quickly labelled North Korea the
aggressor, and Truman followed up by immediately sending US air and
naval support to Korea. America got involved in this war in stages,

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they first were only slightly involved, and not publicly by giving the
French a military package, including funds, a mission and advisors.
Then later in the same year, Truman commits the American troops to
Korea. In 1956 the French leave the war and America are fully in
charge, it is also their duty to train the South Vietnamese.

2. The Vietnam War was a whole new experience for the US soldiers,
they went in not knowing what to expect, and certainly not creaming of
what was to come. Massacre is a word that comes to mind when you read
about some of the stories that emerged from Vietnam. The tactics used
by both sides were very different, and the Americans were certainly
not prepared for the Vietnamese tactics. They used guerrilla war
tactics, and the Americans couldn't easily defend or counter these
attacks. They used booby traps, ambushes, and close combat weapons;
they were highly trained and skilled in these methods of fighting. The
US soldiers where being slaughtered and needed to change their
strategy, the couldn't use the jungle to their advantage, the
Vietnamese where using that, so they attacked from the air, they
bombed the jungle, not just with ordinary bombs, but with two
different chemical substances; napalm and agent orange. Agent Orange
is a toxic chemical defoliant used by American military in Vietnam to
deprive the enemy of food and of hiding places in the jungles, by
killing all vegetation. Nicknamed "Agent Orange" because of the
identifying orange stripe on its steel drum containers. It was sprayed
over large areas by aircraft and over smaller areas by hand. It was
supposed to have been diluted 20:1, but it was used full strength.
Many Vietnam Veterans suffer from health problems caused by exposure
to Agent Orange. Napalm is an Incendiary, such as jelly gasoline, used
in Vietnam by the French and the Americans using flame throwers and
dropping in bombs from aircraft to serves as a defoliant and as an
antipersonnel weapon.

3. It is believed that the most important event that changed the US
opinion is the TET offensive. The TET offensive was a massive attack
by the Viet Cong upon South Vietnam, which began on 30 January 1968.
All the major cities of South Vietnam were attacked. In Saigon the US
embassy was overtaken by suicide squads, who were only removed
eventually by paratroopers. This was a big shock as it came at a time
when the US was seemingly winning the war.
The number of casualties per week kept rising, the men were being
constantly sent home in body bags. The war was draining money form the
'Great society' and the civil rights leaders were getting annoyed.
Now, at 1968, the people got involved, mainly students outside
universities, they protested. Some ended nastily when the National
Guard was called to control the protests, several students were shot.
This war had a huge affect on the population of America in the sense
that it was the first war shown on television. People sat at home and
watched terrible events happen for real. They saw such things as
peasants huts being set alight, Vietcong prisoners being executed, and
GI's being torn apart and shot to pieces. In 1969 the truth about the
My Lai massacre was revealed along with the army film which showed
South Vietnamese women and children being stripped and murdered by
GI's.

The media made this war a lot more public. So they public knew a lot
more of what was happening and protested and made complaints etc. And
the people got a lot more of a say in the war, as they saw what was
going on and how this would affect, and was affecting them.

4. America lost the war in Vietnam through a number of reasons and
events. First of all, they underestimated the tenacity and
organisation of the VC and NVA. Also, despite dropping more tonnage of
high explosive on Vietnam than the whole of WW2, the Americans could
not stop the movement of troops and supplies to the south along the Ho
Chi Minh Trail. The people of America also turned against its
government, at first, most Americans supported the war. By 1970, the
peace movement had support from all sections of society and no
government could ignore it. Then the troops started to be a concern,
after 1969, there were serious questions about the efficiency of US
troops. There was a serious drugs problem; desertion rates were high
and morale was low. Many troops were 'time-servers', which means they
counted the days until the tour was over. America was not prepared to
keep losing high numbers of casualties for such limited progress in a
difficult jungle war, for which they were not suited, so they started
to remove their troops, covering this up by constantly bombarding
North Vietnam by air, with more defoliants and explosives.
Overall America seriously underestimated the force, determination, and
tactics of the Vietcong; this along with some other problems caused
them to slowly lose the Vietnam War.

5. The Vietnam War had terrible affects on the people and places
involved in the war. The defoliants painfully killed thousands of
soldiers from both sides of the war, and destroyed hundreds of acres
of forest land. 2,000,000 men, women and children were killed and Over
7,000,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam, destroying
masses of forest land. Vietnam was reduced from a major exporter of
rice to a country that could not feed itself. Many mines and other
booby traps were left after the war. They are still there in many
cases. And people continued to suffer from the effects of chemicals
and defoliants. 2,000,000 people fled from Vietnam to escape famine
and the communist government. These included 1,000,000 'boat people',
who tried to sail to other countries as far away as Hong Kong. In
America the a lot of the people's taxes went toward funding this war
in Vietnam, and the people protested against this.

6. The war had a major affect on America and its people. The
government had to use tax payer's money and money from the 'Great
society' to fund the war. The people found out about this and
protested against it. The people also demonstrated about the
efficiency of the troops and the treatment of the P.O.W's.The war cost
$120,000,000,000, and many people say this money went to a complete
waste, and it's a hell of a lot of money to through away. 700,000
veterans have suffered from psychological disorders since returning to
the USA. More veterans have committed suicide than were killed in the
fighting.
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