5-The Vietnam War

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The Vietnam War:

Why did the U.S. become involved in the nation of Vietnam? The Vietnam War

Do Now:

Do Now Who is stuck in the web in this cartoon? What is written in the web? Read the 3 lines in the bottom of the cartoon. What do you think they suggest about war? What do you think the illustrator is trying to tell the reader about Vietnam?


Notes 1. Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. followed a policy of containment. 2. Under the Truman Doctrine , the U.S. pledged to stop the spread of communism in any part of the world. 3. One nation in which the U.S. tried to contain communism was Vietnam.

Vietnam? :



Notes 4. In Vietnam, France was fighting against a communist uprising by Vietnamese workers . The nation ended up split into two sides: A. North Vietnam (communist) B. South Vietnam (capitalist) 5. The U.S. began to give money to South Vietnam in order to help them fight the communists. The Viet Minh, a group of rebel Vietnamese communists. Ho Chi Minh, leader of this group, later called the Viet Cong COMMUNIST CAPITALIST


Notes 6. The U.S. reason for supporting South Vietnam was the domino theory , which claimed that if one nation fell to communism, all the ones around it would too. 7. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy (elected in 1960) continued this aid to the South Vietnamese.

The Domino Theory:

The Domino Theory


Notes 8. After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) took over. 9. In 1964, Johnson’s advisors wanted him to start bombing North Vietnam but they needed a reason to start this attack . You want me to do what?


Notes 10. On August 4, 1964, reports from the military claimed that Northern Vietnamese boats had attacked a U.S. Navy ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. 11. It is unclear exactly what happened this night, but it gave LBJ a reason to start the attack of North Vietnam.

A Reason For War? :

A Reason For War? What does this incident remind you of?


Notes 12. In March 1965, LBJ started sending U.S. troops to Vietnam, and through a policy called escalation , he quickly increased the numbers of troops sent . 13. By 1968, there were more than 500,000 American soldiers in Vietnam.

D o c u m e n t 1:

D o c u m e n t 1

Document 2:

Document 2 The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was two separate occurrences involving naval forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin that prompted the first large-scale involvement of U.S. armed forces in Southeast Asia. On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox (DD-731) engaged three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats, resulting in damage to the three boats. Two days later the Maddox (having been joined by the destroyer USS Turner Joy (DD-951) reported a second engagement with North Vietnamese vessels. This second report was later claimed to be in error. The outcome of the incident was the passage by Congress of the Southeast Asia Resolution (better known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution), which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression," including the commitment of U.S. forces without a declaration of war. The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for escalating American involvement in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). It gave the President the exclusive right to use military force without consulting the Senate, although based on a false pretext, as he later admitted. In 2005, an official NSA declassified report ] revealed that the Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese on August 2, but that there may not have been any North Vietnamese vessels present during the engagement of August 4. The report stated [I]t is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. [...] In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on August 2. Just a few days after the incident, President Johnson commented privately: "For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.”

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