04-04 Beginnings of the Indochina War

04-04 Beginnings of the Indochina War - Causes of the...

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Causes of the Vietnam War 4 April 2006 Reading: The Vienna Summit was in June 1961 when JFK met with Khruschev in Vienna, Austria. Khrauschev was worried about Kennedy’s Inaugural address. He was worried by the huge American arms buildup and the intended invasion of Cuba. He decided he would have to talk tough and send a warning signal to JFK. The problem of Berlin still had not been solved. (They were scheduled to solve it at the Paris Summit, but the U2 plane was shot down, distracting Khruschev) The Soviets threatened to sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany, presumably attempting to occupy West Berlin. If the Soviets and East Germany signed their separate peace treaty, then the West’s occupation rights would be invalid since East Germany wasn’t at Potsdam, causing the East Germans to move westward. The leaders exchanged threats and insults. Kennedy left the meeting “looking white as a ghost and trembling.” He knew he was in for trouble. They both go home and put their armed forces on alert. The US government increased defense spending, tripled draft calls, called some reserve units, and expected a possible war against Berlin. In any event, Khruschev solved the Berlin crisis by having his troops build a wall across the border between east and West Berlin. It was ugly and covered with barbed wire and landmines on the East side. There were guard towers. Kennedy denounced the Berlin wall in ringing terms, but did nothing about it. We now know he thought Khruschev’s solution was the only realistic way to solve it. There were no further serious tensions from that point on. The resolution of the Berlin Crisis did not lesson the overall confrontation between Kennedy and Khruschev. At the same time they were building the Berlin wall, the Russians began exploding Hydrogen bombs as if they were going out of style (August 1951). The US also did extensive testing in the open atmosphere. (Hydrogen bombs were 1000 times more powerful.) All of these tensions supplied the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. In the summer of that year, the Russians were shipping extensive amounts of armor to Cuba. US intelligence picked up that communist block ships were going into Cuba with military equipment. However, the Soviet government assured Kennedy that they were not sending any offensive weapons. In turn, Kennedy kept reassuring the Congress that nothing was taking place that would threaten our national security. Then In September 1962, it became very clear that the Russians were actually installing no less than 32 nuclear arms intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs). Many questions about this crisis need to be asked:
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course HIST 320 taught by Professor Singal during the Spring '06 term at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

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04-04 Beginnings of the Indochina War - Causes of the...

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