History 9-25 - Another Map of Laos Cambodia Vietnam(Hanai...

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Another Map: of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam (Hanai, Hue, Saigon) Left off: Geneva conference decision, dividing North and South Vietnam temporarily (2 yrs) 1956- deadline for all-country elections, south Vietnam refused to have anything to do with it. One justification for refusing that was what was going on in North. In North, Ho Chi Minh and leadership were increasingly pushing a communization vote on their politicians and the country. There was land reform- they took land from wealthy and gave it to the poor. There was some use of terror against anyone who opposed. This activity, Diem argued, would spread over Vietnam if Minh won. 1958- New war begins (2 nd war of independence, 1 st against French). Now, against Americans and Diem. America should never get involved in land war against Asia because we could not win. Eisenhauer said this over and over again. America was limited to logistics, supplies, money, support. Laos was to be independent and permanently neutral state. It had a capable leader/prime minister, Souvanna Phouma . He was from aristocratic family, held engineering degrees, and he was strongly neutral. He was determined to create a prosperous neutral country. His ambitious and jealous younger brother, Souphanouvong, wanted to displace his older brother. The easiest way to do that was to turn to a political group and make himself leader. Pathet Lao, a communist group, the Lao counterpart to Viet-Minh. If he gained power, everyone knew, it would be the same as Minh North Vietnam. Because we knew he was the right kind of leader, we had to do something to counteract. Souvanna Phouma would not accept help because he was an extreme neutral. We chose Phoumi Nousavan . Kennedy becomes president around now. Lao and Vietnam were the other two crises besides Cuba he had to deal with immediately. 23 March 1961- Kennedy, in a news conference, gave a statement about Laos. “All we want in Laos is peace…a truly neutral government, not a Cold War.” We would support in
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whatever fashion we could, the Geneva conference idea for Laos. That was not, however, what the Kennedy administration would do in Vietnam. May 1961- Kennedy dispatched the biggest battleship in his administration, L.B. Johnson. Johnson will be attached to the issue in Vietnam early on, and forevermore. He was dispatched to Saigon to meet with America’s guy, Ngo Diem. The two men signed an agreement on May 13, 1961. It identified Diem thoroughly as one of the good guys. It then promised the military assistance, in the form of training. Americans would send “advisors” to train South Vietnamese military in how to better fight north. Between May 61 and Nov 63 US slowly built up advisors, ultimately total would be a little more than 15,000. Kennedy made decision that advisors could participate in combat with the soldiers they were training. They did not believe that the South Vietnamese officers were capable of doing so.
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