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Chapter 3 - Chapter 3"Wrong Terribly Wrong The United...

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Chapter 3: “Wrong, Terribly Wrong” The United States and Vietnam Professor S. Hafezi Professor S. Hafezi National Security The U.S. and Vietnam Vietnam grew out of three factors: A. A Cold War mentality (Iraq?) B. Continuation of containment C. The “falling dominoes” (Eisenhower) The U.S. and Vietnam Far from being a rising tide, communism collapsed a decade and a half later in Europe Communist China and Vietnam turned from socialist to market economic paths In 1995, Robert McNamara, the hawkish secretary of defense during the Vietnam War: “We were wrong, terribly wrong.” The U.S. and Geneva Accords French colonialism took over Vietnam in the 19 th century. Japan took Vietnam from Vichy France in 1940 The U.S. and Geneva Accords During WWII, the communist Vietminh, the Vietnamese Independent League led by Ho Chi Minh (a founder of the French Communist Party and a Comintern agent for Moscow), worked with the American OSS (Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the CIA) and tried to win U.S. support. The U.S. and Geneva Accords After Japan’s defeat, France took over its colony Vietnam In 1946 the first Indochina war, a guerilla war by Vietcong, broke out and lasted until 1954 Crux of “guerrilla warfare” is political. The French was defeated at Dienbienphu in 1954 and negotiated a way out with the Geneva Accords. Movie: Indochine
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Kennedy’s Commitment The U.S. tried to stem Vietnamese communism by setting up a separate anti-communist South Vietnam, something the Geneva Accords never envisioned. The Accords only provided for provisional separation of North and South Vietnam. Kennedy’s Commitment South Vietnam was headed by Ngo Dinh Diem, who became a dictatorial president in Saigon. In late 1950s, guerilla activity began anew with Vietcong. Kennedy committed U.S. to preventing a Communist takeover of South Vietnam, increased U.S. troops there to some 16,000). Kennedy’s Commitment These events in Vietnam convinced President Kennedy that Diem would never be able to unite the South Vietnamese against communism. Several attempts had already been made to overthrow Diem but Kennedy had always instructed CIA and US military forces in Vietnam to protect him. In order to obtain a more popular leader of South Vietnam, Kennedy agreed that the role of the CIA should change. Kennedy’s Commitment Lucien Conein, a CIA operative, provided a group of South Vietnamese generals with $40,000 to carry out the coup with the promise that US forces would make no attempt to protect Diem. At the beginning of November, 1963, President Diem was overthrown by a military coup. The generals had promised Diem that he would be allowed to leave the country, but they changed their mind and executed Diem. Diem was replaced by Nguyen Van Thieu, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of South Vietnam.
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