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HIST313: War and American Society

Unit 9: Vietnam   The Vietnam conflict grew out of America’s Cold War commitment to limiting the global spread of Communism.  After Vietnamese national liberation forces defeated French colonial troops in the mid-1950s, the state was partitioned into Communist and democratic regions.  After Communist guerilla forces in South Vietnam began to threaten the government in the early 1960s, the United States sent military advisors to the region to help South Vietnamese forces defeat the Communists.  This initial commitment of ground troops expanded into a full-scale military campaign by 1964.  Over the next seven years, United States military forces fought battle after battle against South Vietnamese guerillas and North Vietnamese regular army troops.  Public opinion in the United States initially favored American involvement, but a vocal anti-war movement gradually swung opinion against the war by the late 1960s.  American forces were eventually withdrawn from Vietnam, but not before the war took a heavy toll on U.S. military strength and American confidence. 
           
In this unit, we will examine how the United States became involved in Vietnam and look at how American strategy changed over the course of the conflict.  We will also explore how the fringe anti-war movement gradually gained social acceptance and political influence during the conflict.  Finally, we will look at how the Vietnam conflict had a lasting impact on American politics and military strategy.

Unit 9 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 9.5 hours to complete.

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the causes and consequences of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

  • Lecture: iTunesU/University of California - Berkeley: History 7B: From Civil War to the Present: Lecture 6: The Vietnam War Link: iTunesU/University of California - Berkeley: History 7B: From Civil War to the Present: Lecture 6: The Vietnam War (iTunes U)

    Instructions: Please listen to this lecture to grasp a stronger understanding about the Vietnam War.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: PBS Video: The American Presidents: “Lyndon B. Johnson” and “Richard Nixon” Link: PBS Video: The American Presidents:Lyndon  B. Johnson” (Adobe Flash) and “Richard Nixon” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please note that these documentaries cover material from subunits 9.1 through 9.5.4.  Please watch the each documentary in its entirety (about 3 hours each) to better understand Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon as presidents and commanders in chief.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: iTunesU/American Radio Works: Vietnam & the Presidency: “Vietnam and the Presidency,” “Vietnam: How We Got Involved,” “Vietnam and Presidential Tapes,” “Halberstam on the Vietnam War,” “Conversation with the President,” “Inside the White House,” “Vietnam: The Media and the Role of Public Opinion,” “Lessons Learned.” Lecture: iTunesU/American Radio Works: Vietnam & The Presidency: “Vietnam and the Presidency,” “Vietnam: How We Got Involved,” “Vietnam and Presidential Tapes,” “Halberstam on the Vietnam War,” “Conversation with the President,” “Inside the White House,” “Vietnam: The Media and the Role of Public Opinion,” “Lessons Learned.”
     
    Note: All lectures above are in iTunes U.
     
    Instructions:  Please listen to all of the above lectures to get a greater understanding of the lessons learned from the Vietnam War.
     
    About this link: These episodes are part of American Radio Works excellent series on Vietnam and the Presidency. Please click on the link above and listen to the 8 50-minute episodes for a comprehensive overview of American politics and the Vietnam War. 

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.1 America in South Vietnam   - Web Media: Khan Academy’s “Vietnam War” Link: Khan Academy’s “Vietnam War” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please watch the above video (approx. 18 minutes) on
the Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos,
and Cambodia from 1955 to the fall of Saigon in 1975.  Note that
this video will cover all the material in the rest of subunit 9.1,
in addition to subunits 9.2–9.3.  

 Watching this video and taking notes should take approximately 30
minutes.   
    
 Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).  It is
attributed to the Khan Academy.
  • Web Media: YouTube: Media Rich Learning’s Vietnam: “Indochina” Link: YouTube: Media Rich Learning’s Vietnam:Indochina” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Please watch the entire 10-minute documentary to better understand the roots of American involvement in Vietnam.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.1.1 Decolonization and National Liberation   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.1.2 The French Experience   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.1.3 The Domino Effect   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.1.4 American Advisors   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.1.5 Regime Change   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.1.6 Growing American Support   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.2 The War Intensifies   9.2.1 Tonkin Gulf   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.2.2 Full American Military Involvement   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.2.3 Taking the War to the North   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.2.4 Guerilla Warfare   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.2.5 Jungle Warfare   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.3 The Tet Offensive   9.3.1 The Limits of American Military Support   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.3.2 Expanding the Conflict   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.3.3 Weakening Support at Home   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.3.4 Nixon’s Vietnam Strategy   Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

9.4 The Anti-War Movement   9.4.1 Origins of the Movement   9.4.2 Growing Support   9.4.3 Social Relevance   9.4.4 Impact on American Society and Politics   9.4.5 The Movement Goes Mainstream   - Reading: Fordham University’s Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of John Kerry’s “Vietnam Veterans against the War Statement,” April 23, 1971 Link: Fordham University’s Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of John Kerry’s “Vietnam Veterans against the War Statement,” April 23, 1971 (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read the entirety of this website to better
criticisms of U.S. actions in Vietnam. Former serviceman John Kerry
presented this statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations in 1971. Kerry argues that the U.S. military is committing
wartime atrocities in Vietnam and justifying the unnecessary deaths
of Vietnamese civilians and U.S. soldiers as part of a broader Cold
War agenda. He asserts that Americans must unite to end the war
before it destroys the fabric of American society.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

9.5 The Lost War   9.5.1 Social Consequences   9.5.2 “Vietnam Syndrome” and the U.S. Military   9.5.3 The New Volunteer Army   9.5.4 A Decade of Limited Expectations