The Vietnam War – JFK, LBJ and Nixon – Gulf of Tonkin – Discussion Post and Response

Humanities

I need an original post that is at least 200 words responding to Part A. Then I need two student responses to post, at least 100 words, that can be found in Part B. Please respond to student response like you are talking to them directly. Do not say “ I agree with this student….this student’s use of …..etc…” Side note: my family drinks very casually.

PART A

The Vietnam War is the first American war managed by different presidents with different strategies. Use the Learning Resources to consider how JFK, LBJ, and Nixon viewed Vietnam as part of the larger of the Cold War, foreign policy, and domestic needs. How did each president think the war need to be fought and how did they measure success? For your discussion, select one of the presidents and explain their goals, how they tried to achieve them, and what the outcomes were for their actions.

PART B

1

Regardless of the what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964, it led to a change in presidential power and how the war in Vietnam evolved. Using the Learning Resources, discuss the Gulf of Tonkin events as they were understood in 1964, the meaning of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and how it was used (and not used) to prosecute the war.

The gunboat attacks that occurred against United States naval ships in August 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin directly led to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.  Whether the naval ships were in fact attacked is irrelevant because the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed unanimously by the House and Senate, clearing the way for United States offensive air intervention.  The North Vietnamese attacks were deliberate and the retaliation was justified.  The Gulf of Tonkin events were substantiated at the highest levels and the United States was approved to intervene.  One of the messages President Johnson delivered to Congress on 5 August 1964 reaffirmed his earlier propositions when he stated “the issue is the future of southeast Asia as a whole. A threat to any nation in that region is a threat to all, and a threat to us.”

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was declared so the United States had the capabilities “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”  President Johnson was determined “to bring about the end of Communist subversion and aggression in the area.”  In direct violation of the Geneva Acts of 1962, the North Vietnamese regime was aggressively threatening to take over South Vietnam and/or Laos.  The United States involvement was necessary to stop the communist regime’s aggression and to support freedom and peace in the region.  Our commitments to the Vietnamese territories date back to 1954 under President Eisenhower, those commitments were consistent and unchanged, even with rising tensions in the region, “America keeps her word.”     

The Vietnam War was heavily criticized and the Golf of Tonkin attacks and eventual Resolution were not the only act(s) led to the United States’ involvement in the conflict in southeast Asia.  There was not one threat to a single country, this was about the whole region.  If the North Vietnamese took over South Vietnam and/or Laos, the communist regime would have taken control of a majority of the region.  The United States intent was to ensure peace and stability in the region.  It seems like a lot of our military involvement in other nations/wars deals with communism and communistic principles that one nation is trying to force onto another nation which they believe to be weaker than them. Right or wrong, the United States did get heavily involved with the Vietnam War and it turned out to be very costly for all parties involved.                   

Sage, Henry J. The Tonkin Gulf Resolution & President Johnson’s Speech. Sage American History, 2014″

2

In the United States, we usually focus on the Vietnam War from the American perspective. Let’s shift focus and consider why the Vietnamese were at war. Using the Learning Resources, explain the goals, strategies, and outcomes of the war for the Vietnamese. Try to consider the goals of both the North and South Vietnamese.

The Vietnam War was a long drawn out as well as costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam and South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the two countries the Soviet Union and the United States. More than 3 million people were killed in the Vietnam War, more than half the people dead were Vietnamese civilians. During World War II, Japanese forces invaded Vietnam. To fight off both Japanese occupiers and the French colonial administration, political leader Ho Chi Minh inspired by the Chinese and Soviet communism. After World War II, Japan withdrew its forces from Vietnam. Seeing an opportunity to seize control Ho’s Viet Minh forces immediately rose up, taking over the northern city of Hanoi and declaring a Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) with Ho as president[1].

The Vietnam War and active U.S. involvement in the war began in 1954, even though ongoing conflict in the region had stretched back several decades. After Vietnam leader Ho Minh communist forces had taken power in the north, armed conflict between northern and southern armies continued until a decisive battle at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954 ended in victory for northern Viet Minh forces. A subsequent treated were signed in July 1954 at a Geneva conference. The treaty also called for nationwide elections for reunification to be held in 1956 [1].

With the Cold War intensifying worldwide, the United States hardened its policies against any allies from the Soviet Union. Training and equipment from American military and the CIA, Diem’s security forces cracked down on Viet Minh sympathizers in the south. By 1957, the Viet Cong and other opponents of Diem’s repressive regime began fighting back with attacks on government officials and other targets, and by 1959 they had begun engaging the South Vietnamese army in firefights. In December of 1960, Diem’s many opponents within South Vietnam both communist and non-communist formed the National Liberation Front to organize resistance to the regime {1].

By 1962, the U.S. military presence in South Vietnam had reached some 9,000 troops, compared with fewer than 800 during the 1950s. By November 1957, the number of American troops in Vietnam was approaching 500,000 and U.S. casualties had reached 15,058 killed and 109,527 wounded. The later years of the war saw increased physical and psychological deterioration among American soldiers both volunteers and draftees including drug use, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mutinies and attacks by soldiers against officers and noncommissioned officers. Between July 1966 and December 1973, more than 503,000 U.S. military personnel deserted, and a robust anti-war movement among American forces spawned violent protests, killings and mass incarcerations of personnel stationed in Vietnam as well as within the United States [1]. 

In Conclusion, the war ended in January 1973 the United States and North Vietnam concluded a final peace agreement, ending open hostilities between the two nations. The war between the North and South Vietnam continued, however, until April 30, 1975, when DRV forces captured Saigon. Ho Minh died in 1969. In the United States, the effects of the Vietnam War would linger long after the last troops returned home in 1973. In 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled in Washington D.C. on the memorial is inscribed the names of 57,939 American and women killed or missing in the water [1].

References

[1] Editors, History.com. “Vietnam War.” History.com. October 29, 2009. Accessed February 11, 2019. https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/vietnam-war-history.