Week 2: Akira Iriye, The Globalizing of America, pp. 1-18, 131-216

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Week 10: McMahon Chapters 12, 13

Ch. 12, Document 1: Henry Kissinger suggests that the conflict in Vietnam was not the cause of difficulties but rather a symptom. That is, America was trying to come to terms that it was becoming like other nations: it had vast power but it was also limited. Nixon inherited a war that was already well progressed and had to deal with both the left who wanted us out and the rest of the country who knew that our credibility as a nation depended on how we withdrew. Like the French in Algeria, we could not immediately withdraw. We first had to escalate in order to begin Vietnamization.
Document 2: National Security Study Memorandum No. 1: there are two groups (“A” and “B”) who disagree on the viability of the GVN. Group A generally believed and emphasized improvements in the GVN and RVNAF (armed forces), whereas B underlined the growing strength of the NLF. Their conclusions were: 1) Negotiating Environment – Hanoi is not in Paris because they are weak. They are there because they know they have the advantage and can win a favorable withdrawal by the United States. Beginning to downgrade “domino theory”. 2) The Enemy – General consensus is that the North’s manpower is more than enough to balance the current attrition rate and that they basically controlled the body count on both sides. 3) The South Vietnamese Armed Forces – The consensus was that the RVNAF was improving and that they would eventually be able to handle the VC and NVA on their own. 4) Pacification – Disagreement on how effective the pacification is going. Group A thinks that GVN controls a large majority of the population, whereas Group “B” believes that the VC had influence over a majority. 5) The Political Scene – Consensus is that the GVN is stronger now than it has been in previous years, but it is still weak and we are not doing enough to help strengthen it. 6) U.S. Military Operations – There was agreement that Hanoi was alive only because of military aid from Soviets and Chinese. There was disagreement, however in whether or not unlimited bombing would eventually choke off Hanoi.
Document 3: A guerilla (NLF) leader remembers 1969 as the worst year, but also found hope in the determination of the peasants. He also found new courage in the fact that the USA was beginning to decrease troops, and would have to withdraw soon.
Document 4: Nixon explains to the American public why we are still in Vietnam, why we got involved in Vietnam, and why we cannot immediately withdraw. He claims that he could have taken the easy way out, withdrawing the troops immediately, calling it “Johnson’s War”, and wiping his hands clean of the entire conflict. However, he says that immediate withdrawal would have been a huge mistake because it would jeopardize the credibility of the United States on an international level. He introduces his plan for “Vietnamization” and tries to push for Americans to be “united for peace” and “united against defeat”.
Document 5: Nixon explains the need for the “invasion” of Cambodia. USA has respected Cambodia’s neutrality, N. Vietnam has not. Nixon reaffirms that this is not an invasion, but rather more of a liberation in order to extricate Communist forces in Cambodia.
Document 6: Kissinger reveals to the American public that we will not force S. Vietnam to adopt a particular government. We would like to leave this up to them. At the same time, we will prevent N. Vietnam from imposing its will upon the GVN. We will not withdraw unless the people of S. Vietnam can have their voices be heard.
Document 7: PRG wants immediate withdrawal of all American troops and cessation of Vietnamization. They are determined to show that the NLF is a legitimate political force in S. Vietnam, just like the GVN.
Nixon’s Flawed Search for Peace: Melvin Small argues in this essay against what Nixon told the American public in Document 4. He argues that Nixon never really had his own ideas about bringing peace to the conflict in Vietnam; he simply adopted the idea of Vietnamization from the Johnson administration and did not withdraw troops as quickly as he could, resulting in many American troops’ lives and many more Vietnamese lives. He argues that Nixon, contrary to what he told the public, was extremely concerned with reelection.
A Better War: Lewis Sorley first argues that not very much attention has been given to the period after Tet in former accounts of the conflict in Vietnam. He also argues that by 1971 we had “won” the war, and by withdrawing after this, the war was no longer won. He argues that pacification had been extremely effective up to this point and that with more aid, S. Vietnam could have taken over the war, given a little bit longer time to prepare them. However, budget constraints and the complaints of the American public were what (regrettably) truncated the war.
Ch. 13, Document 1: The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) explains in ’65 why it is in opposition to the war. They feel as if it is generally immoral and against the idea of a truly decent and democratic nation. They feel like people would choose peaceful activities over being drafted.
Document 2: Carl Oglesby speaks in Washington, and argues that there might be two kinds of liberals, since Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy were all liberals yet all pushed for war. He argues that one kind is authentically humanist and one is not so human at all. He also argues that what is happening in Vietnam is, in fact, a revolution, and that our forefathers would side with the Vietnamese and would argue against our involvement.
Document 3: MLK Jr. expresses his opposition to the war. He argues that the Poverty Program, which had been helping poor blacks, was now being disintegrated because of increased interest in and devotion to the war. He wondered how he could support the war when blacks at home still didn’t have the same rights as whites, even though they were supposed to fight with them for a common cause. His devotion to ministry also led him to oppose the war. If Jesus died for his enemies, he argued, how could he be against those engaged in a revolution, of which only about 25% was “Communist”?
Document 4: Women Strike for Peace decides to help and support draft-dodgers.
Document 5: Antidraft Resistance argues that individuals have beliefs, be they personal or religious, which are in direct conflict with having a direct association with the war in Vietnam. They argue that it is unconstitutional and in violation of international agreements, and therefore decide to aid draft dodgers.
Document 6: James Fallows, a former Harvard undergrad, describes how he and his friends avoided being drafted. He was met with a wave of relief, but then realized that the boys from Chelsea and other Boston suburbs, barely out of high school, would be the ones to go through the draft lines like cattle and would not object to being drafted. He said that he and his friends felt a sense of shame that none wanted to speak of since they knew what kind of boys would be killed.
Document 7: a Vietnam vet came home and was met at a bar with disgust from a family of four. He was proud of his service and did not let it get to him at the time, but it now angers him that the mother could have said to him what she did.
Document 8: Todd Gitlin recalls that as the war lost support in the late sixties, so did the antiwar movement. He says that many had to imagine that someone was fighting the war for noble causes, and it clearly was not the United States. Therefore, the protesters were not concerned necessarily with how best to end the war, but rather about whom they felt the warmest. This happened to fall on the Mao’s and Castro’s of the world rather than the United States.
Document 9: John Kerry, after returning from service in Vietnam, expresses his discontent with the war in Vietnam. He states that the war has brought out nothing but the worst in America’s soldiers, and that it is disgusting to think that many still held the idealistic image of liberation-minded soldiers. He found that most of the South Vietnamese were generally apathetic to the war effort, and typically just wished to go about their business without being bombed and flanked by helicopters.
The Antiwar Movement and American Society: Two authors track the antiwar movement from the fifties to the seventies. They track it as it gained strength exponentially with the escalation of troops in the late sixties. They argue that the reason why the antiwar movement was so ardent and so widely hated by others was that its constituents were extremely idealistic. They say that the antiwar movement did not force the United States to quit the war, but rather that the movement forced it to allow for differing opinion on the matter.
Women and Antiwar Activism: Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones argues that women were even bigger advocates of protesting the war than were men. Also argues that women had a tougher time than did blacks in terms of having their voice heard. Women supported the war at first, but this support quickly waned. Various theories as to why women are generally more opposed to war than are men, including the innate differences (nurturing tendency), that men are the exception from the generally peaceful norm, and that war just fosters patriarchy.
Movement Myths: Adam Garfinkle argues that the antiwar movement achieved the opposite of what its intentions were: it actually prolonged the war rather than ending it sooner by often tying the administration’s hands behind its back. He also argues that the movement had a greater impact on the United States than it did on the conflict in Vietnam. He argues that the movement should be seen as well-intentioned, but generally ineffective.
The Kissinger Telcons:

1: Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird is concerned as to what to do about the My Lai story, and when a witness is found to have numerous incriminating photographs, he is inclined to sweep it “under the rug.” Kissinger tells him this cannot be done, and Laird does not dissent.

2: Nixon orders massive attacks on North Vietnamese forces for the next day. The discussion brings up the issue of whether or not the Cold War U.S. Air Force was ready to handle conventional bombing operations instead of large-scale nuclear warfare.

3. Kissinger talks with Alexander Haig about what Nixon had just told him. They both realize that what Nixon has suggested is logistically impossible, so it shows that Kissinger had to, from time to time, decipher Nixon’s preposterous orders to find out if there was any “rational kernel” in it, and how to follow up on it.

4. Two weeks after the spring offensive, Nixon ordered massive bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, but worried that the bombing would jeopardize an upcoming Moscow summit. However, instead of “yelling and screaming” about the bombing, the Soviets decided rather to cultivate their relationship with the USA.

5. In a condescending meeting with the Soviet Ambassador to the U.S. (Anatoli Dobrynin), Kissinger described N. Vietnam as coming to Moscow “crying on [their] shoulder”. Dobrynin joked with Kissinger but did not know that the Americans were bombing Hanoi and Haiphong at the time.

6. During the Christmas bombing, instead of hitting enemy targets in Hanoi, U.S. bombs hit a hospital, killing 30 people. Kissinger speaks with S.o.D. Laird in order to try to put a “positive” spin on the bombing of military targets.

7. McNamara expresses his support for Kissinger and reassured him that “not everybody is as critical as some of those damn columnists.”

8. New York Times reporter reminds Kissinger that his telephone conversations may have been wiretapped because someone in the White House thought he was leaking stories to the press. The story eventually ran in the Times.

--Older Telecons:

1. Nixon and Kissinger talk about a “back channel” to Moscow  SoD Laird wanted to “get out” of Vietnam and would “pay a big price” to do so.

3. Kissinger advises Nixon to let Laird handle the My Lai massacre.

Bulletin: The Cold War in Asia, by Ilya Gaiduk (Sourcebook)

Prior to 1964, relations between the USSR and North Vietnam had been cooling due to the USSR's more moderate position on relations with the United States, which had come after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Soviet leaders wished to avoid an all out nuclear war against the United States, and thus eased their attitudes about US aggression in Vietnam. During this period, the DRV attempted to improve relations with Communist China, which further cooled Soviet-Vietnamese relations. However, with the removal of Khrushchev and installation of Brezhnev, the USSR changed its policy on Vietnam and took a more pro-active stance in favor of the DRV. Part of this can be attributed to the election of LBJ whose more right-wing politics gave room for the Soviets to be more active, whereas previously Kennedy's more moderate policies had left American-Soviet reconciliation a greater possibility.

With this new attitude in mind, the USSR began to publicly denounce the "imperialist" efforts of the USA in Vietnam and greatly increase its military and economic aid to Vietnam, up to 1.8 billion rubles in 1968. With this change in Soviet policy, the DRV attempted to line itself more in the middle between the USSR and PRC, without relying heavily on either. However, the DRV took the Soviet aid almost selfishly, using Soviet commercial ships as shields and stationing them near guns to possibly influence American planes not to bomb those areas with Soviet ships. Often the DRV would take the aid, while at the same time not heeding the counsel of Soviet advisors. With the DRV moving closer to the USSR, the PRC (which did not want an end to military hostilities) tried to disrupt Soviet railway aid shipments to the DRV. While US involvement in Vietnam gave the Soviets a rich subject for propaganda, they also feared having to enter a war with the US if the American used nuclear weapons on the DRV or further expanded the war.

By taking a more pro-active stance in Vietnam, the Soviets could use Vietnam as a live battlefield testing ground for their new military hardware. Also, they could obtain and analyze American hardware through the Vietnamese. However, the downside of this action was the hit the Soviets would take in terms of their economic aid to Vietnam. Although assistance was down to 316 million rubles by 1970, the USSR was growing more and more concerned with the possibility of the DRV’s breaking away. Therefore, the USSR sought a peaceful political solution and since the US had no bargaining power, it had to go through the USSR. The US had to convince the USSR that it had no real interest in the DRV and that the US would be forced into rapprochement with PRC if the Soviets would not deal with them. The one reason why the USSR was reluctant to deal with the US was that it seemed as if the real influence was not coming from the Politburo or the Foreign Ministry – it was coming from the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi.

The USSR would not act as a formal mediator for the US, but instead told the Americans that it would act as a “postman” and a “night watchman”. The USSR strongly advocated a cessation of all bombing of the DRV, and at the same time advised the DRV that 1968 would be the most favorable year to commence negotiations. When Nixon entered office, he was convinced, like his predecessors, that the USSR had supreme negotiating power over Hanoi. Gaiduk argues that despite the loss of lives and the entire debacle of the conflict in Vietnam, the negotiations and talks between the powers eventually allowed for the U.S.-Soviet détente of the early-mid-70s.
Week 11

1). James Freeman, Hearts of Sorrow pp169-195

2). McMahon Ch8 Americans in Combat

Ch 16 (169-179):

  • Testimony from a Vietnamese civil servant.

  • Diem Years: he was chief of a district and saw that the political situation was “not quiet.” In the South, Diem was confronted with rival political parties, the vegetarian Cao Dai, the Hoa Hao Buddhists, and the criminal Binh Xuyen, run by gangster Bay Vien.

  • Eg. Witnessed someone in a jeep with his chest blown away.

  • Eg2. Government officials refused to rebuild a bridge blown up by Viet Minh as Viet Minh would do it again if they rebuild it. So villagers had to do it on their own but the Viet Minh influenced the youths of saying that if they did rebuild it, the military of the South will use it. Later, youths were threatened to rebuild it.

  • Corruption in the South diminished its ability to resist Communists. VC very good sweet to villagers – they do housework for them. Together, making the South very unpopular among villagers and VC popular.

  • A cadre who worked for him was killed ‘coz he reported a corruption case.

  • For years he worked for Americans to collect opinions from villages and resolve their problems. 3 alleged communists tried to kill him, but failed.

  • Tet Years: Communists cheated people in the North telling them that their family needed them, telling them that their family would like to join them in liberation. And people believed it and they were equipped with weapons to come to the South etc. That’s the origin of Tet according to the Author.

  • Run for an election but failed to make it. People elected were mostly Catholic. Implying that abilities were not that much of a concern for people.

Ch17: (181-188)

    • Narrator: North Chinese-Vietnamese elder lived in Hanoi

    • Hanoi always had food shortages. Black market sells food in triple amount of $.

    • Communists have perfect propaganda making people believe that they were fighting for a just cause.

    • Thought that militarily American could win the war but not the heart of people after the Christmas bombing.

    • Propaganda said that Americans caused every fault. Eg Construction projects.

    • Hanoi was evacuated during Xmas bombing in 1972. People scared but so used to bombings. They had so many shelters built for that. Whenever people killed, Hanoi spread propaganda. B-52’s were scary. Jet bombings were not that big of a threat.

    • 90% of the North Vietnamese were poorly educated. They just followed the propaganda. The US failed to understand them and hence couldn’t win the war. They couldn’t fight the war head-on; they were trained to fight guerrilla warfare.

    • Life After the war: Most important Day the National day, September 2nd. People had to march to the streets and demonstrated. They needed to chants communists slogans. Hanoi wanted to make civilians hated against the U.S.. Later years, even the North people became so sick of communism that they would skipped the demonstration etc.

Ch19: (189-195):

      • Narrator: South Vietnamese elderly rural woman.

      • Her family was divided. Some worked for the north, some south. But most of them have miserable lives despite which sides they were helping. Eg. Her fourth brother got three sons. All killed. And later the Viet Minh also killed her bother.

      • Relatives did not love each other anymore due to the war. They betrayed even their relatives. Author ‘s main idea, the war separated family. Provided numerous examples from her family. Eg. Family members lived in the city were assumed to be associated with the French. Some joined the VC to survive as the French would kill villagers.

Mchahon Ch8:

        • Two testimonies about My Lai massacres: confirmed that it was a madly murder of civilians. 100-400 civilians were killed.

        • It was rare that VC wanted to fight a set-piece of war. They usually evaded.

        • My Lai explained by two theory: 1) racist theory against Asian.2) frontier-heritage theory in which soliders just broke down due to no churches, emotional problems, uncertainty of war, drug problems, racial conflicts.

        • Search and destroy never worked well as many US soldiers were killed by bb traps / ambushes.

        • Inadequacy of the south: Ky was just a joke. His idol was Hitler. Wrongly focused on body counts (i.e. leading to the massacre of civilians). Often body counts were exaggerated.

        • Soldiers unprepared for war. Probs: “fragging” = killing of own soldiers. Sedition, high desertion rate because of low morale.

        • It was a working class battle. 80% soldiers were from working class. People had low education level. 2 Harvard students from class 70 went to Vietnam. Many rich kids found excuses to avoid the draft. The selective draft system draft by lottery. But the problem was that these rich kids can still avoid drafting by pretending to be physically unsuitable.

Week XI, Tim O’Brien, Going After Cacciato

At the center of "Going After Cacciato" is Paul Berlin, a grunt in Vietman, not exactly horrified, nor contemplative, nor heroic. He could be, and probably was, any normal chap from any normal small American town. Berlin, if anything, is passive, not really a protagonist, but the departure point of our observation, a portal to the war. And it is from his patrol at an "observation post" that we witness many different slices or episodes of Berlin's experience. What is and isn't "real" in this experience is not quite clear, something the novel itself points out. Only "possibilties" exist. These possibilities make up, among other things, a trek on foot to Paris 8,000 miles away in pursuit of an AWOL comrade named Cacciato. This takes them through India, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, among other places. Our understanding of Berlin emerges as he is postioned in contrast to his fellow squad members. These include the cocksure Oscar Johnson; Sidney Martin the man of order, rules and will power; Lieutenant Corson, the sympathetic martyr; and Sankin Aung Wan, a source of comfort, confidence, and a possible love interest. Along the way they, their search becomes a lot wider than for Cacciato.
O'Brien has a way of "painting the picture" for the reader. For instance, six pages consist of detail about a quiet forest. O'Brien likes to forshadow, and use flash backs as his literary devices.
Berlin, tired of the war, wants to escape using his imagination. Him and the others, including Sarkin Aung Wan (Vietnamese "girlfriend"), like the idea of walking to Paris. Through many trials and tribulations (inprisonment by the government because of no passports, ambushes, etc.), the team trecks on. Many times Cacciato is almost caught, but he sets numerous booby-traps to escape his hunters.
The story is a war-fiction. It takes place in three parts: first is the war itself, the second is in Paris, and the third at the Observation Post.
This novel is kind of like the 6th Sense in that it has a major surprise ending.  All of a sudden you realize that most of the story was Paul Berlin's imagination.

Cacciato was really reported MIA, but MOST of the adventures, like in Afghanistan and Paris, are all false. Notice how throughout, the narrator gives clues like, "And for Paul Berlin, the dreamer, it's all real." (pg. 292)  ...implying that he's dreaming the whole thing.

At the very end, Berlin accidentally shoots his rifle, in reality, and this coincides with his dream of walking into Cacciato's hotel room, and he wakes up.
Week 12
Chapter 11-The Ally: South Vietnam
Documents 1-Ngo Dinh Diem Requests Additional U.S. Aid 1957

  • Three years into Diem’s term as President of Vietnam, Eisenhower asks him to delineate principal problems Diem is facing.

  • Problems of setting up internal security and defense had been addressed thanks to American economic aid.

  • Problems facing Vietnam:

- South Vietnam has to defend itself from Vietminh offensive (400 thousand men) and the threat of Red China.

  • However, Diem believed that South Vietnam could fend off the enemy by outlasting their unstable economy.

  • Diem mentioned his gratitutde for the “magnitude of American aid” and also expressed the Vietnam’s need to continue receiving economic aid if South Vietnam is going to become a viable state.

Document 2- Tran Van Don on the Need For Reforms After the Coup Against Diem (1963), 1978

  • After the coup General Big Minh was chosen to the head of Miliary Revolutionary Council and Nguyen Ngoc Tho (former vice president) became appointed prime minister. Tho was to provide a smooth transition from the old regime to the new one.

  • New gov’t wanted to cleanse army of corruption, return freedom of speech and religion to its people, abolish harsh labor caused by hamlet program.

  • Tho’s gov’t was having difficulties w/o American Aid (had been suspended months before the coup), people did not reach agreements.

  • Tran Van Don submitted a plan to combat NLF by winnig the support of the population (especially in the rural areas) and then destroying the enemy militarily. Pressured gov’t officials to give up their luxuries to get more in touch with the people.

Document 3- Nguyen Cao Ky on the Battle of Hearts and Minds 1976

  • Communism was not appealing to Vietnamese because Vietnamese were poor, like most Americans believed.

  • Ky, as Prime Minister, launched a program in South Vietnam of “social justice” by giving Vietnamese what they worked for.

  • Ky recognized that the North was exploiting the wide-spread corruption in the party to gain support of peasants.

  • He wanted to use “freedom” as leverage for peasant support and mimic American Democratic policy .

  • He saw South Vietnamese gov’t as failures because they failed to unite the Vietnamse or just the South Vietnamese.

  • Criticized American involvement in the war and government since it tended to pick leaders whot were “most ocmplian rather than the most gifted.”

  • South Vietnam would have survived if America had kept up their economic aid but had not meddled so much in the war.

Document 4- Nguyen Van Thieu’s Address to the National Assembly, 1969.

  • Six steps to have peace in Vietnam

  1. Northern Communist aggression should stop

  2. Should demoblilize its troops and cadres from Republic of Vietnam

  3. Territorial boundaries between North and South should nto be violated.

  4. RVN adopts a policy of National Reconciliation, granting pardon to anyone who was fighting against them and then renounces Communism.

  5. Reunification should be the democratic choice of all the people in South Vietnam.

  6. Thieu wanted international support if Communism aggression were to resurface

Document 5: An American Serviceman’s Viet of the South Vietnamese., 1987

  • Cultural insensitivity (displacing rice farmers from their own lands) triggered Vietnamese hatred and mistrust on Americans when many of Americnas saw themselves as liberators or heroes.

  • American soldiers did not have confidence in their Southern Vietnamese ally soldiers. One reason was because they could easily turn from being an ally to being the enemy. South Vietnamese were also seen as bad fighters.

Essay 1. A Doomed Dependency

  • US impact on Vietnam in the late 1960s was “decisive and irreversible.”

  • US had hit Vietnams with “greatest flood of firepower” causing many deaths, injuries, and destruction of homes.

  • To prevent Southern peasants to be influenced by VC propaganda, US pushed for program that would displace peasants from their homes in to refugee camps or urban settings.

  • Forced urbaniztion was just one more of “cultural assault” the Vietnamse had to endure.

  • Students and intelligentsia in the RVN became sympathetic to the NLF cause.

  • South Vietnam became completely dependent on America economically, structurally, and militarily.

  • The RVN government had become increasingly corrupt even after Diem’s regime. Officials were after their own personal interests.

  • Nguyen Van Thieu became President after Diem and showed ability in unifying different part of South Vietnamese society to improve the state’s condition.

  • However, corruption plagued the government. State officials were unqualified but were extremely loyal to Thieu.

  • Corruption also cuased a ever-growing economic gap between the Vietnamese elite and the Vietnamese peasant. This caused peasants to be skeptical of the government and trust on the NLF.

  • Without American aid the Thieu gov’t would not be able to function.

  • Chinese investors who were the primary supporters for Thieu’s government were reluctant to completely invest their trust in Thieu’s gov’t because they knew that generals were transient and state politically unstable.

  • America’s economy had become increasingly weak because of the aid that it was giving South Vietnam. Therefore, they decided to stop and withdraw. However, this left South Vietnam “structurally very wear and vulnerable” in every aspect.

Essay 2 A Viable State

  • Bui Diem accepts that Southern Vietnamese officials should take some of the blame for South Vietnam’s fall.

  • However, he then indicates that South Vietnam was a victim of French colonialism, Vietnam’s Communists, and American intervention.

  • Vietnam’s nationalists were forced to choose and compromise their beliefs to alighn themselves with a specific cause.

  • American intervention was the most damaging but it was not intended to be harmful.

  • Bui believes that despite the rampant corruption in the gov’t South Vietnam it would have still been viable since it had some “good people.”

  • Bui welcomes the aid but he did not think, American intervention was effective.

  • First, Americans had condescending attitudes toward Veitnam .So, the “came in and took over.” This move of course led to Americans taking in all of the military burden instead of allowing immediate Vietnamization of the war.

  • That would have also decreased the American casualties and could have also saved a lot of years of fighting in Vietnamese soil.

  • Bui Diem thought that in the year of 65-67 South Vietnam was progressing politically beucase it had held elections during the war. Howevever, the results were affected by the fact that America wanted a “stable” government as opposed to an effective one. This policy allowed for corruption in the government as long as stability was accomplished (especially in Thieu’s gov’t.)

  • 69- Nixon and Kissinger were already engineering ways in which to leave the conflict.

  • Although American soldiers fought hard for South Vietnam, American Congress was not as supportive of their South Vietnamese Ally.

  • Bui Diem blames the loss of the war on the premature American withdrawal and on the betrayal of the American Congress. Congress was pressured by the American public to leave Vietnam.

Chapter 14


  • Nixon reassures Thieu of his future as President of Vietnam.

  • He also is urging Thieu to not have second thoughts about going to the Peace meeting in Paris, because that move will be taken as a sign of hostility and as a sign of a divided front between the US and South Vietnam.

  • Also, Nixon assures Thieu that North Vietnam tries to violate peace agreement, the US will step in defense.

Document 2- Paris Accords of 1973

  • Chapter 1

  • All countries should respect the independence of Vietnam as they are specified in the Geneva Accords (partitioned by the 17th parallel)

  • Chapter 2

  • Ceasefire on January 27, 1973.

  • US will stay out of the internal affairs of South Vietnam ( resembles PRG demand)

- Chapter 3

  • Must return POWs to the respective sides.

  • Must also help each other obtaining information on MIA

  • Chapter 4

  • US and the DRVN have to respect the rights of the South Vietnamese people to choose their own government.

  • These articles on the democratic liberties are very vague and do not provide a way in which they would be applied in the new government,

  • Chapter 5

  • Reunification should happen slowly, peacefully, and without the interference of any foreign force.

  • Did not allow North or South Vietnam to join any military alliance of bloc with any other countries.

Document 3

  • Henry Kissinger (1973) is asking Congress to provide the South Vietnamese government with more aid.

  • He wants aid because South Vietnam is in dire need of it since the economic aid has slowly been decreasing since 1973.

  • North Vietnam is better equipped and with a higher morale because of their recent victories over South Vietnam.

  • He believes that America has a moral obligation to help South Vietnam to uphold America’s credibility and honor.

Document 4

  • James R. Schlesinger Jr Recalls the Collapse of South Vietnam 1987.

  • First sign of defeat was when America would not respond to series of attacks made at the end of 1974 and beginning of 1975.

  • This was the cause of the Congressional restraints established in 1973.

  • General Fred Wayand came back from Southeast Asia and reported that 650 million dollars were needed to fight back. Vietnam was a lost hope at that point.

Document 5

South Vietnamese Pilot Reflects on His Country’s Defeat in 1990

  • By 1975, there was no fuel, plane parts, or bullets.

  • However, American presence was felt because the generals and top officials were Americans.

  • Soldiers deserted Vietnam knowing that they would have to live under Communism.

  • Some took refuge in Hong Kong.

Document 6

A South Vietnamese Civilian Remembers His Last Days in Saigon 1990

  • Some people were trying to escape to America days before the Communists took Saigon.

Document 7

A North Vietnamese Commander Celebrates the “Great Spring Victory” in 1977.

  • Bragged about the monumental aid given by the US but all in vain because the Communists ended up winning in the end.

  • Owed Northern soldiers’ spirits of determination to the ideology of Communism and nationalism.

  • Ho Chi Minh was also a source of inspiration.

  • South Vietnamese people responded well to Communist call.

Document 8

Nixon blames Congress for the Fall of South Vietnam

  • Congress forced Thieu to fight a war with firepower reduced by 60 percent and his mobility reduced by half because there was no fuel, planes, or vehicles.

Essay 1 –The Betrayal of South Vietnam

  • Paris accords forced ceasefire on both sides.

  • They also forced US out of Vietnam 60 days after the day the 1973 accords were signed.

  • However, peace was not reached after the papers were signed because the Vietcong launched an attack against South Vietnam.

  • Thieu recognized that Communists would use American withdrawal as a sign to attack and he was ready to defend his South Vietnam by threatening to kill if the Vietcong try to attack.

  • People were intensely divided in their support for the GVN or the VC.

  • Thieu was against Article 1 because it did not clearly give Saigon sovereignty over South Vietnam. He also wanted the 17 parallel to be recognized as a legitimate political boundary . Article 1 to him sounded too much like the NLF’s Ten Points in May 1969.

  • Thieu felt as if the Paris accords had given North Vietnam “favorable conditions” to take over South Vietnam.

  • The striking similarities between the Ten Points and the Paris Accords leads Kolko to believe that many died for no reason.

  • Vice Pres Ky thought that the Accords were the end of the war for America but not for Hanoi.

  • Concessions made by Americans were more significant because they were more concerned about getting their troops, and their POWs than about ensuring South Vietnamese independence.

  • America could not provide a reasonable chance for South Vietnam to survive because that would violate the Peace Accords of 1973.

  • Nixon had trusted that Americans would rally behind the South Vietnamese gov’t trying to fend off Communists, however, the American public was too weary of war.

  • Kissinger wanted to bomb once more to discourage North Vietnam for a little bit longer so that the Nixon Kissinger team would not be blamed for the South falling. He was sure the need to bomb because he was sure that the Peace Accords would not guarantee peace.

  • However, the American public was not going to support the government violating the Peace Accords even if it was as a response to the North Vietnamese violating the Peace Accords first.

Essay 2 The North Vietnamese-NLF Triumph

  • The Saigon Revolution was actually made possible by DRV forces.

  • After Peace Accords North and South Vietnam had to decide the future fate of the government and schedule elections.

  • South Vietnam wanted early elections because it wanted to take advantage of the fact that DRV forces were being removed from the South and also did not wan to give the South time to organize.

  • The NLF presented their plan: a list of political considerations had to be made agreed by both sides and only then could elections proceed.

  • Each side rejected each other’s proposal.

  • Lao Dong’s Defensive posture said that Hanoi was skeptical of the South allowing fair elections and so wanted for cadres to maintain peace and to continue the revolution in the South .

  • Lao Dong officials met again in mid-April and decided that the North must build its military forces and use force to make the US “de-escalate.”

  • Le Duan was for the use of force because he felt that the South was ready to revolt. While Chinh felt that the Party should concentrate their efforts on developing economic policy in the North because America could bomb at any time.

  • Finally the Lao Dong officials reached the conclusion that the revolution shall continue in the South with NLF help calling it Resolution 21.

  • Saigon used this as proof that the North was blatantly rejecting the Peace Accords and therefore Theiu was to be justified in attacking the North. However, he also hoped that the US was going to step in but Congressional constraints prohibited America to intervene.

  • Saigon was left without aid and left to fend for itself.

  • Spring of 194- Thieu launched the “rice war” which basically starved out the North by not allowing the North to buy or receive rice from the South .

  • This “war” ultimately backfired because it caused starvation in the South as well.

  • Thieu gained many enemies including criticism from the US because of the war and his corrupt government. The US saw what it had done and wanted to restore confidence in Thieu but by then the damage had been done.

  • April 19- Gave south ultimatum to either get rid of Thieu or North would have to take over the South by force.

Harshest Incarceration
This article is about a SVN official who was sent to the reeducation camps after the communist takeover; really, though, he was just basically a political prisoner doing manual
labor with little food and under harsh conditions.

They were crowded into small cells- with 80 to 90 people living in a 6x12 m

room.  The prisoners were made to farm eight hours/day year round.
They had to use manure--fresh human and cow feces as fertilizer--and were
forced to carry it with their bare hands.  If they had challenged their
supervising officer, they would be prevented from washing their hands for
up to a week.  So day in day out they would handle this manure, not
washing their hands or bodies, mind you, and have to eat with their
hands, etc. But they didn't get sick!

The food they were given wasn't enough.  The author lost almost half

his body weight in the two years that he was there.  Since they were
malnourished, they often tried to steal some of the crop they were
harvesting.  To deter this, the prison guards had the peanuts sprayed with
DDT.  The prisoners were so desperate that they would eat the peanuts raw
with the DDT still on it.  Again, amazingly, they didn't get sick.  In
fact, the authors said that the DDT actually helped them by killing their
intestinal worms, thereby decreasing their hunger.

Their water was also contaminated--with the same water where they would

urinate and defecate.

The author also describes solitary confinement cells where prisoners would

be kept as punishment.  It was a small room, with no windows or light.
The prisoner would have one leg chained and would only receive half their
food rations.  Usually the prisoner would be kept there for ten days.  But
there were two catholic priests who were kept there for more than two
years; when the author was released in one of the amnesty periods, they
were still there; they had not been let out at all.

They also had weekly self-criticism meetings; which really demoralized the

author.  Because he was fifty-two years old he did not reach his farming
quota as fast as the other prisoners did, but they would all criticize
him, saying that he ate the same amount as them, but was unable to work
on their level. This kind of pointed out to me one of the ways the
communist party had set up the imprisonment to break the prisoners: turning them on
one another with repetitive criticism.

The author attempted suicide twice by overdosing on anti-malarial drugs

that he had hid in his cell, but he just ended up sick both times.

The author got an ulcer, and an unlicensed communist official did a

surgery on him, which was unsanitary.  Basically he had constant diarrhea
for a period of weeks, and was on the verge of death from dehydration,
when they released him on the amnesty program.

His fellow prisoners were still left there.

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