Unit objectives

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  1. Understand the relationship between nationalism and conflict in the Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

  2. Explain the connection between domestic political concerns and foreign policy objectives.

  3. Consider the connection between events in the area under study and the war on terrorism.

  4. Understand the importance of WWI, WWII, and the Cold War in shaping the history of the Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

  5. Evaluate the extent and role of modernization/globalization in the areas under study.

  6. Discuss the persistence of class or caste as key social and political divisions in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.



Imperialism General Giap U.S.S. Maddox

French Indochina Guerilla Warfare Dean Rusk

Vietnam Dien Bien Phu Robert McNamara

Laos Geneva Accords, 1954 General Westmoreland

Cambodia 38th Parallel Attrition

Thailand John Foster Dulles Rolling Thunder

Hanoi Ngo Dinh Diem Search and Destroy

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) ARVN Body Counts

Russo-Japanese War “flexible retaliation” Ho Chi Minh Trail

Ho Chi Minh Green Berets Tet Offensive

Viet Minh/Viet Cong Strategic Hamlets My Lai Massacre

August Revolution NSAM-288 Vietnamization

Harry S. Truman Gulf of Tonkin Incident Paris Peace Accords, 1973

Dwight D. Eisenhower Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Charles DeGaulle U.S.S. Card


1887 French defeat China and establish a colony in Vietnam

1890 Ho Chi Minh born
1905 Russo-Japanese War deflates the myth of white racial superiority
1917 Ho Chi Minh works for a socialist newspaper in Paris
1930-31 Rioting in French Indochina leads to formation of Viet Minh
1930s Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh alternately battle the French and support Mao Zedong in China
1935 Thailand (formerly Siam) wins its independence
1940 French surrender control of Vietnam to the Japanese
1940-45 Viet Minh battle the Japanese and support the United States in its Pacific campaign
1945 Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnamese independence in the August 16 Revolution
1945-54 French battle Viet Minh for control of Vietnam
1950-54 Fearful of Domino Effect United States begins to supply the French with arms and advisors
1954 French defeated at Dien Bien Phu
1954 Geneva Accords split Vietnam at 38th Parallel and call for reunification elections in 1956
1955 With U.S. backing Ngo Dinh Diem takes power in South Vietnam
1956 700 U.S. advisors in South Vietnam; Reunification elections do not take place
1961 1900 U.S. advisors in South Vietnam
1962 11,000 U.S. advisors in South Vietnam
1963 1,000 Green Berets sent to South Vietnam
1963 Diem assassinated in military coup
1964 NSAM-288
1964 Golf of Tonkin Incident—1 August, American PT boats allegedly fired upon
1964 Golf of Tonkin Resolution (10 August 1964) grants LBJ broad authority to use “whatever force is necessary” to assist South Vietnam
1965 U.S. ground troops arrive in South Vietnam; Rolling Thunder campaign begins in February
1965 LBJ decides upon plan of “attrition” in July
1966 First B52 raids of North Vietnam
1966 385,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam
1968 Tet Offensive on 30 January
1968 Over 500,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam; LBJ chooses not to run for reelection
1968 Richard Nixon wins the ’68 presidential elections on the platform of Vietnamization and “peace with honor”
1969 Nixon authorizes secret bombing campaign of Cambodia
1970 Secret attacks on VC strongholds in Cambodia become known publicly; anti-war demonstrations increase
1972 Nixon orders bombing of Hanoi
1973 United States withdraws from South Vietnam
1975 North Vietnamese army takes control of Saigon and reunifies the country under Ho Chi Minh’s communist rule
1979 China briefly invades Northern part of Vietnam; border war lasts over a year


  1. Identify the sequence of events leading to the creation of the Vietnam.

  2. Understand the connection between the French and U.S. agendas on the one hand and Vietnamese social and political realities on the other.

  3. Discuss the Cold War’s role in the Vietnamese independence movement.

  4. Evaluate the real nature of the Vietnamese conflict or conflicts.

  5. Assess the lasting implications of the war for both Vietnam and the United States

  6. Compare and contrast Vietnam’s independence movement with those of other countries you have studied.


    1. Vietnam in the Nineteenth Century

      1. Social and Economic Realities

      2. History of Conflict

        1. China

        2. France

      3. French Colonization, 1887

    1. Ho Chi Minh and the Genesis of Vietnamese Nationalism

      1. Russo-Japanese War

      2. French Influence

      3. Ho travels to Paris

    1. Anti-French Riots and the Formation of the Viet Minh

      1. Anti-imperial struggle in the 1930s

      2. Exile in China

      3. Lessons Learned

      4. The Japanese invasion

    1. Vietnam in the 1940s

      1. Unlikely Allies

      2. FDR’s influence

      3. The August Revolution, 1945

      4. Cold War Concerns lead the U.S. to support France

        1. NATO

        2. United Nations

    1. The Indochina War, 1945-54

      1. French strategies

      2. Viet Minh improvisations

      3. Increasing U.S. presence after 1950

      4. Dien Bien Phu, 1954

      5. Flawed Peace—the Geneva Accords

    1. Deepening Involvement—The U.S. in Vietnam, 1954-65

      1. The Eisenhower Perception

        1. U.S. focus elsewhere

        2. Southeast Asia policy

      2. The North Vietnamese Perception

      3. The South Vietnamese Perception

      4. What is the real nature of the conflict?

      5. Kennedy ups the ante

        1. Domestic motivations

        2. Foreign policy considerations

      6. The removal of Diem

      7. Evaluating U.S. involvement from 1954 to 1964

        1. NSAM-288

      8. Gulf of Tonkin Incident

        1. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

    1. The U.S. Engages in Limited War While Ho Chi Minh Engages in Total War

      1. Genesis of Attrition plan

        1. Objectives

        2. Means

        3. Limitations

        4. Assessing Attrition

      2. The South Vietnamese Role

        1. Consequences

2. Foreshadowing of things to come?

      1. A Critical Juncture—1967

        1. Influence of U.S. domestic concerns on Vietnam policy

      2. The Tet Offensive of January 1968

        1. Consequences for Vietnam

        2. Consequences for the United States

    1. Vietnamization, or Haven’t We Been Here Before?

      1. Nixon’s Vietnam policy

        1. Historical experience

        2. South Vietnamese political, economic, and military realities

      2. Ho Chi Minh’s perceptions and misperceptions of Vietnamization

      3. Loss of morale in SVN and U.S.

      4. Domestic Concerns Weigh In Again

        1. Nixon catches flak for “secret” war in Cambodia (1970) and B52 raids on Hanoi (1972)

        2. Ho’s strategy for the peace talks

    1. U.S. Withdrawal and South Vietnamese Collapse

      1. Downward Spiral from 1973-75

      2. Life in Post-War Vietnam

        1. North-South Divisions

        2. Social landscape destroyed by war

        3. Economy weak

        4. Heavy political repression

      3. China sees its chance

        1. The 1979-80 Border War

    1. Vietnam in the 1980s and 1990s

      1. Success or Failure?

        1. Assessing the above in light of the destructiveness of the independence conflict

        2. Looking toward the future



Mughal Empire Salt March Kashmir

Hinduism Spinning Wheel Movement Hari Singh

Caste System Quit India Bill, 1942 Bangladesh

Untouchables Pakistan General Musharraf

Islam Jawaharlal Nehru Taliban

Sikhism Indira Gandhi Al Quaida

Jainism Green Revolution Abdul Gani Lone

Buddhism Punjab Vaijparee

Congress Party Golden Temple in Amritsar War on Terror

Mohandas Gandhi Rajiv Gandhi

Satyargha V.P. Singh


1744-64 As the Mughal Empire weakens, Great Britain battles France for control of India

1764 India becomes a colony in the British Empire
1885 Congress Party formed in India
1906 Muslim League founded; dedicated to separation of Hindus and Muslims
1914-18 Indian troops fight for British in WWI
1919 Colonial reforms lead to limited representative government
1920 Gandhi begins his peaceful protest
1930 Salt March and Spinning Wheel Movement call attention to India’s bid for independence
1935 New British Constitution for India
1942 Congress Party sponsors the Quit India Bill
1947 British leave after creating East and West Pakistan to quell Muslim concerns
1947-48 Hundreds of thousands killed during the violence that accompanies the refugee movements involving tens of millions; fighting breaks out in Kashmir
1948 Gandhi assassinated on 30 January by Hindu extremist
1948 Jawaharlal Nehru becomes leader of India
1949 Ceasefire in Kashmir
1955 India’s Nehru hosts first international meeting of non-aligned nations
1956 Indian states reorganized based on language
1956 Pakistani Constitution declares the country to be an Islamic State
1958-70 Military Dictatorship in Pakistan
1962 India experiences border conflict with China
1964 Nehru dies and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, becomes India’s new leader
1965 India and Pakistan fight a brief border war
1965-66 Extensive famine leads Indira Gandhi to implement the so-called “Green Revolution”
1971 Revolt in East Pakistan leads to creation of Bangladesh; India and Pakistan briefly go to war
1974 India unveils nuclear power plant
1975-77 State of national emergency in India; Civil Rights suspended
1976 India and Pakistan reestablish relations at ambassadorial level
1980 Indira Gandhi reelected
1984 Following repression of Sikh sect in Amritsar, Indira Gandhi is assassinated
1989 India test fires medium range ballistic missile
1990 Elected the previous year, V.P. Singh undertakes economic reforms in India
1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassinated
1996 Hindu Nationalist BP party becomes largest political party in India
1998 Pakistan engages in nuclear weapons tests
1998 Fundamentalist Hindu party takes control in India; pledges crackdown on religious militants and pledges to continue nuclear weapons tests
1998 BP party’s Atal Behari Vajpayee
1999 India and Pakistan go to war over Kashmir in May
1999 United States forces Pakistani president Nawaz Sharif to loosen ties to terrorist groups in Kashmir
1999 General Musharraf seizes power in Pakistan
2001 Pakistan joins U.S. in War on Terror
2001 December Islamic terrorist attack on Indian parliament leads to heightened tensions
2002 India test fires nuclear capable missile in January
2002 Religious violence leaves over 800 Muslims dead in February following an Islamic terrorist attack on Indian pilgrims


  1. Identify the connection between nationalism and conflict on the Indian subcontinent.

  2. Assess the role of external factors (i.e. WWI, WWII, and the Cold War) in shaping the region’s history.

  3. Evaluate the role of religion in understanding both internal and external conflicts in the region.

  4. Discuss the extent to which foreign policy is or is not dependent on internal issues.

  5. Assess the pros and cons of a one party political system and of India’s democratic experience.

  6. Consider the prospects for lasting peace in the region and the obstacles that must be overcome in order to achieve it.

  7. Compare and contrast the experiences of the Indian subcontinent with those of Southeast Asia, the Balkans, and the Middle East.

  8. Identify the connection between developments in this region and international terrorism.


    1. The Subcontinent in the Nineteenth Century

      1. History

      2. Social and Political Context

      3. Religion

      4. Early Nationalist Impulses

    1. The World War I experience and Colonial India

      1. Changed perceptions of the British

      2. The non-violent movement of Mohandas Gandhi

      3. Britain responds to Indian pressure

    1. World War II and Independence

      1. Internal Divisions

      2. The Quit India Bill

      3. Dividing the Former Colony

      4. British Withdrawal

      5. Violence Erupts in 1947

      6. The Kashmir issue

    1. India Under Nehru, 1952-64

      1. Domestic Politics

      2. Foreign Policy

        1. Non-alignment

        2. Pakistan

        3. China

        4. End of an era

    1. Indira Gandhi at the helm, 1964-77, 1980-84

      1. Challenges new and old

      2. Troubled Democracy

      3. The Green Revolution

      4. Heightened Tensions

        1. Internal

          1. State of Emergency

          2. Fallout

        2. External

      5. Religious Violence takes its toll

    1. Indian politics take a turn to the Right

      1. Rajiv Gandhi, the last moderate?

      2. Hindu Nationalist BP party eclipses the Congress Party

      3. Internal Crackdown

      4. Foreign Policy

        1. Indian arms race?

        2. Kashmir

        3. Connections to internal difficulties

    1. Pakistan, 1947-98

      1. Political and Religious Orientation

        1. The Failure of Democracy

        2. Cold War ties

      2. The Troubled Border

        1. 1947-49 war

        2. 1965 War

        3. 1971 War

        4. 1999 War

C. Civil War and the independence of Bangladesh

      1. Regional influence

        1. Afghanistan

        2. Iran

        3. Kashmir

      2. Weapons program and links to terrorism

      3. The coming of Musharraf

    1. Dateline: The Present


  1. What factor most shapes independence movements? Vietnam and India were two of many former colonies that obtained their independence in the wake of World War II. This has lead many historians to argue that the Cold War played the decisive role in shaping the independence experiences of former colonies. Other historians have disagreed, contending that the Cold War often remained in the distant background. Your job is to assess these two positions as you compare and contrast the Vietnamese and Indian paths to independence and the present.

  1. Do internal politics dictate foreign policy? Many scholars contend that the Pakistani-Indian conflict can only be understood in light of domestic issues and tensions on both sides. Another group of analysts maintain that such conflicts exist independent of any internal concerns. Write an essay in which you evaluate the importance of Indian and Pakistani domestic concerns toward their mutually combative foreign policies.

  1. What ultimately lead to Vietnamese independence and unification? Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara reflected several years ago that Washington completely misunderstood the conflict and the issues involved. Critics of the war argue that, misperceptions aside, deeper commitment would have lead to a U.S./South Vietnamese victory. Write an essay in which you assess events, perceptions, and objectives from 1945 to 1975 and explain how they lead to victories over France and the United States.

Afghanistan Vietnam Gulf of Tonkin

Pakistan Malaysia Sea of Japan

India Indonesia Arabian Sea

Sri Lanka Philippines

Nepal Taiwan

Bhutan Japan

Bangladesh North Korea

Myanmar (Burma) South Korea

Thailand China

Laos Mongolia

Cambodia South China Sea

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