History 183, The Vietnam War

Professor Richard H. Immerman


What is Vietnam?

I. Geography
        A. Tonkin
                1. Red River Delta
                2. Hanoi
        B. Annam
                1. Mountains/Highlands
                2. Hue
        C. Cochin China
                1. Mekong Delta
                2. Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
II. Demography
        A. Vietnamese
        B. Meo, Hmong, Thai
        C. Montagnards
        D. Chams
        E. Khmers
        F. Chinese
III. Little Tradition v. Great Tradition
        A. Villages
        B. Confucianism
        C. Hierarchy

Sinicization, Liberation, & Unification

I. Chinese Rule (111 B.C.-939 A.D.)
        A. Rebellion (e.g. Trung Sisters)
        B. Aculturalization
II. Millenium of Freedom (939 AD - 1880s)
        A. Centralization
        B. March to the South
III. Partition and Unification
        A. Trinh v. Nguyen Dynasties
        B. Tayson Rebellion
        C. Nguyen Anh/Gia Long

Conquest and Colonization

I. Catholic heretics and subversives
II. Napoleon III and the New Imperialism
        A. Index of Status
        B. Industrial Revolution
        C. China Market
III. The Conquest
        A. First Phase (1858-1862)
                1. Treaty of Saigon
                2. Colony of Cochin China
                (3. Cambodia--1863)
        B. Second Phase (1873-1874)
            1. Treaty of Hanoi
                2. Red River
                3. French "veto"
        C. Third Phase (1882-1885)
                1. Treaty of Hue
            2. Treaty of Tianjin
                3. Tonkin/Annam protectorates
IV. Indochinese Union (1887)
        A. Cochin China
        B. Tonkin/Annam
        C. Cambodia/Laos
V. Rape of Vietnam

Go West (East) Young Man

I. The Imperial Tradition
II. Manifest Destiny
III. Europe Distresses Mean American Successes
IV. Window to China
V. The New Empire
        A. Economic Imperatives
        B. Ideological Justifications
VI. Stepping Stones to Asia

Wilson's Brave New World

I. Wilson v. Lenin
        A. Idealism
        B. Nationalism = Internationalism
        C. Mirror Imaging
II. Wilsonianism
III. World War I
IV. Fourteen Points
V. Versailles (Paris) Peace Conference
VI. Ho Chi Who?

Rise of Nationalism

I. State v. Village
II. Initial Leadership
        A. Mandarins
        B. Scholars/Intellectuals
III. Inspiration from China/Japan
IV. Phan Boi Chau (1867-1940)
        A. Reformation/Restoration Society (1903)
        B. History of the Loss of Vietnam (1910)
        C. Inherent weaknesses
V. A New Leadership
        A. French Educated Yuppies
        B. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
        C. Trojan Horse

The Road to Communism

I. "Modern" Nationalism
        A. Vietnamese Nationalist Party
            (Viet Nam Quoc Dan Duong--VNQDD)
        B. KMT model
        C. Terrorism: A messenger without a message
        D. 1930-31 Uprisings
        E. Decapitation
II. Communist Nationalism
        A. Nguyen Sinh Cung (b. ca. 1890)
                1. Nguyen Tat Than--Nguyen Who Will Succeed
                2. Nguyen Ai Quoc--Nguyen the Patriot
                3. Ho Chi Minh--He Who is Enlightened
                        a. Geographic and Political Odyssey
                        b. Leninist Principles
        B. Revolutionary Youth League (RYL) -- 1925
        C. Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) -- 1930
        D. Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) -- 1930
III. United Front and Return to China

Roosevelt Discovers Vietnam

I. Depression and Aggression
II. Japan's New Order
        A. Manchukuo
        B. Sino-Japanese War
        C. East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
III. Four Policemen
IV. Trusteeship Proposal
        A. Teheran--November 1943
        B. British Opposition
        C. Yalta--February 1945
V. France's Restoration


I. Power Vacuum
        A. Japanese Occupation
        B. Vichy Collaboration
II. Ho and the Vietminh
        A. Vietminh = Vietnam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi
        B. League for the Independence of Vietnam
        C. Nationalist Priority
        D. United Front
III. "People's War"
        A. Vo Nguyen Giap
        B. Viet Bac
        C. Army of National Salvation
        D. "Right Opportunity"
IV. OSS Collaboration
V. March 1945 Coup
        A. French Imprisonment
        B. Bao Dai Puppet
        C. Famine
VI. August Revolution
        A. Bao Dai Abdication
        B. Declaration of Independence
        C. Democratic Republic of Vietnam

First Indochina War

I. Division of Vietnam
        A. British (Gracey)
        B. Chinese
        C. French
II. Ho's Negotiations
        A. Breathing Space
        B. Sainteny then Fontainebleau
        C. Failure
III. Haiphong to Viet Bac
IV. Giap's People's War
        A. Maoist Strategy
        B. Withdrawal to Equilibrium (1947-1949)
        C. PRC Recognition/Border Offensive (1950)
        D. General Offensive (1951)
V. French Response
        A. Elysee Agreements: Bao Dai/ASV
        B. de Lattre to the Rescue
VI. Protracted War

The TrumanPrelude

I. Change or Continuity
II. Containment in Indochina
        A. Truman Doctrine
        B. Atlantic Alliance
        C. Great Crescent
        D. Ultimate Domino
III. Bao Dai Solution
IV. The Korean War
V. The Rock and the Hard Place
        A. M.D.A.P. (Mutual Defense and Assistance Program)
        B. M.A.A.G. (Military Assistance and Advisory Group)

The Day We Didn't Go to War

I. Eisenhower's New Look
II. Navarre Plan
        A. Doubts
        B. Dien Bien Phu
III. Berlin Conference
IV. Operation Vulture
        A. Radford
        B. Ely
        C. Bidault
V. Congressional Complicity
VI. United Action
VII. Falling Dominoes

Geneva Discords

I. Battle with the Devil
        A. Success in Failure
        B. John Foster Dulles
        C. Pham Van Dong
II. Cracking the Monolith
        A. Walter Bedell ("Beetle") Smith
        B. Soviet Card
        C. China Card
III. Departure and Return
        A. Pierre Mendès France
IV. The Betrayal
V. U.S. Declaration

Passage of Empire

I. Obstacles to Nation-State Building
        A. Vietnamese
        B. French
II. The Diem Dilemma
        A. Joan of Arc?
        B. US puppet
III. The CollinsMission
IV. The Sects (Binh Xuyen) Crisis
        A. Attack and Counter-attack
        B. Indecision
        C. Lansdale
V. Sink or Swim with Ngo Dinh Diem

The Ultimate Mandarin--Ngo Dinh Diem

I. The Challenge
        A. Frontier Society
        B. Sects(Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, Binh Xuyen)
        C. Colonial Legacy
II. Diem's Assets
        A. Experience
        B. Nationalism
        C. US Support
III. Diem's Liabilities
        A. Catholicism
        B. Isolationism
        C. Personalism/Nepotism
IV. National Referendum
V. Repudiation of Unification--Republic of South Vietnam
VI. Authoritarianism, Centralization, Alienation
VII. Agrarian Policies
VIII. "Denounce the Communists" Campaign

The DRV: Consolidation and Unification

I. Dire Economic Straits
II. State-Party Identity
        A. Vietnam Workers Party
        B. Politboro
        C. Constitution
III. From Moderation to Forced Collectivization
IV. Le Duan and the COSVN
        A. "The Path to Revolution in the South"
        B. January 1959 Resolution #15
V. The National Liberation Front (NLF)--December 1960
        A. People's Revolutionary Party
        B. Mass Organizations
                1. Farmer's Liberation Association
                2. Women's Liberation Association
VI. The People's Army of Liberation (PLAF)--January 1961
        A. "Vietcong"
        B. Nguyen Van Linh

The Insurgency in the South

I. The Political Struggle
        A. NLF Subordination to Hanoi
                1. People's Revolutionary Party
        B. NLF Structure
                1. Pyramid
                2. Mass Organizations
II. NLF Profile
        A. Patriotism
        B. Economic/Social Aspirations
        C. Personal Reasons
        D. Terrorism
III. The Price of Success
        A. Increased U.S. intervention
        B. 1962 Politboro Decision
IV. Battle of Ap Bac -- January 1963

Kennedy: Bearing the Burden

I. Mutual Dependency
II. Finger in the Dike
III. Best and the Brightest
IV. Credibility on Trial
        A. Wars of National Liberation
        B. Bay of Pigs Fiasco
V. Taylor-Rostow Mission
VI. Limited Partnership

Into the Abyss

I. Hawks and Doves
II. Strategic Hamlet Program
        A. General Paul Harkins
IV. Buddhist Crisis
V. Coup and Assassination
        A. Dissident Generals
        B. Lucien Conein
        C. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
        D. Krulak-Mendenhall Mission
        E. Taylor-McNamara Mission
VI. General Duong Van "Big" Minh

Americanizing the War

I. The Johnson Irony
II. Johnson's Motives
        A. Cold War Consensus
        B. The Alamo
        C. Political Calculations
III. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
        A. DESOTO Patrols
IV. Rolling Thunder

To Turn the Tide
I. Foot in the Door
II. Honolulu Conference
III. Westy's 44 Battalion Request
IV. Battle of Memos
        A. McNamara
        B. Ball
        C. Rusk
        D. Bundy(s)
V. Alice in Wonderland
VI. July 28, 1965

The Communists' "People's" War

I. The Question of Timing
II. Decisive Victory
        A. Nguyen Chi Thanh
        B. Urban Uprising
III. Decisive Response
           A. Rolling Thunder
           B. Escalating US Forces
        C. Nguyen Cao Ky
IV. Battle of Ia Drang
V. "Go for Broke" strategy
VII. Ho Chi Minh Trail
VIII. "All for the Front Lines"
IX. Tet!

Limited War

I. Strategic Alternatives
        A. American Way of War (Summers)
        B. Counterinsurgency (Lewy, Krepinevich)
        C. Annihilation (LeMay)
II. Westmoreland's Improvisation
        A. Air War
        B. Strategy of Attrition
                1. Search and Destroy
                2. William Depuy
                3. Ranch Hand Operations
                4. C-123
                5. M132 Flamethrower
III. Westmoreland's Revision
        A. Better Offensive
        B. Better Defense
                1. Honolulu--Feb. 1966
                2. Guam--March 1967
IV.  LBJ's Middle Way

Attrition: Strategy by Default

I. The Army's Turn
II. The "American Way of War"
III. US Strategic Dilemma
        A. China
        B. Unconventional Warfare
        C. Geography
IV. Strategic Alternatives on the Ground
        A. Overwhelming Force (Summers)
        B. Counterinsurgency (Krepinevich)
        C. Attrition
V. Strategic Alternatives in the Air
           A. "Bomb them back to the Stone Age" (LeMay)
        B. Interdiction
VI. So what was the Solution?
        A. "Strange game, professor: the only winning move is not to play."

Search and Destroy

I. The Protagonists
        A. Regular US Army
        B. CIA and US Special Forces
        C. ARVN
        D. NVA/PAVN
        E. VC/PLAF/"The Front"
II. Ia Drang
III. Cedar Falls
IV. Westmoreland Adapts

All the Lonely People

I. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
II. Age of Ignorance
        A. Press
        B. Academia
III. The Student Movement
        A. Teach-Ins
        B. Drugs and Rock & Roll
IV. Revolution
        A. Weather Underground
        B. Yippies
V. Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (The Mobe)
        A. Clergy
        B. Women
VI. Does any of this matter?

The Poisened Well

I. Tet
        A. Urban Uprising
        B. Coalition Goverment
II. Westmoreland Wants More
III. Clifford Task Force
        A. Politics
        B. Strategy
IV. The Wise Men
V. Bombing Halt and Negotiations
VI. ParisDiscords

Madman in the White House

I. Nixinger
II. Vietnamization
III. Global Design
        A. Limits of Power
        B. Detente
        C. Credibility
IV. Force and Diplomacy
        A. Bombing of Cambodia
V. Politics of Polarization
        A. Silent Majority
        B. Invasion of Cambodia
        C. Kent State
        D. My Lai
E. Pentagon Papers

Peace with Honor?

I. Olive Branch
II. Easter Offensive
        B. Haiphong
        C. Moscow
III. Vietnamization Myth
IV. Mutual Interests
V. Peace is at Hand
        A. Council of Reconciliation and Concord
        B. US withdrawal; not PAVN
        C. DRV returns POWs
        D. US Economic Assistance
VI. Thieu Balks
VII. Christmas Bombings
VIII. Peace of Paris

End of the Tunnel
I. Who Blinked
II. Decent Interval
        A. Saigon Violations
        B. Hanoi Violations
        C. Washington Violations
III. Watergate
IV. Ford Interlude
V. Great Spring Offensive
VI. Waiting for Godot
VII. Endgame

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