History Paper 1: Why Did The USA Fail In Vietnam? Pt 2 (My Lai Massacre,…
History Paper 1: Why Did The USA Fail In Vietnam? Pt 2
In December 1974 North Vietnam invaded the South. In April 1975, the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, fell to the Communists
After 30 years of constant conflict, the struggle for control of Vietnam had finally been settled and the Communists had won
Without US air-power or military back-up the South Vietnamese government could not survive for long!
How did the USA get out of Vietnam?
From 1969, President Nixon, built up the South Vietnamese army. This policy was called 'Vietnamisation' (giving the war back to the South Vietnamese). At the same time he slowly withdrew American troops.
Nixon pushed South Vietnam to compromise with North Vietnam. In 1973 a peace agreement was signed and the last American troops left Vietnam.
America was looking for a way out of the war as early as 1968
Why did America pull its soldiers out of Vietnam?
The media - this brought the reality of war into people's living rooms. The effects of chemical weapons were seen, they saw dead and homeless civilians. The media also reported on the enormous cost of the war - $20 billion a year
The protest movement - students held demonstrations all over the country. They taunted the President with the change 'Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?' Not only students protested. In October 1969 about one million Americans joined a nationwide anti-war protest.
The Tet Offensive, 1968
When the American embassy in Saigon was attached the Americans were initially pushed back, but they soon regained what had been captured
The end result was positive for the Americans but, the event did change the attitude of the people back home who realised the politicians and generals were wrong when they said victory was close. For American people the time had come to get out of the Vietnam War!
This was an offensive carried out by the Viet Cong. They attacked major South Vietnamese towns and America bases
My Lai Massacre, March 1968
No Viet Cong were found in the village and only 3 weapons
The American officer in charge, Lieutenant Calley, was tried for murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, in November 1974 Calley was released from prison.
They rounded up the inhabitants of the village and massacred them - between 300 and 400 civilians were murdered
The American public were deeply shocked by the events in My Lai
A group of American soldiers landed by helicopter to search for Viet Cong
What problems did the Americans face in Vietnam?
Vietnam's neighbours - the Viet Cong were able to get new equipment and ammunition from these countries
low morale and inexperience - Average age of recruits was 19 and many had just left school. They knew very little about what they were fighting for whereas the Viet Cong were passionate about the cause
'Hearts and Minds' - the US tactics actually achieved the opposite! Tactics such as Search and Destroy led to peasants supporting the Viet Cong rather than the Americans