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The USA and Vietnam – The Early Years To begin identifying reasons for American involvement in Vietnam by understanding their position between 1941 and 1945. L/O –


US Presidents in the era of Vietnam • • • • • • •

Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1933-1945 Harry Truman 1945-1953 Dwight Eisenhower 1953-1961 John F Kennedy 1961-1963 Lyndon Johnson 1963-1968 Richard Nixon 1968-1973 Gerald Ford 1973-1975


What inspired Ho Chi Minh? Nationalism (anti-Chinese/French)

Father – Life of service to others

Travelling – Learned from Western and Communist countries. Worked with communists in Russia and China.

Reliance on revolution - Ignored by Wilson and later Truman (Versailles)


Role of Ho Chi Minh • • • • •

1925 – Bao Dai becomes Emperor of Vietnam 1927 – Ho announced himself as a revolutionary 1929 – Establishment of Indochinese Communist Party 1930’s – Ho’s writings are smuggled into Vietnam. 1940 – Japanese establish bases in North Vietnam after the defeat of France by Germany. • Early 1941 - Ho returns to Vietnam – Announces Vietnam independence League (Vietminh). They are to fight both the French and Japanese. Now has new name “Bringer of Light”. • July 1941 – Japanese invade Southern Vietnam • Dec 1941 – Japan attacks the USA at Pearl Harbour


Roosevelt and Vietnam • 1942 – Inspired French to fight the Nazi’s – Spoke of allowing French colonialism. • 1943 – Announced the French had “milked” Indochina. Spoke about an “INTERNATIONAL TRUSTEESHIP”, involving China, USSR and USA – He believed Vietnam offered important naval bases. • 1944 – Promised the French could keep Indochina if it steered it towards independence. • 1945 – Roosevelt offered Indochina to Chiang of China. Chiang refused, informing Roosevelt of Vietnams hatred of the Chinese.


Why was Roosevelt inconsistent? • He thought out loud, and liked to test his ideas. • Too pre-occupied with winning the War; “I do not want to get mixed up with any Indochina decision” (1945) • Disagreement amongst his department between pro and anti French elements.


Was hostility to Ho inevitable? Not at first. Ho Chi Minh co-operated with the USA during the struggle against the Japanese and in 1945 an American doctor saved his life. The Americans greatly admired Ho Chi Minh and his brilliant General, Giap. The USA helped Ho in his speech announcing Vietnamese independence, quoting from the American declaration of independence.


Vietminh Struggle 1941-1945


1945 – Declaration of Independence (look at copy) • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIJfV2cTUHc • Aug 1945 - General Giap on America; • America is a “good friend”, a “democracy without territorial ambition” • By the end of 1945 he spoke of America being; • “only interested in replacing the French. They are capitalists to the core. All that counts for them is business”


Truman • By the end of the year, Bao Dai had abdicated, becoming Ho Chi Minh’s special advisor. • Truman replaced Roosevelt in 1945 and sided with the French. He hoped they would begin giving some form independence but did not go beyond that. • Between Oct 1945-Feb 1946, eight messages by Ho to Washington had been ignored. America was becoming increasingly anti-communist and were turning to allies who could assist them in standing up to the USSR.


The usa and vietnam – the early years