Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pre-Writing Activity

Look on the portal in preparation for the next paper 3:

1. “The outcome of the Vietnam War was determined not on the battlefield, but on the television screen.” To what extent is this statement true?


2. Why had President Nixon ended American involvement in the Vietnam War by 1973?

Address them both briefly. What pieces of evidence would be worthwhile to consider when addressing these questions.  Finally, how might the evidence surrounding the My Lai massacre serve to answer both questions?

The End of the Vietnam Conflict?

From an American perspective, the Vietnam war ended in 1973 with the Paris Peace accords.  Once American soldiers returned home, the vehement opposition to war could end, and the United States could shift their focus to domestic policies.

What do you make of Nixon's "peace with honor" speech?  How was it received by those outside of the United States?  Ultimately, what was the purpose of this 10 year conflict...indeed, America's longest war

The Most Crucial Stage of the Vietnam Conflict

As we discussed in class, the Vietnam war can be divided into three stages -- 1) US involvement in Indochina (without US troops actively fighting); 2) Escalation; and 3) Vietnamization.  The majority of your readings over the weekend take place during the Escalation period. 

What were some of the goals set forth in the escalation plans?  What knowledge do you think was driving the military actions?  How would you evaluate them (feel free to use the last document if you need help with your criticism)?

Why was the US in Vietnam?

"Our objective is the independence of South Vietnam and its freedom from attack.  We want nothing for ourselves--only that the people of South Vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in its own way." -- Lyndon Johnson, April 7, 1965

This is LBJ's justification to the American public regarding the US escalation in Vietnam.  How do you assess this statement?  What are some of the objectives that you see behind the Vietnam conflict that Johnson did not mention here?

The Changing View of Vietnam

Oh, how quickly our friends and enemies change!  During World War II, the United States actually supplied Ho Chi Minh's guerrilla forces with weapons to fight against the Japanese.  Not long after the war's end, the Viet Minh were considered a threat--influenced by the Soviet Union and China, and evidence that no country was safe to the threat of communism.

How do we account for this change in view towards Vietnam?  Do we sympathize with Eisenhower's articulation of the domino theory?  Or are we shocked that we are straying so far away from the Atlantic Charter?

Monday, April 21, 2014

What is Eisenhower trying to say?

Eisenhower's farewell address comes across as a cautionary tale to his successor about the proliferation of nuclear weapons that took place under his leadership.  He clearly admits that the United States has entered a new era--that the buildup of such weaponry during peacetime has been unprecedented.

Is Eisenhower defacing his decisions or justifying them?  What seems to be the point of his warning of the potential dangers of the 'military industrial complex?'

The pros and cons of Eisenhower's New Look

Eisenhower and Dulles did not want to turn dramatically away from Truman's anti-communist stance, but they did want to change the direction of foreign policy to make it less expensive.  What, according to Dulles, were ways in which massive retaliation could reduce American military spending?  Why do you think the Soviets were reluctant to accept Eisenhower's plan for "Open Skies" after Stalin's death?