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JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - How did the Vietnam War start - JC History SBQ Skills

How did the Vietnam War start?

What is the Vietnam War?
The Vietnam War is a military conflict between the North Vietnamese and US. Although the confrontation was primarily military in nature, the American involvement in Vietnam can be explained by the growing concerns over an expanding ideological threat (i.e. communism). As such, the Vietnam War can be interpreted as a Cold War proxy war.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Vietnam War (1955-75)

In the following sections, we will examine how the Vietnam War began, intensified and ended.

1. Military Retaliation [Tonkin Gulf incident, Aug 1964]
The shift in US stance for greater involvement in the Vietnam War can be observed by the significant turn of events, such as the Tonkin Gulf incident. In August 1964, the US warships [Maddox] were victims of two torpedo attacks by North Vietnam. The American warships were escorting South Vietnamese marine forces in international waters. In response to the confrontational incident, US President Lyndon Johnson vowed to resort retaliate through military action. Eventually, Johnson obtained a clear mandate from the US Congress, leading to the passing of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

This Resolution granted Johnson the authorization for the use of military force in Vietnam, without having to undertake a formal declaration of war. Therefore, it is clear that US had stepped up its involvement in the Vietnam War, which was intensified by the extensive use of land and air attacks.

2. Mounting domestic pressure for disengagement [Tet Offensive, Jan 1968]
Following persistent efforts by the US to achieve victory in the military confrontation against North Vietnam, such as the Operation Rolling Thunder [Jan 1965], the Vietcong conducted a massive military campaign that took the US by surprise. During the Vietnamese Tet holiday, the Vietcong attacked major cities in South Vietnam and captured the Saigon Embassy. They were close to complete military victory.

Although it appeared as if the Vietcong had won, it was a devastating failure for them, as seen by the loss of 40,000 troops and the unsuccessful push to cause the collapse of the Saigon regime. More importantly, the Tet Offensive dealt a severe blow to US as the media reports revealed to the American public that US was far from winning the war.

Initially, throughout the military campaign, Lyndon had assured the Americans that they were making significant progress and would eventually be victorious. As such, this revelation sparked widespread outrage, resulting in the rise of anti-war protests and demonstrations. As Lyndon’s approval ratings plummeted, he announced a major change in military stance to stop the aerial bombings in North Vietnam and promised to restore peace in Vietnam.

3. Escalation of anti-war protests [My Lai Massacre, Mar 1968]
After Richard Nixon won the presidential elections, he declared a new foreign policy stance, known as ‘Vietnamization’, which involved the withdrawal of American troops and provision of military training and support to South Vietnam in order to gain control of the war. However, his well-intended efforts were marred by a horrific and inhumane incident, known as the My Lai Massacre.

In March 1968, US troops killed more than 500 unarmed civilians in the My Lai village. One of the army commanders, Lieutenant William Calley, commanded his soldiers to fire at the innocent civilians.

Eventually, the brutal massacre was revealed to the American public, fueling greater anti-war sentiment. The negative perceptions towards the American involvement in the Vietnam War manifested in the form of numerous demonstrations on the streets of America. This development culminated in the largest anti-war demonstration in November 1969. Over time, US troops were gradually withdrawn in the subsequent years.

4. Outcome of the Vietnam War [Paris Peace Accords, Jan 1973]
As part of Nixon’s ‘Vietnamization’ foreign policy that sought to end American involvement in the war, he also oversaw the peace-making process, as exemplified by the Paris Peace Accords. In January 1973, a peace treaty was signed by North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the US, to mark the end of the Vietnam War officially.

However, the Paris Peace Accords only provided a temporary ceasefire. On 30 April 1975, the North Vietnamese troops captured Saigon – the capital of South Vietnam, which was later renamed Ho Chi Minh City. The ‘fall of Saigon’ signalled the end of the Vietnam War as the country was unified under communist rule.

What’s Next?
After you have examined the key events that shaped the Vietnam War, it is important to reinforce your comprehension of historical issues by considering the following questions:
– Why was the Vietnam War considered a Cold War conflict?  
– In comparison to the Korean War and Cuban Missile Crisis, how did the Vietnam War affect the internationalization of the Cold War? [to be discussed in class]

We invite you to sign up for our JC History Tuition to attend a productive and exam-friendly revision programme that will prepare you for the A Level History examinations. Our classes are structured to match the syllabus requirements for both H1 and H2 History students.

Do you have what it takes to excel at the A Level examinations? Fret not, we also feature other related tuition programmes, like the GP Tuition and Economics Tuition classes. Our experienced GP and JC Economics Tutors will impart you with the knowledge and fundamentals of writing, such that you possess the thinking and writing capacities to form logical and persuasive answers.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What started the Korean War - JC History SBQ Skills

What started the Korean War?

What is the Korean War?
The Korean War is a militarised conflict between the North Korea and South Korea. It broke out when North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950 by crossing the 38th Parallel. The invasion was met with swift resistance by South Korea, which was assisted by the United States (US) and United Nations (UN). Over time, the conflict was intensified by the influx of Cold War influences that originated from the indirect and direct responses by the two superpowers, US and USSR.

Derive a better understanding of this Cold War conflict by analyzing the contributing factors that will be examined in the following sections.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Korean War (1950-53)

1. The Division of Korea 
After the Second World War, the two superpowers occupied Korea. The US landed on South Korea, while USSR entered North Korea. The occupation lasted for several years until the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution that declared free elections to be held. As a result, South Korea held an election that concluded with Syngman Rhee being declared the first president of the “Republic of Korea” (ROK) in August 1948. As for North Korea, the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (DPRK) announced Kim II-Sung as its Prime Minister a month later. These two historic events signaled a permanent division of the Korean peninsula and set the stage for the Korean War.

2. Political Motivations for the Invasion  
Kim II-Sung bore political ambitions to unify the Korean peninsula under communist rule. He held the perception that an invasion would be met with positive reception by the South Korean citizens. As such, Kim sought the approval of Stalin before commencing with the invasion. Eventually, Stalin agreed under the condition that Soviet troops would not be involved directly if there was a military confrontation with the US. Consequently, the North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel on 25 June 1950, marking the start of the Korean War.

3. Strategic Considerations 
From Stalin’s perspective, a unified communist Korea would prove useful in advancing the Soviet Union’s Cold War agenda. However, Stalin contemplated Kim II-Sung’s proposal to invade South Korea cautiously. Stalin was careful to avoid direct confrontation with US and took evasive steps to ensure that North Korea was the primary instigator for the invasion. As such, Stalin provided military support to North Korea, such as Soviet military advisors and artillery pieces. These military hardware and guidance aided Kim II-Sung for his incursion into South Korean territory.

4. Ideological Motivations 
As for the Americans, the North Korea invasion was unexpected. Although the invasion was led by North Korea, the US interpreted these attacks as an act of ideological expansionism orchestrated by Stalin. As described by former US President, Dwight Eisenhower, the ‘domino theory‘ illustrated how one country falling to communism would cause the surrounding countries to be undermined by this ideological threat as well. Given this understanding, the Korean War confirmed the suspicions of the Americans.

In response, US led the discussions in the UN and formed a military coalition to counter the North Korean invasion. The swift response to the perceived ideological threat was consistent with Truman’s push for the ‘Containment Policy’. As such, US supported South Korea and succeeded in repelling the North Korean forces back to the 38th Parallel.

However, the US revised its aim to cross the 38th Parallel and adopted a policy of rollback to eradicate communist influence in the North. The UN forces then crossed the partition line. Hence, it was evident that these actions revealed the ideological motivations of the US in the globalised Cold War conflict.

4. Outcome of the Korean War 
Following the UN’s crossing of the partition line, China came to the aid of North Korea. After a prolonged period of military confrontation between the North and South, US called for ceasefire and an armistice was signed on 27 July 1953. Notably, the Korean War had intensified the superpower rivalry that was observed in subsequent conflicts, like the Cuban Missile Crisis. In recent years, observers have argued that there are improvements in the diplomatic ties between the two Koreas, as exemplified by the desire to end the war formally.

What’s Next?
Now that you have walked through this journey of what may have caused the Korean War, you should reinforce your revision of this chapter by reflecting on the following questions:
– Was the Korean War a localised or Cold War conflict? 
– How did the superpowers capitalise on the Korean War to advance their Cold War aims? 
– In comparison to the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), identify the similarities and differences of the Korean War in influencing the Cold War developments beyond Europe [to be covered in our lessons].

For both H1 and H2 History students, we believe that these learning resources will be essential in complementing your revision to ace the A Level History examinations. If you are keen to improve your quality of writing, join our JC History Tuition!

We provide in-depth discussions that will broaden your understanding of Cold War topics, like Korean War and Cuban Missile Crisis. Learn how to apply your knowledge to form persuasive arguments that answer the essay questions effectively. Our tuition programme is based on the latest syllabus requirements set by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB). We understand that the changes to the syllabus have raised concerns for both H1 and H2 students. As such, our classes will provide a progressive and easy-to-follow learning structure for you to learn.

On the other hand, you can sign up for our GP Tuition and Economics Tuition programmes. These classes will complement your acquisition and refinement of writing techniques, such as question analysis, information extract and paragraph development.

We shape you to become a Reflective Thinker, Persuasive Writer and Problem Solver.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What is the Cuban Missile Crisis - JC History SBQ Skills

What caused the Cuban Missile Crisis?

What is the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Following the stalemate in Europe, the two superpowers shifted their gaze towards Asia and other parts of the world. This development led to the spread of Cold War influences to other conflicts and wars, like the Korean War (1950-53), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) and the Vietnam War (1955-75).

The Cuban Missile Crisis refers to a military and political confrontation between USA and USSR due to the Soviet deployment of ballistic missiles on Cuba, which is 90 miles (140 km) from Florida, USA.

To understand the Cuban Missile Crisis, it is important to examine the key incidents and factors that contributed to the historical developments, which will be covered in the following sections.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

1. Economic Aggression 
Before USSR was involved in the shipment of nuclear-armed missiles on Cuba, there was strained diplomatic relations between USA and Cuba. This was attributed to the antagonistic actions of the communist revolutionary, Fidel Castro, who overthrew the former Cuban President, Fulgencio Batista and led the Cuban Revolution. As Cuba’s Prime Minister, Castro nationalized American assets on Cuba, particularly the sugar mills. Consequently, his struggle for economic control in Cuba prompted USA to retaliate with an economic embargo.

Following USA’s response to sever diplomatic ties with Cuba, Castro turned to USSR, which offered both economic and military aid. This development sowed the seeds of destruction that brought the world closer to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

2. Political Aggression 
Given that both USA and Cuba ended diplomatic relations with one another, the incoming American President, John F. Kennedy, initiated a covert operation to invade Cuba and overthrow Cuba. This plan was known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion (Apr 1961). However, the invasion was a failure and the attackers were captured by Castro.

After the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist publicly (Dec 1961), which antagonized USA further due to ideological differences that shaped the Cold War rivalry against USSR. Therefore, Cuba aligned itself ideologically with the Soviet Union, which bore ulterior motives that led up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

3. Military Aggression 
From the Soviet perspective, Nikita Khrushchev held the perception that USA had the military advantage in the arms race aspect of the Cold War. His concerns were supported by the deployment of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Turkey and Italy that posed a clear national security threat to the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the Soviet ballistic missiles were fewer in numbers and less capable than the American’s. Therefore, to close the ‘missile gap’, Khrushchev placed nuclear missiles in Cuba (Oct 1962), which was 90 miles off Florida coast.

However, USA discovered the Soviet nuclear missiles via aerial surveillance on Cuba, which sparked fears of a possible nuclear threat to national security. Following thorough deliberation, Kennedy announced the imposition of an American ‘naval blockade’ to prevent the shipment of Soviet ballistic missiles to Cuba.

4. Outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis 
This ‘blockade’ could have been interpreted by the Soviets as a threatening military provocation that justified nuclear retaliation. Fortunately, the blockade ended peacefully and both superpowers agreed to stand down. This was seen in terms of the mutual agreement to remove the American missiles in Turkey and Italy and Soviet missiles in Cuba in secret.

What’s Next?
By understanding the key incidents and factors that contributed to the developments of the Cuban Missile Crisis, you can reinforce your study of this topic by answering the following questions:
– How did Castro’s actions lead to the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis?
– Why was the Cuban Missile Crisis interpreted as a Cold War conflict?
– In comparison to the Korean War (1950-53), identify the similarities and differences of the Cuban Missile Crisis in shaping the Cold War developments beyond Europe [to be discussed in our lessons]

As it can be a daunting challenge for some students to meander through the vast historical content covered in A Level History, you can sign up for our JC History Tuition programme, which is open to JC1 and JC2 students that are studying either H2 or H1 History. Throughout the programme, we will conduct class discussions to broaden and deepen your understanding of different issues in a thematic format. You will receive our very own summary notes that have been refined over the years (and match the latest syllabus as of 2017) to prepare you adequately for the examinations.

Furthermore, you can attend the JC History Essay Writing and Source Based Case Study questions (SBQ) answering skills workshops that are held at our centres in Bishan, Bedok and Tampines. You will learn to analyze questions carefully and form persuasive arguments logically, such that the pursuit of excellence at the A Level History examinations is within your grasp.

On a separate but related note, our centres conduct GP Tuition and Economics Tuition classes for JC1 and JC2 students. These programmes will no doubt be beneficial in your study of A Level subjects. Be inspired by experienced tutors, like JC Economics and GP Tutor Simon Ng, who will guide you through the study of different real world issues. We teach you to think reflectively, write persuasively and analyze critically.