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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the consequences of the Vietnam War - JC History Essay Notes

What were the consequences of the Vietnam War?

Topic of Study [For H2 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)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Contextual Analysis
In the previous article, we have examined the historical developments of the first and second Indochina Wars. Next, it is imperative to consider the political impacts of the Vietnam War on the superpowers – USA and Soviet Union.

1. Impacts on the USA: ‘Vietnam Syndrome’
Notably, the withdrawal of USA from Vietnam was largely influenced by anti-war sentiments. Many young Americans were against the drafting process. Also, the growing disillusionment and exposed war atrocities (especially the ‘My Lai massacre’) created the impetus for citizens to demand the immediate withdrawal.

Furthermore, critics questioned the necessity of US involvement in the politics of other countries even though many still supported the notion of ‘defending democracy’. As these doubts surfaced, some argued that US Presidents should not be given extensive powers to wage wars without Congress approval.

1.1. The War Powers Act
In November 1973, the War Powers Act (also known as the ‘War Powers Resolution’) was passed as a congressional resolution to curtail the US President’s ability to conduct foreign military campaigns. Its main purpose was to prevent US from being trapped in costly and protracted wars, like the conflict in Vietnam.

This Act required the president to seek congressional approval before American troops can be deployed overseas. For instance, the President has to inform the Congress within 48 hours.

Although President Nixon vetoed the law by claiming that it was ‘unconstitutional and dangerous’, the Congress overrode his action.

However, the congressional resolution proved futile as future US Presidents found ways and means to circumvent it. For example, President Ronald Reagan deployed troops in El Salvador in the 1981, during the renewed confrontation with the Soviets.

1.2. The Detente
As the world was on the brink of nuclear confrontation in the late 1960s due to the Sino-Soviet split, USA changed its diplomatic stance towards China. Additionally, in the early 1970s, the Nixon administration extended an ‘olive branch’ to Soviet Union in the form of diplomatic visits.

On 22 May 1972, Nixon visited his Cold War rival, Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow. It marked the first-ever visit by an American president to Soviet Union. The key takeaway from these visits was the increased mutual cooperation.

For example, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) Agreement was signed on 26 May 1972. The Agreement signified the mutual decisions of the superpowers to halt the build-up of strategic ballistic missile launchers. The SALT II Treaty was signed later in the 1970s that banned the development of new ballistic missiles for both countries.

Also, this phase of the Cold War led to the push for space exploration. In July 1975, both USA and USSR conducted a joint-space flight and encouraged collaboration.

However, the thawing of superpower relations halted when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Tensions resurfaced as USA boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

2. Impacts on the USSR: Race in the Third World
On the other hand, the Second Indochina War prompted the Soviet government to intensify its efforts to support the Communist regime. Ho Chi Minh’s victory in Indochina was hailed as a significant victory against the Americans.

As such, Soviet Union raised its military expenditures to support its Cold War allies. As stated earlier, its campaign in the Third World regions began with the invasion in Afghanistan. This conflict was a turning point as observers noted that Soviet Union invaded a country outside the Eastern Bloc, such that its actions drew international criticisms.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was carried out with the intention to reinforce the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which the government seems to secure its political influence in these socialist countries.

However, the campaign in Afghanistan proved disastrous for Soviet Union. The protracted conflict was perceived by some historians as “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War”, particularly due to the mounting economic costs.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political significance of the Second Indochina War on the USA [to be discussed in class].

Besides the topical review of this Cold War event, it is important that you attempt source-based case study questions or essay questions to determine whether you have fully understood these historical developments. Join our JC History Tuition and get additional support as we provide numerous practice questions and answer outlines. By doing so, we ensure that you can study productively and effectively to perform well for the GCE A Level History examinations.

Also, you can join our JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What happened druing the Second Indochina War - JC History Essay Notes

What started the Second Indochina War?

Topic of Study [For H2 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)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Historical Context: Battles in Indochina
Before we examine the Second Indochina War, which is commonly known as the ‘Vietnam War’, it is imperative to understand the historical developments in the Indochinese region.

Ever since 1887, Vietnam was under French colonial occupation until World War Two. Following the end of the Japanese Occupation, the French returned to Vietnam.

1a. First Indochina War (1945-1954)
In contrast to the pre-WWII phase, Vietnam engaged in a serious of fierce military confrontation with the French. This conflict was known as the ‘First Indochina War’. Eventually, after the historic ‘battle of Điện Biên Phủ‘, the French was defeated. At the same time, the Geneva Accords were signed during the Geneva Peace Conference, which signified the withdrawal of the French from the Indochinese region.

During the First Indochina War, the French formed a local government led by Bảo Đại, who was a self-exiled former emperor. In early 1954, Bảo Đại was replaced by Ngo Dinh Diem as the prime minister.

1b. The Great Divide: 17th parallel
The provisions of the Accords included the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel. The northern part was known as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) led by Ho Chi Minh. The southern region below the 17th parallel is called the Republic of Vietnam (RoV) under Emperor Bảo Đại.

Although the partition was carried out with the aim of facilitating a ceasefire after the 1954 conflicts, tensions mounted and manifested in the form of actual fighting again. Furthermore, the South was unwilling to participate in the 1956 elections.

More importantly, the North and South were largely influenced by Cold War rivals, which later shaped the developments of the next major conflict.

2a. Second Indochina War (1954-1974)
In South Vietnam, Diem deposed Bảo Đại and became the next president. Notably, Diem was a viable anti-communist leader that aligned with the Cold War interests of USA.

Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Administration intensified its efforts in supporting the Diem regime to stem communist expansion in Indochina. One clear evidence is the increased presence of American military advisers deployed in the South.

In the North, Ho Chi Minh’s DRV expanded its military might with the help of external powers, such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Ho rallied the peasants to support his nationalistic cause.

2b. A Test of Loyalty: Sino-Soviet split
Ever since the controversial ‘Secret Speech‘ by Soviet leader Khrushchev in April 1956, USSR was at odds with PRC due to ideological differences and personality clashes.

As such, both Communist powers competed to gain the trust of North Vietnam through the provision of military and economic support. From 1964 to 1969, the PRC aided the North with the condition that their recipient reject support from Soviet Union.

From 1967 onwards, Soviet Union increased their support for the North. Similar to Kennedy’s approach, Soviet advisors entered the fray and aided the North. Also, military support was granted to improve their chances of victory. Notably, more than 75% of North Vietnam’s military capabilities originated from USSR, such as tanks and anti-aircraft guns.

2c. The ‘Americanisation’ of the Vietnam War
After the Tonkin Gulf incident in August 1964, the Lyndon Administration embarked on a large-scale military campaign in Vietnam under the auspices of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Subsequently, numerous American men were drafted to expand the size of the US military forces. The drafting process was challenging as some of the students aged 18 to 25 in the USA protested openly.

Furthermore, the US government launched ‘Operation Rolling Thunder‘ in March 1965, which involved a prolonged period of aerial bombing. Its purpose was to display American air superiority and demoralise the North forces.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Second Indochina War broke out due to ideological differences? [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have covered the key events and players that explained the Second Indochina War, you should apply your knowledge to essay practice questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for our JC History Tuition. You will receive concise study notes and engage in enriching thematic discussions to be more ready for the GCE A Level History examinations.

Besides, you can join our JC tuition classes, like GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

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.

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