The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of South Vietnam, supported by the United States.
Eventually, there simply were not enough volunteers to continue to fight a protracted war and the government instituted a draft. As the deaths mounted and Americans continued to leave for Southeast Asia, the Johnson administration was met with the full weight of American anti-war sentiments. Protests erupted on college campuses and in major cities at first, but by 1968 every corner of the country seemed to have felt the war's impact. Perhaps one of the most famous incidents in the anti-war movement was the police riot in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Hundreds of thousands of people came to Chicago in August 1968 to protest American intervention in Vietnam and the leaders of the Democratic Party who continued to prosecute the war.
In 1961, President Kennedy sent a team to Vietnam to report on conditions in South Vietnam and to assess future American aid requirements. The report, now known as the "December 1961 White Paper," argued for an increase in military, technical, and economic aid, and the introduction of large-scale American advisers to help stabilize Diem's government and crush the NLF. As Kennedy weighed the merits of these recommendations, some of his other advisers urged the president to withdraw from Vietnam altogether, claiming that it was a "dead-end alley."
Nixon Cuts Troop Levels by 70K: Responding to charges by Democratic presidential candidates that he is not moving fast enough to end US involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon orders troop strength reduced by seventy thousand.
Secret Peace Talks Revealed
B-52s Bomb Hanoi and Haiphong: In an attempt to force North Vietnam to make concessions in the ongoing peace talks, the Nixon administration orders heavy bombing of supply dumps and petroleum storage sites in and around Hanoi and Haiphong. The administration makes it clear to the North Vietnamese that no section of Vietnam is off-limits to bombing raids.
Break-In at Watergate Hotel
Kissinger Says "Peace Is At Hand": Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reach agreement in principle on several key measures leading to a cease-fire in Vietnam. Kissinger's view that "peace is at hand," is dimmed somewhat by South Vietnamese President Thieu's opposition to the agreement.
Nixon Wins Reelection
Cease-fire Signed in Paris: A cease-fire agreement that, in the words of Richard Nixon, "brings peace with honor in Vietnam and Southeast Asia," is signed in Paris by Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. The agreement is to go into effect on January 28.
End of Draft Announced
Last American Troops Leave Vietnam
Hearings on Secret Bombings Begin: The Senate Armed Services Committee opens hearing on the US bombing of Cambodia. Allegations are made that the Nixon administration allowed bombing raids to be carried out during what was supposed to be a time when Cambodia's neutrality was officially recognized. As a result of the hearings, Congress orders that all bombing in Cambodia cease effective at midnight, August 14.
Kissinger and Le Duc Tho Win Peace Prize: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Henry Kissinger of the United States and Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam. Kissinger accepts the award, while Tho declines, saying that a true peace does not yet exist in Vietnam.
Bundy would have had to abjure the views of a generation avowed since Truman's disputes with MacArthur 15 years earlier—that force should be applied in minimum increments, that strategy and diplomacy were separate spheres to be conducted consecutively, that American principles applied in an undifferentiated manner globally were established maxims of a successful policy. These principles were implemented in Vietnam in the early 1960s by the best, not the worst, of their generation. If the policymakers lacked perspective, their critics lacked compassion.
The Tet Offensive of 1968 dealt a deathblow to the American war effort in Vietnam by undermining the political mood at home. Doubtful congressmen began evaluating their positions while the military was requesting bigger investment of resources in the conflict. Late in February 1968, General William C. Westmoreland asked President Lyndon B. Johnson for the deployment of 200,000 more troops to Southeast Asia, and the president assembled the Ad Hoc Task Force on Vietnam to evaluate Westmoreland's request.
Proclaimed by successive presidents as a stand against the spread of communism, the US flooded the Republic of South Vietnam with money, arms and men.
Their aim was to defeat the communist north, led by Ho Chi Minh, and free the people of Vietnam from a perceived tyranny.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy for the U.S. was not that it made mistakes or that it lost, but that it failed to accept the possibility that it might actually lose. For this reason, five presidents were doomed to grapple with the conflict, and Americans from all walks of life were destined to deal with a new uncertainty about the future.
Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese nine days later, on 30 April 1975. South Vietnam's capitulation came just four hours after the last frenzied evacuation of Americans from the city. The South Vietnamese President, Duong Van Minh, who has been in office for just three days, made the announcement in a radio broadcast to the nation early in the morning. The announcement was followed by the swift arrival of North Vietnamese troops. The first tanks smashed through the gates of the presidential palace within minutes, and decades of war came to an end.
Second Indochina War--1956-1975--The so-called "Vietnam War" was really a regional and international conflict involving not just North and South Vietnam and the U.S. but also embroiling Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Below are some of the "smaller" conflicts that in part made up the Second Indochina War.
The conflict's roots took shape in July 1954, when France was forced out of Vietnam after one hundred years of colonial rule. In the peace process, the country was partitioned into northern and southern sections, with a U.S.-supported government in the south and a communist republic in the north. On December 20, 1960, the northern Communist Party formed the National Liberation Front (NLF), with the ultimate goal of reunifying the country. In response, U.S. President John F. Kennedy began supplying military equipment and advisors in 1961.