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With behind-the-scenes support from the U.S., General Minh was ousted on January 29 in a bloodless coup d’état led by General Nguyen Khanh, the most pro-American officer in the junta. There would be no more talk of peace negotiations or easing up on the NLF-linked villages. The Saigon government would henceforth strictly follow the American president’s lead. McNamara, returning from a visit to Saigon in early March 1964, reported that Khanh would do very well. He would allow U.S. advisers to participate at all levels of civilian and military agencies, and he would consult with Ambassador Lodge before making appointments to his cabinet. Gen. Khanh headed the military junta from January 1964 until February 1965.

T. Lynn Moseley Granby Education Center

These renowned historians and experts chatted with students online. Read the transcripts.

2009 Teaching American History in South Carolina Project.

The First Indochina War had begun. It pitted a combined French force of 348,000 – 80,000 French soldiers, 20,000 Foreign Legionnaires, 48,000 North Africans, and 200,000 Vietnamese working for the French – against some 350,000 Viet Minh troops, with a supporting cast of millions under the leadership of President Ho Chi Minh, General Vo Nguyen Giap, and the DRV government.

“Massacre in Korea” by Pablo Picasso, 1951

For the sake of peace, we have made concessions. But the more conciliatory we are, the more aggressive the French colonists become. They are determined to reconquer our country. No! We would rather sacrifice everything. We are determined not to lose our country and not be enslaved. Dear compatriots, we must rise up. Male and female, old and young, regardless of religion, political party, ethnicity, all Vietnamese must rise up to fight French colonialism and to save the fatherland.

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U.S. Marines in North Korea, Dec. 1950

That the Vietnamese patriots who fought the French in the First Indochina War would accept de Gaulle as mediator was another irony of history. With France no longer threatening to dominate Vietnam, French cultural, economic, and political ties took on a more benevolent quality. There were French people in Vietnam, Vietnamese people in France, and biracial children in both places; thousands of Vietnamese children attended French schools; the Vietnamese educated class spoke French; France was the top importer of Vietnamese goods; and the French government maintained official contacts in both South and North Vietnam.

It took more than two years to agree on a truce on July 26, 1953

President Lyndon Johnson continued the trend toward Americanizing the war in Vietnam. On his third day in office, he told Ambassador Lodge, “I will not lose in Vietnam.” Johnson relied on Kennedy’s top advisers, which he kept, to tell him how to win the war. On November 26, 1963, he signed National Security Action Memorandum 273, which reaffirmed that the U.S. would assist the South Vietnamese to “win their contest against the externally directed and supported Communist conspiracy.”

Being involved in civic activities prepares our students for life after Lone Star College.

Kim II-Sung and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin

In the same attack, a grandmother sought help for her one-year-old grandson. A South Vietnamese pilot flying a US-made Douglas A1 Skyraider dropped US-made napalm bombs on her village of Trang Bang, June 8, 1972. Photos by Huynh Cong “Nick” Ut.

An essay in the High Country News by Jim Woolf  Links to essays and websites on the topic

Secretary of State Dean Acheson

Jeanne Mager Stellman, Steven D. Stellman, Richard Christian, Tracy Weber, and Carrie Tomasallo, “The extent and patterns of usage of Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam, Nature 422, (2003), pp. 681-687, ; Weisberg, ed., Ecocide in Indochina; and Wilcox, Scorched Earth, p. 19.

5. Read and discuss the letter from Smalls (using found in the letter).

Business district of Seoul, Sept. 28, 1950 (AP Photo/Max Desfor)

These assumptions and beliefs served to justify and propel U.S. intervention in Vietnam. Once accepted as ideological truths, they acted as blinders, shutting out contrary evidence and views, and narrowing the debate to instrumental objectives. Had Americans been willing and able to unpack these ideological wrappings and examine Vietnam on its own terms, the slaughter in Southeast Asia might have been avoided.