Extension of the Cold War Case Study Vietnam Essay – Grade 12 History Answer Guide based on the memo.
All the military might of the United States of America’s army could not defeat a small nation of Vietnamese peasants.
Critically discuss this statement in the context of the military strategies that both the United States of America and the Vietcong used in Vietnam between 1963 and 1973.
Plan and construct an original argument based on relevant evidence using analytical and interpretative skills.
Candidates must critically discuss why the USA was unable to defeat a small nation of Vietnamese peasants during the Vietnam War between 1963 and 1973.
An outline of the tactics and strategies employed by the USA’s army and the Vietmihn/Vietcong (National Liberation Front) during the war should be highlighted.
Candidates may include the following aspects in their response:
Introduction: Candidates should critically discuss the statement and develop a relevant line of argument.
- Reasons for the USA’s deployment of troops to Vietnam
- Villagisation/strategic hamlet programme (USA and South Vietnam government created new villages and attempted to separate villagers (farmers) from guerrillas) of which it was a failure
- Gulf of Tonkin resolution (1964) gave President Johnson wide military powers resulting in the escalation of warfare in Vietnam
- The USA’s mass aerial bombing – “Operation Rolling Thunder”
- Operation Ranch Hand (used chemicals to destroy forests (Agent Orange) and crops (Agent Blue)
- US sent young and inexperienced soldiers to Vietnam
- US used search and destroy missions (My Lai massacre) to destroy villages supported by Viet Cong (this resulted in a number of civilian deaths)
- The role of the media, students and disarmament movements in bringing pressure on the US government to withdraw from Vietnam
- President Nixon’s Vietnamisation policy/including WHAM (Winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese) was an attempt by the USA to withdraw from war and save face
- The USA withdraw all troops by 1973 and North Vietnam took control of Saigon in 1975
- Any other relevant response
- North Vietnam received military support from the USSR and China so the Vietminh and Vietcong had access to some modern weapons
- Guerrilla warfare was effectively used by the Vietcong, supported by Vietminh from the north and used tactics such as booby traps, underground tunnels, hit and run and sabotage
- Tet offensive (1968) was launched by Vietminh and Vietcong against urban centres and USA bases throughout Vietnam
- The local Vietnamese population supported the Vietcong to liberate their country
- Ho Chi Minh Trail used by Vietminh (North) to support Vietcong in the south
- The Vietcong increased its support base because of the tactics used against the USA soldiers
- Vietnamese were united in the defence of their country
- Any other relevant response
- Conclusion: Candidates should tie-up their arguments with relevant conclusions.
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