The Cold War and Vietnam

The Cold War and Vietnam were of major concern to the world and especially those of us who were the right age to serve during these two related events. The Vietnam War was a very sad and divisive time.

There are a number of online timeline of events.

I would like to discuss those two events in depth - something most of us have never done. I propose that we first try to agree on the facts before we debate the outcomes.  Please take a look at my first draft below. We can discuss any revisions or additions to the facts shown below. It may be easier to read in the google document below.  If you prefer you can directly edit this Google Document. Feel free to make your changes directly.


1946 - The Cold War began shortly after WWII when Communism countries and the Democratic West began to confront each other.  The west was led by the USA, Communist countries were led by the USSR. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War

1945-1961 - Communism expanded from Russia into Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary,Yugoslavia, Albania, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, China, North Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Tibet, and a number of other countries which were supportive of Communism.

1946 -The Democratic West formulated a policy of containment aimed at stopping the expansion of communism.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Containment

1950-53 - The United States led the United Nations in an effort to evict Communist North Korea after it attacked and overan South Korea.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War

1950-53 -  Approximately 2.9 million people died in the Korean War.

1917-1981 - Communism becomes the greatest killer in history.  An estimated 150 million people are killed from 1917 through 1981 - above and beyond those killed in combat in wars.  Estimates developed by Professor Rummel of the University of Hawaii who summarizes all academic studies, develops a high, medium, and low estimate and usually uses the medium estimate.  Rummel uses the term Democide defined as "the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder."  http://hawaii.edu/powerkills/
Country                                       Murdered

China                                          76,702,000
USSR                                         61,911,000
China Mao 1923-1948                3,468,000
Poland                                          1,585,000
Yugoslavia                                   1,072,000
North Korea                                 1,663,000
Vietnam                                        1,670,000
Cambodia                                    2,035,000
Laos                                                130,000

1954 - Vietnam overthrew French Colonial Rule. Vietnam was divided at the 17th parallel into Communist North Vietnam and non-Communist South Vietnam. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Indochina_War

1954 - When Vietnam was divided approximately 1,000,000 Vietnamese moved from the North to the South while approximately 130,000 moved from the South to the North.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Passage_to_Freedom

1957 - North Vietnam began an insurgency in the South to take over the country in 1957. Guerrillas assassinate more than 400 South Vietnamese officials. The United States supports South Vietnam with training, weapons, and supplies. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/timeline/tl2.html#a

1961 President Kennedy states in his inaugural speech:

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.  This much we pledge—and more. To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share,

we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder."

1961-63  President Kennedy and Secretary of Defense Robert Mcnamara increases aid to South Vietnam and increases American advisors to 16,000.

1964-1968 - President Johnson and Robert McNamara determines that without very substantial US support Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos will fall to Communist insurgency. He and Congress commit the country to a very substantial intervention, with total US Servicemen in Vietnam peaking at over 500,000.

1965-68 The Antiwar movement was composed of many different people with different viewpoints but many believed that the War was immoral. The War was a civil war. The US was an imperialist fascist war monger. The war was evil and to be avoided at all costs. The draft was opposed. They considered Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot to be Freedom Fighters. "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF is sure to Win" was one of their slogans. They believed that Communists were fighting for freedom and self determination. President Johnson decides he cannot win the election and decides not to run for a second term.

1968 - Richard Nixon is elected President. He begins a program called Vietnamization which will reduce the US effort in South Vietnam and build up the forces of South Vietnam.

1968 - The Tet Offensive was a major offensive by North Vietnam.  They attacked the US Embassy in Saigon and numerous other locations.  Hue was overrun and between 2,800 and 6,000 people were massacred.

1968 - The worst American war crime atrocity of the War is committed in My Lai, with up to 500 civilians murdered.  This contributes to the revulsion to the War. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Calley

1971-73 - US Troop levels were rapidly reduced. The last Marine ground unit (and Craig Hullinger) departed in June 1971.  The last major US units departed in 1973.

1968-72 - The Army of the Republic of Vietnam ( ARVN) expanded from its counter-insurgency role to become the primary ground defense against the NLF and PAVN. From 1969 to 1971 there were about 22,000 ARVN combat deaths per year. Starting in 1968, South Vietnam began calling up every available man for service in the ARVN, reaching a strength of one million soldiers by 1972. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_of_the_Republic_of_Vietnam

1973 - Paris Peace Accords. The US, South Vietnam, Viet Cong, and North Vietnam formally sign "An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam" in Paris. The settlement included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam. It addition, the United States agreed to the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and advisors (totalling about 23,700) and the dismantling of all U.S. bases within 60 days. Prisoners released. Withdrawal of all foreign troops from Laos and Cambodia and the prohibition of bases in and troop movements through these countries. It was agreed that the DMZ at the 17th Parallel would remain a provisional dividing line, with eventual reunification of the country "through peaceful means." An international control commission would be established made up of Canadians, Hungarians, Poles, and Indonesians, with 1,160 inspectors to supervise the agreement. Agreeing to "the South Vietnamese People's right to self-determination," the North Vietnamese said they would not initiate military movement across the DMZ and that there would be no use of force to reunify the country.  http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/paris-peace-accords-signed

1973  -  Henry Alfred Kissinger and Le Duc Tho are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the war.

1974 -  - Watergate Scandal - President Nixon resigns

1974 - The Democratic Party takes 49 seats from the Republican Party, increasing their majority above the two-thirds mark.

1975 - Congress refused President Gerald Ford's last-minute request to increase aid to South Vietnam by $300 million, just weeks before it fell to communist control. Few legislators had taken the request seriously; many conservative Republicans and hawkish Democrats agreed by then that Vietnam was lost and that the expenditure would have been a waste.

1975 - North Vietnam mounts a major conventional attack on South Vietnam. The US does not provide air support.

1975- South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos fall to Communist forces. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/

1975-1985 Communists in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos increase their program of democide.  An estimated 3.8 million people are murdered according to Professor Rummel. A program of ethnic cleansing forced many refugees to flee by boat or cross country.  An estimated 1-2.5 million people were imprisoned with no formal charges or trials.  According to published academic studies in the United States and Europe, 165,000 people died in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's re-education camps.Thousands were tortured or abused. Prisoners were incarcerated for as long as 17 years, with most terms ranging from three to 10 years.

People who died in the
Vietnam War from combat     
Includes North and South             882,000


Murdered by North Vietnam       1,670,000
Murdered by Cambodia             2,035,000
Murdered by Laos                         130,000
Murdered by South Vietnam           90,000
Murdered by the United States         6,000

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I worked as a City Planner / Economic Development Director / City Manager / Marine Officer / Consultant. I am presently a consultant working very little in Illinois and enjoying life in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, Manatee County near Sarasota south of Tampa Bay.