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Johnson and Vietnam
Lesson #2
Class Objectives
 By the end of class, you will be able to…
 Describe Lyndon Johnson’s policy toward
communism and Vietnam.
 Define the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
 Explain the Vietcong’s guerilla tactics and how the
U.S. tried to counteract them.
 Identify and describe the purpose of the Ho Chi Minh
Lyndon Johnson
 Johnson wanted to use
caution in Vietnam
however did not want
South Vietnam to become
a communist country.
 Johnson did not want to
be viewed as soft on
communism and lose the
presidency in 1964.
 He escalated the conflict.
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
 On August 2, 1964, LBJ announced that North
Vietnamese torpedo boats fired upon American
destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.
 He insisted that these attacks were unprovoked and
immediately ordered American aircraft to attack
North Vietnamese ships and naval facilities.
 The US ships were spying for the South Vietnamese
 Johnson then asked Congress to authorize the use of
 On August 7, 1964, the Senate and House passed the
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing the
president to “take all necessary measures to repel
an armed attack against the forces of the United
States and to prevent further aggression.”
Class Assignment
 Read the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on page 1079.
 Read Read Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution on page
Who has the power to declare war in the United
Is the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution an official
declaration of war?
How has the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution impacted
future U.S. armed conflicts (wars?)?
You may discuss these questions with one partner,
but each must hand in their own answers
The United States Sends in Troops
 Shortly after the resolution passed, the Vietcong
began to attack American bases in South
 In February of 1965, Johnson responded by air
assaulting North Vietnam.
 Johnson poll numbers jumped from 41% to 60%
after the air strikes.
Rolling Thunder
 In March 1965, Johnson expanded American
involvement by shifting his policy to a
sustained bombing campaign against North
 The campaign was named Operation Rolling
 American troops were now fighting alongside
the South Vietnamese troops against the
Frustrating War
 By the end of 1965, Johnson placed more than
180,000 combat troops fighting in Vietnam.
 In 1966 that number doubled.
 Lacking the firepower, the North Vietnamese
used ambushes, booby traps, guerrilla attacks,
and secret tunnels to hide from U.S. and South
Vietnamese troops.
 Vietcong also blended into the regular
population in the cities and countryside.
American Response
 To counter these tactics, American forces went on
“search and destroy” missions.
 They tried to find enemy troops, bomb their
positions, destroy their supply lines, and force them
out into open combat.
 U.S. “tunnel rat” – unlucky soldier whose task is to see if VC
tunnels are currently in use
 American plans dropped napalm, a jellied gasoline
that explodes on contact.
 They used Agent Orange, a chemical that strips
leaves from trees and shrubs, turning farmland and
forest into wasteland.
 Agent Orange led to many birth defects in Vietnamese
babies and cancer in Vietnamese and U.S. soldiers
Agent Orange
U.S. “Tunnel Rats”
Forrest Gump!
A Determined Enemy
 United States underestimated the strength of the
Vietcong and their stamina.
 Continuously dropping bombs did not kill the
will of a starving people.
 North Vietnamese supplied the Vietcong with
some troops, arms, advisors, and significant
 Ho Chi Minh Trail wound through Cambodia
and Laos to go between North and South
 Johnson refused a full attack on the trail.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Other Supply Lines
 The North Vietnamese received supplies from
the Soviet Union and China.
 This is why Johnson refused to incite a full scale
invasion of the North Vietnamese-didn’t want to
incite war with these two countries
 By placing limits on the war, Johnson made it
difficult to win.
 Between 1965-1967 over 220,000 Vietnamese
died and by the end of 1966 U.S. casualties
mounted to 6,700.