America and Cuba 1959-62
|The Cuban Revolution, 1959||
|January 1961||The American response:
|Bay of Pigs operation, April 1961||A force of 1,400 Cuban exiles armed by the US, supported by the CIA and US bombers flown by Cubans invaded at the Bay of Pigs. They were met by a Cuban force of 20,000. Although President Kennedy denied involvement it was a humiliation.|
|Results of the Bay of Pigs incident||Castro declares himself a communist.
May 1962 the USSR publicly announced that it was supplying arms to Cuba to help with its self-defence. (And secretly promised to base Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba).
The Americans feared the spread of communism on their doorstep.
The October Crisis
October 1962, an American U-2 spy plane photographs missile sites in Cuba.
Why did Khrushchev send missiles to Cuba?
- No one is certain. He ran a high risk that the USA would discover the missiles but probably
a) hoped they would be in place before this happened
b) calculated Kennedy would make a weak response.
- Possible motives were to:
- a) defend Cuba following the Bay of Pigs operation
- b) bargain for the removal of US missiles in Turkey
- c) bargain for the Western powers to leave Berlin
- d) catch up with the USA in the arms race by placing missiles where they could hit more accurately
- e) score points off Kennedy by placing missiles on the USA’s doorstep.
Kennedy wanted the missiles removed. His choices were:
- A nuclear strike would almost certainly lead to a nuclear reply by the USSR.
- A conventional bombing raid, or invasions would lead to fighting with Soviet troops and start war.
- A naval blockade to stop the USSR from transporting more missiles to Cuba and to force them to remove those already there.
A naval blockade is put in place, turning back ships carrying Soviet missiles.
After a tense series of communications, on October 27 the USSR agree to withdraw its missiles, in exchange for guarantees from the US not to invade Cuba (and secretly agrees to withdraw US missiles from Turkey)
The Consequences of the Crisis
Claimed he had achieved his aim of preventing an American invasion of Cuba, but was attacked for backing down. He lost face at home because of his misjudgement. The episode probably contributed to his downfall two years later.
Increased his reputation at home and worldwide by managing to avoid a war, forcing Khrushchev to back down.
Realising how close to war they had come, and the difficulty of communicating quickly in a crisis, Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to set up a hotline between the Kremlin and the White House.
Both leaders attempted to improve relations. The Nuclear Test Ban treaty was one result.
Was this a success for US containment of Communism?
Because the USSR had backed down and the nuclear missiles were removed and sent home
Cuba remained a communist country and Castro continued to influence other countries in the region.
The crisis showed that intervening in Communist countries was too high risk.
America and Vietnam
Why was the USA involved in Vietnam in 1963?
- To contain the spread of Communism
- To prevent what president Eisenhower called the DOMINO THEORY coming true. He believed that if Vietnam became Communist, neighbouring countries would each fall in turn.
1. until 1954 supported the French against the Vietminh (the Vietminh wanted independence from French rule) with money and equipment.
2. in 1954 Vietnam split into north and south and the French gave them independence
3. 1954-1960, sent aid, equipment and military advisers to South Vietnam
4. 1960-1963, Kennedy steadily increased the amount of aid and number of ‘military advisers’ from 900 to 11,000.
Was ruled by the Communist Vietminh leader, Ho Chi Minh who aimed to unit Vietnam and supplied the Vietcong (independence fighters in South Vietnam) with weapons.
Ruled by the unpopular Ngo Diem who fought a civil war against the Vietcong
gave aid to North Vietnam
Sent aid to the Vietcong via North Vietnam
How did US involvement increase 1964-65
|1963||Vietcong in control of 40% of rural areas of South Vietnam. President Johnson increased American support but still without sending combat troops|
|August 1964||Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. This gave Johnson the excuse to intervene in Vietnam militarily.|
|1965||Johnson started to bomb North Vietnam to try to end its support for the Vietcong.
He ordered American combat troops into action to help the army of the South Vietnamese and to quickly defeat the Vietcong
What kind of war was the Vietnam War?
|Vietcong and Guerrilla tactics
The Tet Offensive, 1968
This was a turning point. It was a surprise guerrilla attack on major South Vietnamese towns and American bases. While militarily it was a failure, the attack:
Showed the Vietcong could strike in the heart of American-held territory
Caused loss of American military morale
Suggested to the American public that the war was unwinnable and fuelled criticism of the USA’s involvement.
Losing Public Support in the US
Not only was the war on the ground going badly, but the battle for public support was also being lost. The American public became increasing uncomfortable about the war
|The Vietnam war was the first war to be a TV war. Thousands of television, radio and newspaper journalists and photographers showed the horrors of the war, prisoners being tortured, children being burnt by US chemical weapons.|
|The peace movement. Anti-war protestors took to the streets chanting ‘Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?’. Thousands refused to go to fight when they were conscripted (Draft dodging). Four students were killed by National Guardsmen who broke up a protest.|
|The My Lai massacre. This involved the killing of 22 civilians by US soldiers. The enquiry that followed showed how the war seemed to be going wrong. In November 1969, almost 700,000 anti-war protestors demonstrated in Washington DC.|
Ending the War
After the Tet Offensive President Johnson realised that the war could not be won militarily and started peace talks. Between 1969 and 1973 US involvement was reduced as the South Vietnamese forces were strengthened to take their place. By March 1973 the last US forces left. Two years later South Vietnam fell to Communist forces.
In what ways was this a failure of US containment of Communism?
|Militarily||The war showed that the USA’s vast military strength could not stem Communism|
|Politically||Not only did the USA fail to stop South Vietnam going Communist, but also neighbouring countries also fell to communists – it had accelerated rather than stopped the Domino effect.|
|Propaganda disaster||The atrocities committed by US troops damaged the US reputation. The whole campaign was shown to be flawed.|
|Attitudes to Communism||The USA changed its policies improve relations with Communist USSR and China. The Americans became very wary about using its troops in any other dangerous conflict.|