After years of sparring, Washington and Hanoi went to war in 1965. What were the key steps they took to reach their violent destination?
Prior to full-scale war between the United States and North Vietnam, were there missed opportunities for peace? If so, why were these opportunities not taken advantage of?
The Tet offensive in 1968 underlined the difficulties facing both Washington and Hanoi. Why then did it take until January 1973 before the two sides could actually disengage their forces and until April 1975 before the fighting stopped altogether?
What role did U.S. public opinion, protesters, and the media play in both Washington’s commitment to fight in Vietnam and the decision to disengage?
How would you describe the conflict that consumed Vietnam between 1945 and 1975 (for example, civil war, revolutionary war, war of communist aggression, or war for national independence/unification)?
What above all else explains the ability of the Vietnamese Communists to take on and outlast the French and then the Americans and the Saigon government?
What were the consequences of the Vietnam War for Vietnam and Cambodia?
What is the main lesson or judgment that you would draw from the Vietnam War based on an understanding of both the Vietnamese and Americans perspectives?
Study questions with a comparative dimension:
Identify the single most important way the Korean War foreshadowed Vietnam. Consider presidential decisions, the strength and determination of the enemy, the use of U.S. military power, the termination of the war, public attitudes, and the lessons drawn.
Wars in the Philippines and Vietnam ignited fierce debates among Americans. How much alike were the stances of the critics in these two cases? How should we evaluate those critics? For example, in terms of their perceptiveness on the nature of the war or their success in influencing policy and the public?