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Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2017/2018

HIST 318: The U.S. And The Vietnam War

Course Description

Analysis of American involvement in the Vietnam War from 1954 to 1975. The events of the armed conflict are placed in a multiplicity of contexts to reveal political, diplomatic, military, social, and economic factors.  This course considers the deployment of armed forces in addition to the impact of the peace movement.  Significant attention will be given to the challenges of the Cold War, the dynamics of popular culture, and the collapse of South Vietnam.

Prerequisite: HIST 122

Proctored Exams: Midterm



Syllabus Contents

Textbooks

Required

  • McMahon, Robert J. (2008). Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
    • [ISBN-978-0-618-74937-9 (Previous editions of this book do not contain the essays required for this class.)]
  • Moss, George Donelson. (2010). Vietnam: An American Ordeal (6th ed.). Prentice Hall, Inc.
    • [ISBN-978-0-205-63740-9]
  • Rampolla, Mary Lynn. (2015). Pocket Guide to Writing in History (8th ed.). Bedford Books.
    • [ISBN-978-1-4576-9088-4]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.


Course Overview

Welcome to the history of the Vietnam War. For some Americans the Vietnam War represents a very dark period of American history as reflected in the actions of some American youth in the form of anti-Vietnam War protests and the violence in both the anti-Vietnam War protests and the Civil Rights movement. For other Americans, particularly those who served in the American military, the Vietnam War was a frustrating experience where the American military was not used (or could not be used) to defeat an enemy that was vastly inferior in military capability and experience. Now that we are well into the 21st Century an increasingly large percent of the Americans have no personal memory or any direct links to the Vietnam War. Studying the Vietnam War is steadily becoming similar to the study of any other war; that is, it is a historical inquiry. In HIST 318 we will look at the Vietnam War from the period of 1946 to 1975. We will begin with an examination of France’s experience in its war against the Viet Minh from 1946 to 1954, and will then survey the era of the two Vietnams and the evolution of American political, economic, and military involvement in Vietnam (and the later devolution of the involvement) from 1954 to 1975.

At the end of eight weeks, it is my goal that everyone in the class will have a solid understanding of the chronology of key events of the Vietnam War and will have been exposed to some of the questions and concerns that affected the United States’ prosecution of the war and that still prevail about the American policies and actions in that war.


Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.


Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the evolution of the long struggle between American and communist forces in Vietnam.
  2. Analyze the impact of domestic politics, the peace movement, and the news media on public opinion.
  3. Analyze the consequences of South Vietnam’s collapse.
  4. Describe the impact of the Vietnam War on the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.
  5. Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and trends in the historiography of the Vietnam War.

Grading

Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
D 600-699 60-69%
F 0-599 0-59%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (8) 160 16%
Essays (4) 240 24%
Midterm Exam 300 30%
Comparison Paper 300 30%
Total 1000 100%


Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Introduction 0 Saturday
Discussion 1 Questions 20
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 2 Questions 20 Saturday
Essay 1 60 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 Questions 20 Saturday
Essay 2 60 Sunday
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 Questions 20 Saturday
Midterm Exam 300 Sunday
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 Questions 20 Saturday
Essay 3 60 Sunday
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 Questions 20 Saturday
Essay 4 60 Sunday
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 Questions 20 Saturday
Comparative Paper 300 Sunday
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 8 Questions 20 Friday
Total Points 1000

Assignment Overview

Discussions

Each week you are expected to actively participation in the class discussion, which is located in the Discussions area. The weekly discussions are objective academic exercises. There are 1-3 questions posed for each week. Your posts must be original, intelligible, and grammatically correct. Simply rephrasing what others have posted is unacceptable. To earn the full credit each week, you must answer all of the questions (15 points), comment on three other students’ answers to each question (5 points), and read all postings. All discussion postings are graded as one. Given the sensitive nature of the material we will discuss, I ask that everyone adheres to the rules of civility in any comments that you make. I will periodically respond to your postings either on the forum or in private.

Essays

You are required to write four (4) essays on assigned topics. Specific topics are given in the corresponding week’s information. Each essay must be two (2) pages in length as a double-spaced Word document (do not use Word Perfect), one-inch margins all around (one inch on the left and right margins, one inch at the top and 1 inch at the bottom), and 12-point, Times New Roman font. Correct grammar, spelling, and paragraphing are required. You need to edit your paper carefully to insure that what you have written is clearly understandable. Failure to edit the essays will result in a lower grade regardless of the quality of the content of the essays.

Midterm Exam

You have 2 hours to complete this proctored exam. The Midterm Exam is a computer exam (available in the Quiz Module area) and consists of 10 objective/short answer questions and three essay questions. You will only need to answer two of the three essay questions. A review sheet will be provided to you on Sunday of Week 3. The exam questions will be based on material covered in Weeks 1-4. No notes, flash drives, or other material may be used during the exam. You are given the essay topics in advance for study purposes. You must write your essay answers during the exam.

Comparison Paper

The Comparison Paper differs somewhat from a traditional research paper in its format. In the Comparison Paper you are tasked to write three (3), distinct comparative essays that are submitted as one document. In each essay you will compare and contrast two of the assigned essays from the McMahon textbook (see below). Although I want the three comparative essays submitted as a single document, you may complete each of the comparative essays incrementally as we cover the material.

Each of the three comparative essays must be at least three (3) pages in length as a double-spaced Word document, one-inch margins, and 12-point, Times New Roman font. Use of the Chicago Manual of Style is mandatory. The format is covered in the Rampolla text. Correct citation style, grammar, spelling, and correct paragraphing are required. You need to edit your paper carefully to insure that what you have written is clearly understandable. Failure to edit the essays will result in a lower grade regardless of the quality of the content of the essays.

Please e-mail me if you are uncertain as to what the requirements for this paper are.

Comparative Essay #1: Compare and contrast the following two essays:
1. “Cold War Strategy and U.S. Intervention” by Robert McMahon (pp. 58-71)
2. “The European Influence on America’s Commitment to War in Vietnam” by Mark Atwood Lawrence (pp. 71-80)

Comparative Essay #2:
Compare and contrast the following two essays:
1. “A Crippling Defeat for the United States” by Robert Buzzanco (pp. 336-344)
2. “Tet and the Media” by William Hammond (pp. 344-355)

Comparative Essay #3: Compare and contrast the following two essays:
1. “Nixon’s Flawed Search for Peace” by Melvin Small (pp. 379-393))
2. “A Better War” by Lewis Sorley (pp. 393-399)


Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1: Origins of the Vietnam War
Readings
• McMahon: Chapters 1 & 2 (pp. 1-46)
• Moss: Chapter 1
Activities
• Familiarize yourself with the course environment.
• Read the syllabus, specifically the Course Schedule section.
Introduction
Please post a brief biographical statement indicating your name, nickname if any, location, academic interests, occupation, and any other information you choose to give.
Discussion 1 Questions
You are required to answer all of the questions posed, comment on three other students’ answers to each question, and read all postings. All postings are due by midnight Saturday.

1. What was Ho Chi Minh’s background as a nationalist and a socialist prior to World War II?

2. What impact did the Japanese occupation of Vietnam from 1941-1945 have on the growth of the Viet Minh movement and the rise of Ho Chi Minh as the national leader?
Week 2: The First Vietnam War, 1946-1954
Readings
• McMahon: Chapter 3 (pp. 47-80)
• Moss: Chapter 2 (pp. 10-31)
Discussion 2 Questions
You are required to answer all of the questions posed, comment on three other students’ answers to each question, and read all postings. All postings are due by midnight Saturday.

1. What were the major victories the French had over Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh between 1946 and 1954?

2. What the major victories of the Viet Minh over the French military between 1946 and 1954?

3. What conclusions could each side have drawn from their respective victories and defeats in the French – Viet Minh War?
Essay 1
Write an essay with a minimum length of two full pages of text, double-spaced using 12-point font and one-inch margins on the following topic and submit it through the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday. Topic: Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the French military forces and the Viet Minh military forces between 1946 and 1954.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Week 3: Dien Bien Phu, Geneva and Diem, 1954–1963
Readings
• McMahon: Chapters 4 & 5 (pp. 81-118)
• Moss: Chapters 3 & 4
• The Midterm Exam review sheet posted in the Content area for Week 4.
Discussion 3 Questions
You are required to answer all of the questions posed, comment on three other students’ answers to each question, and read all postings. All postings are due by midnight Saturday.

1. What were the key points made by President Eisenhower in Document 2 (Eisenhower Explains the Domino Theory, p. 84) in the McMahon book? Do you agree or disagree with what President Eisenhower stated in the interview? Why or why not?

2. What role did the Chinese Foreign Minister Chou En Lai and the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov play at the Geneva Conference on Indochina in 1954 and what lessons should the Viet Minh leaders have learned?

3. How did Ngo Dien Diem come to power in South Vietnam and what were his principal strengths and weaknesses? How were Diem’s strengths and weaknesses perceived by American political leaders?
Essay 2
Write an essay with a minimum length of two full pages of text, double-spaced and using 12-point font and one-inch margins on the following topic and submit it through the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday. Topic: What should the United States have learned politically and militarily from the French loss to the Viet Minh in the First Vietnam War from 1946 to 1954, and specifically from the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu?
Week 4: Diem, Kennedy, Johnson and American Intervention, 1963-1965
Readings
• McMahon: Chapters 5 & 6 (pp. 120-196)
• Moss: Chapter 5
Discussion 4 Questions
You are required to answer all of the questions posed, comment on three other students’ answers to each question, and read all postings. All postings are due by midnight Saturday.

1. Why did the United States Government want President Diem to be removed from office in 1963?

2. In your opinion, did the assassination of President Kennedy have an impact on American military involvement in Vietnam after his death? Why or why not?

3. Based on the readings, what role did the Tonkin Gulf incidents play on committing the United States to military intervention in Vietnam?
Midterm Exam
The two-hour, proctored exam must be completed by 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
Week 5: American Military Intervention in Vietnam from March 1965 to the Tet Offensive in January of 1968
Readings
• McMahon: Chapters 6-7 (pp. 155-234) & Chapter 8 (pp. 250-272 only)
• Moss: Chapters 6 & 7
Discussion 5 Questions
You are required to answer all of the questions posed, comment on three other students’ answers to each question, and read all postings. All postings are due by midnight Saturday.

1. Based on the readings and any other source you may have found, how do you think the political and private personality of President Johnson affected the decisions about the nature and scope of American military intervention in Vietnam from 1965 until the end of 1967?

2. Based on what you have read, how would you account for the decisions by the Johnson Administration to steadily increase the American military presence in South Vietnam from approximately 16,000 in January of 1964 to over 500,000 by January of 1968?
Essay 3
Write an essay with a minimum length of two full pages of text, double-spaced and using 12-point font and one-inch margins on the following topic and submit it through the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday. Topic: In the McMahon book, two essays are included, one essay, “Choosing War” by Fredrik Logevall (p. 183), and the other, “An Unwinnable War” by Robert K. Brigham (p. 212). In an essay, summarize each of the essays and compare and contrast the principal arguments of these two writers.
Week 6: The Tet Offensive and the Political and Military Events of 1968
Readings
• McMahon: Chapters 9 & 10 (pp. 274-355)
• Moss: Chapters 8 & 9
Discussion 6 Questions
You are required to answer all of the questions posed, comment on three other students’ answers to each question, and read all postings. All postings are due by midnight Saturday.

1. What was the principal failure of the Tet Offensive in terms of the original goals set forth for the offensive by the North Vietnamese?

2. Why did the American public and the American media seem to have been shocked by the Tet Offensive?
Essay 4
Write an essay with a minimum length of two full pages of text, double-spaced and using 12-point font and one-inch margins on the following topic and submit it through the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday. Topic: The argument is made and supported that the Tet Offensive was a military disaster for the North Vietnamese and particularly for Viet Cong. Moss and others have also pointed out that the Tet Offensive was a major political victory for North Vietnam in that it escalated the anti-Vietnam War sentiments in the United States: in Congress, in the media, and in middle-class America. In an essay, give me your assessment of the Tet Offensive. What could have been done differently (if anything) to have averted the negative domestic political effects in America that resulted from the Tet Offensive?
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7: Nixon, Vietnamization and American Disengagement, 1969-1972
Readings
• McMahon: Chapter 11
• Moss: Chapters 10
Discussion 7 Questions
You are required to answer all of the questions posed, comment on three other students’ answers to each question, and read all postings. All postings are due by midnight Saturday.

1. How successful was the “Vietnamization” program of President Nixon in transferring the responsibility for ground combat operations to the South Vietnamese Army?

2. Based on the readings, do you agree or disagree with Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia in 1969? Why or why not?
Comparative Paper
Submit your Comparative Paper to the correct Dropbox folder by midnight Sunday.
Week 8: Linebacker II, the Paris Peace Accords and the United States Exodus from the Vietnam War
Readings
• McMahon: Chapter 13,
• Moss: Chapter 11,12
Discussion 8 Questions
You are required to answer all of the questions posed, comment on three other students’ answers to each question, and read all postings. All postings are due by midnight Friday.

1. In December of 1972, talks between the United States and North Vietnam stalled and President Nixon ordered the resumption of bombing of North Vietnam, including the use of B-52 bombers. Based on the readings, was this decision the appropriate reaction or was it an overreaction? Why?

2. Was the Paris Peace Accord a viable peace settlement of the Vietnam War or did it just provide “a decent interval” between the withdrawal of American military forces and the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. Why?


Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism

Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.

Non-Discrimination

There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted. Late papers (essays) will be assessed an automatic 50% penalty with an additional 5 points per day up to 3 days past the original due date. Assignments received after the three day period will receive no credit.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.


Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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