In this lesson, students will view selected video segments from The Vietnam War and examine the war strategies and political tactics of both North Vietnamese leader Le Duan and US President Lyndon Johnson in the war’s early stages.
1. Examine the political pressures facing Ho Chi Minh.
2. Evaluate the military plan of North Vietnamese leader Le Duan.
3. Examine the political pressures facing President Lyndon Johnson.
4. Evaluate President Johnson’s military strategy.
About The Author
Greg Timmons has been a social studies teacher for over 30 years. He has written lessons for several PBS productions including The NewsHour, FRONTLINE, Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise and various Ken Burns productions including The War, Prohibition, The Dust Bowl, Baseball, The Tenth Inning, The Central Park Five, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, and Jackie Robinson. He is the winner of the 2007 American Educational Publishers Award.
After the assassinations of US President Kennedy and South Vietnamese President Diem, both sides felt pressure to increase their commitment to win the war. Distribute the student handout and review its directions with students. Students should view the video segment, “Ho Chi Minh Shares His Power,” take notes, and discuss the questions on the handout. Then, they should view “Johnson Secretly Escalates the War,” take notes, and discuss the questions on the handout.
After discussing the tactics and actions of Le Duan and President Johnson, have students write an opinion essay comparing and contrasting the two men’s actions, the potential ethical issues involved in their actions, and whether either man made the right decision under the circumstances.