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US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75

4. Stalemate

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In this module, we examine the stalemated war in Vietnam, answering the question of why the United States was unable to achieve its aims in Vietnam. The US war in Vietnam was made up of three components: (i) war in the air over North Vietnam; (ii) war on the ground in South Vietnam; and (iii) war in the political arena. The US failed to achieve victory in any three of these arenas. The North was able to resist US bombing by its impressive resilience and its leaders remained recalcitrant to US demands for negotiation. The US failed to achieve victory in the South as well. It was unable to reach the necessary attrition rates which would see numbers of NLF fighters in the South decline. These fighters fought successfully exploiting guerrilla tactics and their home advantage. In the political arena as well the US failed. Politically the South remained weak and although there was some stability under the Thiệu government, the South Vietnamese regime remained both corrupt and unpopular.


In this course, Professor Mark Atwood Lawrence (University of Texas at Austin) explores the American experience in Vietnam. We start by introducing the Vietnam War and explaining its significance for the United States. In the following modules we will then explore five key questions: (i) why was there a crisis in Vietnam?; (ii) why did Vietnam matter to the United States?; (iii) why did the United States fail to achieve its objectives in Vietnam?; (iv) how did the United States end its commitment in Vietnam?; and (v) what were the legacies of the war for the United States?


Professor Mark Atwood Lawrence is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Director of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin. Professor Lawrence has written and taught widely on the subjects of U.S. foreign relations, the Vietnam War, international history, and decolonisation. He has published two books on the Vietnam War - Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam (University of California Press, 2005) and The Vietnam War: A Concise International History (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lawrence, M. (2021, October 26). US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75 - Stalemate [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lawrence, M. "US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75 – Stalemate." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Oct 2021,

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