Unrest in Vietnam During the Eisenhower Years: Learning Objectives & Activities

Instructor: Jessica Lyons
This chapter will teach you about President Eisenhower's approach to Vietnam and about some of the programs created in Vietnam to protect South Vietnamese villages. Use the key questions and learning activities to test what you've learned.

What's This Chapter About?

The Unrest in Vietnam During the Eisenhower Years chapter will give you a closer look at how leaders like Ngo Dihn Diem and Ho Chi Minh were preparing for the war. You'll learn about major groups involved with both sides.

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you'll be able to:

  • Assess President Eisenhower's New Look policy
  • Explain Ngo Dihn Diem's background
  • Evaluate Ngo Dihn Diem's leadership
  • Analyze Ho Chi Minh's restructure of forces
  • Analyze the importance of the Ho Chi Minh Trail

People to Know

  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower - U.S. president who created the New Look policy, which included continuing the containment policy in Indochina.
  • Ngo Dinh Diem - an anti-communism politician and leader of the Republic of Vietnam who was supported by President Eisenhower.
  • Ho Cho Minh - a leader of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV).
  • Pham Van Dong - a prime minister of the DRV.
  • Le Duc Tho - an advisor to Ho Chi Minh.
  • Le Duan - the General Secretary of the Vietnam Worker's Party.
  • General Vo Nguyen Giap - a commander of the Viet Minh and People's Army of Vietnam forces.

Vocabulary to Know

  • New Look - a foreign policy created to try contain communism in Indochina and Laos.
  • Domino Theory - a theory from President Eisenhower that if one country in Southeast Asia fell to communism, the others could fall to it as well
  • Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) - also known as the Manila Pact, this was created to provide security against communism.
  • Temporary Equipment Recovery Mission (TERM) - a program that would provide more American military advisors to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
  • Agroville Program - a program that sought to rid South Vietnamese villages of insurgent threats but failed because villages didn't want to relocate.
  • Strategic Hamlet Program - this had a similar goal as the Agroville Program, but instead of requiring villagers to relocate, it required them to build fences or other barriers to prevent insurgents from entering.
  • People's Army of Vietnam - it grew after World War II and provided support to the Viet Minh insurgency, including assisting with logistical efforts.
  • Ho Chi Minh Trail - the trail was created so that North Vietnam could transport troops and materials into South Vietnam.

Key Questions

Once you've completed the lessons in this chapter, answer the following questions to apply your new knowledge.

  • President Eisenhower believed in a 'domino theory', where communism taking power in one country would lead to communism taking over other countries. Do you agree with his theory? Why or why not?
  • Do you think President Eisenhower's New Look policy was effective?
  • What impact did the United States' support of Ngo Dinh Diem have on the situation in Vietnam?
  • Was Ngo Dinh Diem an effective leader?
  • Why did Ho Chi Minh restructure his forces?
  • How did Ho Chi Minh prepare for the war?

Build on Your Learning


The United States initially supported Ngo Dinh Diem but later withdrew its support. Do you think the United States' approach made sense? Should they have never supported him at all or continued to support him longer? Explain your opinion.


How do you think Ngo Dinh Diem's upbringing/background influenced him as a leader?

As the war began, Ho Chi Minh continued to spend time building his forces and improving his logistics network. Do you think that was a good use of his time? Explain your opinion.


Ngo Dinh Diem created the Argoville Program and Strategic Hamlet Program to try to prevent insurgents from entering South Vietnamese villages. Create your own program that you think could keep insurgents out while being something that the villagers would agree to.

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