Escalation Demo


History of Escalation

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"Escalation" is a simulation of decision making during the Vietnam War. Students role-play President Johnson, making decisions in regard to the conflict in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968, the period of escalation by the United States in the actual conflict. The simulation is meant to do two things: learn about the Vietnam War as they play through it; and improve their decision-making skills by allowing them to experience the consequences of their decisions.

There are three basic parts of "Escalation": background, role playing as President Johnson, and outcome (what President Johnson actually did and what actually happened). The background and outcome sections are in a presentation format — the teacher can use them to give students information and promote discussion. The background section presents information and explanation, including pictures, diagrams, maps, and video to help students understand the context of their decisions. The outcome section explains what President Johnson actually did and how the conflict turned out. This allows students to compare their decisions and decision-making process to that used at the time. Several interpretations of the Vietnam War are also included in the handouts to stimulate further thinking on the meaning of the experience.

The role-play section is the heart of the simulation. Itís the part that is interactive — what students get depends upon what they do. The simulation puts students in the shoes of President Johnson from 1964 to 1968 and asks them to make decisions about the Vietnam War before they know what President Johnson actually did.

Events students will encounter include:

  • Assassination of President Kennedy (JFK)
  • Effects of McCarthyism
  • Geneva Conference
  • Dienbienphu
  • Cold War
  • Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Korean War
  • Marshall Plan, Truman Doctrine, NATO
  • Gulf of Tonkin Incident & Resolution
  • Tet Offensive
  • Watergate
  • Paris Peace Agreement
  • 1964 Election
  • 1968 Election
  • Pentagon Papers
  • State Department White Paper

Concepts students will encounter include:

  • Domino theory
  • Inflation
  • Democracy
  • Wars of National Liberation
  • Great Society
  • Containment Policy
  • Public Opinion Polls
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Teach-ins
  • Appeasement
  • Black Power
  • Agent Orange
  • Fragging
  • Democratic Convention, 1968
  • Powell Doctrine

People students will encounter include:

  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Ngo Dinh Diem
  • Senator Joseph McCarty
  • President Kennedy
  • President Johnson
  • President Nixon
  • General Westmoreland
  • General Minh
  • General Khanh
  • Robert McNamara
  • McGeorge Bundy
  • William Bundy
  • Dean Rusk
  • President Eisenhower
  • President Truman
  • George Ball
  • Barry Goldwater
  • Stokely Charmichael
  • Malcom X
  • Henry Kissinger

Groups students will encounter include:

  • Soviet Union (USSR)
  • North Vietnam
  • South Vietnam
  • Vietcong/National Liberation Front
  • China
  • Republicans/Democrats
  • NVA
  • ARVN
  • Khmer Rouge

Locations students will encounter include:

  • French Indochina
  • Saigon
  • Ho Chi Minh Trail
  • Gulf of Tonkin
  • Hanoi or Haiphong
  • My Lai Massacre
  • Kent State